Do your students love watching animated shorts? If so, they will love using these December writing prompts and learn a lot in the process. I have collected 5 short videos that explain the importance of candles at Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Students watch the videos. They then summarize the meanings of the Christmas candle, Kwanzaa kinara, Jewish menorah, and Yule log in these easy to assemble covers. Glue student writings onto construction paper and display them on a bulletin board. Turn covers into a page for interaction notebooks, or add them to a writing portfolio. You can even use them as a stand-alone.
Why are candles important?
Candles are important during the holiday season. They represent both religious and nonspiritual winter events. People interpret their meaning in many different ways. Some associate candles with the Yuletide. The winter solstice celebrations date back for centuries. Celebrators think the warm glow of candles shows spring is on its way. Others view candles as a family’s guiding light. This comes from several ancient traditions. Christians equate candles with the guiding star of Bethlehem. Jews light a Hanukiah during Hanukkah. During Kwanzaa, the central symbol is a candelabra of special colored candles.
Have students learn about the symbolism of candles during December celebrations using this fun printable.
For Christians, the star of Bethlehem guided the Three Wise Men from the East to baby Jesus. The Magi wanted to honor the newborn king of the Jews with gifts and prayers. Because of this, Christians use candles during Christmas services to remember Jesus is ‘the Light of the World.’
Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Light
The Greek King Antiochus tried to make the Jewish people bow down in front of a statue of him that had been placed in front of the Jewish temple. Antiochus told the Jewish people to pray to the Greek gods. The Jewish people refused. This lead to a three-year war in which the Jews won. To celebrate the victory, an oil lamp was lit inside the repaired temple. There was only enough oil for one day, but the light burned for eight days. Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, reminds Jews of this event. During Hanukkah, an eight-branched candlestick called a Hanukiah is lit as a reminder of the miracle of the oil burning for eight days instead of one.
From December 26 to January 1, many Americans celebrate Kwanzaa. This is an African-American cultural festival. Founded in 1966, Kwanzaa celebrates African-Americans and their ancestry. The central symbol of Kwanzaa is a candelabra called a kinara that holds one black, three red, and three green candles. The candles are lighted in a particular order until the final day when all seven candles burn. Each candle has a special meaning.
Activity #1 Videos
Before students write using December writing prompts, they need to learn about the celebrations. These 5 videos are great for upper elementary students.
Video #1 – The Christmas Story
Video #2 – Guided Drawing
This exceptional video illustrates how to turn the word ‘menorah’ into a drawing.
Video #3 Learn about Hanukkah [Chanukah]
This video tells the stories of the Greek King Antiochus.
Video #4 Kwanzaa
This 6-minute video from Mojo provides facts about Kwanzaa in a fun way.
Video #5 Holiday Greeting
A chain reaction machine that pushes holiday symbols representing Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa wishes everyone a happy holiday.
Have students learn about the symbolism of candles during December celebrations using this fun printable. Follow these simple instructions to complete the foldable organizers.
- First, print the two pages onto colored paper. Cut out the shapes.
- Next, fold inward on the dotted lines.
- Dot glue on the middle part of the back.
- Attach to a notebook.
- Finally, students write about the symbols inside each shape.