Some language arts activities were just made for this time of year! Which is why today we are diving into winter holidays in the language arts classroom. Reading a play – what’s better than enjoying A Christmas Carol with your kids during a season when they are so ready for interactive activities anyway? Funny holiday poems – perfect for kids in the upper elementary or middle school grades who are just too grown up for “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” but not ready for serious poetry yet. Even research, with the great variety of winter holiday traditions from countries around the world to look up.
Pick a Holiday Story to Read
This season of the year is great for simply reading stories to your class, too. It’s the perfect time to pull out an old favorite story, try a classic holiday story that you haven’t shared with the class before, or revisit a favorite holiday picture book. Kids in upper elementary and middle school can enjoy a classic holiday story even if the language is old-fashioned – especially when it’s read to them!
My newest favorite is a story called “Piccola,” which is in the public domain and can be found at Project Gutenberg. “Piccola” is about a girl who spends her days alone in her backyard while her mother goes to work. When a family with children about her age moves in next door, she begins to watch them through a chink in the stone wall that separates their houses. Eventually the children find a way to play together, and then the new neighbors tell Piccola about Santa. Piccola has never heard of Santa before and her mother warns her not to get her hopes up, but Piccola sets out her wooden shoe anyway. The ending is a really nice one, and maybe not what you would expect.
Don’t Forget the Poetry Too!
Funny poems are great at this time of year, too. If you haven’t read them before, check out, “A Cowboy’s Letter to Santa” and “Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney” at Giggle Poetry, a poetry site that gets the sense of humor of middle grade kids.
Make Some Lists
Kids enjoy making lists, too, so I like the idea of having kids write a Christmas list with a twist. Instead of writing a list of things they want to get, kids write a list of everyone they would like to give a gift to and what they would give each person – if money was no object.
Keep the Writing Flowing
Time to do some writing? How about a how-to essay. How to make a favorite holiday snack. How to sew a Santa hat. How to decorate a tree. Another type of informational essay that fits in nicely with this season is a compare-and-contrast essay. Given a list of winter holidays, kids can look up information about two and compare them. In this holiday post on my own blog, I provided basic information about nine winter holidays that might be a good place to start. There is also a helpful list of things for kids to look for as they research.
Other Fun Winter Ideas
While looking around at some of the big education websites, I found a couple more goodies, too. At Scholastic, there is a nice winter holiday activity with three interactive “scrapbooks” – for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. There is also a teacher’s guide with questions and activities to use along with the scrapbooks.
And at ReadWriteThink, I found a lesson for a Victorian Christmas Party where kids plan the party and attend dressed up as characters from A Christmas Carol. The lesson is mainly for kids who are a little older, but it includes a nice webquest with some great links that could work for upper elementary kids as well.
Check out this FREE Download!
I’ll end this collection of some of my favorite language arts activities for the holiday season with this little freebie, Winter Holidays Medley. You can download it now from my Classroom in the Middle store.
Guest post by Sharon from Classroom in the Middle. Sharon is a tutor, a writer and designer of teaching materials for middle graders, and a retired middle school teacher. Her focus is on language arts for upper elementary and middle school classes. You can read her blog at Classroom in the Middle and find her teaching resources at the Classroom in the Middle Store.