How to skip Christmas in Spanish and not be a Grinch

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The time between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break is one of my favorite times of the year in class–it’s also one of the hardest because no one has their head in the game! But I LOVE teaching about Christmas traditions from Spanish speaking countries. I love using the commercials for the Spanish Christmas lottery (general lottery, 2015 commercial, 2016 commercial), I love singing Christmas Carols in Spanish, I love learning about the pooping log, I love it all! There is so much rich culture tied up in this holiday that is compelling to students and easy to talk about in simple Spanish.

…But not every Spanish teacher wants to tackle Christmas traditions in class. Not every Spanish teacher feels comfortable bringing Christmas into the mix. Many teachers wrestle with the appropriateness of talking about holidays in class. And I TOTALLY get it.

Guess what guys. Did you know that it is really weird to exist in our culture and not celebrate Christmas? I’m speaking from experience, here, because my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Both my husband and I grew up celebrating Christmas and made the decision to go the Biblical route a number of years ago. It has been a very eye opening experience for us as we realize just how deep the Christmas tree roots run in our culture at this time of the year. Sometimes, it takes stepping outside of ‘normal’ to realize just how ‘normal’ normal is….and how abnormal it is to not be normal 😉

So while I have no problem teaching about Christmas because it IS a big part of Spanish speaking cultures (and US culture), I am also grateful for teachers…and humans…that go the extra mile to normalize not celebrating Christmas–whether that be by talking about other Winter celebrations or by just keeping the class rolling as usual.

For all of you lovely humans that want to skip Christmas and not be a Grinch, it’s super easy. Just keep doing what you have been doing all year long! Just for you, I threw together a Hanukkah gift–a really simple lesson plan today that has absolutely nothing to do with any holiday.

  1. Download the Princess and the Pea lesson plan packet (FREE until January 1!).
  2. Read it a bunch of times so that you are comfortable telling it in really simple Spanish. (If you are using it in Level 2+, you will want to increase the linguistic complexity of the version included in the packet).
  3. Tell the story to students. If you’d like, illustrate it on the board or a document camera as you go. Alternatively, you could have students act it out while you tell it.
  4. Give students the story to read on their own (photocopy the story in the packet).
  5. Pair up students and give them each a highlighter or marker (different colors for each person in the pair). Have them put one of their present tense stories in front of them (one copy per two students).
  6. Read the paraphrased past tense version sentence by sentence. When you read each sentence, students in each pair should race to highlight the corresponding present tense sentence on their paper. The partner with the most highlighted sentences at the end of the activity wins (fame and glory).
  7. Have students find a new partner and put a pencil or other writing utensil between them. Play Pencil Grab (aka the Marker Game) with the 20 true/false sentences about the story.
  8. Show students the Fixed Fairytale version of Princess and the Pea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPytbUghpJM You could MovieTalk it…but let’s get real. You’re between two big breaks and you’re tired. Plus, the dialogue is witty. Just watch the video in English for a few minutes (start at 1:00 to skip the intro)
  9. Go back and MovieTalk the video or take screen shots and PictureTalk them (PictureTalk is MovieTalk with still frames: describe everything that is visible in the picture, and you can extend it with discussion about what might be going on and by connecting the content to students’ lives).
  10. Do two 1-3-5 minute Free Writes. For the first one, have students write the traditional ending of the story as best as they can in Spanish. For the second one, have students write the Fixed FairyTale ending of the story as best as they can in Spanish.
  11. Have students share their original ending free writes. Come up with a class version of the traditional ending by typing it out together on a projector or writing it out on chart paper or the board.
  12. Have students share their Fixed Fairy Tale ending. Come up with a class version of the traditional ending by typing it out together on a projector or writing it out on chart paper or the board.
  13. As an exit ‘ticket’, have students say to you in Spanish which version they prefer and one reason why.

Happy not holidays!

 

9 comments

  1. Thank you! Your giving nature makes it Christmas for me all year long!

    On Wed, Dec 13, 2017 at 10:38 PM, The Comprehensible Classroom wrote:

    > Martina Bex posted: “The time between Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break > is one of my favorite times of the year in class–it’s also one of the > hardest because no one has their head in the game! But I LOVE teaching > about Christmas traditions from Spanish speaking countries. ” >

    Like

  2. Oh wow. This is such a huge gigantic elephant in the room: to not teach Christmas! Thank you so much for acknowledging and normalizing something that is perceived as weird and grinchy. I have struggled with this for years and years as a teacher who doesn’t do Christmas and who struggles with its place in a public school.

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  3. I love everything you are saying in this post…. You really are my year long present to myself…. and I feel like a Grinch for asking, but do you happen to have this in French? I would love to use this story in January!

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  4. So when you ask students about “la santa familia” and they say Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and Rudolph it becomes a cultural divide…When you meet a person named “Chuy” or Jessie…then find out his name is Jesus….
    I get so excited because you get so excited about el anuncio del sorteo…What do you think of 2017 Alejandro Amenabar’s “ET” version?

    Like

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