December Holidays

Some of them have passed, but consider the following:

  • December 2: Cyber Monday
  • December 3: Giving Tuesday
  • December 5: International Volunteer Day
  • December 7: Pearl Harbor Remembrance
  • December 10: Human Rights Day
  • December 21: Beginning of Winter
  • December 22-December 30: Hanukkah
  • December 23: Festivus
  • December 25: Christmas
  • December 26: Boxing Day
  • December 26-January 1: Kwanzaa

The world is vast, diverse, and changing. The classroom should reflect these things.

Open the world up to your students, show them the vastness of our national and international holidays.

The world is diverse, we never know what students actually celebrate or how they feel about any celebration. Forgo a concentration on a singular holiday, or a cursory glance at recurring holiday learning. Try to add something new–for their learning and your learning.

The world is changing, we have so much to celebrate, so much to do, and so much to learn. Change with it. In fact, go beyond this serious list and look up some fun ones–did you know National Brownie Day is in December? So is National Cupcake Day! And National Pastry Day! Think of all that you can incorporate and mix into holiday learning!

In December, holidays are much bigger and as a result are full of potential; seize this opportunity to teach and learn and grow.

Academic Compassion

Reflect.

Today . . . do you know if your students . . .

  • have eaten breakfast?
  • brushed their teeth?
  • heard some praise?
  • managed to stay warm?
  • listened to a story?
  • solved a problem?
  • eaten lunch?
  • smiled?
  • spoken?
  • felt heard?
  • had a chance to be creative?
  • felt valued?
  • slept well last night?
  • will be able to sleep well tonight?

It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s not just a classroom list. It’s a list I am working on–it is my list to encourage academic compassion.

There are only 180 days of learning, for most of us. As teachers we feel this sense of urgency, there’s never enough time and there’s so much to do. As we plan and monitor the academic pace, the academic merit of our efforts, it can be easy to forget that our students are children. They are whole people with whole stories.

Some of our students are coming to an urgent learning environment tired, hungry, lonely, and/or distracted. And sometimes they’re just having a bad day.

 

Classroom Tip #2

You have picked a theme. Now it’s time to think about how this theme can manifest itself in your classroom.

I will be providing color palettes, and/or suggestions for free items, to gather for decoration that apply to many of the themes mentioned in my original post.

  • Animal (pick one animal, animals from your region, etc.)
  • Amusement Park
    • Ask families and co-workers to donate stuffed animals to display or use in the classroom (think carnival section of an amusement park)
  • Black & White
  • Comic books/Superheroes
    • Red/White/Blue
    • Go to the library and see if there are any leftover comic books to rip apart for accents on boards
    • Go to the local comic book store and see if they have free comics (mine did!) or old advertisements for classroom decor
  • Desserts
    • Pastels
    • Ask people to donate old cookbooks, or get some from the library, and have those pictures be your accents
      • Turn some cookbooks into a creative play center or a writing center
  • Disney
  • Gardens
  • Harry Potter
    • Must be house colors: blue (Ravenclaw), yellow (Hufflepuff), green (Slytherin), scarlet (Gryffindor)
    • I would ask around to see what items people have in their closets, there are plenty of Potterheads that bought a bit too much
  • Museum(s)
    • Contact a local museum and see if they have posters or brochures you can line your boards with
  • Ocean
  • Pixar
  • Social Media
  • Space
  • Sports
    • Color palette of your college/university
    • Color palette to match your favorite team
    • Color palette of a local college/university or professional team
    • Ask around for old jerseys to staple to the walls
  • Travel
    • Go to AAA and take every free map possible
    • Ask friends for maps when they travel: city maps, museum maps, national park maps, etc.
  • Zoo

Once a theme is picked, the fun begins. However, make sure that fun stays focused (keep to just a few colors) and make sure to spend carefully. A classroom can be beautiful without breaking the bank.

This added follow-up, as well as a few others, is meant to provide guidance and support so that all classrooms can be creative vibrant spaces for learning. Stay tuned for more!

Classroom Tip #1

As we begin a brand new year, we need to consider a theme . . . for the classroom. Not in terms of a reading unit or any other learning unit, but a theme for decor.

I can write pages on how to decorate, how to decorate well, and how to decorate with meaning, but let’s first begin with a theme. The theme will drive everything else.

A classroom with a theme can provide a more thoughtful starting point to creating a space that is equal parts vibrancy, routine, familiarity, fun, and organization.

Before we can begin to discuss each of these elements, and those previously mentioned, first decide on a theme.

Suggestions/possibilities/ideas:

  • Animal (pick one animal, animals from your region, etc.)
  • Amusement Park
  • Black & White
  • Comic books/Superheroes
  • Desserts
  • Disney
  • Gardens
  • Harry Potter
  • Museum(s)
  • Ocean
  • Pixar
  • Social Media
  • Space
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Zoo

These are just a few ideas–ideas I have in my mind for the future and ideas I have seen in other classrooms. I’m not leaving too much detail or direction now; rather, I want to spark interest and inspiration as classrooms begin to be decorated.

Decide on a theme. Think of its elements. Think of classroom-based translations for your theme. Write it all down, start designing and decorating, and then come back here–I have much more to say 😉