10 Christmas Activities for Secondary English Classes

Consider your December lesson planning done!

Christmas is a fun time for all involved, including teachers! If you're stumped for ideas on how you can bring the Christmas spirit into your English Language Arts class, here are a few ideas to help you get started.

Fellow ELA teacher (and holiday guru) The Classroom Sparrow and I have compiled a list of of ideas to help you find the perfect match for your class.
Use Christmas Topics to Practice
Public Speaking Skills

The Classroom Sparrow: Use these fun Christmas-themed topics to practice public speaking and debate-style skills in your classroom! Get your students moving by hanging up four signs that indicate the following: strongly agree, agree, strongly disagree, disagree.

Present the following topics and let the discussion begin! Students should be prepared to share their reasons for their opinion selection, so they should choose their decision wisely.

Discussion topic #1: Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
Discussion topic #2: A real Christmas tree or an artificial tree?
Discussion topic #3: Is re-gifting okay?
Discussion topic #4: The angel or the star as the treetop?
Discussion topic #5: Which is better, giving or getting? Why?

Nonfiction Articles & Discussion:
Giving to Charity

Sara: Are millennials REALLY selfish, or are they the most giving generation to date?
Has society gotten any better since Ebenezer Scrooge’s time, or would Dickens still judge us?

Answer these questions (and squeeze in some holiday nonfiction reading) in a fun, 2-day reading Jigsaw!

Even if your students have never read A Christmas Carol or seen any movie versions, they’ll still get into these debatable questions, reading three short articles as evidence before drawing final conclusions. Grab the download here!

Whole-Class Christmas Activity

The Classroom Sparrow: The last week of school before the Christmas break is tough. The students are excited and they seem to have trouble focusing on anything other than their school work. Why not challenge your students to work together to solve a variety of puzzles? Not only will they be working with their peers, it’s also an easy way to celebrate the season in your classroom.

THEIR TASK: HELP! Santa accidentally locked himself in the toy workshop and he needs your help to get him out! But, before he can be freed from the workshop, you will have to successfully complete a series of tasks and challenges.

Note: Aside from the materials that you would already have in your classroom (pencils, pens, scissors and colored pencils or crayons), no additional supplies are needed! These escape room-style games were created as a print-and-go resource, so no extra prep has to be done on your part.

Read & Collaborate on a
Classic Short Story

Sara: Teach one of the most surprising classics of all time (“The Gift of the Magi”) with a no-prep mini-unit that’s a total win-win: students get to work with partners, and the teacher has less to grade!

I’m obsessed with how many literary devices and skills can be accomplished in a short time with this story, and students ALWAYS have opinions about it… especially when we ask loaded questions like, “Who made the bigger sacrifice: Jim or Della?”

Whether you use just parts of the unit or the whole thing, check out the collection of activities here!

Reinforce Writing Skills Using
Daily Christmas Prompts

The Classroom Sparrow: A great way to establish a routine in any classroom is through the use of daily writing prompts/bell ringers. Not only are students practicing their writing daily, but they are also developing a standard in your class, which might also encourage students to arrive to class on time, prepared to write!

You can easily incorporate the Christmas theme into an English class, by having your students respond to a Christmas-themed prompt during the weeks leading up to the holiday!

Do a Dramatic Read-aloud

Sara: Whether your students are in 6th grade or 12th, there’s a practical application for the letter “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.

While reading it for comprehension skills is fine, another option is to get students to practice reading it out loud, focusing on the vocals of public speaking: inflection, speed, dramatic pauses, facial expressions, volume, etc. (It could also make for a fun popcorn reading!)

Another option is to use it as the foundation for creative writing, asking students questions like

What would YOU have said back to Virginia in 1897?
What would you say to her if she were a little girl now?
What do you agree and disagree with in The Sun’s letter back to her?

Christmas Vacation
Newspaper Article Writing

The Classroom Sparrow: Get ready because Cousin Eddie is on his way! Are your Christmas vacations Griswold-worthy? Have your students share their memories about their winter holiday vacations, while at the same time, learning the proper format of a newspaper article. An actual 'vacation’; however, is not required for this activity. Students can write about a past vacation or make up details about a vacation that could possibly occur over their winter holiday break.

Grab this FREE resource HERE!

Meet Writing Standards & Genres
with Holiday Prompts

Sara: December is a great time to get a snapshot of how students are doing across different genres (and see how they’ve grown since you started teaching them). Make that process fun with this set of 40 prompts, a rubric, story starters, and a brainstorming sheet!

This set can take as little or as much time as you need it to, since you can decide how many total prompts students need to complete. Grab it here!

Incorporate Holiday-Appropriate Short Stories, Poems, and Books

The Classroom Sparrow: Another way to bring the Christmas spirit into your middle and high school English classes could be through the use of festive short stories and books during the month of December.

Holiday-appropriate texts to use during the month of December:
• A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
• Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
• The Little Match Girl (Hans Christian Andersen)
• A Christmas Memory (Truman Capote)
• ‘Twas the Night before Christmas (Clement Clarke Moore)

Get ready for New Year’s Eve!

Sara: Activities for New Year’s are a great option for right before winter break or right after it, and there’s SO much opportunity for reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the next one.

For example, here are two free resources to ponder:

Have you tried any of these activities? Tell us about it in the comments!

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