1. Snowball Fight
Each student begins a story. I ask the first writer to introduce the setting and a minimum of one character. After students have several minutes to write, call time. Students crumble their paper into a snowball and toss it. Each student picks up a new paper and continues the story. After time is called again, the process is repeated. At the end share the stories!
Variation 1: Each student writes a fact about themselves on a piece of paper. Be sure to tell the students to write only facts they are willing to share. Give examples. Crumple the papers and throw them around the room. (Don’t tell them what they are going to do with them–allow the snowball fight to last long enough for papers to be well mixed up). Students take a paper, pick it up and try to guess the identity of the person who wrote the fact.
Variation 2: Write facts about characters from history or books the class has read and use this as a review. In this variation, I recommend the teacher write the character on the snowball and have students randomly select the paper character they will write their facts about. Working in partners sometimes works well with this variation. Read the facts and have students guess the correct character/person.
2. History of Holiday Traditions and Celebrations in Various Cultures
Researching various cultures, religions, and symbols will help to keep your students engaged and give the holidays an academic focus. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Boxing Days, New Year’s Eve, Krampusnacht, Rohatsu or Bodhi Day, St. Lucia’s Day, Las Posadas, Omisoka, Christmas, Yule, and Hogmanay could be researched by your students. You could also expand this to include famous people born in December. Check out the Reading Specialty passages and comprehension questions on some of these holidays at the bottom of this webpage.
3. Children’s Stories
Create a children’s book related to winter or the holidays. This could easily be a small group activity. Ask students to include specific elements the class studied during this year such as:
- use three different types of characterization in your story
- add a flashback or foreshadowing
- include a simile
- be sure you have an example of onomatopoeia
4. Inspirational Notes
Give students index cards to write thank you notes to people in the school who deserve recognition. This could be students, staff, or anyone who has had a positive impact.
5. Positive posters
Create mini posters with positive quotes and messages of encouragement. Place around the campus (bathroom stalls, in the hallway, etc.). If you have not already subscribed and received your free motivational posters from Reading Specialty, go ahead and fill out the form! You will instantly get free posters which would be great to post around the campus, in addition to future blog posts direct to your mailbox and monthly freebies.
6. Kindness rocks
Paint kindness rocks and place them around the school or out in the community.
7. Sidewalk chalk
If you live in a warm climate, use sidewalk chalk to leave positive messages/quotes for people to read as they enter and navigate around the campus.
8. Invite alums
College students are often home before middle/high schoolers begin their holiday break. Invite previous students to talk to your class. My former students were able to tell my current students about college life, encourage them to develop good study habits, and talk about majors/classes.
9. Write letters
Encourage students to write to elderly family members, people in the military, or younger students. This could include a handmade card.
10. Discuss it
Give students winter/holiday statements. Ask students to take a stand. They should give reasons to support their opinion. Suggested topics:
Are outdoor holiday lights a waste of energy?
Which is better a real or an artificial tree?
Should community service be required?
Which season is the best?
What is your favorite holiday?
Do you prefer summer or winter sports?
When is it ok to start decorating/playing Christmas music?
Online or in-person shopping?
11. Snowbrawl by Gimkit
If you want your kids begging for more, you have to try Snowbrawl! This fun online game by Gimkit has students answer questions to earn snowballs which they launch and try to knock out other players. It is a fast-action, arcade-style game that will have your students hooked! You can use already-made “kits” (sets of questions) or add your own. This one is great for even the most reluctant learner! (Note: I used the free 14-day trial. After 14 days your account reverts to the Basic mode. On the basic mode, you can create your own kits and use them with any number of students. You will not be able to access assignments, add audio to your questions, upload images, or access pro-exclusive game modes.
12. Reading by the fire
Create a warm ambient effect in your classroom by projecting a virtual fireplace. There are many apps that will allow you to do this, but one of my favorites includes classical music. Click here for the Virtual Fireplace by EdgeWay Software.
Looking for more ideas? Check these out from Reading Specialty!
Check out the other holiday options at Reading Specialty!