5 Simple Ways to Embrace the Holidays without Sacrificing Content

Check out this post with 5 simple ways to embrace the winter holiday season in your literacy classroom without sacrificing content!

Are you looking for simple ways to embrace (and survive!) the holiday season without sacrificing the content you are responsible for teaching?  My hand is raised!  My students have fun each and every holiday season in my classroom, but I never stop teaching.  You will not find my students and I watching the Grinch on a Friday afternoon...Read on to find out how you can incorporate the holidays so that your students still have fun, but continue to teach at the same time!

1. Use Themed Mentor Texts

Make your lessons more exciting for your students by using themed mentor texts.  Set aside those basal stories and choose seasonal mentor texts.  Use them to teach the SAME content.  No extra work or wasted time, just a little bit more fun and exciting!
Check out this post with 5 simple ways to embrace the winter holiday season in your literacy classroom without sacrificing content!
If you are allowed to incorporate holidays, such as Christmas, try wrapping a book a day for the month of December and use these books as your read alouds.  Your students will be SO excited to open the books each day.  If you are looking for some new books, check out some suggestions here, here, here, and here!  You can just use the books you already have or plan on using in your classroom or borrow them from the library.  I did this at home with my toddler last year and here are the tags I used on the gifts above (free).
Reading in a Winter Wonderland mentor text hop
If you cannot teach about holidays in your school, choose winter themed read alouds instead.  These will still help your students get into the holiday spirit.  If you need ideas, check out the Reading Crew’s mentor text hop from last year.  Each blog has a mentor text suggestion and there are lots of freebies to help you with your planning.

2. Incorporate Music, Poetry, & Songs

Do you play music while your students write or work independently?  Or maybe while playing games?  Just switch up the music.  Sure, you may hear your kids singing along and they may be really excited the first day, but they (and you!) are guaranteed to feel a lot more cheerful. 

The holidays are perfect for using poems and songs to practice fluency too for kids of all ages.   Print out some Christmas songs or finger poems and have your students practice reading them to increase fluency!  Your students will really understand what is and is not fluent reading while reading a song such as, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  With your younger readers, you can use short rhymes to teach phonics or rhyming skills too.  Do a simple Google search of winter songs or poems and you will find TONS!  Just choose some appropriate for your students!
Winter is also perfect for teaching poetry because there are so many different sounds, smells, and tastes around the holidays.  Your students can be introduced to all kinds of new vocabulary.  Here is a freebie snow globe poem template that your students can use to describe winter.

3. Teach Reader's Theater

Chances are your students are already quite excited during the month of December.  They probably have a hard time sitting still.  The weeks before winter break are perfect for using reader’s theater.  Let students get up out of their seats and “act” out their reading.   Every year I do a reader’s theater of “The Gingerbread Man” with my second graders.  They love it!  Since they are already somewhat familiar with the story so they can focus more on their fluency.  We also read many different versions and compare/contrast them. 

4. Authentic Writing Across Genres

Go to the dollar store (or order above from Oriental Trading) and buy themed writing papers, pens, and notepads for your writing center.  Allow your students to engage in a variety of writing activities they may not normally be allowed to do.  Here are some simple, fun ideas for younger students:

-letters to Santa
-Christmas toy lists
-recipes for favorite holiday meals
-guest lists
-Christmas cards
-thank you cards
-grocery lists

Here are some Christmas writing prompts from Minds in Bloom for older students.

5. Play Games

Incorporate content driven games to make learning more fun!  Let them get up and moving.  Here are three ideas: 

Snowball:  Give every student a piece of paper with a task card or sight words/spelling word.  Have them crumple up the papers and throw them around the room like a snowball.  Have your students pick up a new “snowball” and solve the task on the card.  Repeat.  This can be used with all sorts of skills and is SO MUCH FUN.
Unspeakable:  This is a Taboo-like game I created.  You can download the Christmas version for FREE here to use with your students!  Basically, they need to try to get their classmates to say a word without using any of the words on the cards.  Great vocabulary builder, lots of fun, and a good time filler!

Dance Match:  This game will work with anything that requires finding a match...synonyms/antonyms, fill in the blank, vocabulary definitions, phonics sounds/pictures, etc.  Each kid gets a card and then finds their match.  They line up across from their partner like a bridge.  Then they take turns share their problem with the class and dancing down through the middle of the line...to Christmas music of course!  Continue until everyone has had a turn.  The kids LOVE this and it's a way to make dry, rote content a bit more fun.

I hope you found some fun ways to incorporate the season/holidays while keeping up with your instruction!
Pin for Later:
Check out this post with 5 simple ways to embrace the winter holiday season in your literacy classroom without sacrificing content!

1 comment

  1. What great suggestions! Love using reader's theater, and there are quite a few winters ones I have found on TPT that have great comprehension components too.