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Teaching in December: What Elementary Teachers Need to Know in 2022

The secret to teaching in December and keeping students engaged and learning is integrating holidays and special days into your instruction. There are so many holidays and special days in December to celebrate with your elementary students. Some of the more popular ones are Hanukkah, Christmas. You’ll find the full list of December events, holidays, and special days teachers can celebrate and use as teaching topics and themes below!

December Holidays and Special Days

As you starting brainstorming December teaching ideas, add these December holidays and special days to your teacher planner.

December Holidays

Below are December holidays you can use as topics and themes for teaching in December.

Las Posadas (12/16-12/24) Activities

Las Posadas is observed from December 16th till the 24th and is celebrated in Guatemala, Latin America, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. This holiday is a Christian festival that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Before the Christmas break would be a great time to explore different cultures and traditions concerning different holidays such as Las Posadas. If you need resources to celebrate Las Posadas in your classroom, check out our Las Posadas unit.

Mexico unitholidays around the world activity packet

Hanukkah (12/18-12/26) Activities

Hanukkah is observed from December 18th till the 26th and is celebrated by Jewish people. This extended event is also known as the Festival of Lights and is known for their symbol the menorah, which is a candle with 9 branches symbolizing the 8 days of Hanukkah with one helper candle. The term Hanukkah means “dedication” in Hebrew and the holiday celebrates the victory and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Before the winter break would be a great time to explore different religions and holidays that will be celebrated over the holiday break! If you need resources to celebrate Hanukkah in your classroom, check out our Hanukkah unit and Latke the Lucky Day book activities.

Hanukkah activitiesLatke, The Lucky Dog book companionhanukkah activity packet

Winter Solstice (12/21) Activities

Winter Solstice takes place on the 21st of December in the Northern Hemisphere every year and is also known as the hibernal solstice or the longest night. This happens only twice a year or once in each hemisphere and is when the Earth’s poles tilt far away from the sun and the sun travels a short path through the sky. This is the perfect day to explore and learn more about astronomy, and the science behind our solar system! Check out the winter activities below!

winter writing assessmentwinter-themed reading comprehension activitiesGoodbye Autumn, Hello Winterwinter activity packet

Christmas Eve (12/24) Activities

Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas and is celebrated on December 24th, specifically during the evening or night time. Christians believe this is the night before the birth of Jesus Christ. Before the winter/holiday break is the perfect time to learn about the importance of holidays such as Christmas Eve and explore other significant days celebrated during the school break!

Christmas Day (12/25) Activities

Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th every year around the world! This is the Christian celebration of the life of Jesus’s birth or otherwise known as his birthday. This is a very important holiday in the Christianity religion and is a big celebration full of food, lights, presents, family and friends! Before the winter break is a perfect time to explore and learn about religion, holidays, and traditions with your class! Check out some fun Christmas resources below!

The Crayons' Christmas book companionMooseltoe book companion coverThe Polar Express book companionHolidays Around the World Unit
christmas activity packetelves activity packetreindeer activity packetsanta activity packet

Boxing Day (12/26) Activities

Boxing Day is celebrated on December 26th and is a holiday celebrated after Christmas. This day was created to provide gifts to the poor and the people who couldn’t afford gifts and toys for their children and family during the holiday season. This day helps people in need or those who may be going through a rough patch in their life and is the perfect opportunity to donate and make an impact on someone else’s life through giving! Check out the Boxing Day activities below!

Australia Boxing Day activities

Kwanzaa (12/26-1/1) Activities

Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26th through January 1st in the United States and is a cultural celebration. This holiday was created to celebrate African-American culture, created by activist Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa is a great day to feast and celebrate family along with taking the time to sit back and learn about your own, or other cultures and appreciate the history. Check out the activities below that go with the Kwanzaa picture book, Seven Spools of Thread!

Seven Spools of Thread book companion

New Year’s Eve (12/31) Activities

New Year’s Eve is celebrated on December 31st every year all over the world. This holiday is typically celebrated during the evening or night time and symbolizes the last day/night of the year before the new year begins! People celebrate the new year as a new start and create New Year’s resolutions to help them become the best version of themselves! This is the perfect time to reflect on the memories made during the year and celebrate new beginnings, family, friends and happiness! Check out the activities below to celebrate New Year’s Eve in your classroom!

New Years writing activitySquirrel's New Year's ResolutionFreedom Soup book companion cover

Authors’ Birthdays in December

Below are week-long December events you can use as topics and themes for teaching in December.

Jan Brett (12/1) Activities

Jan Brett is a children’s book author and illustrator born on December 1st. Jan Brett wrote many amazing children’s books such as The Mitten, The Hat, Gingerbread Man, and Trouble with Trolls… all classic holiday and winter books! Check out the book activities below!

Trouble With Trolls book companionThe Hat book companionThe Mitten book companionThe Three Snow Bears book companion

Eve Bunting (12/19) Activities

Eve Bunting is a children’s book author and illustrator born on December 19th. Eve Bunting wrote some incredible books and novels such as One Green Apple, The Wall, and Night Tree. Check out the activities below for the book, The Night Tree.

Night Tree book companion

December Special Days

Below are special days in December that you can use as topics and themes for teaching in December.

Special Education Day (12/2) Activities

Special Education Day is celebrated on December 2nd and is a day of recognition. This day was created to show appreciation for special education and show appreciation towards the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which was signed on December 2nd in 1975. This day is so important because this act gave individuals with disabilities access to quality public schooling and an opportunity to be educated like their peers. Special Education day is the perfect day to thank your school’s special education teacher(s) and appreciate the difference they make in the world and all their hard work! It’s also a great opportunity to discuss inclusion, which you can use the inclusion unit below for.

Inclusion SEL Unit

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (12/3) Activities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated on December 3rd and has been observed by the United States since 1992. This day brings awareness to people with disabilities and helps to promote more of an understanding of the struggles they are faced with every single day. This is the perfect day to educate yourself and learn more about a specific disability and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Appreciate how strong and powerful these individuals are and remember that they are human and want to enjoy life just like you! Check out the SEL lessons below to help you discuss this holiday in your classroom!

Strengths and Challenges SEL UnitIndividuality SEL Unit

National Cookie Day is celebrated on December 4th and is a day dedicated to… cookies! The yummy and iconic desert is a worldwide favorite and deserves the recognition! Everyone has a favorite cookie such as chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodle, gingerbread… the list could go on! This is the perfect day to make or eat some cookies in your classroom and learn more about the history behind this iconic dessert! Check out the book activities below to celebrate this special day in your classroom!

The Smart Cookie book companion coverTough Cookie book companiongingerbread activity packet

National Sock Day (12/4) Activities

National Sock Day is celebrated on December 4th and is a day dedicated to… socks! Everyone has their favorite colorful and patterned socks and this is the perfect day to wear them and show them off! This day also celebrates the socks that haven’t lost their partner over the years and is a humorous day to celebrate! Have your class wear their favorite socks to school and show off their fun, colorful and funky socks to celebrate this national day! Check out the book activities below to celebrate this special day in your classroom!

The Hat book companion

National Volunteer Day (12/5) Activities

National Volunteer Day is celebrated on December 5th every year and helps recognize the hardworking and life changing individuals who deserve the recognition! Volunteering is hard work, and people usually do this work from the kindness of their heart because they just want to make a difference and help out! This is the perfect day to thank a volunteer that you know or maybe even get yourself involved and volunteer to make an impact in the world! Check out the kindness unit below for lesson ideas and activities for celebrating this special day in your classroom.

Kindness SEL Unit

National Letter Writing Day (12/7) Activities

National Letter Writing Day is celebrated on December 7th every year and is a day dedicated to writing letters! Nowadays, people don’t write meaningful little handwritten messages anymore and have resorted to texting and emailing. Writing letters is an important life skill to have, so today is the perfect day to pick up a pen and write someone special a handwritten letter and send it in the mail! This is also the perfect day to have a class letter-writing day and have them bring the little note home to their parents who will love and appreciate it so much! If you need these resources, check out the book activities for this special day below!

Can I Be Your Dog?Same, Same But DifferentDear Mrs. LarueA Letter to my Teacher

National Llama Day (12/9) Activities

National Llama Day is celebrated on December 9th and is a day to appreciate the adorable animal! Lama’s are very cool animals and deserve to be recognized and loved… even if they don’t know they have their own special day! This is the perfect day to learn more about llamas and explore their lives in your classroom with your students! Check out the book activities below to celebrate this special day in your classroom!

Llama Llama Misses Mama

Gingerbread House Day (12/12) Activities

Gingerbread House Day is celebrated on December 12th every year and is a day dedicated to gingerbread houses! This is a festive and holiday tradition that has taken place for years and has become a competitive and fun activity. This is the perfect day to have a class gingerbread house contest and work in groups to promote teamwork while also celebrating National gingerbread house day! Check out the book activities below to celebrate this special day in your classroom!

Gingerbread Baby book companionThe Gingerbread Girl book companionThe Gingerbread Pirates book companion
The Gingerbread Cowboy book companionTough Cookie book companiongingerbread activity packet

Poinsettia Day (12/12) Activities

Poinsettia Day is celebrated on December 12th and is a day to honor the father of the poinsettia industry. Poinsettias are festive red flowers and are one of the most recognizable plants, especially during the holiday season. Paul Ecke was the father of the poinsettia industry and passed away on December 12th, so this national day honors and recognizes all he has done and thanks him for bringing this plant to the United States! This is the perfect day to explore the history of Paul Ecke and the Poinsettia in your classroom with your students! Check out the book activities below to celebrate this special day in your classroom!

The Legend of the Poinsettia book companion

National Cocoa Day (12/13) Activities

National Cocoa Day is celebrated on December 13th every year and is a day dedicated to… cocoa! Cocoa, or otherwise known as hot chocolate is a warm cup of creamy chocolate topped with marshmallows or whipped cream and is the perfect beverage to have on a cold winter day. This is the perfect day to bring your students a cup of cocoa and celebrate the yummy beverage as a class! Check out the hot cocoa business project based learning unit below!

project-based learning task

Monkey Day (12/14) Activities

Monkey Day is celebrated on December 14th and is a day to appreciate the adorable animal! Monkeys are very intelligent and interesting animals who deserve to be recognized! This is the perfect day to learn more about monkeys and teach your class a lesson about the adorable animal on their special day! Check out the book activities below to celebrate this special day in your classroom!

Grumpy MonkeyGrumpy Monkey Party Time

National Cupcake Day (12/15) Activities

National Cupcake Day is celebrated on December 15th and is a day dedicated to… cupcakes! This small individualized cake is a popular birthday dessert topped with frosting and sprinkles! Your students would love it if you brought them some yummy cupcakes and will help bring positivity to the day while also celebrating this national day! Check out the book activities below to celebrate this special day in your classroom!

Everyone Loves Cupcake

National Ugly Sweater Day (3rd Friday in December) Activities

National Ugly Sweater Day is celebrated on the 3rd Friday in December, often changing the exact date but is celebrated every year! Ugly sweaters are worn around the holiday season, which became a tradition in the 1980’s and has continued for years! These sweaters have been made uglier throughout the years and people buy these ugly articles of clothing in stores on purpose as a competition to find the craziest and ugliest one! This is the perfect time to have a class ugly sweater party and explore the history of this odd holiday tradition!

National Twin Day (12/18) Activities

National Twin Day is celebrated on December 18th every year and is a day to celebrate the miracle of twins! Two built in best friends, born together and often looking similar is such an incredible thing! Twins are rare with an irreplaceable bond and today is the perfect day to celebrate any twins you have in your classroom and make them feel a little more special on this national day! Check out these tips for teaching twins in your classroom!

Popular Topics in December

Gingerbread, holidays around the world, Santa, elves, Christmas trees, and reindeer are all great topics to teach in December.

Santa

The Animals' Santa book companionStick Man book companionHow Santa Got His Job book companionSanta Bruce book companionsanta activity packet

Reindeer

Imogene's Antlers book companionDasher book companionThe Wild Christmas Reindeer book companionOlive, the Other Reindeer book companion coverreindeer activity packet

Christmas Trees

Red and Lulu book companionNight Tree book companionMr. Willowby's Christmas Tree book companionThe Christmas Owl activities

Elves

Memoirs of an Elf book companionPig the Elf book companionHow to Catch an Elf book companionelves activity packet

Gingerbread

Gingerbread Baby book companionThe Gingerbread Girl book companionThe Gingerbread Pirates book companion
Tough Cookie book companionThe Gingerbread Cowboy book companiongingerbread activity packet

Holidays Around the World

Holidays Around the World Unitholidays around the world activity packet

We hope you found this post with information and resources for teaching in December helpful! If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in these other posts related to teaching in December:

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