Christmas Around the World and Hanukkah Too: A Montessori Approach

Christmas Around the World and Hanukkah Too: A Montessori Approach

The words "Christmas," "Hanukkah," and "World" are abstract to a young child. Montessori activities from birth to six years are primarily "Sensorial": they are hands-on concrete activities and experiences: smell, touch, taste, hear, feel, and see. The child then abstracts from these concrete experiences as he or she gets older. So before we can introduce the abstract concepts of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the World, we need to build a sensorial foundation that can begin in infancy. (Need to pin for later?)

Infants and Tots

  1.  If you have an infant or tot, your main concern is safety, so that will be your guide to what you can introduce in the home (or daycare setting). 
  2. An infant from age seven to 12 months is in a sensitive period for oral exploration, so you would introduce finger foods (typically at seven months). You can also provide safe objects for them to explore orally. And keeping with the theme of Christmas, Hanukkah (and the world) you could use baby proof and baby safe cultural, Christmas, and Hanukkah-type foods and items for the child to explore.  
  3. Music/Auditory: Infants are attracted to sounds including the human voice. You could sing multicultural, Christmas, or Hanukkah songs or rhymes, play a musical instrument, play a multicultural, Christmas, or Hanukkah CD, album, or Youtube clip. You can also look for infant-safe bells to play with and explore.
  4. The Environment: An infant explores his or her own body: hands, fingers, feet, mouth, etc. You could name the various parts of the body in Spanish or French (or your own native language). You can also buy infant-safe jingle bells to wrap around infant's foot or wrist. 
  5. When a tot is crawling and walking, he or she wants to explore the home environment. This is a good time to have your home baby proofed and or use baby gates to close off rooms that are NOT safe to explore. You could then create corners and areas in the home with Montessori Treasure Baskets for the tot to explore, that contain baby and toddler-safe multicultural, Christmas, or Hanukkah items. Felt is a safe material to utilize, and baby board books.
Twos and Threes
  1. The Environment (child's and extended): The 2.5 to 3-year-old now wants to explore local environments (park, beach, library, daycare). Use language to name what you find when you explore, including Spanish or your native language. There may also be multicultural events that you can attend, suited for children.
  2. Geography for toddlers and three-year-olds: Use the Montessori Land & Water Forms to teach the concept of the earth, the world, that it is made of land and water (on the surface), and the BIGGEST land masses are the continents (which are introduced at age four and five).
  3. Explore your Christmas storage boxes for safe items to include, and or shop at a local store for Christmas ornaments on sale. Think multicultural, think language (names of the items), think religion and related stories from the Bible, as well as Hanukkah (menorah, dreidel). Another idea is to cut out up magazines and make cards and use them as Classified Picture cards.
Four to Six-Year-Olds 
  1. The Environment (child's and extended): Four-year-olds expand out and show an interest in his or her own town and city. At age five, the interest becomes the earth, the planets, and the stars. This is a good time to introduce a globe and a world puzzle map, as well as the names of the continents.
  2. After the Land and Water Forms (at age two and three) comes the Sandpaper Land and Water Globe and the Colored Globe (any globe will do if you are not in a Montessori classroom). After that comes the World Puzzle Map. It is an expensive material to buy, so you can instead get a floor puzzle of the world. Next comes language: the names of the continents and the continent song. 
  3. At age five (after the child learns the names of the continents) you can introduce the People of the World (pictures of people from each continent) and the Animals of the World  People Around the World, as well as the Physical Needs of Man and the Spiritual Needs of Man lessons. WITH THAT comes multicultural food/music/costumes. The Spiritual Needs of Man include art, music, language, vanity, and religion (which would dovetail into religious holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah).
  4. Language: Name of the continents (and land and water forms).
  5. Simple recipes: When your child begins to read, you can create simple recipes for him or her to read and prepare, or help you make or prepare, from around the world... and include the continent and the country they are from!
  6. Musical Instruments from around the world, music CDs, albums, Youtube clips, songs, photos, cards, books... and include the continent and the country they are from!
  7. Costumes: Clothing, photos of clothing, books, magazine pictures, from around the world... and include the continent and the country they are from!
  8. Arts and Crafts from around the world, cards, photos, books, magazines, from around the world... and include the continent and the country they are from!
Christmas Around the World and Hanukkah Too: A Montessori Approach


Want more Montessori for the holidays? Check out my Montessori on a Budget holiday post/s here and here; as well as more of my Confessions of a Montessori Mom holiday posts hereDoing some last-minute holiday shopping and need Montessori-friendly recommendations? Go here!

~Lisa

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