You know that week in December when you’re constantly called down to the auditorium for concert rehearsals, some of your students are away sick, some have left for vacation early and you have to keep a classroom full of excited kids busy?
Christmas is fun and all, but it’s so hard to keep kids interested in learning and it’s a challenging time to introduce new concepts with all those interruptions. What’s a teacher to do?
We’ve got your back.
It can be challenging to keep the learning going during December with everything that is going on. That’s why we tend to spend a lot of time reviewing concepts and getting our students to practice.
Logic Puzzles are a great way to bring reading and math together. They require a lot of concentration and skill and while most of our students love doing them, we love writing them.
We designed this group of Christmas Logic, Reading and Writing Activities for students to keep them engaged in learning, but busy and having fun. It contains word puzzles, alphabetizing activities and writing prompts that are sure to keep them busy in between all the activities taking place in your school. They are designed to be short and sweet or as long and involved as you wish.
During the last few weeks of school before the break, we met with our reading buddies in grade two and completed the “New Twelve Days of Christmas” together from the Christmas Logic, Reading and Writing Activities. Students loved collaborating and we had great fun singing our student written versions by posting the pictures on our projector under the document camera.
Make Them Self-Checking
We set up a folder with all the different logic puzzles. Students help themselves and do their best to solve the puzzles. When they complete the puzzle, they can check their answers in the answer binder. This is a literally just a binder full of the answer keys. We print each page and put it in a plastic page protector (actually the truth is we print them and have a student helper put them all in the binder).
We have a free version that contains some activities from the Christmas version and some from the Winter version for you to try out to see if they’re right for you. Our students love the logic puzzlers and we’ve included instructions on how to get them going.
If you really love logic puzzles, we’ve been working on a Logic Puzzle Bundle with all new puzzles (so if you own any of our other puzzle sets, these ones will be new).
Not too Christmas-y
Some of our students don’t celebrate Christmas, so we try to have lots of equally fun activities available that don’t use Christmas themes. We have another set of activities that are Winter Themed Reading, Writing and Logic Puzzles. None of the activities are duplicated, so you can use both sets simultaneously without worrying kids are repeating activities. There are five days of writing prompts, puzzles and logic puzzles included.
Both the Christmas and the Winter sets include five days of writing prompts in each. We use these prompts to get a little quiet time. Our students write for nearly twenty to thirty minutes everyday. They choose which prompt to use out of the three on each page. At the end of the writing, our students share something from their writing that they are proud of.
Some of our students enjoy these prompts so much that they choose to publish one of their pieces in their writing portfolio.
Math Becomes Festive
We love projects. Project based learning makes the engagement of students go through the roof. Last year we tried a new project that was so much fun.
We made gingerbread houses out of papier mâché. Yes, it was messy, but there was a lot of real learning that happened, too. We made nets out of cardstock which our students taped together in the shape of houses. We papier mâchéd these over a few days and then we painted them.
Honestly, we did this because making real gingerbread houses seemed completely unrealistic, but the kids had so much fun and were so creative. You can get your own copy of the Design a Gingerbread House activity.
If papier mache is not your thing (because it is a little messy) maybe you’d like to go a little more traditional. We made sets of worksheets for our students to practice math with a little Christmas sprinkled in. They aren’t anything fancy, but they keep the kids busy.
Our students have access to Chromebooks and we were looking for something that was fun and could help them practice some of their tech skills. We hid the learning under a fun task: make a social media profile for an elf (including an “elf”-ie). You can get your own copy of the Elfbook Digital Creative Writing Task. It works with Google Slides and Google Drawings.
Our students love to create things with Google Drawings. You don’t have to assign anything particular, but have them experiment. Some of our students even made Christmas cards. You can find out what we do with the cards by reading our post: Create Community with Handmade Christmas Cards.
Our Makerspace Becomes “Craft Central”
We have a small makerspace in our classroom. It’s just a table with shelf full of random things our students use. You may want to read some of our posts about makerspaces if you’re interested in how we do it: What Goes in a Makerspace?
We always keep materials in our class that can be used for crafts (that the kids can turn into gifts for their families). Here are some of our favourite crafts:
- Recycled Paper Ornaments: Use leftover paper from newspapers, fliers or magazines to created folded paper ornaments.
- Fingerprint Art: Use little fingerprints to make all kinds of wonderful Christmas themed creations.
- Recycled Cork Ornaments: Put all those wine corks you have laying around your house to good use and make some new ornaments.
- Recycled Can Characters: Collect metal or cardboard cans with plastic lids (like the one’s hot chocolate or coffee comes in) and turn them into adorable holiday characters.
- Wooden Christmas Ornaments: Use wooden pieces to create adorable characters that you can hang on the tree.
- Recycled Materials: Christmas Wreaths: Create interesting wreaths by using recycled fabric.
- Simple Christmas Tree Art Projects We Love: These simple to make and create art projects are perfect for the teacher with limited art skills or time.
We set up a box of Christmas Books We Love where students can browse books anytime during the season. Over the years we’ve created a collection of titles that you can collect yourself. Sometimes we’ll put on the fire (by that we mean turn on the fireplace screen on our projector), turn down the lights, curl up with blankets and flashlights and have a good read. We’ve even been known to brew some hot chocolate with marshmallows to add to the effect.
What are some of your favourite things to do during that busy month? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.