Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The 12 Days of Christmas: Holiday Break Countdown Ideas and Activities

It's (almost) the most wonderful time of the year! The holidays are quickly approaching and I am not sure who is more excited, students or teachers! I truly enjoy the holidays in my classroom and spreading Christmas cheer. The countdown down to Christmas break and getting students excited about both their work (with holiday connections) and their upcoming break is simply the best. In order to keep things both engaging and festive, I have come up with a variety of Christmas writing activities to keep your students focused (the best a teacher can during this exciting time) during the last few weeks of classes leading up to the Christmas break!

Here are 12 ideas that can be completed during the last few weeks before the holiday break:

1. Movies: The Grinch? A Christmas Story? Elf? Home Alone? Nothing says Christmas like a good old fashion Christmas movie! Not only do the students love watching Christmas movies, they can also learn inference skills, questioning skills, elements of a plot structure, etc. Danielle, from Study All Knight, created an AWESOME resource that coincides with the movie, Elf. Not only will students be learning, but they will be entertained while doing so! Check out this fun resource be clicking HERE. Make this activity as long or short as you wish, by showing the whole movie or a few clips.

 2. Holiday Figurative Language: Students can review and practice the various elements of figurative language in a variety of ways, including writing and drawing sentences to represent what they have created: similes, alliterations, hyperboles, metaphor, onomatopoeia, personification, etc. Students will make connections and observations, then get creative! Check out this FREE resource by clicking HERE.
Christmas Figurative Language (Examples)
3. Holidays Around the World: Students can research (or be shown via a PowerPoint, for example) how other cultures celebrate the holidays, such as traditional foods, music, crafts, etc., from the various cultures for all to enjoy. This can be a whole-class lesson, or perhaps a research activity for individual or groups of students to present to the class.

4. Christmas Poems: Students can create their own Christmas poetry and share with their classmates during a 'Holiday Poetry Reading'. Transform your classroom into a coffeehouse setting, with dim lights, holiday music in the background, hot chocolate (or something similar) and snacks for all to enjoy. Perhaps their poems could be created in a format that they are already familiar with or it might be a great time to try something new!

5. Re-write the 12 Days of Christmas: This fun Christmas writing activity gives students a new way to review the classic holiday carol, The 12 Days of Christmas, while at the same time, reflecting on their school year with some fun prompts. This is an activity can be used as a bell-ringer at the start of class, so not only will it not take away from your instructional time, but it will also keep the excitement of the holidays going, while students countdown the days! Check out this Christmas writing activity by clicking HERE.

12 Days of Christmas - Holiday Writing Prompts Countdown
6. Christmas Carol Writing: This is a fun activity that does not take a lot of time in your classroom, yet promotes creativity and critical thinking based on favorites and experiences. For some added fun, students can even record their song and present it to the class! There's a lot of flexibility with this activity, as students can complete this individually, in pairs or even in small groups. Check out this fun Christmas writing activity by clicking HERE.

7. Send Holiday Cheer to the Military: Students can practice their letter writing skills by sending some Holiday cheer to the men and women of the military. They can review and practice the various elements of a friendly letter including the heading, greeting, body, closing, and signature. Here are a few great websites that provide a breakdown of the specifics of what the letters can entail:
8. Children's Christmas Book: Alone, in partners, or as a whole, students can be creative in writing and illustrating their own books. Perhaps they can even include some of the Christmas figurative language sentences that they completed in a previous class activity (see # 2).

9. Christmas Research Project: The Christmas season is the perfect time of year to remind students that it is important to give back and help those in need. Jackie, from Room 213, created a project that allows students to practice their researching and presenting skills while experiencing the joy of volunteering and giving back. This project gives students an opportunity to reach out to a community program, complete research on that project or organization, then design a project that will help to raise money for that program in some way. Check out this essential resource by clicking HERE.

10. Advent Calendar: Each day, for the 12+ days, students can 'open up' the day to reveal the daily a special treat or privilege. Another way this could be used in class could be by each of the days containing a joke, riddle or brain teaser that can be either completed that class or used as a homework activity to solve in order to get a treat. This is another fun, bell-ringer activity that takes very little time away from your class, yet continuing to promote creative critical thinking skills. This can either be teacher-made or student-made, depending on how much time is available! I created a Christmas Writing Interactive Notebook Advent Calendar, which is not only a great way to practice writing but a fun way to start a class! You can find this fun addition to an interactive notebook by clicking HERE.
Christmas Advent Writing Prompts Calendar
Christmas Bell Ringer - Advent Calendar Writing Prompts (in action!)
11. Christmas Skits (or Charades): Students can perform skits from their favorite Christmas movie or book or even complete one of their own. They can perform their skits for their classmates or for younger students within their school or district.

12. Christmas Memory Box: For the 12 Days leading up to Christmas, students can write a memory a day for someone that is special to them. It is intended to be given as a present. Click HERE for a free lesson plan related to this activity.

The holiday can be a stressful time for everyone for a variety of different reasons, so trying out some of the above activities might bring some cheer into the hands of those who need it the most. Some of the activities may require more time than others, but no matter what you choose, it will a special time for both you and your students.

Happy Holidays!

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