I love offbeat holidays, and just like my city’s motto – “Keep Austin Weird”, I firmly believe we should mix a few weird holidays into the yearly holiday calendar. When I was teaching, we would always celebrate Dr. Seuss Day by making green eggs and ham. And if the day fell just right, we would celebrate Friday the 13th with games about superstitions and phobias. At TCEA, we love Geek Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, and peaches. Did you know August is designated National Peach Month per executive orders from Ronald Reagan? Thanks to Margaret, our TCEA accountant, we celebrated the month with H.E.B. Peach Cobbler Ice Cream. Delicious.
So why not meld the power of the iPad with weird and wonderful holidays? Below you will find several September offbeat holidays that, with a little imagination and creativity, will blend technology with fun and learning.
National Play-Doh Day
Play-Doh has been around since the mid 1950’s and is a great, inexpensive way to express creativity. How about making a stop motion animation of a Play-Doh monster? Using a googley eye or two, Play-Doh, and a wonderful free app, iMotion, storyboard your monster and film the creation. A stand-up case or tripod is a must for a steady hand. But in a pinch, students will get creative and find anything to prop up their iPads. A little trick is to limit your stop motion animations to 10 seconds or less. Check out this great example.
National Butterscotch Pudding Day
Use a graphic organizer of your choice (I recommend StoryKit) and have your students take a photo of each step in making butterscotch pudding. Record voice of each step and add the appropriate text. Wrap up the activity by eating the pudding, of course!
World Gratitude Day
This is a great day to show your gratefulness and appreciation to a school helper, such as the custodian, nurse, or cafeteria staff. The Padlet app makes it easy to set up and each student can post a message on the gratitude wall. Just share the link with your favorite school personnel and their day is MADE!
Elephant Appreciation Day
Download the free WWF Together app and explore the elephant section of this beautifully-designed app. Students can look at stunning photos, videos, and interactives in this World Wildlife Fund production. Bonus: Discover multiple ways to get involved and protect elephants and other amazing animals.
Celebrate this day with a free iPad app, Checkers for Kids HD, from Amusedo Games. The app has three levels: easy, medium, and hard. The cute user interface is easy to operate and has fun sound effects. Bonus! This day is also Dogs in Politics Day. Celebrate the day with some presidential canine trivia.
- Which President’s dog wrote a book?
- What was the name of President Clinton’s dog?
- Checkers was the name of which president’s dog?
- Bo and Sunny currently live in the White House. What kind of breed are they both?
- Did our first president have a dog in the White House?
National Comic Book Day
Take a break from a novels and textbooks and practice those ELA skills with some comic books. Or perhaps celebrate the day by having students create a short comic book story or joke with the free app Pixton Comic Maker.
There are lots of other great apps to use to celebrate fun holidays each month. You can find some of them, if you’re a TCEA member, on our list of recommended iOS apps. And, of course, many of our free-to-members Lunch and Learn webinars feature amazing apps for both you and your students.
Featured Image: Created in Canva by author
We’ll all have some free time to relax and unwind over the winter break. If you need some technology to help you take it easy, here are a few fun apps.
Red Herring is my favorite word game. It comes in handy in the grocery store or TSA line. A game consists of 16 words. 12 of the words are placed in three categories of four words each. There are four words that are thrown into the mix to distract you; these are the Red Herrings, pesky little words whose sole purpose is to mislead you. You can choose your own level: easy, normal, or hard. You can buy puzzle packs at $0.99, but I enjoy playing the one free puzzle a day. iOS/Android
ElfYourself allows you to “elf” yourself and four other friends. You can post your personalized video in the Cats theme and share via email or Facebook. There are many other video choices, but they will set you back $0.99 a pop. iOS/Android
Star Wars by Disney is your app connection to a galaxy far, far away. You can get trailer releases and movie news, but this app has so MUCH MORE! A couple of cool things: Take and share a Star Wars “selfie” such as Princess Leia complete with her hair buns or Han Solo’s carbon freeze. The app is equipped with a Sound Board, which will allow you to play classic sound clips: “How rude!” by C3PO or you can listen to Darth Vader’s “I am your father.” This Day in Star Wars History is full of fun trivia. May the app be with you! iOS/Android
Blur and Mosaic is a free app that will create a pixelated mosaic when you trace your finger over an area of an image. You can select from different grades of thickness and strength for your mosaic as well. iOS
Bitmoji – Your Personal Emoji is a free app with the ability to buy more theme packs for $0.99. First you design your own personal avatar. The app comes with hundreds of attributes to customize everyone’s unique look. Next choose a mood, a scene, or a saying to message, email, or post to Facebook or Twitter. iOS/Android
Not an app, but dust off your mad decorating skills and get ready to decorate a gingerbread cookie in the shared TCEA Gingerbread Google Slides deck. Click here and find an undecorated slide to begin.
This post was updated with additional resources on December 1, 2021.
Looking for some fun holiday websites for your students? Here are a few of our favorites, both old and new.
Grinch-mas is a holiday tradition inspired by Dr. Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Grinch-mas encourages readers to “grow your heart three sizes” through the celebration of family reading, giving from the heart, and community spirit. National Grinch Day, on December 1, will kick-start the 25 Days of Grinch-mas. During this time, bookstores and local retailers all over the country will be hosting Grinch-mas events that will incorporate holiday storytimes for families with opportunities for kids to win prizes for doing good deeds throughout the month of December. It might be too late to join in this year, but the website includes print-color-create activities, clips to watch, and games to play.
Watch Santa feed two of his reindeer during this holiday time on the Reindeer Cam.
This easy-to-use website allows you to virtually cut folded paper and preview the snowflake. Whether you have students create a flake and then write a story of the flake’s travels or whether you have them incorporate specific mathematical features (rhombus, trapezoid, triangle, etc.), this site will be a fun start.
This site shares a lot of different options for sending a holiday e-card.
Northpole.com celebrates the holidays with dozens of activities for children and families. A child-safe, award-winning holiday site, northpole.com promotes a traditional look at Santa’s Secret Village at the North Pole, but with high-tech, creative features to keep children and adults entertained—all for free.
Winter and Christmas Mad Libs
Mad Libs is a phrasal template word game where specific parts of speech are substituted for blanks in a story and then read out loud. A little history on Mad Libs: 110+ million copies of Mad Libs books have been sold since the series was first published in 1958. This site has some fun holiday-themed Mad Libs your students are sure to enjoy.
41 Christmas Songs
Here you’ll find the lyrics to popular Christmas songs and carols. The Grinch Theme, of course, is included.
20 Christmas Stories
Links to the full stories.
The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Holiday School Party Games
More Winter Resources from TechNotes
- Tips, Tricks, and Tech Tidbits – Part 8 (more winter activities)
- Winter Resources for the Elementary Classroom
- Fun with a Holiday FlipHunt
- Celebrate the Season with Holiday Websites
- 5 Holiday Seesaw Activities
- Holiday Websites, Apps, and Extensions
- Merry Merry Breakout
Featured Image: Created in Canva by TCEA staff.