Our school’s 12 days of Christmas

Paula O'Hare

Paula O’Hare has worked within North Lanarkshire and Falkirk Council at a variety of stages. She also lived in Dubai for three years. She has experience in both the Curriculum for Excellence and the British Curriculum. Paula has the responsibility of building a positive communication environment within the school, and also in implementing the play-based learning approach in Early Years, alongside her colleagues. She is currently teaching Primary One and Nursery at Nethermains Primary School (@NethermainsPS).

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Originally published on 28th November 2016. Originally published on 28th November 2016.

On the twelve days of Christmas, Nethermains Primary School gave to me...

One Santa watching

The light sensor in the Primary One classroom takes on a whole new meaning as the countdown to Christmas approaches! Our little blue light flashes when it senses a person moving, and to encourage positive behaviour within the class, we let the children know that Santa is watching them and monitoring the behaviour; ultimately deciding whether they’re on the naughty or nice list.

Two parents selling

Enterprise crafts, of course! Parents, teachers and children come together to design, create and sell unique Christmas crafts. In the run up to the fete, classes become entrepreneurial hubs that Alan Sugar would be proud of! Working like little elves at the North Pole, each class create a gift to sell on the night; stockings, candy canes, homemade wreaths, hot chocolate reindeers and magical Santa keys fill the hall with excitement on fete night. The school also gets involved in an initiative to create Christmas parcels for the elderly members of the community. Parents are encouraged to donate tins of food or Christmas gifts to put into the parcels. The parcels are then made up by adults and children in the school and at home. These parcels are delivered by pupils, teachers and parents in the lead up to Christmas.

Three people who help us

Primary One embark upon their topic of People Who Help Us during the winter term; learning about people in the community. We follow a storyline approach where the children are contacted by Mayor Smith of Nethermains. After a horrendous storm, the children must rebuild the town centre with the help of the community. We receive visits from emergencies services and walk down to Denny High Street to meet important people from the community. This is an opportunity for children to be exposed to the outer community and indeed, establish life-long learning. Our homework for the term consists of the children creating a building for the street; this provides a lovely opportunity for parents to engage in their child’s learning and spend some time discussing the community in which they live. Once the buildings are completed the high street has a grand opening (our high street is displayed within the classroom, complete with chalk roads); parents are invited to see the opening and the switch on of the streets Christmas lights.

Four shiny baubles

As the festive season approaches, we begin to see each classroom adopt a new ambience. Boxes of decorations are taken from the cupboards and dusted down. That bargain of a Christmas tree you got at the pound shop now makes another appearance, looking lovelier than last year. Children decorate the tree most unsymmetrically, and the class is filled with the warm glow of twinkling fairy lights.

Last year, when we had created our high street, a radio presenter from Heart Radio came to ‘switch on our lights’. The children absolutely loved this. We invited pupils from each class to witness the event and the countdown was recorded for the radio.

Five Christmas jumpers

Those adults who never lost touch with the Christmas spirit don the brightly coloured festive knitted jumpers or flashing dangly earrings. Some, with a slightly better sense of style, opt for a fashionable festive dress they found online. Children bop through the doors with antlers and Santa hats, humming jingle bells slightly off-key.

Six photographs

Primary Seven create a calendar for the whole school as part of their enterprise scheme. Ideas of how to style or create the photograph are discussed and each class has a chosen theme. Themes in the past have included summer holidays, Christmas holidays or even just the teachers. Children are encourage to dress up in this style and appear in the calendar, which they have an opportunity to buy before and after the fete.

Seven dwarves

“He’s behind you! No he’s not! Yes he is!” - and so, panto season is upon us. Nethermains Primary is transported to Cumbernauld Theatre to witness some fantastic productions. The intimate setting of the theatre allows children to feel part of the panto, the actors engage and excite the children. Children are excited to see not only the characters, but other schools and watch how they behave and interact with the actors. Sweet packets are rustled and the smell of sweet hot chocolate indicates the real beginning of the festive season, where the adults are just as excited as the children!

Eight letters to Santa

I had to bring in an element of curriculum into this article! Functional writing takes on a festive twist. Across the school, teachers are thinking of ways to bring in the festive season with a piece of literacy. Mainly in Primary One, we start to think about lists and letters; what would we like to see under the Christmas tree from Santa, or what sort of things will we buy when we go Christmas shopping with our parents? Often we create a Twitter challenge where the children have to help an adult at home with some aspect of Christmas shopping or preparation. Parents are encouraged to upload videos and photographs.

Nine Santa’s helpers

Alas, the jolly man makes his appearance in the school’s very own grotto. Straight from the North Pole, the children have the opportunity to talk to our ‘Santa’ and receive a gift from him at our own Christmas parties. The look of sheer joy on the children’s faces is priceless. We are very lucky to have very adaptable and willing parents, especially those festive fathers!

Ten angels singing

Christmas shows are a huge part of any Primary school’s year. It can take months to perfect scripts, lines to songs, dialogue, even down to the acting of the donkey. We tend to have two performances in Nethermains. The younger children re-enact the nativity, usually with a fun spin - last year we sang some songs from the film ‘Nativity’, and this year we’ve taken on the show ‘Whoopsy Daisy Angel’. Our other show is mainly for the opportunity to showcase our singing talents; each class chooses their carol of choice and a more upbeat current Christmas tune. Each song can be heard echoing through the corridors for weeks, songs which I eventually find myself singing while doing my dishes at home.

Eleven party dresses

The last two weeks of the winter term are packed with excitement. Each class’ impending Christmas party/disco is thoroughly anticipated. The expectation of party dresses and sparkly bow ties. Again, our parents are a huge help to us, particularly the involvement with the PTA. Parents help with getting the party started, and we even have our own resident DJ! The echoes of ‘Superman’ and ‘Agadoo’ ring out and leave the adults in a reminiscent mood of childhoods passed.

Twelve hyper children

Well, as you all know, it’s a lot more than twelve! When the children start to bring Christmas DVDs out of their bags, you know the winter term is drawing to a close. Children, slightly too excited to focus, find solace only in a festive film with their friends. Christmas cards are delivered, via Nethermains’ resident postman in Primary One, and the look of desperation and fear reaches the parents’ faces as we let their child out for the holidays at 1.30pm, with the teachers followed closely behind them, almost dancing to their cars!

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