December is one of my favorite months! I just love the decorations, the special family celebrations, and the excitement in the air!
At school, I think this is a fantastic time to learn more about other cultures by studying Christmas and other winter holidays around the world.
One activity that is perfect for this is my Holidays Around the World unit! I like to use a combination of books about the country in general (notable places, people, and customs), as well as books that focus specifically on Christmas or other holidays.
Both of these book types are entertaining and informative for my students!
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1. Merry Christmas Strega Nona
Everyone’s favorite Grandma Witch, Strega Nona, is busy getting ready for her annual Christmas Eve feast for the whole town of Calabria. Big Anthony is there to help too, of course! Will he cause more trouble with his poor listening ways, or has he finally learned a thing or two about how to be a dependable helper?
2. This Is How We Do It
This is an awesome introduction to the different ways in which children all around the world spend their days. The book highlights children from seven different countries (Italy is one of them) and shows what they eat, where they live and other bits of interesting cultural information.
Not only will students learn about traditions and customs that are different from their own, but they’ll also find out about some of the things they have in common with children all over the world. It provides a unique look into the lives of other children and is sure to pique the attention of the students in your class.
3. The Legend of Old Befana
This is a delightful retelling of an Italian legend about a cranky old lady. She is always sweeping, sweeping, sweeping- morning and night. When she sees a bright light in the sky one night and a procession led by the three wise men goes by, her world changes forever. From then on, every January she searches and searches for the Baby King, but since she can’t find him, she gives gifts to the local children instead.
4. Italy ABCs
People, geography, animals, plants, history, and the culture of Italy are all explored in this fun book. It’s a neat way to introduce some of the most famous things about the country, as well as some of the less well-known facts. The wide variety of facts presented, and the many facts included in this book make it a great introduction to the country of Italy.
Looking for even more resources to teach about Italy? Check out this FREE Italy mini-unit, which combines social studies concepts, reading strategies practice, and a super engaging study of one of Italy’s holidays, Christmas.
Finally, if you need a new holiday resource, I also have a very complete Holidays Around the World for Older Kids (3rd – 6th grade) resource ready to go. This includes 20 countries with traditions passages, and comprehension questions for each country, as well as geography pages, maps, and more! Besides Christmas, it includes Diwali, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, St. Lucia’s, the Passover, the Lunar New Year, and Hanukkah!
Hope you have a truly magical December!