Christmas URLs Comprehensive and Eclectic Collections.
Merry Christmas from St. Mary's School (Fort Vermilion, Alberta, Canada) is a terrific example of a well-organised and amply annotated school-generated directory, under these headings: General Christmas Sites; Stories and Poems; Themes and Lesson Plans; Crafts & Art; Activity and Colouring Pages; Music; Christmas Concert Ideas; Sites Just for Kids; Sites Just for Parents; Christmas around the World; Christmas in Canada; Kwanzaa; Hanukkah; Religious and Traditional; Recipes; Christmas Fun for Everyone; and Christmas Clip Art - which just about sums up every noncommercial angle on Christmas. Though much of the ground covered by Rexanne's Christmas (Rexanne Mancini, 2004) has a distinctly commercial flavour, the references to shopping venues are tempered by a large range of links to mainly free materials covering Santa Claus, activities for children, food and cooking, cards and greetings, and a further selection of Christmas Sites and Homepages. Santa's List is SecretSanta.org's extensive Christmas Directory - claims to have been assembledled by elves.
Koala's Christmas has notched up enough years of service to qualify as an institution - apart from the expected categories relating to Santa, cards, cooking and crafts, kids activities, stories and traditions, music and games, this attractive site is unique in presenting among its Christmas graphics and tools a selection of Paint Shop Pro Tubes and Tutorials. A quick run through the Miscellaneous listing will also unearth some interesting surprises. Christmas in Australia presents chatty personal accounts and observations bolstered by a fair sprinkling of links to expand on the content - a must for any serious student of national manifestations of Christmas. Please note that adult Australians who want Christmas presents would be well advised to fill in this Santa's Visit
Application form. It's Christmas is Palmerston District Primary School's lively annual contribution to learning about the meaning of Christmas. Apart from obvious utilitarian values, this site might perhaps be considered to be a work of art.
The visual symbols of the festive season are all around us at this time of the year, commonly expressed as decorations, advertising logos, greeting cards and crafted gifts - here are a few resources to help students to use them in creative activities, and perhaps gather some sense of their meaning along the way:
Ho! Ho! Ho-liday Art Projects Even Santa Would Love! (Cara Bafile / Education World, 2004) - craft activities including ideas for multicultural learning, gift-giving, peace celebrations Free Christmas Clip Art (christmasgifts.com) - a huge range of attractive clipart and animated gifs with a Northern Hemisphere flavour. Suitable for composing greeting cards, notepaper, collage work and online art. For creating more advanced pieces, venture along to YuleLoveIt.com's extensive holdings of Animated Gifs, Backgrounds, Bars, Buttons, Clipart and Midis.
Follow the Great Links in the sidebar for the occasional gem such as Tag Yerit's gallery of Funky Art Trees for Yule http://www.tagyerit.com/trees.php assembled from found objects - may be sent as cards. TechCentral provides step-by-step instructions on how to Create Your Own Christmas Cards , using Microsoft Publisher as the basic tool. Christmas.com offers several handy features:
# a table of Christmas greetings from around the world. # brief explanations of key Christmas symbols. # information about Santa Claus. - however, the world map feature was still a work in progress at last viewing.
For Christmas screensavers, software and games see Christmas-Software.com mostly Windows-compatible and free to try.
Gifts and Giving.
Heavensangel.net's Gift Giving article is an attractive introduction to the topic. Here are a few thought-provoking items which could form a basis for classroom discussion:
# The Art of Christmas Gift Giving (Ali Seay / PageWise, 2002) - 'Gift giving ... has nothing to do with dollars and cents and everything to do with thought' # Why You Always Get a Present You Don't Want (Roger Highfield / Telegraph: November 03, 2004) - an interesting article based on studies of the psychological implicationss of the festive season: 'The best predictor of how much a gift is appreciated is the amount of time, mental and physical effort put into choosing, making or preparing it' # Can We Spread True Peace at Christmas? (Virginia Saldanha / National Catholic Reporter: December 18, 2003) - how practical were the gifts of the three wise men? would women have brought something different?
A collaborative exercise in giving could become a useful classroom activity highlighting the spirit of festive celebrations - here are a few starting points:
# Charitable Organisations compiled by Claus.com lists both American and international organisations needing support. # SecretSanta.org is a major American toy drive connection; apart from the zipcode-based search facility, there's also a handy Charities listing. # Christmas Charities - a Yahoo! Directory listing; Canadian and global.
The Religious Core of Christmas.
The origins of our end-of-year festivities are outlined in considerable detail in the Christmas section of The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III - subheadings are: Origin of the Word; Early Celebration; Origin of Date; Liturgy and Custom. This is a fascinating read, if you have the time.
James Cooper's whychristmas?com explains the Hows, Wheres, and Whys of the Christian Christmas tradition in a simple and straightforward way. How about having students discuss the idea of abolishing Christmas as they know it? In a sort of 'Back-to-Basics' movement, some Christians are in revolt against the current commercial frenzy, advocating a different approach which aims to rediscover the true message of Christmas - key words are peace, hope, and goodwill to all. For detail, see the article: Lexington Church Encouraging People to Skip Christmas (Associated Press: November 26, 2004), and the Skipping Christmas site. The Crossroads Church cites John Grisham's novel, Skipping Christmas as the source of the idea. See also Louis Hobson's review of the film version, Christmas with the Kranks Is Often More Unsettling Than Funny (The Free Press: November 26, 2004). Through its site on Discovering the Truth about Santa Claus , the St. Nicholas Center explores the relationship between the historic Saint Nicholas and the modern commercial Santa Claus - see especially the historical narrative in Saint Nicholas and the Origin of Santa Claus , and values-based comparisons in Santa Claus and St. Nicholas.
Santa Claus, Reindeer and the North Pole.
For those who need more resources based on on these popular icons of the commercial festive season: Santa Claus (Wikipedia) - a useful backgrounder. Claus.com ( Spunky Productions) 'Santa Claus welcomes you to the merriest place in Cyberspace': creative activities and colourful illustrations for kids K-99. SantaClaus.com (Chris Riley) - Santa Claus' home on the Internet, since 1994. Santa Claus Online - mainly for children. Santa's Secret Village http://www.northpole.com/ - family-oriented Christmas site. Tracking Santa Claus, December 24th, 2004 (NORAD) - in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Japanese. The Physics of Santa Claus (compiled and edited by Shifty Bits) - this has been around for a while, but is well worth dusting off. Santa Claus Office - at Santa Claus Village, Arctic Circle, near the town of Rovaniemi in Finland. Write and Email Santa Claus Your Christmas Letter - many other features include the Rudolph Nose Cam and Silly Christmas Jokes Santa's Net - recent additions include More Christmas Recipes and an interactive Good and Bad List. Welcome to the North Pole - an attractive children's site. Magic Reindeer Food (Marcy Zitz / About, 2004) - a recipe for a lure to ensure that reindeer stop at your house. Modify for human consumption. Reindeer Cookies (3 Versions) (DLTK). Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer - the lyric.
Literature, Language, and Music.
Christmas Stories, Christmas Poems and More... (Daniel 'Chip' Ciammaichella) - a huge collection of stories and poems, legends and traditions, song lyrics and cards, crafts and activities, and a large recipes listing as well - probably the best in its field. Christmas Songs (41 lyrics) and Traditional Christmas Carols (25 lyrics), presented by Rawlin Blake. Marv's Christmas MIDIS - 58 songs and carols.
Unusual Christmas Carols (Coty Pinckney) links also to stories, reviews of carol collections, as well as prayers, sermons, and a sample order of service. Free Christmas Music Downloads (ChristmasGifts.com) - piano-type midis for songs and carols; links also to lyrics. An Online Christmas Songbook (ed. Christopher Baker) - 106 hymns and carols: sound files and printable musical scores for piano, with words. And on the lighter side, Jokes and Humor from SecretSanta.
Activities and Lesson Plans.
EdNA Online's Christmas Page carries an outstanding selection of currently available Web-based resources for classroom use, all drawn from the EdNA Online database. Categories are assigned to suit individual requirements, and cover: meanings and origins; stories, poems and carols; arts and crafts; crosscultural themes; ICT applications; Webquests, learning quests and treasure hunts; and Australian Schools' Christmas Pages. Those who prefer to do their own finding should also search the EduHound Category Index , under the headings Christmas, New Year, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Searching on the Search Term Christmas at the MarcoPolo site yields records for 141 stringently selected teaching/learning resources and lesson plans. Use Teachersfirst.com's Subject and Keyword Search to find Christmas and New Year lesson plans. See for example Interplanetary Christmas (NASA's Thursday's Classroom Project). Lots of Holiday Lesson Plans (Lin and Don Donn) - see especially listings for Christmas, Jewish Holidays, Mexican/Hispanic Holidays, New Year, Kwanzaa, and Chinese Festivals. Festive Resources (Clare Lavery, British Council) provides teaching tips and practical hints to extend the Language Assistant Resource Manual. Christmas & Easter Activities (Primary Resources) - includes useful ideas for Christmas lessons. Education World's Holidays Center > December carries a strong collection of holiday lesson plans, art and gift projects, and other seasonal resources. The Resource Materials & Technology Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind) presents a no-nonsense listing of useful learning resources for December . DLTK's Holiday Activities include On-Line Christmas Games - browse also the extensive sidebar listings. We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Kenneth Beare / About: English as 2nd Language) an ESL resource. Season's Greetings 2004 (Pete Jones) - huge, well-organised, beautifully presented ; aims to provide teachers of Modern Languages with links to Christmas resources. Christmas Feelings (Hauptschule Bregenz-Stadt / Comenius Project) explores the Christmas experience in Austria, Finland, Iceland, and Italy. Christmas Fun for the Whole Family (ChildFun Family Website) features handcrafted gifts and decoration ideas, games and activities, colouring pages and recipes. See in particular links to Other Holiday Theme Ideas - Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas Around the World.