Christmas in the upper elementary classroom often means making Christmas ornaments, watching Polar Express, or throwing a holiday party. However, there are many ways to celebrate Christmas that also allow for student learning.
The low prep Christmas activities listed below are great ways to integrate literacy while at the same time celebrating Christmas.
1. Sing Christmas Songs Together
Many Christmas songs have multiple verses that students will probably be unfamiliar with, even though they know they tune. Singing these Christmas (or holiday) songs together can be a fun way to build students' reading fluency.
The Christmas songs listed below have multiple verses. Although students will probably be familiar with the tune and the first verse, they most likely won't know the remaining verses.
1. Here Comes Santa Claus
2. Frosty the Snowman
3. Jingle Bells
4. Jingle Bell Rock
5. Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
This is a very low prep activity - just print out the words and sing together. If you wanted to, you could even go caroling to other 3rd grade, 4th grade, or 5th grade classrooms.
If you'd like additional Christmas literacy activities to go along with some Christmas songs, then check out my Christmas Reading Fun Resource. After singing different Christmas songs together, students answer literacy questions about the songs.
2. Have Students Compare and Contrast Their Christmas with a Partner
The holiday season is a great time for students to learn more about how different cultures and people celebrate Christmas (or how some people don't celebrate). Partner students up and have them talk about how their family celebrates Christmas. Then, have students compare and contrast their celebrations with a Venn Diagram or a chart.
Even if the partners both celebrate the typical American Christmas, there are bound to be some differences.
This is one of the eight Christmas literacy activities in my Christmas No Prep Activities Resource.
3. Snowman Description Writing Activity
This is one of my 3rd grade students' favorite holiday activities.
1. Have students draw a picture of a snowman. They can decorate the snowman however they want to.
2. Have students write a description of their snowman. Explain to students that their description needs to be extremely detailed.
3. Display all of your students' snowmen to the entire class.
4. Have students read their description aloud to the class. Based on their writing, have the other students guess which snowman drawing is theirs.
I always explain to my students that if their description is really good, the entire class should be able to figure out what snowman is theirs. The more detail, the better!
My Snowman Description Writing Activity Resource includes everything you'll need to complete this Christmas literacy activity, including a kid-friendly rubric that provides examples.
4. Christmas Vocabulary Activity
This is a fun activity that can be completed individually, in partners or small groups, or whole class.
Have students try to come up with a Christmas or holiday related word for each letter of the alphabet. For example, students could write "chimney" for the letter C.
As an extension activity, students could write a sentence for each of the words they came up with. Or, have students see how many of the Christmas words they could use in one sentence.
This activity is also included in my Christmas No Prep Activities Resource.
5. Christmas Discussion Starters or Writing Prompts
Christmas provides a great opportunity for discussion and writing. Ask students some of the following discussion starters/writing prompts.
1. December 3rd is "National Make A Gift Day." What is a gift you could make?
2. If Santa's suit wasn't red, what color would it be and why?
3. Do you decorate your house for the holidays? How do you decorate your house?
For more December themed discussion starters/writing prompts, check out my December: Class Meeting/Discussion Starter Questions.
If you like these activities but want to minimize the prep, check out my Christmas Reading and Writing Bundle. All of these activities (and more) are included in this bundle - and you save at least 20% by buying the bundle!
Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again
When you subscribe to my newsletter below, I’ll send you my Reusable Sub Plans for FREE. You’ll also get updates on new blog posts and freebies.