Holiday Party Blues

a-charlie-brown-christmas
The Question:
I don’t like holiday parties, but I’ve always played Charlie Brown movies at our holiday party while we eat our treats. However, I do not approve of the language that is being used on these videos; block head, stupid, hate, etc.
Any suggestions on other holiday videos I could use? 
The Answers:
Miss Bindergarten
 Miss B’s favorite holiday video is The Snowman, based on the book by Raymond Briggs. It is both stirring, funny and deeply peaceful.
Jennifer
 WalMart’s $5 bin…they have obscure movies that the kids have never seen and will stare at and be so quiet… 🙂:)
Dawn
Arthur’s Perfect Christmas. It talks about how friends celebrate different holidays.
Kristen
The classics-Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town…..
Noelle
Alana
Annabelle’s Wish. It’s an old one, but if you can find it, it’s so sweet and has such a great message of thinking of others.
Carol
Nadine
Belinda
Jenn
 Love. Love. The Snowman!!!!!!!
Edie
The Snowman! The music is calming and beautiful. During this very hectic time of year, that music has a wonderful effect on the children. We do get giggles when the little boy changes out of his pjs..
Tammy
I am so sad that you teach kindergarten and do not love holiday parties. Are the parents in attendance? Yes, the children are more “excited” at this time, but aren’t you when you are going to a party? I always play a holiday cd softly and usually the children sing along and we visit with each other. I love party days! If the parents are in attendance, the students will sing for them and I use this time to “casually” visit with the families.
Carrie
Arthur’s perfect Christmas is a great movie. It touches on many different holidays, which I always prefer. However, I also have a soft spot for The Search for Santa Paws. So cute!
Julie
 We watch Charlie Brown and discuss why the words they say are inappropriate to use at home or school and that real friends don’t do that. Although Elmo may now be controversial right now, there is a cute holiday video disucussing; Hannukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas. Polar Express is great and there is a website with things to do.
Kimberly
We have Polar Express pajama day, with popcorn and hot chocolate that our PTA provides, and we also have a party that the parents are in charge of! We have an outstanding PTA and parents are in charge of all our parties, so we love it!
Trish
 Just had the same conversation yesterday! Wish I could take those words out!
Kimberly
 Olive the Other Reindeer, the Snowman, Rodolfo. There are so many and most of them have cooking and art projects you can do. Check out Pinterest for ideas and please remember they are 5 and they love Christmas!!!!!
Amy
 For holidays, I plan several stations/activities that my kiddos rotate through in small groups. Usually try to have one station a fun snack, one a craft they can take home and a couple of games. I have found this really cuts down on the chaos that can make me crazy. It takes planning and the help of volunteers to “host” the stations. I do agree, doing SOMETHING special is important!!
Becky
Stephanie, you have had a lot of good suggestions including many of my favorites. I also like Blues Clues Holiday Celebration. It also touches on several winter holidays.
Lynne
For Christmas our focus is on helping others. Although I make simple gift bag for the kids, they bring in hats, mittens, and toys and clothes…as they chose… for a local refugee family. They are very excited for this and it changes their focus. We also have simple parent provided food treats.
Barbara
We don’t really party at our school anymore. We have other activities- a fall festival in October- or the 50th day of school, a Thanksgiving Feast, Polar Express Day, etc. Instead of one big party for each event, we spread out the fun with lots of crafts, songs, and books during the week prior.
Donna
 If you can find a copy, Spot’s Magical Christmas is Delightful. I do think that young children are happier with some type of fun structured activity — games, singing etc.
Stefanie
 Thank you all so much for the great ideas! I appreciate you all very, very much! Happy thanksgiving!  One thing I do for our thanksgiving celebration is make each kiddo a mini pumpkin pie, they love it!
Elizabeth
 We do cookie decorating with our fourth grade buddies. My first grade colleague does gingerbread houses with milk cartons with graham crackers and lots of parent help. When we do have a movie, I like to use those scholastic story dvds. They are all really great stories and you can buy them by the set. I’m sure they have a diverse holiday set! Don’t forget that to the K kid, “party” is just another word for “free play.” Throw some play doh and some holiday cookie cutters on the table and let ’em rip. 🙂:)
Diane
We do a “Friendship Lunch” that way if the family doesn’t do Christmas -we’re covered. Everyone draws a name. We talk about foods we like/don’t like/food issues etc. letter goes home explaining it. On day before break we bring in our lunches, sit next to our friends and enjoy our yummy lunch. We thank our friend who brought us our lunch. We do not do a gift exchange. They may put a small toy or ornament along with the lunch, but not necessary . We have been doing this for well over a decade & the families love it
Katie
There is a box set of 100 scholastic classics where the words of the story light up as it is narrated… Like audio books with the story illustrations. My kids love them and it is more than just a movie, it reinforces literacy skills.
Roxanne
I show Charlie Brown. I show them all…The Great Pumpkin, Thanksgiving, Easter Beagle, etc. I have never used a video/DVD as a babysitter or strictly for entertainment purposes in my classroom. Parents do this at home. I watch it with the children and I am constantly stopping it and discussing it with my children. Inappropriate language or behavior is pinpointed. This is a teachable moment. These terms are mild compared to the language they hear and unfortunately some use in real life. I have been teaching for 25 years and have never had a parent or administrator complain in fact, my current principal was walking through and stopped to watch with the kids. I was commended for my commentary.
Ginger
If your school has a subscription to Discovery Learning (United Streaming) there are lots of videos on pilgrims, indians and the first Thanksgiving.
Sherri
Santa Buddies, with the dogs, is really cute!
Laurie
Polar Express Day. Kids wear PJ’s to school and eat cookies and drink hot cocoa during the movie. We usually break the movie up into two parts – some in a.m. and some in p.m. There are a lot of academic activities that can go along with it.
Mary
 While in the middle of replying I see that Roxanne also uses these movies as teachable moments–and it’s funny what they take home with them.  I have had parents tell me that their child explained why something they saw on TV at home was inappropriate. 🙂:) This is what I had already typed when I glanced up to read what Roxanne had to say. *Whenever we run into inappropriate language in books (Junie B Jones) or movies such as Charlie Brown I make it into a teachable moment. We don’t often watch something that isn’t a book on VHS or dvd, because most kids already watch SO much at home. But occasionally we watch these 10-20 minute books at the end of the day while snacking/packing. But when we do read or watch something with language or behavior that we discourage in class, we discuss it. Will your students ever hear things that are inappropriate? In a word, yes. So many kids just repeat the inappropriate stuff without thinking and they should be taught how to think what they view or read (not what to think) but how it sounds to others, and whether it is hurtful or not.
Robin
Disney’s Merry Christmas Sing-Alongs DVD is great and interactive. Also great is the Happy Haunting Sing-Along.
Buena
 Not a comment on DVDs, but I also like to keep the Holiday parties very low key. A snack–which *I* provide. (When kids are encouraged to bring in the snacks there is so much waste…and I can’t bear to think of our parents spending money on *junk* when so many don’t have enough to spend on food!) and then a video or little craft activity. Many of my colleagues think I am an old fuddy duddy…but what I *really* am is a control freak! LOL!
Melissa
 We watch Polar Express as a grade level and the kids love it! I have also started to find DVD’s of the animated Alvin and the Chipmunks shows from when I was growing up. The kids have never seen them and they are done by the season (Halloween, Christmas, Spring, etc.) I also like the sing along Disney videos as well.
Susan
Wee Sing Christmas is what I show. Nice message on several levels.
Betsy
 We always, in every school I have taught in,  have had Polar Express Day when everyone wears PJ’s and we drink hot cocoa and watch the movie (usually always the last day before winter break.) Then my new principal last year decided the PJ’s weren’t appropriate and despite our many appeals to reconsider, for the kids sake, he refused. Kinda rained on our spirits.
Marcy
 My favorites are The Snowman and Arthur’s Perfect Christmas. We do a party with three stations that the small groups rotate through. A snack, a craft and a game. I love the idea of the Polar Express PJ party!
Tiffany
I am a pre k teacher and I can’t stand holiday parties! lol. I usually plan a family involvement activity related to something we are learning. As we learned about Thanksgiving and being Thankful, we had parents come in to completer a turkey craft with their child and stay for a thanksgiving style lunch. My parents were very supportive with bringing in side dishes to go with our turkey and ham. We also played holiday music as parents were able to fellowship not only with their kids but other parents. It was great!
For Christmas we will be making gingerbread houses as our family involvement activity.
Bernadette
Holiday parties are also a time for children to learn life skills of socialization! I organize centers and crafts for our celebration days, but a few minutes/bit of time of allowing children to talk, eat, celebrate and just be, gives them the best opportunutiy to learn HOW to be social and celebrate. We fill their time with so much and we must remember to give them time to practice interacting with each other!
Heather Anderson Butterfield 
I love the Leapfrog videos. There is a Christmas one that is great, too.
Joe
We watched “Solar Max”  then had a lesson on moon phases , then ate marshmallow “moons” after observing their shadows in the light of the projector.
Abby
 The Winnie the Pooh holiday movies are great.
Allyson
We do watch them, but just like with Junie B., we talk about the parts we don’t like or agree with (name calling, hitting… etc) and the kids love to act shocked when we hear them do/say things we wouldn’t do at school. I take them as wonderful mini-lessons… And the kids do like and learn from them!
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