The winter season is typically thought of as a time of hibernation, rest, and quiet. However, it’s also a time for holidays, celebrations, and family traditions! While some are filled with fun, and games, all present opportunities for real-life lessons in culture, religion, and geography. Which holiday does your family celebrate? Have your kids ever wondered about how other winter holidays are celebrated? This post will introduce your children to three holidays celebrated in the month of December: Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. There is a short explanatory video followed by a read-aloud and a few simple craft ideas that can easily be completed at home. My hope is that these activities will prompt further discussion and learning, but most of all, have fun exploring with your littles!
Hanukkah, known as the festival of lights, is a Jewish festival that honors the rededication of the second temple. For eight days each in December (10th-18th, 2020), Jews light a special candle holder called a menorah. They do it to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple. During Hanukkah, many Jews also eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins!
Watch this short video from PBSKIDS to learn more about Hanukkah!
Read Aloud: This is the Dreidel By: Abby Levine
In this book, Max and his family celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah. Max and his little sister, Ruth, are getting ready for the celebration by shining the menorah and choosing the candles. They proceed to participate in a wide variety of traditional activities, including playing dreidel, singing songs, eating latkes, and listening to Grandpa read the story of Hanukkah.
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. On December 25th, people celebrate this Christian holiday by going to church, exchanging gifts, and spending the day together. Family members help to decorate the Christmas tree and home with bright lights, wreaths, candles, holly, mistletoe, and ornaments. Also, it is believed by many that on Christmas Eve, Santa comes from the North Pole in a sleigh to deliver gifts.
Watch this short video from PBSKIDS to learn more about the Christmas holiday!
Read aloud: The Story of Christmas By: Patricia A. Pingry
This book is an excellent introduction to the significance of the Christmas holiday. It is simple for toddlers to understand, as it tells the story of the Nativity in a concise 200 words. Vibrant illustrations are paired with classic text to bridge the connection between the biblical story of Jesus’ birth and today’s Christmas celebration.
Check out these easy crafts from www.lifewithmylittles.com! They’ve provided simple ideas for making Christmas trees, stockings, candy canes, Santas, and reindeer!
Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26th through January 1st. It is a holiday to commemorate African heritage. Participants gather with family and friends to exchange gifts and to light the kinara, a series of black, red, and green candles. These candles symbolize the seven basic values of African American family life: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
Watch this short video from PBSKIDS to learn more about Kwanzaa!
Read Aloud: Kevin’s Kwanzaa By: Lisa Bullard
In this story, Kevin’s family is celebrating the seven days of Kwanzaa! Kevin helps his mom decorate the Kwanzaa table. They light candles with Grandma and Grandpa and learn a special word each day. They talk about working together and solving problems. On the sixth day, everyone eats and dances at a big feast!
Here are some easy Kwanzaa crafts from www.funfamilycrafts.com. Make your own Kinara, African Flag garland, a Kwanzaa hat, and you can even bake up some tasty madeleines in red, black, and green.
I hope you and your children enjoy exploring these holidays together and are able to learn something new about their unique traditions. Please share pictures of your crafts on our CECPTA Facebook page @carrolltonecpta. Happy Holidays, everyone!
About the Author
Jen was born and raised in Carrollton, TX. As a former 2nd grade teacher, she is now a stay-at-home mom raising her two beautiful daughters, Madeline and Charlotte. She joined the CECPTA in February 2019 and is part of the purple and green playgroups. She enjoys date nights with her husband of 8 years, playing outside with her kids, exercising, a good cup of coffee, and traveling.