December is a challenging month. Even in the secondary classroom. There are only a few weeks, sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas (Winter) Breaks. Thanksgiving causes disruptions with a short week, or even a whole week off. Then there are a few “normal” weeks before the allure of Winter Break– along with holidays, travel, and just time off– distract students again.
One way to engage is to use Holiday-themed materials— a strategy that is fun and effective for students and teachers.
Here are some Holiday themed materials and ideas for those fleeting weeks in December:
1. Read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In the story, Christmas is treated almost entirely as a secular celebration. Research workhouses and discuss Scrooge’s position on workhouses or why Scrooge was, well, a Scrooge. Or compare one or the film or play versions with the original text– which is a great way to spend the last day or so before break actually begins. Depending on the classroom, you can discuss ideas about “The Christmas Spirit” and what that means. Culminating projects can work nicely around holiday parties or general distraction. Not time to read the story? View one of the movie versions for discussion or analysis– or have students write a literary analysis on the film same as they would a text.
2. Create a multi-media project about their Christmas/ Holiday time traditions. Students can share their experiences. They can discuss the similarities and differences between their traditions and that of their classmates. This is a positive activity in diverse classrooms; in addition, it can work well in classrooms that appear more homogeneous as it helps students see that we all have differences and similarities.
3. Read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and analyze the poetic devices. Have students write a persuasive essay on whether–or not– children should be told about Santa Claus. Students can write their own Night Before Christmas poem, imitating the elements of the original, then share with the class.
4. Practice Literary Analysis by examining a Christmas Carol (or Winter song) for literary and poetic devices. Christmas and Winter songs take over the radio stations, store muzak, and even show up in Christmas commercials. This activity is a fun way to use that seasonal sound.
5. Create literary character Christmas lists or New Year’s Resolutions. Choose one or more characters from texts read in class. Students can write a Christmas list for the character based on details from the text. Alternately, students can create a Wish List if they or the character do not celebrate Christmas. Another option is to write New Year’s resolutions for the character. Include reflection for students to explain their choices and thought process, and help in objective grading.
Done with Christmas? Check out some Winter themed texts and ideas!