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Holiday Books for an Inclusive Holiday (& 5 tips from a Special Education Teacher!)

Even though some of us (me), have been celebrating the Christmas season since July, it is OFFICIALLY DECEMBER (basically)!! Now I love Christmas. The weather is cold, Christmas trees smell amazing, and I don't get judged as much for my excessive shopping. Oh yeah, and time with family is great too. :)

I celebrate Christmas as a person who has Jewish ancestors and would not identify as Christian. But boy oh boy do I follow Michael Buble and Mariah Carey down the Christmas song rabbit hole. What I am trying to get at, is that I absolutely LOVE Christmas but totally understand that not everyone celebrates this holiday.

How can I make this month inclusive for everyone? How can I incorporate more holidays into the lessons I am teaching? Well, I am happy you asked.

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First things first, get all the dates settled away. Here is a list of all the December holidays.

Hanukkah is celebrated in late November to late December. A quick google search will always give you the answer, but it starts on the 25th day of

Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. This year

Hanukkah will be celebrated Sunday

December 18th- Monday December 26th.

(Click on the images to be redirected)

Christmas Eve and Christmas which is on December 24th and December 25th and I love to talk about how people around the world celebrate this holiday. One of my favorite books is this one.

Kwanzaa is celebrated on December 26th and I love this book.

It is so important to educate your children and students about all of the other holidays that are being celebrated around the world. Fun books and activities are what this season is really all about.

Other holidays that happen this time of year is New Year's Eve and New Year's Day which is another fun holiday to learn about what people are doing around the world. You can have a mini celebration in your class, come up with NYE resolutions, and discuss the traditions people do in their house.

If you are looking for non-holiday activities there are still plenty to do. My Buddy Class Curriculum is FREE and online (password protected). But you can access it by entering the password; BuddyClassFree.

I have already prepped winter lessons for you under the December and January section!

These activities are about snow and reindeer and other fun ways to decorate your classroom bulletin boards.

Another activity that happens a lot at schools are those winter assemblies and performances. What kind of events do you do at your school and how can you make them accessible to everyone?

At my school, we had a winter assembly where the grade levels would perform a couple of songs together. We have made this inclusive in many different ways. These are the top 5 tips to prepare your classroom for an inclusive holiday.

1. Social stories or educating them on what is to come

Explain the events happening in the most simple way that you can. Describe the activities happening, help the students understand what they will be doing and what their surroundings will look like. Will they be performing in a show with parents watching with bright lights on them? Will they be going to eat a special treat in another classroom? Will they be participating in any sort of carnival, assembly, or parade? What will happen before, during, and after the event. What should they expect?

2. Practice, practice, and practice

If there is an assembly, practice going into a dark multipurpose room and practice singing with the microphones and hearing your voice through the speakers. If there is a parade, practice walking the distance of the parade, better yet, with friends. Trying new foods, talk about what it might taste like, maybe just touch it.

3. Get creative on how your student or children will access their community

Is the dark room too intimidating? Does your student need a ramp to get to the stage? Do they need their AAC device to communicate to people? If your student doesn't want to stand on stage for the assembly, can you put them on the floor or near their parents? Can their favorite peer or staff member perform with them? Need help? Comment below and I would love to help brainstorm a creative solution.

4. Come prepared with modifications and accommodations

Bring a bag of goodies to make this all work out. My bag was always filled with headphones, fidgets, picture icons to communicate needs, snacks, sensory seats, whatever else your classroom requires. Check out one of recent blog posts on the items I loved in my classroom!

5. Have a way out!

Lastly, always have a way out. Every student should be able to ask for a break or to tell you they are all done. It can be as simple as having these images on you for them to reference.

The holidays are a time of togetherness and family and community. Let's make sure this holiday season we are all enjoying those festive, fun moments that I live for all year round.

Inclusion starts with you

and I just want to help




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