Make memories around a favorite Christmas movie with these It’s A Wonderful Life kids activities. Includes easy, relaxing family art, holiday learning and themed fun!
It’s A Wonderful Life: A Wonderful Family Tradition
Christmas Tree. Check.
Hot Cocoa. Check.
Twinkle Lights. Check.
Zuzu’s petals…. Zuzu’s petals!
What do Zuzu’s petals have to do with Christmas traditions? Well, if you’ve ever seen the iconic cinematic production of It’s a Wonderful Life, then you surely know! And if not, then it’s time you were introduced to this holiday classic film!
Every family has their Christmas traditions, whether it’s a certain food, when and how they open gifts, or a favorite story. I’m sure we’re joined by millions of families across the U.S. in enjoying one particular tradition each year, and that is watching It’s a Wonderful Life!
The backstory of this film is quite interesting. In fact, as popular as this holiday movie is today, it was actually a flop at the box office in 1946! The original short story the movie is based on (“The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern) was also rejected by many publishers. When the copyright for the movie lapsed, TV stations could air it for free—and they did, over and over! Maybe this is how the movie became one of the most beloved Christmas traditions today!
Perhaps more so, it’s the themes of faith overcoming adversity, sacrifice for the sake of what is right, and seeing the value of every person that speaks to our hearts especially during the Christmas season.
Every year, our family snuggles up to watch It’s a Wonderful Life together. What’s so great about this tradition is how easy, relaxing and low-prep it is! We need nothing more than a warm blanket and cup of hot cocoa to make this journey into the life of George Bailey and his big dreams.
It’s A Wonderful Life Kids Activities For Holiday Learning
Year after year, families have made this movie part of their family’s Christmas tradition. But you could also make it part of your homeschool tradition too! George’s heartwarming story of compassion is a perfect tie-in for Christmas homeschooling.
Here are just a few ways to use this film in your homeschool:
Have dinner by candlelight
Set out a few candles on the table before watching the movie – just like George and Mary had to do the night of the bank run!
Make paper snowflake decorations
Decorate a window, the tree, a room, hallway, or your whole house with paper snowflakes! Maybe you, too, can create that famous snowy night in Bedford Falls!
Angel, Second Class
Clarence may not have had his wings yet, but you can make angels who do! Paper angels look great hanging in a window or on a Christmas tree. Or you could use them to decorate gift packages. Here’s a simple folded paper angel tutorial.
Enjoy themed movie snacks
Instead of the typical hot chocolate, try these ideas for movie snacks:
- Hot mulled cider
- Crescent Moon-shaped cookies
- Chocolate ice cream with coconut flakes on top
Draw the setting of It’s a Wonderful Life
Whether before or after watching the movie, use art to capture the charming setting of It’s a Wonderful Life.
When it comes to using art to learn, we never have to go far! Our membership to You ARE an Artists gives us a wealth of resources.
Nana just created a new lesson specifically for this beloved film, and it is a true gem!
First, she shares delightful facts about the background of this treasured story – even more than I have shared above (wait till you find out how they made fake snow for movies back then!).
In her classic, endearing teaching style, Nana guides students through drawing a charming scene from Bedford Falls.
One of the best parts of this lesson is how Nana uses a monochromatic color palette. Since the original movie is in black and white, it is the perfect fit!
Painting with a black and white palette offers artists a simplicity that comes with other benefits. Artists can focus on other details. The angles of lines become more evident, such as drawing the perspective of the street in Bedford Falls. In black and white, the subtle difference in shading and tone are dramatically highlighted!
Plus, after the boys’ paintings were completed, the longer I looked at them, the more small details I “found.” I think the monochromatic effect gave me more enjoyment in noticing elements like the signage, the little bus at the end of the street, and other pieces of this famous setting.
Now, we have beautiful scenes from our favorite Christmas movie to add to our holiday decor as well!
Additional Resources For Holiday Learning and Celebration
It’s easy to extend the cozy and comforting tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life into other holiday lessons and learning.
Create a mini-unit of Christmas art and It’s a Wonderful Life kids activities with other lessons from Chalkpastel.com. Here are some fun options:
The Christmas Course includes a lesson on painting an Angel and a Bell, which is so perfect for Clarence and the bell motif in It’s a Wonderful Life!
Visit the train station with George Bailey and Artist Express, a train-themed video art lesson that pairs so well with this holiday movie!
For more practice in monochromatic painting, try the wintery Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Be sure to read the Robert Frost poem that goes with this lesson as well!
Another lesson that utilizes a limited color palette is the Snowflake Study with Snowflake Bentley.
Because of the idyllic quality of Bedford Falls setting, and the time period of It’s a Wonderful Life, a Norman Rockwell study could also dovetail with this movie!
Bells are an important theme in this movie, as are several Christmas songs. Be sure to check out the Merry Christmas Hymn Study for Homeschool, which includes “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
For all the Christmas art lessons, check out the Ultimate Christmas Art Lessons for Homeschool blog post.
The story of George Bailey of Bedford Falls as depicted in It’s a Wonderful Life is truly for everyone because of the humor, warmth, and sweet message of kindness and community.
Blending Christmas traditions with easy, relaxing family art and themed activities will only make the memories your children have for the holidays stronger and more vivid.
Julie is a teacher, writer and homeschool mom. Her blog Happy Strong Home shares encouragement for cherishing children, enjoying motherhood, and growing strong families. Discover homeschool resources, natural living tips, and family activity ideas. Julie has been featured on Million Praying Moms, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and the Melissa and Doug blog. She offers writing workshops and a “homeschool neighborhood” community to support parents in their homeschool adventures. Find Julie on Instagram to be the first to know when new workshops and community events are available.