December is an exciting month in the classroom for many reasons. Between the holidays, cold weather (unless you live in south FL), and Winter Break, there are lots of things to look forward to. Here are some fun activities and engaging projects that I use to make the most of the month with my students.
Holiday Lights Book Analysis
Maintaining academic rigor in the classroom is always a priority, but decorating for the holidays is also top of the list when December rolls around. Why not do both? This activity is part of my growing line of “meaningful decor” that combines important reading skills with classroom-friendly decorations. Click here or the image below for more details.
I’m all about giving students free choice in the books they read, so this activity is a supplement to their independent reading at the start of the month. There are templates for fiction and nonfiction books to please all of the readers. While students are working on their book analysis, they’ll be practicing important reading skills and contributing to the aesthetic of the classroom/hallway. A win, win!
This resource is now part of a big bundle! In addition to Holiday Lights, you can also use Winter and Christmas themed reading banners! Click here
Christmas Around the World
This is the big project I assign at the start of December. Students choose any country they want to research and learn more about. This project is so easy from a teacher perspective because it is self-paced and very student friendly. The students get so into the project and become experts on their country’s version of Christmas (including Kwanzaa and Hanukkah if they want)!
I’m a big diorama fan, and this project is my favorite because of that. I make the diorama component optional since it is a lot of work, but most students choose to create a diorama to represent a holiday scene from the country they’re researching. They’re always so creative and interesting to see! This project is one of my favorites. I allow time for research in the classroom, but most of the assembly is done at home (of course this depends on the make-up of your class, it could easily be an at-school project if needed).
Winter + Christmas Themed Writing Projects
Are you familiar with my Haunted House for Sale writing project? It is such a big hit with teachers all around the world that I decided to make more of them for other holidays/seasons!
These books are consistent and make it really easy for your students to work independently. Each page has clear directions, provides a sentence count, and gives them a full checklist of ideas to consider while they’re writing.
For December, allow me to introduce Winter’s Wild Ride: The Story of a Snowflake! In this narrative nonfiction writing activity, best for grades 3-5, students will write a book from the perspective of a snowflake! Their story begins as a raindrop, travels through the water cycle stages, and ends with the snowflake falling gracefully from the sky. But don’t worry, your writers will reassure readers that the snowflake will continue the cycle again and again!
The second book option is super fun: North Pole House for Sale! In this December Holiday writing activity for grades 2-5, students will use their knowledge of persuasive, descriptive and creative writing to convince the reader to buy a house from them. The catch: It’s located in the North Pole!
Your students will be directed to create an informational booklet to describe every detail of a house in the North Pole. As the #1 Real Estate Agent in the country, they’re expected to SELL IT! Can they do it?!
Add a Holiday Twist
Aside from the projects and activities, December is a great time to feed into the excitement and incorporate holiday twists into your regularly scheduled programming. For example, inflatable reindeer antlers can really spice up your math review! Divide students into teams and each time they answer a review question correctly give them a chance to toss an inflatable ring onto the antlers. Instant holiday engagement! (Adults love this antler game too… trust me, it was a hit at my Christmas party!)
Having an indoor snowball fight is another exciting way to boost engagement and get kiddos up and moving. It’s perfect for a brain break or as an incentive for positive behavior. I like to draw lines on the board for each letter of “Snowball Fight” and allow students to guess letters throughout the day. Of course, I choose students with role model behavior–which immediately encourages everyone to be on their best behavior for the day… trust me, it works! I found a great product for indoor snowballs on Amazon, but if you read this blog post, you’ll see how you can recreate a similar activity for free!
These are just a few fun and easy ideas to incorporate into the month of December in the classroom! What are your favorite ways to enjoy the month with your students? Check out my Instagram for more ideas for your classroom and don’t forget to follow along on Facebook too!