Math Workshop

Themes & Holidays

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"Oh What Fun!" it is in December

December is definitely one of those tricky months for a teacher. Excitement is growing as the holidays are near and student engagement is exactly what you need! This post is going to be a hodgepodge of all my favorite things to help keep your students engaged up until winter break!

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Our December math unit of study includes nonstandard measurement. Our lessons focus around ordering objects by length from shortest to longest and the content specific language around this topic. When exploring this skill, students can build measurement trees. 

I provide students with different colored paper. They begin to cut strips of all different thicknesses. I explain to my students that they could either order from "shortest to tallest" and move from top of the tree to the bottom of the tree or vice versa. 

I love how students get the freedom to create! It even gives them the opportunity to practice pattern making. This hands-on math activity is perfectly paired with the heartwarming book, The Great Spruce. You can find it here.

Each year I have a "gingerbread week." Our bookshelf is filled with all the different variations of The Gingerbread Man. We choose our favorites to read and then build a life sized 2-D gingerbread house to record all of our comparisons. The students work with partners to "decorate the house" by writing the title, drawing a labeling the characters, listing the refrain and describing the end. Below you can see a glimpse into our student directed gingerbread house.

Our social studies curriculum is focused around comparing families and their cultures. In order to make this engaging and meaningful for our students, the first grade team adopted an annual tradition. Families are asked if they are interested in volunteering to come in and share about their family's tradition. This usually includes a read aloud, activity or craft. Teachers arrange a time for each family that volunteers to come in. The students love having something extra special to take home with them each day.

In addition, I integrate a holidays around the world unit. There are so many great units online and it's important that you find the one that is perfect for you. My personal favorite is Globe Trot Scott by the fabulous Lyndsey Kuster. You can find it in her TPT shop here!

Check out scenes from our holidays around the world unit below.

Russian Nesting Doll

Holiday Globe Trot Country Display

France- shoes by the fire waiting for St. Nicholas to come!

Feliz Navidad! Decorated poinsettias after traveling to Mexico.


When traveling to Sweden and celebrating St. Lucia's Day, we used the stained glass window craft from Maria over at KinderCraze. Click the image below to download her template!

Earlier you saw a clip of our Mooseltoe activity. This idea came from Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade. I love how students can express their creativity when decoring Mooseltoe.

You can find the book here.

Our last week before winter break is filled with many themed days! We have a school-wide winter wonderland day where we wear our pjs to school, a Grinch day where we wear green and do many Grinch activities and my latest addition, Reindeer Day!

Reindeer Day is filled with reindeer read alouds, creating a pet reindeer and making reindeer food! You can find the reindeer craft and activities free in First Grade School House's TPT shop here and the reindeer food tag here!  The ingredients and directions can be found here.

Click the images below to shop these great reindeer book classics!


Hosting an Elf Exchange can also be fun in the classroom. Students wrap up a gently used book and bring it to school. For a greeting, students choose a name out of a hat and give their wrapped up book to the person. It continues until everyone has been given a book to take home.

Lastly, I wanted to share an idea for student gifts with you. Last year I was able to snag some socks from the Target Dollar Spot. I paired the socks with a book from Scholastic Reading Club using this tag below. Grab your copy of the tag for free here!

Be sure to click any images from my posts to "pin" it to your Pinterest boards just in case you may want to use these ideas in the future! :)

Elf in the Classroom

There's nothing better than building classroom traditions this time of year! One of my favorites is this sneaky little guy that comes each year after reading The Elf on the Shelf.  A special delivery is sent to our classroom straight from the North Pole! The package is always cold because... brrrr... it sure is freezing up there! His special tag and personalized notes can be found over at The First Grade Parade. Cara's post also includes so many fun ways to integrate this holiday fun into the classroom. I hope this post inspires you to embrace the magic of the season!

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.

Each year a new elf visits and each year the class gets the opportunity to give our new friend a name. Cheryl from Primary Graffiti was the little lady behind this cut bubble map name anchor chart idea. It's perfect to give students the ownership over our classroom elf. Each year I have students that may not celebrate Christmas, but love that they can join in on the fun by sharing something "their elf" did. More importantly, it's fun that each year our elf brings us our class tree and class menorah. Rather than not celebrating any holidays, I am passionate about celebrating them all! More details to come about our holidays around the world in a future post.

Please note that Jingles may have gotten these ideas from many of the amazing teachers on Instagram and Pinterest. Thank you all for your creativity!

Jingles took the lead last year. He sure was a sneaky little guy and my class ate him up! They came running into our classroom each morning eager to find where he would be next. They loved drawing and writing about all his hiding spots for morning work in Cara Carroll's Elf Diaries. You can get a copy of this free in her store!

Here are some of my favorite spots Jingles found himself over the years!

Jingles loved himself so much that he wanted to share some of his Elfie Selfies. He must have gotten this clever idea after we read the book Memoirs of an Elf. There are so many great elf picture books now. Some of my favorites include How to Catch and Elf and The Littlest Elf. Click on the titles to grab yourself a copy.

Jingles sure liked the sticker bin- there were just so many fun shapes and colors! 

Fri-YAY was his favorite day of the week! That way he got to go back to the North Pole for two whole days! :) Our holidays around the world display is from Lyndsey Kuster. You can find it here!

There was that one day when the whole class made it on the nice list except well, for me!

Snowflake was our class elf from a few years back. His favorite hobby was making snow angels.

And he *cereal*sly loved us (and the left over 100th day fruit loops from the previous year ;) ) He sure is a crafty fella!

Lastly, Jingles brought us a special Elf on the Shelf gift land dressed up in his dapper attire. Click the highlighted words to shop these items!

I'm eager to see who will be joining us this year. Follow my Instagram @firstgrade_made to stay up to date on all his sneaking around!