I admit that I’m the anti-holiday elf (until it comes to shiny stuff or sweet stuff, then I’m Buddy the Elf) so I don’t “do” Christmas stuff at school. Sure, there are some schools that ban such festivities — I hear about them on the news — but I’ve never actually worked at one. I truly think that those schools amount to less than 10% of the total schools — or there’re someplace where real separation of church and state occur. That’s really not CA.
That said, there are a couple of really good lesson plans for this age. The math one goes younger to 4th & 5th. The math lesson is simple. How many gifts did my true love give to me after the 12 days of Christmas. Kids will want to count. You make them show you HOW they got the answer MATHMATICALLY. You don’t accept counting. BTW, it’s not 78. Just so you know, the numbers triangulate, it can be done on a graph, you can group the numbers, you’ll find parity, etc. It’s fun to watch them grapple with it. BTW, you give the group an overhead and make them present their answer to the class. It’s just a wonderful collaborative activity. I got it from Diane, my buddy.
The other one is for older students. I take Lawrence Ferlinghetti (sp?)’s “Christ Climbed Down“, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (animated movie or book), and the animated Charlie Brown’s Christmas. Then I have the students find the “author’s message.” What are we to take from these three pieces of media. Furthermore, all were produced within a decade of each other. Why? What was happening socially to make these authors hold this particular mirror up to society.
So far this has sparked discussion about who invented Santa Claus, why is Christmas December 25th, is that really the date of Jesus’ birth?, and, strangely, the Easter Bunny. They realized that really Good Friday should be the greatest holiday because that’s the day that Christ died for one’s sins. So far, one class has only heard the poem and the other the poem and Grinch. They are looking at themselves and their religion with new eyes.
Now… I’d LOVE to show them the South Park Jesus vs. Santa as well. However, I like having a job (the language is EXTREME!). For all its irreverence, it’s also a clever piece of media showing us something about ourselves. I think the absurdity of the end really hammers home what we SHOULD be learning. BTW, do NOT click on this if you are offended by A LOT OF SWEARING. In fact, just You Tube it yourself. Key words: South Park, The Sprirt of Christmas.