The Best Christmas Films to Watch With Your Class
Your pupils can sometimes get a little bit over-excited in the run-up to Christmas. With the abundance of glittery craft projects, Christmas plays and too many mince pies and chocolates it can sometimes be good to have a quiet moment in the classroom. Watching Christmas films in class can be great for getting pupils to settle down for an hour or so during the day.
Letting your pupils enjoy a film in the classroom doesn’t have to mean lost learning time. Many films have themes that can be discussed as a class or can inspire other classroom activities. Take a look at our favourite Christmas films below and our ideas on how you can combine this with meaningful teaching activities.
A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This fantastic version of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas story is great for KS2 pupils. As well as being a lot of fun, there are some pretty weighty themes, including transformation, forgiveness and compassion. Why not combine watching the film with reading excerpts from the original book? Here are some questions for your class:
1. How does the language differ between the film and the book?
2. How does Scrooge change after the visit from each spirit? What does he learn?
3. Why is it important to be forgiving and compassionate?
4. How has the way we celebrate Christmas changed since the Victorian era?
5. Are there any old traditions in the film or book that you’d like to bring back?
Home Alone (1990)
When young Kevin is left home alone after his parents forget to take him on holiday, not only does he manage to be self-sufficient, but he also manages to fend off two bad guys as well. Whilst it is a lot of fun watching Kevin battle against the grown-ups, the film also emphasizes the importance of family and the negative effects of loneliness. Whilst Kevin may have been happy without his family at first, he soon starts to miss them and is delighted when they return. What would your pupils do if they were left home alone? Why not ask your pupils to design an ingenious contraption that they would use to beat the baddies.
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
This is one of our favourite Christmas films. Based on the book by Dr Seuss, The Grinch (whose heart is three sizes too small) decides to ruin Christmas for the people of Whoville. He steals all of the presents, decorations and food, but is stunned when he hears that the ‘Whos’ are still singing happily on Christmas day:
“And then he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
The film is great for reminding pupils that there is more to Christmas than presents and chocolate, it’s a time for togetherness and celebration.
There are some great messages at the heart of Elf, including having the strength to be yourself rather than changing to fit in with the crowd, and making the most of the magic at Christmastime. At the end of the film Buddy is the author of a successful Christmas storybook. Why not ask your class to create their own Christmas story? You could also sing some Christmas songs in class as “the best way to spread Christmas is cheer singing loud for all to hear.” Buddy the Elf experiences an extreme culture clash when he arrives in New York after being brought up at the North Pole. Discuss this culture clash with your class and ask them whether they have ever experienced a culture clash? How could they make it easier for a new pupil starting at your school to settle in?
Miracle on 34th Street (1947/1994)
Whether you’re watching the 1947 original or the 1994 remake, Miracle on 34th Street is all about belief in the magic of Christmas, whatever your age. It also offers pupils a fascinating look into a court room. Why not set up a court room in your class room and put fictional characters on trial? You could ask pupils to play the roles of the accused, the defense and prosecutor, the judge and the jury. Pupils will have to come up with arguments and evidence to prove the accused character’s guilt or innocence. Ideas for who to put on trial: Goldilocks, The Big Bad Wolf and Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk).
Deck the Halls (2006)
In one of the funniest Christmas films, Christmas-loving Steve and his new neighbour Buddy go to war when Buddy threatens to steal Steve’s crown as ‘Mr Christmas’. By the end of the film, they both realise that the most important thing about Christmas is being with the ones that you love. In the film, Buddy tries to put on a Christmas light display set to music. Why not get your class to make miniature electrical circuits with mini-lightbulbs and create your own smaller version?
The Snowman (1982)
At only 26 minutes long, The Snowman is perfect for fitting into one lesson. The beautiful animation and music are sure to capture your pupils’ imagination. In the film, James and the Snowman fly over the countryside and sea to meet Father Christmas at the North Pole. Why not ask your pupils where they would go if they could suddenly fly? This would be a great opportunity to get creative with perspective. Get your pupils to create a bird’s eye view of their destination, or, if they wish, the school or their home.
Have we missed your favourite Christmas films off the list? Let us know in the comments section below.
The Christmas Story Generator is perfect for instilling a love of storytelling in your pupils and helping them to develop their writing skills. Use the Christmas Story Generator to help your little writers to plan and develop their own Christmas stories.
Are you looking for a last-minute gift for your pupils or a colleague? Take a look at the PTS Gift Guide 2018 for some inspiration.