15 January 2017

Celebrating Holidays in the Middle School Classroom

Let's face it...no matter how old the students are, they are still crazy on holidays!  ESPECIALLY those holidays that lead in to breaks!

So what can a teacher do to get through the holiday or the day before a holiday break? (other than pop in a movie!)

I'll let you in on my tried and true holiday-crazed-kids survival plan!

First, for each holiday, I gather a collection of holiday-themed worksheets...yes, worksheets-they DO have value at times! Then, I think of ways I can get kids up and moving for SHORT amounts of time. Next, I think of things students always want to do in class, but rarely are allowed to. Finally, I make it all into a competition with some sort of prize attached!

Sounds simple, right?  That's the best news...IT IS THAT SIMPLE!

Let me break it down for you.  Let's take Halloween as an example.  Halloween this year was on a Monday, so in my 6th grade ELA class, we celebrated "Monster Monday" (I've had years when I've called it "Witchy Wednesday" or "Freaky Friday"...you get the point!).  I hung a few decorations and turned the lights down.  When kids came into class, they picked up a "Monster Monday To Do List".

This worksheet has students identifying sentence parts (subject or predicate) and coloring by code to create the picture!
I created a list of grammar worksheets, silly challenges, and physical movements that all tied into Halloween some way or another.  I told them the first 2 students to complete all the challenges would win a prize from me (this time it was ghost-shaped Peeps candy from the Dollar Store). The students had fun working together on the worksheets, and they LOVED having the chance to draw on the whiteboard!  I had fun watching them do jumping jacks and moonwalk.  Because it was a challenge, they all got competitive and worked hard to win!  
This is the best way I've found to keep kids engaged during holidays!  It is super-easy for teachers, too!  Once you've found the worksheets and thought of the activities, you can use the same plan year after year.  Now, I can actually enjoy holidays with my students because I know they aren't just wasting a class period watching a movie.  Plus, since the kids are interacting with each other and with you, it's a great relationship building day!

I do this for many holidays: Halloween, before Winter Break, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, before Spring Break!  Here's another example, this time of a Winter Break to do list:

I hope that gives you some ideas to get through those tough-to-manage days ahead! 

Here's another example of one of the worksheets I use for Thanksgiving week to review punctuation: 

If you are looking for some ELA activity sheets to get you started on your collection, I just added a bunch of new Color By Code holiday-themed activities!  You can find activities for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, New Year, Valentine's DaySt. Patrick's Day, and Easter! Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to check them all out!