7 Christmas films to entertain and educate pupils

Don't feel guilty about putting a film on at the end of term - you and your pupils have worked hard enough to merit it, says Adam Black

Adam Black

Film clapper board with Santa hat and present

Christmas time is coming and you might want to treat your class to a festive movie. Here's a list of some of the best ones out there for a range of ages. I’ve accompanied each one with a fun activity you can also do. 

The Polar Express (2004)

It’s magical, it’s unusual, it’s engaging, and it has Tom Hanks in a plethora of roles.

Activity: Pupils build their own Lego version of the Polar Express. l can also be used.

Jack Frost (1998)

A real heart-warmer. It’s a child’s movie with grown-up themes which makes it appealing to a range of pupils. Michael Keaton plays a busy dad who can't keep his promises to his son, Charlie. After being killed in a tragic accident he returns in the form of a snowman, getting one final chance to put things right.

Activity: I’d encourage the class to write a poem to their parent or carer telling them why they are important to them. 

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Get Santa (2014)

Christmas is almost ruined when Santa’s reindeer are found flocking through the streets of London and Santa himself has holed himself up in a garden shed of an unassuming nine-year-old, Tom. Tom and his dad are enlisted to get the vital overnight present delivery service back on track in this heartfelt, very funny film.

Activity: Can the class write an alternative ending to Christmas if Santa doesn’t deliver the presents and Tom doesn’t save him?

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

No other film without any sort of a festive storyline has become as closely associated with Christmas as this classic with Judy Garland as the farm girl lost in the magical land of Oz. Alongside pals Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man, she embarks on an enchanted road trip in search of the ruby slippers and a way back home.

Activity: This is a great film to introduce children to real classics. I’d consider doing a comparison with a modern film.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)

This is narrated by Burl Ives and uses innovative puppetry and stop-motion animation to tell the story of an outcast reindeer, an aspiring dentist elf and an island of misfit toys who help Santa save Christmas.

Activity: This is a great film to introduce stop motion to your class.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

The Grinch has a terrible, awful plan to steal all of the presents from "the Whos down in Whoville", but he is surprised to learn that Christmas is more than he thought.

Activity: It’s a nice opportunity to introduce Dr Seuss to those who aren’t familiar with him and as a revisit to those who are. Why not design and describe a character in Dr Seuss style?

Frosty the Snowman (1969)

We all know the song, but this is a cartoon about a snowman who springs to life when the children place a magic hat upon his head.

Activity: It’s always nice to tie this into a Christmas craft afternoon making cotton wool snowmen or, if it snows, the real thing!

Have a happy last week and remember, it’s OK for children to watch a film in school. They have worked hard enough the rest of the term to merit it.

Adam Black is a primary teacher in Scotland who, in the New Year's Honours list, received the British Empire Medal for raising awareness of stammering. He tweets @adam_black23

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