Opening the door to festive learning

Christmas Doors
We’ve lost count of the number of years that students, staff and residents have enjoyed the process of decorating doors in a festive fashion. Joanne Kingsbury-Elia, Director of Learning and Support at National Star, throws light on the educational benefits behind this hotly contested Christmas tradition.

Hanging a wreath on a door is almost as essential as setting up a Christmas tree and, as it turns out, the two traditions originate in the 16th century, when evergreens were bought into the home during winter. By decorating the doors of residences or classrooms we are keeping this tradition alive and embedding British values into our curriculum.

Teamwork is fundamental to the task, with students working together to generate ideas, working together collaboratively to source materials and decide upon the eventual design. At every stage in the process students are encouraged to make choices, democratically voting on their preferred design.

The design process is fully inclusive too with students and residents asked to consider the needs of others. Not only are the doors visually attractive but they often incorporate switches, sounds and textures, to appeal to students with a wide range of accessibility needs.

Creating the chosen design often sees students using their numeracy and literacy skills, counting, sorting colours and measuring. The end result is a range of festive door designs that celebrate the diversity of our students. Every door is different and that’s part of the magic!

It’s uplifting to see the growing camaraderie, motivation and healthy competition between groups of students (and staff!) who all want to win the coveted title of festive door of the year. Learning to cope with the disappointment of not winning and building resilience is something experienced by many students involved.

Festive doors may appear like a bit of fun, but behind each one, there is a whole host of learning outcomes, that will remain with students and residents long after the Christmas decorations are put away for another year.

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