Winter Holidays

Grade Levels: 3 - 5

This lesson provides students with an opportunity to learn about the traditions of various winter holidays.
  • Students will understand that most winter holidays are associated with an important object that gives light.
  • Students will study the origin and customs of several winter holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Winter Solstice.
  • Students will create individual holidays that celebrate someone or something that is important to them.
Suggested Time Allowance
50 minutes


  1. Introduce and define key vocabulary: heritage, anticipation, Menorah, Kinara, Advent wreath, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas.
  2. Have students read the Winter Holidays Article individually or in pairs. Have them fill in the Vocabulary Worksheet.
  3. Ask the students to think of various customs and traditions associated with holidays throughout the year. Have them fill in the Winter Holidays Chart.
  4. Tell the students they are individually responsible for creating a new holiday celebrating something or someone that is very important to them. Students may include illustrations if time permits, but they must include:
    • Why their holiday is meaningful.
    • What people can do to celebrate their holiday.
    • Significant songs, games, or recipes that will be associated with their holiday.
  5. Display the students' holiday descriptions in the classroom.


Have students discuss the differences and similarities of the four winter holidays described in the article.
  • Students should be able to define key vocabulary.
  • Students should be able to fill in the Winter Holidays Chart using clues from the class discussion and Winter Holidays Article.
  • Students should be able to identify the history and traditions of various holidays.

Extension Activities

  • Challenge students to create their own Holiday Chart with different column titles. Students can switch charts with a partner.
  • Have students write in their journals about why respect for each other's beliefs is important. You may introduce the term divergent thinking.

Standards Correlation
Standards at McRel: http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/

  • Knows the ways that families long ago expressed and transmitted their beliefs and values through oral tradition, literature, songs, art, religion, community celebrations, mementos, food, and language
  • Knows how various American holidays reflect the shared values, principles, and beliefs of Americans

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