This time of year is all about The School Nativity, Christmas Fayres and Carol Services. In the midst of all the fun and rehearsals, we understand how difficult it is to find time to actually teach! So we’ve come up with a few ideas that we’ve seen in schools to help spread the Christmas cheer, and to ensure that even if lessons aren’t being taught as regularly as you would like, the concepts and strategies of the PATHS® programme are still being generalized across the school day!
1. SECRET SANTA COMPLIMENTS - One of our fabulous schools in N. Ireland came up with the idea of using the ‘Secret Santa’ approach to write compliments! Each pupil picked a name from the lollipop sticks and for homework that night they wrote a compliment for their chosen person. The next day they stuck their compliment into a scrap book and the pupils were chosen out of the lollipop sticks again to read their own compliment. Our coach witnessed this during an in-class visit and saw first hand how much happiness and excitement this simple task brought to the pupils. What a fantastic way of boosting the whole-class self-esteem with this seasonal take on the complimenting process.
2. SANTA SEAT COVERS - How’s this for a fab idea!! One of our teachers in a new school in Renfrewshire has purchased a Santa seat cover for her Pupil of the Day chair! The children were very excited about this!!
3. CHRISTMAS FEELINGS - Our coach in London shared this article with his teachers. He suggested that it is worth finding time to talk about the feelings children might experience over Christmas, especially given that it’s not a happy time for everyone. This will be a great way of linking feelings to Christmas, and ensuring children know it’s OK to experience a variety of feelings over the holidays.
4. KINDNESS ADVENT CALENDAR - Earlier this month we shared our first Kindness Advent calendar via social media. This is a great way to get your children involved in thinking about the art of ‘giving’ during the season of Christmas. Giving our time, our kindness and our thoughts to others is far more important than the material possessions we give and receive. Encourage your pupils to spread some Christmas cheer by looking at our calendar and adopting some of the ideas (e.g. donate something to a food bank, or make a shoebox filled with presents for the shoebox appeal).
5. MANNERS AND COMPLIMENTS - How about incorporating some SEL and Literacy by encouraging children to add a compliment when writing Christmas cards, remembering to say thank you when receiving cards, or even continuing the theme after Christmas by getting them to write thank you notes for gifts and including a compliment!
6. SANTA AS PUPIL OF THE DAY - Another cracking idea from a N. Ireland school! Primary 2 pupils came up with the idea of making Santa Pupil of the Day! These children thought it was really important to remember to give Santa a compliment as he is so kind to everyone at this time of year. What an amazing idea, and how thoughtful of those kids to remember Santa needs complimented too! Bet you all those kids made the Nice list that year!!
7. FAIR PLAY RULES - Over the festive period we all love a board game! Remind children the importance of the fair play rules and how to be a good winner / loser. Remember to compliment the person who wins and encourage the person who didn’t win that time!
8. ELF ON THE SHELF - A very creative approach to elf on the shelf saw some of our pupils of the day getting to take the elf home with them overnight! The POTD also gets to engage in some very Christmassy literacy tasks with the class when it’s their turn (e.g. sharing information with the class about their favourite Christmas traditions, memories and presents!) What a great way to learn a few more things about our POTD and how they experience Christmas.
We hope some of these ideas are useful, and would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a brilliant Christmas and peaceful New Year, from everyone at Barnardo’s. See you all in 2018.