Literacy · Teaching Reflections · Teaching Topics/Activities · Topics for Parents and Students

Hidden Literacy and Numeracy Learning in Christmas Traditions

My own children wrote their letters to Santa last night. They read through magazines and online articles, building and revising their ‘lists.’ Then, they wrote rough copy after rough copy, revising and editing to make sure they made their best impression on the big man. When it was time to address their envelopes, we had a mini lesson on how to do that (which clearly one child ignored – lol).

After it was all said and done, they’d spent a good two hours thinking about writing and using the writing process – all of their own volition!


This experience got me thinking – what other Christmas traditions have hidden literacy¬† learning? My thoughts went on overdrive…and this is the result. I even came up with some numeracy tie ins – shocking for my English teacher brain!

Read on for some easy and practical ideas to engage your kids or students in hidden literacy and numeracy learning over the coming weeks leading up to the big day.

Hidden Reading Skills in Christmas Traditions

  • reading Christmas related stories, articles and poems¬† – my kids favourites are ‘The Nutcracker” and “The Night Before Christmas”
  • reading the “Santa Letter” reply
  • reading holiday recipes
  • reading holiday cards
  • reading special letters, notes and stories kindly left by their ‘Elf on the Shelf’
  • reading instructions to create holiday crafts
  • reading gift guides/advertisements
  • reading Christmas carols as they sing/preparing for a holiday concert
  • reading school related activities, texts and worksheets

Hidden Writing Skills in Christmas Traditions

  • writing Santa letters
  • writing/brainstorming wish lists
  • writing messages or letters to their ‘Elf on the Shelf’
  • helping an adult write holiday cards or writing their own to their friends
  • addressing gift tags
  • addressing holiday cards
  • writing a prayer of Grace for a holiday meal
  • school related holiday writing tasks

Hidden Oral Communication Skills in Christmas Traditions

  • singing and listening to Christmas carols
  • speaking to Santa at a special visit
  • conversing and communicating with friends and relatives of all ages, learning when to use appropriate informal and formal language, make eye contact and hold a conversation at a holiday dinner or gathering
  • thanking someone for a gift
  • presenting a gift/food/drink to someone, using appropriate language and mannerisms
  • using appropriate active listening skills while at Christmas mass

Hidden Media Analysis Skills in Christmas Traditions

  • understanding an intended audience for media advertisements while out shopping
  • noticing how a Christmas/holiday theme is created through use of colour, images and sounds (at home, school, or in public)
  • talking with an adult about how a Christmas ‘story’ (like The Grinch) has evolved intertextually from a poem, to a book, to a film, cartoon and cultural figure
  • understanding literal and metaphorical symbols and lessons in Christmas stories and films

Hidden Numeracy Skills in Christmas Traditions

  • using estimation in cutting paper for gift wrapping
  • understanding shape and geometry to effectively wrap a gift
  • counting down the days until Christmas on a calendar or blackboard
  • using organizational skills to note holiday activities in a calendar
  • doing mental or physical math to figure out ‘holiday sales’
  • creating a gift list using a budget
  • following measurements in recipes
  • estimating weight/balance and physics in building a snowman or snow fort
  • completing school related numeracy activities with a holiday theme (i.e. word problems, worksheets)
  • calculating Santa’s travels around the Globe on Christmas Eve


As parents and teachers, we need to take advantage of our kids engagement in the holiday season. Why not use this time as active learning? We know that when kids are engaged, they learn.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.







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