Are you about to head into winter break but need a few more ideas to fill your time? These ideas are admin-approved (aligned to standards) and will have your students excited to work!
Help Wanted Ads
If you are able to celebrate Christmas in the classroom, having students write a help wanted ad is a great activity. I have done this 2 different ways - for Santa looking for another elf and hiring a new reindeer.
Years ago when I first started this activity I had a very, very old Christmas book that I would read to my class. On a few of the pages it talked about the many jobs of the elves at the North Pole.
This was a great segue into our writing activity. I love pairing books to go with my writing lessons!
If you’ve done Santa looking for new elves to hire, then you might want to try writing an ad for a new reindeer. What other jobs could reindeers do around the North Pole? Why would Santa need another reindeer? Providing a class brainstorm session is sure to get your students thinking of creative ideas.
For shared writing, you will brainstorm a class story idea. Then as a class you will write the beginning of the story. Students will then continue writing the story and when you call “switch” students will pass their papers to someone else. Provide them a few minutes to read the story and then they will begin writing where the last person left off until you call “switch” again.
Continue for each section of the story (beginning, middle, and end) or until you are out of writing time.
Depending on the age of your students, I would recommend providing 5-10 minutes of writing time for each session. Allowing another day to read and share the stories is highly recommended. Sometimes these stories can take a hilarious turn and are a great way to discuss the importance of planning a story.
Gingerbread Real Estate
This is a new activity I just learned about this year. It’s become a fast favorite and the students are loving it!
The process is quite simple. First, show students some examples of real estate ads. Then brainstorm different rooms in a home. Next, students will write adjective-rich descriptions of their rooms. I challenged my students to write a paragraph for each.
On the following day, I showed my students how to use the district-provided Adobe Express to use the generative AI tool for text to image. Within minutes AI used their descriptions and created beautiful pictures they could insert into their slides for a one-of-a-kind real estate ads.
This activity is fast and easy and really helps students see how the AI tool interprets their words into a picture. Seeing the finished image also prompted some students to want to edit their paragraphs to change the image. I call that a success!
For my students that don’t celebrate Christmas, they chose to do the house of their dreams. They also used Adobe Express as well as picked 3 rooms for their final project.
Having an author study right before a break is a great way to get students engaged. I like to use the same author to study for reading and writing. This way students can see how some of the same reading standards correlate to our writing.
For a quick and easy way to do an author study before the break I would recommend reading one book by the same author each day. Keep the same focus each time you read to make it easy to compare the stories or focus point.
An example might be in reading your class is focused on seeing how the character changes throughout the story. During writing, you are looking at how the author shows the characters feelings, thoughts, or actions.
The next day you will read a new book but continue with the same discussion. In reading, how does the character change? During writing time, what do we notice with how the author describes the character?
Some ideas for authors to study are Patricia Poloco, Mo Willems, Kevin Henkes, Robert Munsch, and Dav Pilkey.
I hope you found these ideas useful as you make it through your last days until winter break.