When I initially created this unit several years ago, I wanted to put together lessons that would meet the curriculum requirements of my grade and be developmentally appropriate for Kindergartners. In years past, I taught my young friends all about different holidays in different countries. While they did learn new ideas and had fun creating crafts and projects from around the world, it didn't really mean much to them. So....
I thought, what does this time of year mean to a 5-6 year old? The response I got was: it's a time for family and friends. It's a time for gifts and December traditions. It's a time of giving to others. It's a time to care. The lessons I have designed (and have refined as time has gone by) reflect these concepts.
We spend time talking about how families are different. We share about our own families and the things we like to do together. I ask families to share their holiday traditions and maybe their favorite holiday recipe. We make a gift for our family, out of recycling materials, that represents our family unit. (see the photo's below)
We also engage in conversations and activities about friendship. We talk about fun things friends do together. We also investigate some of the difficulties that friends can have and what solutions we can employ in times of conflict. We make a gift for a secret friend in our classroom.
Finally, we talk about being kind to others. These lessons are not "stranger danger" types of conversations, but rather just being kind to others. When we are with our family, we can smile at someone we pass in a store, hold the door open for the person behind us or just say, good morning. Our class has recently adopted a "kindness elf". Every morning, she appears in a different spot in our room with a special message aimed at helping us be more aware of being kind to others. Our class made home-made holiday cards and wrote letters of support to a group of servicemen and woman who are overseas, helping to serve our country. We have embarked on a year long service project. Children are invited to save can tabs in a special can. These tabs are donated to the Shriner's Burn Hospital, which helps give care to children.