Christmas Around the World Lesson Plans: Germany

Germany is the home of  Christmas trees and gingerbread, two aspects of the German celebration that have become well entrenched in American tradition. Click on the links to find plenty of classroom activities for both those topics.

Don’t stop there! German Christmas traditions involve lots of handmade decorations. One that may surprise your students is the tradition of making dolls from fruit and nuts. Start with pipe cleaners twisted into a stick figure, and thread dried fruits onto the wires, or cut pictures of fruits and nuts from old magazines (easy to find at this time of year) and glue them into a collage paper doll.

Another is folded paper stars. You can make complex stars from paper strips, or a simple star from a paper triangle. The second type can have a little note written inside, so I like to use it for math problems: write the equation on the points, with the answer in the center.

Here’s a video showing how to make the complicated star:


  • Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel is Shirley Climo’s retelling of a story about Christmas, spiders, and housework.  housework is actually a theme in many countries’ Christmas, from the Finnish custom of cleaning to the legend of Old Befana in Italy or Babushka in Russia.
  • O Christmas Tree is a picture book version of the traditional German carol “O Tannenbaum.” The book contains sheet music, sign language for singing the song, and instructions for simple, traditional handmade ornaments. This is just what you need for a classroom Christmas tree.
  • The Elves and the Shoemaker is another German story, and the lesson plans you’ll find when you click the link focus on economics and character education, both good topics for the Christmas season.

Online resources:

  • A PowerPoint on Christmas in Germany with handouts and paper ornaments. This lesson uses the tradition of hanging a pickle shaped ornament on the Christmas tree. Everyone tries to find the pickle.
  • Read about the custom of Christmas markets.
  • St. Nicholas Day, December 6, is the day for German children to put their shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with treats. Read about St. Nicholas and compare this tradition with that of Santa Claus.
  • If you decide to sing “O Tannenbaum,” you might also want to sing “O, Energy,” a carol to the tune of “O Christmas Tree” by Will Wicker from Wakefield High School.

Here are Will’s lyrics, with his own highly hyphenated punctuation:

Oh, en-er-gy, oh, en-er-gy, conserving you’s not up to me.
Some people say, “Don’t waste a Watt!!” They say it’s true, I say it’s not!
Oh, en-er-gy, oh, en-er-gy, conserving you’s not up to me.

Oh, en-er-gy, oh, en-er-gy, con-ser-va-tion, that’s the key.
What’s the big deal, what’s the fuss? Electric bills are fooling us.
Oh, en-er-gy, oh, en-er-gy, con-ser-va-tion, that’s the key.

Oh, en-er-gy, oh, en-er-gy, you are conserved in spite of me.
Your conservation is the law, you’re not used up, just changed, that’s all.
Oh, en-er-gy, oh, en-er-gy, you are conserved in spite of me.


Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.