I love the holidays, so sprinkling in classroom cheer really adds a lot of joy to my work life! As a high school or middle school English teacher, you can ensure the final days before winter break are filled with fun, educational activities that keep your students engaged and learning to the last day. These holiday ELA activities will help you do just that!
Christmas Holiday ELA Activities
Design a character sweater
I will start with one of my most popular resources of all time, The Character Ugly Sweater Writing Activity. This holiday ELA activity trends every December because it works for ANY text and students love doing it so much that they don’t even notice all the writing you sneak in. 😉 Pictured is an example from @wellingworldela and you can see that students use color connotations and symbolism to design a festive character sweater.
This character sweater activity can also be used to wrap up free reading choices for the semester or simply used as a creative writing prompt for any goal.
Color a Bookish Page
Whether you are listening to an audiobook sample for First Chapter Friday, setting up a coloring station in the library, or simply having a relaxing last day before break, I hope these bookish coloring pages add a little joy to your classroom! Download them for free here:
Write a Christmas card to a book
As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving ELA post and Valentine’s Day ELA post, writing seasonal letters to a book is a fun and festive way for students to reflect on the books they are reading! In the Letters to a Book Pack, I have templates for every occasion with the holiday season being one!
Listen to a holiday podcast
As my long-time blog readers know, I’m a big advocate for using podcasts in the classroom. The holidays make the perfect, low-stakes time to try a podcast. While my Halloween podcast round-up is my favorite, I was able to find a few holiday-themed podcast episodes for secondary students. You can browse my list here: Holiday Podcasts for the Classroom
Practice winter lit devices
I love creating beautiful yet functional classroom décor. These Winter Literary Device Posters can stay up long after Christmas and come in handy when setting up holiday ELA activities like winter poetry lessons, literary device gallery walks, or creative writing prompts!
Read diverse holiday ELA selections
December is the perfect time to introduce your middle and high school English students to some classic holiday short stories. Most popular holiday-themed stories teach timeless themes like love, kindness, and compassion. However, when selecting stories for your students, it’s important to keep in mind that all students deserve to see themselves in your holiday lesson plans. Explore some diverse Christmas short story pairings in this post: Diverse Christmas Short Story Pairings
Deliver holiday puns
Even small trinkets can get expensive if you are buying gifts for large classes of secondary students or English teacher teammates. However, these inexpensive Literary Cards are full of fun puns that only an English teacher (and their eye-rolling students) could love. Ha! But seriously, I hope you Thoreau-ly enjoy your winter break!
I’m a weirdo because winter is my favorite season. From the cozy atmosphere to the lucky snow, I find everything about it poetic. To help you and your secondary students get into the winter spirit, I created a winter poetry pack full of digital poetry prompts like digital blackout poetry, digital paint chip poetry, and lots more! You can find it here: Winter Poetry Pack : Christmas poetry pairings and winter holiday writing fun!
Remember, for diverse winter poetry selections, check out this post!
Make a holiday ELA craftivity
Speaking of blackout poems, if your students would prefer a craftivity over the digital version, here’s a fun take! Tell students: Words are gifts! What will you create with yours? Next, simply use pages from an old book to make gift shapes that students will use to create their blackout poetry. Since it’s difficult to read my example, here’s what it says:
Radiant light shadows
cast on flurry snow
flash, blush, glow
Host a Jolabokaflod ELA Party
Have you ever heard of Jolabokaflod? It’s an Icelandic tradition that translates to “Christmas book flood” and just wait until you see how this guest blogger brings this cozy holiday into her ELA classroom! Get all the warm fuzzy inspiration here 🥰: Jolabokaflod ELA Christmas Classroom Party Ideas
I think that elementary teachers do a fantastic job of making their students feel loved around the holidays. While I don’t have time to make 100 perfectly crafted gifts, I do have time to make something quick that my students will appreciate. Like all block scheduled high schools, the last day before winter break will be the last time I will see my students until graduation, so I want to make sure to leave them with a little gift that will remind them of how much I enjoyed having them in class. It doesn’t take much!
On the last day, play a cozy ambient scene like the one below, plan a creative activity like any listed above, and if you are feeling extra, bring a few snacks like hot chocolate and donuts for your cozy coffee shop classroom!
If you like to plan ahead, here are some ideas for the new year! New Year Back-to-School Ideas