It’s that time of year again and there are plenty of festive decorations all around us! No doubt the children in your service will be fascinated with all the lights, glitz and baubles abounding!
This provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss why and how we celebrate different festivals and occasions.Through listening to children as they play, through discussions at circle time and in connecting with parents, practitioners can explore ideas about what it means to participate in festivities such as Christmas or Hanukkah for example. Not all families in your service may celebrate Christmas so it’s important to be inclusive in your programme, and to expand on the children’s individual interests.
We have put together a list of possible ideas that you may want to explore in your service and which link with Aistear.
This is a great chance for children to share their experiences of celebrating Christmas and other holidays, so start the discussion with a few open ended questions and leave time for them to think and respond:
Why do we decorate for Christmas? What other celebrations /times of year do we decorate for- ie birthdays,weddings..?
Do you decorate your house at Christmas/in December? What with ?- a tree?lights? christmas ornaments?
What could we do here in the preschool to decorate?
How will we make these decorations?
How did your parents/grandparents/family decorate for Christmas when they were small?
The Christmas tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes.An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.
Books and stories
There are books that focus on Christmas but building on the theme of celebrating and belonging, you can enhance the children’s sense of place and citizenship through selecting books and telling stories that relate to their lives in the here and now.
Informal chats with Parents
Talk with the parents and let them know about the activities that the children are doing as part of the Christmas/December celebrations.
For those parents and families from other parts of the world how do they decorate their houses for different celebrations? Maybe they could come into the service and depending on their expertise help the children make some presents and decorations.
Building on Interests – Activities emerging from discussions
Talking with and listening to children provides us adults with a window of opportunity to understand what and how they are thinking.
In listening to the children’s ideas and experiences a whole range of exciting possibilities’ may emerge. The challenge is to build on the children’s points of interest.
What are your favourite Christmas decorations/gifts/cards? How might we make these? (ie using recycled materials)
What are our favourite Christmas songs and stories? Maybe we could act one out with costumes and home-made instruments out of recyclables!
Make a small world out of a box, with a chimney for Santa to slide down!
Maybe we could make cards and decorations for parents and family, especially those who may live away from Ireland! Set out a range of materials, including coloured paper and cellophane, recycled Christmas cards and tags, tinfoil, glitter, sequins, and ribbon for inspiration.
We could document how we made our own decorations and presents- as a learning story
These are only suggestions and no doubt children will come up with a range of ideas from their own experiences on how to decorate for Christmas in the service. Building on children’s interests shows respect for their ideas and allows us as practitioners to extend their themes across the curriculum.
Links to Aistear
These activities that emerge from talking to children can be documented and linked to the themes of Aistear – the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, by using a simple template – Aistear template
We would love to hear your feedback on any activities and experiences over the festive season that went well for you and the children in your service, so that we can share these ideas on our website.