Santa’s Joy Shop is an important place. They say that Math is an international language. Well, I think toys are too. Some of my most beloved toys from when I was a child are the same kinds of toys that many kids love today. My favorite was definitely a doll. Her name was Drowsy and she had blonde hair, and her body was made of super soft material that was pink with white polka dots. She spoke some phrases when you pulled the cord on the side. She was the best thing ever to cuddle when you were sad or needed help falling asleep. Sure there are computers and iPads and all kinds of other fancy, schmancy things these days but when it comes down to it, I think kids especially love things that you can cuddle and things that you can play with that allows you to use your imagination. Don’t you agree?
I was thinking about my Christmas Around the World lap book set recently and how much teachers love to teach this unit because it’s so much fun for the kids to learn about different cultures and traditions during Christmas time in different countries around the world. Then I got to thinking about about all the children around the world that may not be able to celebrate Christmas due to their situation such as poverty. I certainly don’t want my students to be sad over the holidays but I do want them to understand that not all children are as lucky as we are to be living in a place where we don’t have to worry as much about war and poverty. It would be wonderful if teaching our students about this in a unique way will help them to build skills in critical thinking, empathy, social responsibility and compassion. That’s when I came up with Santa’s Joy Shop.
So I thought about what one thing most children in the world have in common and that is their love for toys. Now, of course toys are very different in different parts of the world but they have a common thread amongst them.
Santa’s “Joy” Shop is a set of lessons for your students to use as part of their Christmas Around the World unit to integrate Social Studies and Language Arts as well as the skills I mentioned above. It can also be used as a stand alone mini unit.
It was designed to allow students to explore different toys around the world through visuals (provided), books, and media (links provided). These toys are not the pretty toys we see. They are well loved, well used and often not in the best shape. But they are loved.
In Santa’s Joy Shop, students will look at different “toys” played with around the world, have a discussion with critical thinking questions designed to help kids think deeper and choose one of the most popular toys to describe what it is and how it makes them feel and then color the picture. They will then design and create a special toy with their own imagination based on the most popular toys from around the world (including from their very own home!) Students will plan their design as though they were going to make it and then they will create a prototype.
There is some information and maker supply ideas IF you decide you would like your students to actually create the toy. The idea is that they create it for someone else – aka the spirit of giving. Maybe you want to do this for a buddy class? Younger students can create the toy picture, older students can create the prototype and make it. Or, younger students draw their toy and the older students make it for them! Again, this part is optional and there is more than enough to do in this set to keep your students engaged for the week or so before Christmas. (This set also comes with some printables for you to make a bulletin board.)
I hope Santa’s Joy shop helps your students to see beyond the glitter and flashing lights. 🙂