Not sure what to teach in December?
Here’s a list of 10 fun activities for one of the most challenging teaching months of the year. (Number 9 is my favorite!!)
Use journal prompts to help students dive into their memories! This is a great prewriting activity if you plan to have students write a full memoir later in the year.
Some prompt ideas:
- best holiday gift
- favorite holiday meal
- earliest memory
- family tradition
- a visit with Santa
- a surprising event
2. Design and Describe an Ugly Christmas Sweater.
Rather than simply wearing one, why not turn it into a fun writing activity? Students design a sweater and then describe it. The challenge is — can they get another student to recreate the sweater? If you’d like a complete lesson and sweater pattern, you can find it here.
3. Write a persuasive letter to Santa
What does a middle school student need to discuss with Santa?! I love giving students this “Dear Santa, Please take me off the naughty list” writing prompt. (You can find the whole lesson plan here.)
4. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…in your school
There are several retellings of this classic poem. Why not challenge your students to retell one of their own about your school (the day before break), town, or their own family.
The original poem, written by Clement Moore, is in the public domain. You can read it or download it here.
5. Revamp the 12 Days of Christmas
What if the “12 Days of Christmas” were modernized? What would they include? Challenge your students to rewrite this classic (and a bit weird) poem.
As an alternative — consider a story about someone who received these gifts…what would happen if seven swans showed up at your doorstep?!
6. Write weather poems
The winter months bring about some interesting weather! Use the attraction of what’s happening outside the classroom into poetry.
You can find a ready-to-use lesson here.
You can find more details about teach these writing lessons in this post:
Holiday writing prompts
7. Read a short story
A short story unit is perfect for this time of year! You can teach one in about a week, and the beautiful thing about a short story is that you can reinforce literary analysis skills with each story. Meaning you can scaffold skills with each new story.
What to pick? I love these scary short stories that (even though they are not Christmas related) are incredibly engaging!
Speaking & Listening
8. Incorporate a book talk
This is a great opportunity to have students present a short book talk! Spread the talks out over several days (having all back-to-back can get boring). Ask students to take notes on talks to keep them engaged and listening.
You can find a resource to help you set up book talks here.
9. Holiday advertisements
I love using holiday (or any!) advertisements to teach grammar and writing.
L.L. Bean is one of my favorite places to go to find descriptive passages to analyze.
Here’s an example for a flannel shirt: “Supremely soft flannel made exclusively for us by master artisans in Portugal. We’ve set the standard for the softest, longest-wearing, most comfortable flannel you can buy.”
In that portion of the ad, you can teach comparisons (soft, softer, softest), comma usage, compound adjectives (longest-wearing), adverbs that modify adjectives (supremely soft), adverbs, prepositional phrases, helping verbs (have set, can buy), and direct objects! Wow!
Just in two sentences, you can really dig into grammar — AND — persuasive techniques. What makes this language powerful?
If your students need additional help analyzing sentences, you’ll want to use this sentence analysis flowchart. It’s super helpful!
Want to extend this lesson?
Have your students write an ad for a pencil or a school uniform. Can they sell it as well as L.L. Bean can sell flannel shirt?
10. A simple mini research project
Students can learn more about holidays celebrated this month that they aren’t familiar with: winter solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas
You can use this passport for students to research how the holidays are celebrated in different countries.
Keeping your students working and engaged in December is a real challenge, but by planning fun activities, your students will be able to work and learn right up until the last bell!
Ready to start looking ahead to next month (next year!!)? Here are some tips for planning your January lessons.
Enjoy the season!