Navidad for Children: 17 Festive Activities to Bring Christmas to Your Spanish Classroom
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you have to admit—children are drawn to it!
This makes Christmas the perfect time to spice up your classroom routine with some exciting holiday activities.
Spanish-speaking countries have a whole world of traditions that you can use to teach the language and some culture through one of the most popular holidays of the year.
To get you started, here are 17 festive Christmas activities your Spanish students will absolutely love.
- 1. Sing Christmas Carols
- 2. Illustrate a Christmas Carol
- 3. Make a Bilingual Christmas Booklet
- 4. Play Christmas “Taboo”
- 5. Watch a Christmas Movie/Video in Spanish
- 6. Read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” in Spanish
- 7. Act out “Las Posadas”
- 8. Make and Break a Piñata
- 9. Decorate the Classroom
- 10. Take a Christmas Quiz
- 11. Celebrate Spanish April Fools’ Day
- 12. Write a Letter to the Three Wise Men
- 13. Make Christmas Carol Gift Boxes
- 14. Play with Christmas Fortune Tellers
- 15. Create a Nativity Scene
- 16. The Poinsettia: A Mexican Christmas Star
- 17. Research Christmas Traditions in Different Countries
- Why You Should Celebrate Holidays in the Spanish Classroom
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1. Sing Christmas Carols
Teaching Spanish through music is always a fun way to teach vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, and Christmas carols make it even more exciting!
Some Spanish Christmas carols (villancicos) will be familiar to children, like “Noche de Paz” (Silent Night) or “El niño del tambor” (The Little Drummer Boy).
There are also plenty of carols that were written originally in Spanish, and you can use this site to find a wide range of Spanish villancicos along with lyrics, music and even videos.
You can also act out the song with your students, creating specific actions they’ll do when they hear certain words—which will encourage active listening.
For older children you can do typical fill-in-the-blanks activities, or even have discussions if their level is more advanced.
2. Illustrate a Christmas Carol
Another great activity involving Christmas carols is to have students illustrate the song once they’re familiar with it.
If the students are older, you can give them a copy of the lyrics but replace several words with blanks, but instead of writing the words, they’ll draw.
Students can take notes while listening, but their final work should be a drawing.
3. Make a Bilingual Christmas Booklet
If you want to improve your students’ Christmas vocabulary, you can have them make a booklet with certain Christmas vocabulary in Spanish, the English translation and their own illustration.
This is sure to get their creative juices flowing and reinforce the vocabulary since they’ll be the ones writing the words and drawing their own visuals.
4. Play Christmas “Taboo”
Have several Christmas vocabulary words prepared on sheets of papers. Split your class into two teams.
One student will come to the front and choose a word. They will then have one minute to try to describe that word (in Spanish!) to their team without using hand motions.
If their team guesses the correct answer, the student can continue to pick words until the time runs out.
The player’s team will receive a point for each word they guessed correctly. If the time runs out and the team hasn’t guessed the right answer, the opposing team will be allowed to guess for that card and receive the point.
To make the game challenging, subtract points for students who slip up and use English
5. Watch a Christmas Movie/Video in Spanish
Find a Christmas movie or short video in Spanish and have your students watch it. You can have them demonstrate comprehension with guided notes, a quiz or a class discussion afterwards.
If you prefer to stick to shorter videos, you can find videos like “DIY: Christmas Angel,” on FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
The large, diverse catalog means that you’ll have an easy time finding some fun and engaging clips (plenty Christmas themed) to use in your class!
6. Read “T’was the Night Before Christmas” in Spanish
Pass out the Spanish version of this Christmas classic and have students highlight and translate the poem.
You can also do a class reading and include a quiz or review activity based on the poem.
7. Act out “Las Posadas”
Las Posadas (lodgings) is a celebration held in many Spanish-speaking countries from December 16 to 24. These nine days represent the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy.
The holiday is traditionally celebrated with a performance involving an group that represents Mary and Joseph called los peregrinos (the travelers) and a group that represents the lodge (los posaderos).
Los peregrinos go from house to house pidiendo posada (asking for lodging) through song until one house lets them in.
In some countries, the act ends with some praying inside the house. In others, like Mexico, it ends with a party in which people break a star-shaped piñata and have fun.
Teach your class the Posadas song in advance and discuss its meaning. Give everyone a copy of the lyrics so they can practice at home. Students don’t need to memorize it, they should just be familiar with the words.
On the day of the performance you can divide your class into the peregrinos and the posaderos. The peregrinos will be outside the classroom, and the posaderos will be in the classroom.
They will sing across the door until the inside group lets them in. Then you can celebrate Mexican style— with a piñata!
8. Make and Break a Piñata
Piñatas originated as a religious item, but have evolved to become a very common activity at parties of all kinds in various Spanish cultures.
As a classroom activity, this will take you more than one class, but it will be totally worth it! You will take one class to make the base of the piñata, another class to decorate it and the last class to break it!
Here’s a tutorial that explains exactly how to make this type of piñata and what materials you’ll need.
Teach your class the piñata song and distribute the lyrics before you start making the piñatas.
This activity is not only very fun, but it can be educational. Depending on the level of your students, here are some topics to teach through this activity:
- With beginners you can use this activity to practice vocabulary like colors, classroom materials, fruits, candies and flavors.
- For intermediate students you can practice following instructions and verbs in different tenses (future tense when you tell them what they’ll do, present and present continuous while you do it, and past tense when you review how you did it).
- For advanced students, you can explain all the symbolism. If they are old enough, they can do some research and write a small essay about this topic (before or after you make the piñata).
9. Decorate the Classroom
You can prepare your own Christmas decorations and give students decorating instructions in Spanish for them to follow.
Once they’ve put up your decorations, have them create some of their own then write their own decorating instructions to give to their fellow classmates. This will allow them to be creative and practice writing skills.
Students can then exchange decorations and instructions to get even more reading and comprehension practice!
Another decorative option is to create Christmas light cutouts with different Christmas vocabulary words and then give one to each student.
Have students find out what their word means and draw a picture of it on the cutout.
Once finished, go around the room and have the students quickly present their words and their meanings. Hang the “lights” on a string around the room.
Have the students choose five of the words from the string of lights and write a complete sentence for each of them.
10. Take a Christmas Quiz
Print out a sheet of paper where students can either circle cierto (true) or falso (false).
For reading comprehension practice, write Christmas statements out in Spanish for students to determine whether they are correct or not.
For listening comprehension practice, read the sentences aloud and have students circle true or false. Compare answers at the end.
The sentences can be about anything Christmas-related: Baby Jesus’s mother’s name was Mother Teresa. False. The traditional Christmas colors are red and green. True.
Then you can have students create their own true/false statements for writing practice.
11. Celebrate Spanish April Fools’ Day
In Spanish-speaking countries, the equivalent of April Fools’ Day is celebrated on December 28: Día de los Inocentes (literally, Innocents’ Day).
The whole day is full of pranks, jokes and crazy stories people tell each other. The media (radio, TV, newspapers) also reports fake news, some of which are so close to reality that people really get fooled.
Teach your students the Spanish saying that’s commonly said after someone’s been fooled:
Inocente palomita que te dejas engañar, que no sabes que este día ni se presta ni se da.
(Innocent little dove you allowed yourself to be fooled, don’t you know that this day you don’t lend and you don’t give.)
As a classroom activity, ask your students to come up with a good joke, prank or story for this day and write it down. It’ll be a fun way to work on writing skills, while practicing grammar and vocabulary as well.
12. Write a Letter to the Three Wise Men
Instead of writing a letter to Santa Claus, ask your students to write to Los Tres Reyes Magos (the Three Wise Men), who bring presents to children for January 6.
Depending on the level of your students, they can either make a simple list (in which you’ll practice vocabulary with them) or write a proper letter (in which you’ll review present tense and/or subjunctive depending on how complex the letter is).
In some schools in Latin America, on the last day before holiday break, children will tie their letters to a balloon and release the balloons into the sky all at the same time.
It’s a great spectacle to watch, and children get really excited thinking their letters are flying to the Three Wise Men.
You can do the same with your class—just make a copy of their letters so you can keep one to review, since the other will be released to the sky. Check out this video so you can see how fun it is!
13. Make Christmas Carol Gift Boxes
Arts and crafts projects are a fun addition to any language class. After you’ve sung some Christmas carols, let students make a paper gift box that features a few lyrics on the sides. Students should illustrate the lyrics that appear on the box.
If your students are older, use a simple box template like this one and divide up the lyrics to an entire villancico between your students. Then when they’re finished, play a game in which students have to put the song in order.
Older students could also use the blank template and select which song and lyrics to copy onto their box to illustrate.
14. Play with Christmas Fortune Tellers
Follow these instructions and make Christmas-themed comoecocos or sacapiojos (fortune tellers) in class. If you have younger kids, you might prefer to use this printable of a Christmas fortune teller.
Once they’re made, playing with the fortune tellers in pairs is a great activity to practice vocabulary, asking questions and dividing words into syllables.
If your students are more advanced, instead of just saying the word to select a space, have them use that word in a complete sentence.
So if there’s a snowman on one of the flaps, rather than just saying “muñeco de nieve,” students could describe how to build one!
15. Create a Nativity Scene
Most homes in Spanish-speaking countries have a Nativity scene as part of the Christmas decorations. Making one with your students can be very fun for them!
For this activity, it’s important to consider the age of your students, so it’s not only entertaining but challenging for them.
For the younger ones, simple Nativity scenes made with egg cartons, Play-Doh or toilet paper rolls work well. For older students, try using Play-Doh or tongue depressors.
With this activity, you can practice vocabulary (like colors, animals or classroom materials), following instructions, asking questions, etc.
16. The Poinsettia: A Mexican Christmas Star
Known in Mexico as “flor de Nochebuena” (Christmas Eve flower) and in the world as “Poinsettia,” this flower of Mexican origin prevails today in homes during Christmas around the world.
The Aztecs used this flower for celebrations dedicated to the god Huitzilopochtli. The Aztecs called the flower cuetlaxóchitl, which means “flower that withers” in Nahuatl.
The name comes from a myth of a rebellion by the Chontales, who refused to pay the taxes imposed by the Aztecs.
When the group was defeated by the Aztecs, a bush of white flowers withered and came back as red (from the blood of the fallen).
When the Spanish arrived, the flower was renamed nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower) because it could keep its red color during the Christmas celebrations.
The Spanish missionaries took advantage of this opportunity to distance the symbolism from the blood of the defeated, and gave the flower a Christian reinterpretation.
You can tell your students the story behind the flower, and then ask them to make a picture of the story or to write it down with their own words .
17. Research Christmas Traditions in Different Countries
Split the class into small groups and have them each pick a different Spanish-speaking country. Ask the students to research their country’s Christmas traditions and customs using the computer or books.
Ask students to choose one tradition that they found particularly interesting and plan to present it to the class in an interesting way (i.e., a poster, a skit, a traditional dance, etc.).
This is a great way to expose students to different cultures that exist even within the Spanish-speaking world!
After learning about different cultures, you can have the students write about their own Christmas traditions and present it to the class.
Why You Should Celebrate Holidays in the Spanish Classroom
Not convinced you should be celebrating Christmas in your classroom? Whether or not you personally celebrate Christmas, or any holiday for that matter, integrating holidays into your classroom is truly important.
Here are some great reasons to consider getting a little festive this year:
- It’s a monotony breaker. We all need a little variety in our lives… especially if we’re in a classroom setting. Breaking up the everyday tasks and changing things up for a bit might be just what the doctor ordered to beat the boredom blues.
- It creates an opportunity to teach about cultures and customs. Each culture has its own set of traditions and customs—many of them related to holidays and cultural celebrations. It’s important that your Spanish students receive authentic cultural lessons in order to achieve a greater understanding of true Spanish-language culture.
- It’s a great reason to introduce new vocabulary. Adding in some holiday-related vocabulary while using interesting new approaches can make vocab acquisition a more enjoyable task!
- It’s a chance to set aside curriculum and challenge yourself as a teacher. Even though you may love your Spanish curriculum, it’s always fun to take a break and try new things. Take a few days to set your curriculum to the side and use this holiday as an excuse to try out a new teaching method or practice.
You now have plenty of ideas to add a seasonal touch to your Spanish classroom this Christmas. I’m sure your students will have as much fun as you will!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)