Upcoming Holiday Dates

Hanukkah: December 24 - January 1

Christmas:  December 25

Kwanzaa: December 26 - January 1

December: A Month of Multicultural Holiday Celebrations

Do your students celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Three Kings Day? Maybe they celebrate St. Lucia Day. Chances are your class includes students who observe more than one of those events. Whether that is the case or not, December offers great opportunities for teaching about our multicultural world.  Included: Handfuls of great teaching lessons and resources!

Few months present the multicultural "teachable moments" that December does! The following multicultural events and celebrations are among those that will happen this year:     >>READ MORE
Engage and Motivate Your Students Before the Holiday Break

It's the Friday before a holiday, and despite all your efforts, your students just don't want to sit still and listen to your exciting lesson. Before I learned better, holiday seasons were the hardest times for me as a teacher. I had to exert extra energy and effort just to get students motivated enough to do any learning.

Because of the additional effort-and little return-it is no wonder that some teachers resort to showing movies and holding class parties the day before a long weekend or holiday. As much as we would like to succumb and relax like the students on the day before a holiday, the reality is that the incessant pressure to have our students achieve makes these sort of activities difficult to justify. This leaves us with the question, "How do I lower my frustration levels and at the same time keep students learning before the holidays?"

Nothing beats an effective and well thought out lesson plan for engaging students, but even the best lesson can be snowballed by the excitement of the upcoming holiday celebrations. With creative planning, you can provide effective avenues for your students' holiday energies and maintain the learning momentum, relieving the burden of forcing learning on your students. 
12 Days of Devices: Using Technology with Kids Over the Holidays

The holidays can be the perfect storm of technology overload for kids: mile-long airport lines, days at a grandparent's house without the regular toys, the disappearance of the school routines. It's easy to let kids retreat into a corner with an iPad or cell phone, and see them come out an hour later, bleary-eyed and irritable.

With the influx of digital devices comes a whole new set of questions we--both parents and teachers of young children--have to answer. How much is too much time with the iPad or cell phone? How much structure should we put around children's watching or playing of downloaded games?

As a specialist in early childhood education and development, and a mom of a three-year-old daughter, I see these questions as opportunities to chart a path through the thorny weeds of kids and technology use. The extra time of the holidays gives us a chance to ask what kids are getting out of their device use, and how we can help them best manage and be mindful about their time.    >>READ MORE
10 Books For Teachers to Read Over Winter Break

The pleasure of curling up with a good book will finally be yours over winter break! We are filled with holiday joy on your behalf, and we cannot resist recommending a few of our favorite books:

Modern working parents (and teachers!) have the latest time-saving technologies at our fingertips, and yet we are busier and under more stress than any previous generation. How can we find happiness and room to breathe while still meeting our obligations to work and family? Schulte consults sociologists, scientists, sociologists and hundreds of working parents to find the answer. 

The latest memoir by a female comic is a pleasure to read and provides inspiration to the audiences who have loved her on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. Poehler's insights on career, children and the creative process are delivered with zany wit and complete candor.

This novel is on every book critic's "best of" list this year, and with good reason. An epic tale of a family's life through the 20th century, the writing is beautiful and the story heartbreaking and real. 
7 Holiday Gifts for Students That Won't Break the Bank

Are you looking forward to a well-deserved few weeks off to relax, sing holiday songs, eat delicious cookies, and unwind? We hear you, but first things first: Pinterest! Yes, we're talking about scouring everyone's favorite digital scrapbook for cute student gifts that won't break the bank. Here are seven easy, cheap, and fun holiday gift ideas for teachers to give to their students.

Grab that laminator, and design a bookmark with a picture of your class, an inspirational quote about reading, or featured student artwork. Print it out double-sided with four or five per page and, voila, no more dogged-eared pages in your classroom library books!

2. Melted Crayon Holiday Shapes
If you haven't introduced yourself to the art teacher yet, now is your chance! Grab a fistful of broken crayon pieces, peel off the paper, and place the pieces in holiday shaped baking molds. Place the molds in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for 20 minutes, let your shapes cool, and carefully pop out your crayons from the molds.

3. Kindness Ornaments
Encourage your students to write kind notes to one another on special printed or colored paper strips. Then, give students one clear winter bulb each, and inside they can keep their kind messages. It reinforces writing, generates a team spirit, gives students a pretty ornament, and will keep your kids smiling for years to come.
4  Tongue Twisters

Don't drop the dreidel down, Danny! 

Tiny Tim trimmed the tall tree with tinsel. 

The thermometer thawed to thirty degrees on Thursday! 

Comet caught a cold on Christmas!
3  Holiday Quotes

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
- Roy L. Smith

My urge at Christmas time or Hanukkah-time or Kwanzaa-time is that people go to bookstores: that they walk around bookstores and look at the shelves. Go to look for authors that they've loved in the past and see what else those authors have written.
- Michael Dirda

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, 
a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, 
by going to the mall of his choice.
- Dave Barry
Professional Development Toolkit for Teachers
(Leadership, Teamwork, Communication, Customer Service, Building Relationships)

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