Holiday season

15 free resources for the holiday season

Celebrate the holiday season using these free resources from GPB and PBS LearningMedia! Explore the original stories of Christmas traditions, learn how different artists are inspired by the winter holidays, and see how math is used to follow Santa Claus and his sleigh.

1. Christmas | All about vacation
Levels: 3-5
Christmas Day is not just a celebration for Christians. Find out about the different traditions that people hold to celebrate it. So have a merry little Christmas!

2. A Christmas Carol: Behind the Curtains
Levels: 3-8
There’s a new twist on an old classic at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Take a peek behind the curtain with Charles Dickens’ latest adaptation A Christmas Carol. Hear from the play’s director, playwright and set designer discuss what makes this version of “A Christmas Carol” so current and unique.

3. Georgia’s Christmas Present: The Sugar Cane Factory | Stories from Georgia
Levels: 3-8
Bobs Candies, an Albany company founded by Bob McCormack in 1919, is the world’s largest striped candy maker. McCormack was the first manufacturer to wrap their candy in cellophane. In the 1950s, McCormack’s brother-in-law, Father Gregory Keller, invented a machine to twist candies and fold them into a cane. The Keller machine revolutionized the business and created a new industry: the commercial manufacture of candy canes. McCormack’s grandchildren comment on their work at the factory.

4. Why is Santa Claus wearing red? | Origin of everything
Levels: 9-12
It’s the holiday season and we all know that means seeing old St. Nick in his big red suit. But have you ever wondered why he isn’t wearing another color? Because he was seen wearing blue suits, purple suits, yellow suits and sometimes he was even skinny! So how did we end up becoming a happy bearded Santa who only dresses in red? Watch the episode to find out.

5. Sid’s Holiday Adventure | Sid the science kid
Levels: PreK-K
In this episode of Sid the Science Kid, Sid and his friends learn about temperature, thermometers, and weather. Sid learns that temperatures vary depending on where you are.

6. Kwanzaa | All about vacation
Levels: 3-5
Kwanzaa is an opportunity to celebrate African American heritage. Learn how people observe this holiday and trace its roots in ancient African customs.

7. Missing reindeer | The strange squad
Levels: K-2
Learn how to draw coordinates with the Odd Squad. Two Santa’s reindeer are on the loose and fly all over the world! By plotting the coordinates on a map, Olive and Otto attempt to locate them.

8. Arab and Chinese Nutcracker Dances | Toolkit for the dance arts
Levels: K-12
Watch dancers from the Kentucky Ballet Theater perform Arabic and Chinese dances from Tchaikovsky’s famous Nutcracker ballet in this video from the Dance Arts Toolkit series. Host David Thurmond introduces the segment by showing off a pair of pointes and explaining how they allow a ballerina to dance on her toes.

9. The real Rudolph has bloody antlers and super vision | Raw science
Levels: 9-12
Learn more about reindeer, in this video from NOVA’s Gross Science series. When reindeer antlers start to grow, they are soft and covered with a thin layer of skin called velvet. Pile carries oxygen and nutrients to help antlers grow quickly. However, when the antlers harden, the pile falls off. The process of removing the pile gives the antlers a bloody appearance. Reindeer also have adaptations, such as the ability to see UV light, which helps them to live in snowy areas. UV vision allows reindeer to find food and spot signs of predators in the snowy landscape.

10. Is Santa Claus real? (A scientific analysis) | It’s good to be smart
Levels: 6-12
Have you ever wondered how Santa Claus could manage to deliver all those presents in one night? Or what gives the red nosed reindeer the ability to fly? And why do your Christmas lights get tangled, no matter how carefully you store them ?!

11. Hanukkah | All about vacation
Levels: 3-5
Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday, but anyone can find meaning in this holiday. Learn about the origins of the tradition and how it is observed today.

12. Christmas Tube! | PBS Chain of Ideas
Levels: 9-12
The log is a fascinating tradition, isn’t it? Over three hours of footage of a burning log – a symbol of home and family vacations – first shown in the 1960s for poor city dwellers without a fireplace. This simple, beautiful and long line-up is a holiday miracle!

13. Christmas poetry | Religion and Ethics Weekly
Levels: 6-12
Christmas, more than any other holiday on the Christian calendar, seems to trigger the poetic impulse – an impulse that began, as Episcopal priest, teacher and poet Chad Walsh noted a few years ago, with the Heavenly Host. and their proclamation: “Glory to God in the highest heavens, And on earth, peace, good will to men.”

14. Holidays | Handicrafts in America
Levels: 9-12
HOLIDAYS embraces the familiar and new winter celebrations as part of our American experience with the handmade. With ceramic artist Susan Garson, paper artist Kathleen Trenchard, ceramic artist Veronica Castillo, the National Gingerbread House competition at Grove Park Inn, Biltmore House, and woodcarver Harley Refsal, from the John C. Campbell Folk School.

15. Dasher and Dancer Over France | The strange squad
Levels: K-2
See the models in practice with the Odd Squad. By tracing the coordinates graphically, Olive and Otto establish a pattern for following Dasher and Dancer.

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