Sitting in front of the TV during the Christmas holidays is part of the bread and butter of the festive season. However, some parents may be keen for their children to get a little more out of their Christmas viewing.
Some iconic children's Christmas classics may actually be more educational than you first thought. Former primary school teacher Laura Steele, from PlanBee, has revealed how to turn casual Christmas viewings into an active learning experience.
Here is a list of the most educational Christmas films to watch with your kids this festive season, and some fun activities to get the most out of the film.
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Based on the iconic Raymond Briggs book, the film follows a young boy’s snowman magically coming to life. The pair go on a journey to the North Pole to meet Father Christmas.
The boy and the Snowman never speak to each other, but what if they could, what would they say? Children could potentially write an imagined conversation between them, or even act it out.
A fun arts and crafts activity is to get the kids to design their own snowman.
For eagle eyed viewers, they may notice many different animals throughout. A fun game to play is to get your child to try and spot them all, and perhaps choose an animal and to research some information about it.
You can download a free Snowman activity sheet here.
Elf, starring Will Ferrell and James Caan, focuses on Buddy the Elf, a human who is raised by elves at the North Pole. On discovering he is not actually an eld, Buddy travels to New York to find his real father.
During the film Buddy is given a snow globe of New York City. Children could design their own snow globe, showing where they live.
Another activity is for them to describe and draw the films funniest, happiest and saddest moments.
You can download a free Elf activity sheet here.
The Polar Express
The Polar Express follows a young boy who is beginning to lose his brief in Father Christmas. He boards a train to the North Pole and goes on amazing adventures and makes some new friends along the way.
You can ask your child to design their ticket for the Polar Express. Who would they give it to, and why? Which two letters do they think The Conductor would cut out on it, and why? Which full word would be created on reboarding the train?
In the film, the symbol of Christmas spirit for the Boy is the bell he receives from ‘Mr C’. Ask children to draw and explain what represents the Christmas spirit for them.
You can download a free Polar Express activity sheet here.
Based on the 1957 book by Dr Seusss, the movie follows a creature named the Grinch who hates Christmas and everything to do with it. He devises a wicked plan to ruin the festive season for the town of Whoville.
Children could write a character description of the Grinch, detailing his appearance, his personality, what he does, and how he changes by the end of the film.
Ask the kids to draw a picture of, or describe, Whoville at Christmas. Would they like to live there? Can they explain why?
You can download a free Grinch activity sheet here.
Klaus follows a young postman who is not very good at his job and is sent to the unwelcoming town in the far North. He meets an old toy maker, and together they begin delivering presents to the children of the town, things begin to change…
Ask children to imagine that they are one of the children living in Smeerensburg. Challenge them to write their own letter to Klaus, telling him how they have been good, what gift they would like and why.
In the film, Klaus has carved alcoves into a tree trunk for a family of figurines. Ask children to draw or make their own version of this, complete with everyone that is special to them.
In the film Klaus says: ‘A true selfless act always sparks another’. Ask children to name the selfless acts in the film. Have they made any selfless acts themselves in the past? Are there any that they could make in the future?
You can download a free Klaus activity sheet here.
Santa’s rather accident-prone son, Arthur, sets out on a mission to deliver a present that was left at the North Pole on Christmas Eve
Encourage children to draw, and write a short description of, each member of Santa’s family: Santa himself, Mrs Santa, GrandSanta, Steve and of course, Arthur. What characteristics do they each have? How are they similar? How are they different?
Arthur is particularly fond of his slippers. Unfortunately, he loses them during his adventure. Can your child design a new pair for him?
Challenge your children to design and make their own version of ‘Christmas: the Board Game’. What will the board look like, what’s the aim of the game and how is it played? Will they need any extra items such as counters or question cards?
You can download a free Arthur Christmas activity sheet here.