Building Social Awareness through SEL Activities That Explore Holiday Traditions

4 SEL Activities That Explore Holiday Traditions

It’s hard to believe another holiday season is upon us. The days are getting shorter, and schools will soon let out for winter break. But before the last bell rings, take the opportunity to teach students important social and emotional skills while they learn about December holidays around the world.

Here are four fun activities to try before school lets out:

1. Have students research a variety of winter holidays, and ask them to reflect on how the traditions are similar and different from their own. Collect the information in a Venn diagram, chart, or classroom bulletin board. Identify the region, culture, or religion the holiday is specific to, and explore its history, food, music, and traditions.

2. Buone Feste! This is how you say “Happy Holidays!” in Italian. Teach students how to say season’s greetings in Italian and 15 other languages as a lesson about diversity — and a fun way to spread good tidings to all.

3. A sweet way to help students learn about different holiday traditions is to plan a baking activity. Nothing brings people together like food! Bring or make holiday treats from different cultures. Try out the German Christmas cookie lebkuchen, traditional Kwanzaa sweet potato pie, Winter Solstice tang yuan (sweet dumplings), or Hanukkah rugelach cookies. (If you don’t have a way to make these recipes at school – send students home with a handmade recipe book so they can try the recipes with their families over break!)

4. Have students bring in something from home that symbolizes how their family celebrates the holidays. This can be an ornament, a book, a family photo, a song recording, or a religious object. Ask students to share about their item and their families’ traditions.

When students learn about different cultures, traditions, and beliefs, they learn to appreciate diversity, have respect for others, and be more socially engaged and aware. These social and emotional skills will help them build strong and rewarding relationships with others this holiday season — and all year long. Contact us to learn more ways to teach social and emotional skills to your students.

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