Classroom Tips

Holidays around the world lesson plans (with downloadable template)

Keeping children engaged in the classroom gets tougher and tougher the closer we get to the holidays. It is totally normal, but it can make teaching and running activities even more difficult for educators. However, if you bring their excitement and enthusiasm for the holidays into your lesson plans, you can have a fun experience that will be a joy for yourself and your students!

At Sawyer, our goal is to help educators run their children’s activity businesses with ease. In this guide, we outline crafts and other activities about holidays around the world that you can run with your students. We also provide a holidays around the world lesson plan template that you can use for your own classes this winter. Happy holidays and happy learning!

Holidays around the world crafts

One of the joys of the winter season is that so many people celebrate holidays around the same time. For educators, this is a great opportunity to share information and knowledge about other cultures with your students. When children learn about different peoples, they gain empathy and expand their worldview in important ways.

Teaching art to children is a great way for children to gain important insights while still having fun. Learning while doing helps children retain information with less effort. Plus, around the holiday season, arts & crafts can be a fun take home project for children to give as gifts to family members.

Try one of these holidays around the world crafts with your students to help them learn about other cultures and create beautiful art at the same time.

  • Paper plate menorahs. Cut a paper plate in half and use one half for the top of the menorah. Fold the other half into quarters for the base of the menorah. Have your students decorate their menorahs however they would like. Then, cut strips of paper to make candles. While your students work on the craft, tell them the story of Hanukkah or read from a Hanukkah children’s book so they learn about the holiday.
  • Cardboard Kinaras. The Kinara is the special candleholder that is used during Kwanzaa. Students can make their own Kinaras out of cardboard tubes (paper towels for larger Kinaras or toilet paper rolls for smaller ones). Paint the tubes red, green, and black to represent the colors of Kwanzaa, then use yellow tissue paper to make the candle flames. Explain the 7 principles of Kwanzaa and the history of the holiday to your students while they make their craft.
  • Coffee filter poinsettias. In Mexico they celebrate Christmas with beautiful poinsettia flowers. You and your students can make poinsettias that last forever out of coffee filters. Use this guide for the craft. Many of your students might celebrate Christmas, or know about the holiday, but this is a good opportunity to talk about how different people celebrate Christmas with special traditions around the world. 
Photo of holidays around the world crafts

Holidays around the world activities

Beyond crafts, there are lots of great holidays around the world activities that you can do with your students throughout the winter. Teaching them about holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, and more can help keep your students engaged and having fun while learning. Plus, students can start to understand how people outside of the US celebrate Christmas, New Year’s, and other holidays.

  • World map research. Assign each student a country on the map and have them research what holidays the majority of people celebrate in that country and what traditions are attached to that holiday. Then, have the students find pictures and write down what they have learned. Put everything together on a map so the whole group can learn about the different holidays around the world.
  • Holidays around the world Jeopardy! Once your students know a bit about the holidays around the world, you can create a fun, interactive Jeopardy! game with questions about the holiday stories and traditions. Playing games enhances classroom learning because children remember more when they are engaged. You can even include fun prizes that fit the holiday theme like Hanukkah gelt, Lai-See envelopes, and stocking stuffers.
  • Your holiday somewhere else. For this activity, have each child find out how the winter holiday that they celebrate is celebrated in a different place. They can learn about the Tomten who visits families instead of Santa during Christmas in Sweden, citrus doughnuts called sfenj instead of jelly doughnuts during Hanukkah in Morocco, and vegetarian meals instead of fish and meat during Kwanzaa in some families’ homes around the US.
Photo of holidays around the world activities

Holidays around the world lesson plan template

When you create a lesson plan for your classes and activities, you will be more confident as an instructor and your students will be more successful learners. With a lesson plan, you can stay on track more easily, manage your time more effectively, and focus on the material that is important.

Here is a format that you can use when you write your holidays around the world lesson plans. For more information on how to write a lesson plan, including lesson plan examples, read our guide.

Lesson objective(s)

What is the goal of this class? Do you want students to learn about the holidays around the world that are different from their own? Or maybe you want students to understand how others celebrate the holidays that they celebrate. Make your objective action-oriented so you can easily measure if you’ve achieved it.

Materials needed

What will you need for this class? How much of each item will you need? Use this section of your lesson plan as a list and then check off each item when you have it. Not sure where to buy supplies? Check out our guide.

Lesson activities & timing

What will your students actually do during this lesson? Break down your class time into smaller activities that will help your students accomplish the lesson objectives. Make sure your activities are interactive, engaging, interesting, and doable based on your students’ ages and knowledge of the topic. Next to each activity, estimate the time it will take to complete. Include a buffer so that you don’t run out of time.


Use this space to take some notes during and after the class to reflect on what went well and what could have been improved. This will help you as you write your next lesson plans and plan your classes moving forward.

Get your editable holidays around the world lesson plan template

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Teaching children about the holidays around the world is important for their growth and development and helps keep your classes more engaging as the holiday excitement grows. After reading this article, you should feel more comfortable preparing holiday activities and lesson plans for students of all ages. 

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