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Celebrating the Holidays in the Secondary Classroom

Middle and High School English Language Arts Teachers - enjoy the holidays by helping students think about others instead of themselves. Learn about fantastic ideas from other ELA teachers on how they celebrate the holiday season with their students while keeping a focus on the meaning of the season - giving not getting from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Holidays in the secondary classroom can be a challenge because you don’t want activities to seem too young or boring. I know that it can be difficult to plan engaging rigorous lessons, but it is possible. My favourite lesson plans to use with my middle school students is my four assignment Middle School Christmas Activities bundle.

Middle School Christmas Activities

This middle school Christmas activities bundle contains 4 different lessons to complete with your classes during the month of December. Find this resource on Shopify CAD and Teachers Pay Teachers USD.

Global Holiday Celebrations Research Assignment: Help students learn about different cultures, celebrations, and faiths with this holiday research assignment. Students will work in pairs to research 1 of the 16 suggested holiday and/or cultural celebrations. Students could also choose to research a local holiday or cultural celebration.

Christmas Truce of 1914 Media Analysis Unit: This cross-curricular unit for the historical World War 1 event called the “Christmas Truce of 1914”. This event took place between the British and German troops along the western front trenches in France. It is explained to students using a variety of media types: readings, videos, and songs.

Middle School Christmas Unit: This engaging Christmas Unit contains 6 different activities that will help reinforce your students’ reading and writing skills. Students will learn about the historical background of Christmas traditions and prepare for a holiday-themed discussion about current Christmas customs. *This resource is focused on the North American commercial Christmas – this is not a religious unit.

Christmas Writing Prompts: These writing prompts are a “no prep, just photocopy and go” lesson. When students use these interactive writing prompts they get to get up and stay moving. Students use the 8 different Christmas themed story prompts to get thinking creatively about what might happen in each scenario. Students move around the classroom to answer their classmates’ story writing prompts.

Holidays in the Secondary Classroom

Check out what other teachers are doing to make holiday celebrations fun in their classrooms.

Q1: Does your school celebrate the holidays? With what types of events or activities?

  • A1: This year we are bringing back the Yule Log as part of our Winter Solstice celebration, celebrating nature instead of a denominational holiday because we’re an environmental school
  • A1: As a school, we have a holiday concert where the choirs and bands perform. Then we have a school-wide sing along on the last day before holiday break.
  • 1: Our school doesn’t officially celebrate Christmas or not celebrate Christmas – it’s more of a classroom thing. We’re reading A Christmas Carol.
  • A1: We also added a family gingerbread house making night.

Q2: Do you celebrate the holidays in your classroom? With what types of lessons or activities?

  • A2: I like to celebrate the season with educational activities more info in this blog post
  • A2:  I don’t have my own classroom right now but I love the idea of giving the gift of words as described in this blog post (Tip #3)
  • A2: Lots more holiday ideas here
  • A2: I love reading the play version of “A Christmas Carol”!

Q3: How do you keep students focused on curriculum during this month which is filled with special events and activities?

  • A3: I keep the same routines too plus I try to have more active things going on:
  • A3: I teach real content and keep up regular routines until the last day of school before holiday break.
  • A3: Using nonfiction texts tied to the holidays is a great way to keep things academic any time a holiday comes up. Students learn about the holiday and don’t realize they are also practicing readings skills

Q4 & Q5: Share some resources for helping students think beyond themselves during the season of giving (e.g. blog posts, Pinterest ideas).

  • A4: At school we do a hygiene drive for the homeless of small soaps, toothpaste, etc. More ideas in this past chat
  • A4: Great lesson ideas for thinking about giving in this Twitter chat recap 
  • A5: I’ve seen kindness chains made from paper and I think I am going to try that this year. 🙂
  • A5: I’ve also tried “Paying it Forward” with classes. One year we sang at an assisted living and made “grandfriends”.

Other Great Holiday Ideas

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