Christmas and holiday-themed critical thinking activities

Mariah Carey is already playing on a loop, but all you want for Christmas is a meaningful activity to help your class survive the last few days of term. At this time of year, holding students’ attention is trickier than untangling the Christmas tree lights!

Fortunately, Kialo Edu has the answer with our collection of Christmas and holiday-themed discussions. While students will view them as festive fun, for you they are a chance to maximize class time to hit a few more curriculum standards. And the icing on the (Christmas) cake is that with all our discussions, you can give students an invaluable gift: the gift of critical thinking!

How do critical thinking activities benefit students?

Critical thinking is a vital life skill. Let’s take the holidays as an example: Whether it’s making decisions on gift-giving, solving Christmas dinner conundrums, or resolving family feuds, critical thinking skills are indispensable.

Teaching students to think critically prepares them for success both academically and professionally. They learn to evaluate information and make informed decisions, setting them on the path to becoming active, engaged citizens.

So if you want to harness students’ festive fervor while ho-ho-honing their critical thinking skills, try some of these discussions! 

Hold summits on Santa to practice decision making and considering different perspectives

Simply whispering the word Santa can bring excitement to younger students, so discussing whether Santa Claus should bring naughty children presents is sure to be an attention-grabber.

Should Santa bring naughty children presents?

Santa might take all the credit at Christmas, but what about those cute little helpers behind the scenes? We know that teaching is challenging, but is it worse than being one of Santa’s elves? Open the “North Polls,” and ask your students to decide if Santa’s little helpers should demand better working conditions.

Should Santa’s elves demand better working conditions?

As an extension activity, students can practice active citizenship through organizing an elf and safety or mental elf campaign on behalf of the workers!

Hold debates on decorations to practice supporting logical thinking with evidence

The holidays may be just about to begin, but for some, the transition from pumpkins to pinecones began in the fall. So, when it comes to decorations should we Deck the Halls as soon as possible, or ban baubles before December? Have students take part in this tinsel tussle to decide!

Should Christmas decorations be put up before December?

When it is finally time to put up the Christmas tree, which is best: an artificial tree or a real one? In this decoration dilemma — and in all other Kialo Edu discussions — the branching structure helps students to develop their logical thinking skills. Moreover, as students investigate the environmental impact of plastic over pine, they can learn the importance of using evidence to support their claims.

Are artificial Christmas trees better than real ones?

Have students puzzle over presents to learn gratitude and empathy

Navigating the unwritten rules of gifting can send people into a festive frenzy! One way to manage puzzling present-giving protocols might be through a Secret Santa scheme. Students may have already experienced the challenge of finding the perfect gift to give, along with the thrill of trying to figure out the identity of their Secret Santa. So, do they think Secret Santa is a good idea?

Is Secret Santa a good idea?

For a festive follow-up, try a class Secret Santa, challenging students to give each other meaningful, no-cost gifts.

Students will also enjoy revealing details of gifting gaffes before unwrapping our discussion on whether regifting is acceptable. To support the discussion and sharpen students’ critical thinking skills, incorporate a role-play activity. Students can learn gratitude and empathy by practicing their reactions when receiving wanted and unwanted gifts.

Is regifting acceptable?

Host a festive film forum for staff and students to develop critical thinking skills

Whether you love them or hate them, Christmas and holiday movies are an inescapable feature of the festive season. Our debate on which movie is the best is sure to get staff and students talking. We’ve popped in a few suggestions to get the (snow)ball rolling, or you can edit the discussion to suit the ages and interests of your students.

Which is the best Christmas movie?

Have staff and students vote for their favorites, and, if students have sufficiently developed their critical thinking skills, maybe there will even be time for a Christmas movie afternoon to celebrate the end of term!

So, try using our discussions to develop students’ critical thinking skills and give them a gift that will last longer than the needles on the Christmas tree. After all, as the saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts!” Let us know how your discussions went at or on social media. Happy Holidays! 

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