There are many holiday classroom activities that are both fun and educational — and won’t have your pupils telling their parents they watched films all day long.

December can be a chaotic time at schools. Between students traveling, all the days off and half days, and kids simply not being able to focus with Christmas around the corner, it’s tempting to stick in a movie and call it a day. But there are many non-crafty, non-holiday classroom activities to keep your students engaged and learning (even around holiday breaks).

1. Find Out Your STEM Type

holiday classroom activitiesOn a day when class periods are shortened or easily disrupted, have your students take our STEM Type Quiz. Tell them not to panic — it’s not a test, but a fun way to connect their passions with possible careers routes.

By answering questions about their skills and interests, we’ll determine which of the eight STEM Types — from advisor to designer to explorer — best fit each student. From there, we’ll introduce them to career paths that match that category so they can start thinking about life after school.

2. Hear Guest Speakers

Your pupils are used to hearing you speak, but someone with an interesting profession or career advice might be the perfect way to keep them interested when the holidays roll around.

Invite a parent with a job in an interesting STEM field or an acquaintance you know with relevant experience to visit your classroom. After giving a little background on what they do, students should be encouraged to ask questions and seek advice. If it takes a little while to get started, have a few “planted” questions to get the ball rolling.

If distance seems like a problem, it’s not! Just have them speak via video chat. They’ll still be able to interact with students and answer their questions.

3. Listen to Podcasts

holiday classroom activitiesThere are tons of educational podcasts out there, and students should learn to explore this medium. Find a podcast that’s relevant to the topics you’ve covered in class — and a bit entertaining! — and have the pupils listen. To ensure no one drifts off to sleep, have them fill out a worksheet with simple questions as they follow along. You can even throw in some engaging prompts, like, “Illustrate what you think the main point or idea of the podcast was.”

4. Explore Current Events

As a homework assignment, have students find five articles related to new discoveries in the STEM fields through the internet or via recent magazines and newspapers. In class, discuss these findings as a group. Ask for a volunteer to explain the article they found interesting, and have others who found the same news to add anything else they found. It’s super important to have students in the know about recent advancements, but since they’re not taking notes and won’t be quizzed later, they’ll find it to be a fun activity.

5. Play Games

holiday classroom activitiesStudents hear “game,” and they instantly perk up, making it the perfect holiday classroom activity. However, you can make their fun double as a refresher on material you’ve covered over the year so far. Set up a game of Jeopardy or Family Feud with questions from the curriculum. You can also play these math games, like Sudoku.

The school year is already not long enough to cover all of the content you should. Rather than popping in a movie, these alternative holiday classroom activities will make you feel like you’re making the most out of every second in the classroom.

Need some more ideas? Check out our article on “5 Things That Are Better Than Showing a Movie in Class.”

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