During the holidays, being a teacher can be exciting and challenging. High school and middle school students get just as excited as little kids about Christmas and the promise of winter break. Teens enjoy holiday traditions and can be quite distracted during this time of year, so having timely and fun activities ready can help your sanity! Taking the pressure off of you and your students a little can go a long way and doesn’t mean they aren’t learning. Read on for holiday activities for high school!
Best Christmas Holiday Lesson Ideas
Gingerbread House Lesson
Learning about the history of gingerbread houses and even how they are made is a fun way to get into the holiday celebrations. We have a history of gingerbread house slideshow with guided notes, questions, and videos to help you get started. Whether you are making gingerbread with your students or just teaching them about the history, this lesson will have you covered.
The gingerbread lesson includes videos of a professional baker making gingerbread and putting together a beautiful gingerbread house, which is really fun for the students to watch. You can also allow them to create their own gingerbread creations with either homemade gingerbread or store-bought.
To take it a step further, have the houses on display for others to judge the best one. I have seen some culinary teachers post in the Facebook groups asking other educators to vote for their favorite, or you can have faculty and other students be the judges!
Holiday Festivities Around the World
Christmas around the world is a perfect opportunity to teach students about different cultures. Many different foods are eaten in different countries around the holiday season and students enjoy learning about the different traditions. Start by asking students what they typically have for Christmas dinner and then discuss family traditions during the winter holidays.
Download this free Christmas food around the world crossword puzzle that will expose your students to other cultures.
This is an easy way to reinforce their learning if you use our Christmas foods around the world lesson plan that includes a slideshow, guided notes, and questions. The lesson covers countries such as Australia’s prawn on the barbie, France’s Buche Noel, England’s Mince Pie, Poland’s Babka, Ethiopia’s Rooster Doro Wat, and more! If you want all of these lessons at a discount, we have a Christmas Bundle with a holiday bell ringer activity that can also be played as a game, the gingerbread house lesson, the Christmas around the world foods lesson, and a Hannakuh foods lesson.
As an extension activity, have students choose a country not covered in the lesson and research their holiday traditions. Have them make a short slideshow or video presenting the information they found.
You can have students do a sort of holiday “gallery walk” and move around the room looking at either the slides, videos, or printed slideshow, gathering information. They can record the countries’ name, a culinary tradition during the holidays, two main ingredients in the food, and one additional interesting fact. It is a great way to put the teaching into your student’s hands and allow them to move around the classroom looking at other students’ work. This is an effective way to incorporate cross-curriculum instruction because you cover social studies and your subject area.
If you teach culinary arts, you have a built-in food lab. If you don’t, you can still have your high schoolers decorate premade cookies! It is a festive way to gather for a class party. Set up paper plates and allow students to decorate cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Students of all ages can participate in this. You can even get some community service time with your students and have them invite younger grades to come in and decorate with them or head out to an elderly community to have them help decorate cookies as fun mental health community action projects.
We have a holiday cookies lesson that will introduce your students to Christmas cookies around the world, as well as questions to check for understanding. Students also can design their own holiday cookies with this lesson! Have them share their designs on paper or slideshow with the class. Let them make their cookies and share if you teach culinary arts or family and consumer science.
This is a great way to review recipe-building and problem-solving. You can take it a step further and have them find YouTube videos on making different types of holiday cookies and ask questions for their classmates based on short videos.
Watch Holiday Shows
Showing the Gingerbread Showdown is a great idea if you are teaching about gingerbread houses. The professional bakers take on some pretty cool challenges like this Home Alone House gingerbread house challenge.
Gordon Ramsey’s Christmas Dinner video with his son is another fun holiday cooking show that will get your students in the holiday spirit. Of course, you can skip all the cooking and show How the Grinch Stole Christmas instead!I have popped popcorn for my students during the holidays while they watch a movie or allow them to bring in snacks if they want. They really appreciate the break and opportunity to veg out during a classroom holiday party. They can watch the shows as they make holiday decorations if you want them to be more engaged!
Making Gratitude and Holiday Cards
Another low-key idea activity is to have students make happy holiday cards for staff, classmates, family members, etc. We have these free Christmas card printables that can help to get you started, and they make cute tags to go on holiday gifts. This helps to build a school community, and it helps students to consider those they care about during the most wonderful time of the year.
Make Gratitude Cards that list the things you are thankful for. You can assign students another student and have them write something nice about them. Crafting gratitude cards requires students to think about the people, experiences, and things they are thankful for. This reflective process helps them develop a deeper understanding of what brings joy and fulfillment into their lives.
Expressing gratitude through cards allows students to convey appreciation to their peers, teachers, or other individuals in their lives. This strengthens interpersonal connections and contributes to a supportive and empathetic school community.
More Holiday Activities for High School – Let Them Color
What better way to relieve some stress and have a little fun than to color? High school teens probably don’t color very often nowadays with phones and technology, so offer them some holiday coloring pages and fresh boxes of colored pencils as they watch the movies and participate in the festivities. You’ll be surprised how many students are excited to color, and you can hang their artwork around the classroom! The Crayola website has free Christmas coloring pages.
High school students often face academic pressures and stress. Coloring has been shown to have therapeutic effects and can provide a break from the demands of schoolwork. Coloring can also be a social activity, allowing students to work on a project together. It can encourage conversation and collaboration, fostering a sense of camaraderie among classmates. You can even make a contest out of the coloring and have judges choose the best pictures!
Another way that I allow students to decompress before the holiday break is to bring in board games and allow them to play them in small groups. It is really fun to watch your students interact with one another beyond academics and it can really nurture your classroom environment. Right before Christmas break is a perfect time to allow students to play a fun game, color a picture, and enjoy themselves a little bit.
Why High School Holiday Activities Matter
Engaging high school students in holiday activities goes beyond the joy of the season; it creates memorable experiences and fosters a sense of community. From the multicultural exploration of holiday foods around the world, the hands-on creativity of decorating Christmas cookies, to delving into the rich history of gingerbread, these activities offer a blend of cultural appreciation and festive fun. The therapeutic joy of coloring Christmas pictures and writing holiday cards is a huge stress relief. The culinary inspiration gained from watching holiday cooking shows, contribute to a holistic and enriching holiday season.
By incorporating these diverse and interactive elements, you can make the holiday season in high school a time of both learning and joy, leaving students with warm memories that extend beyond the classroom.
Collectively, these holiday activities for high school create a festive tapestry that weaves together education, tradition, and the spirit of the season, leaving a lasting impact on high school students’ holiday experiences.
Check out our 5 Career Exploration Games for High School Blog Post for more high school activities and lesson plan ideas for career and tech education and family and consumer science.