6 Holiday Writing Ideas for the English Language Arts Classroom

A Guest Post by Kristy MacKenzie

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I have mixed feelings about holidays in the classroom. I love the season, but do not always enjoy the chaos surrounding the holiday season. I feel like there is always a reason for interruptions under the guise of holiday celebrations. It can be difficult with all of these interruptions to maintain an academic focused classroom.

Student Engagement

Keeping students engaged during the holiday season can be challenging. It becomes difficult in the older grades when teachers can’t do all of those cute crafts and activities that the younger grades take part in. When teachers provide interesting writing assignments during this season students remain engaged in their classes.

 
 


Try Creative Writing

The holiday season is a great time to try out creative writing with your classes. It is one of the ways I combat the student disengagement that arises during the holiday season.

Students enjoy the change of pace from formal paragraph and essay writing. Creative writing is not a vacation from writing, but a different end product that helps students practice a different writing form, idea development, grammar and spelling.

Below are 6 different creative writing ideas that you can try in your classes this season.

 
 

Write About A Specific Holiday

When I give students creative writing assignments during the holiday season I provide them with two different options one focused on a specific holiday and one focused on the season. I make sure to double-sided photocopy both assignments to each other so that students do not feel pressured to write about the holiday. When students have this choice they pick a writing prompt that appeals to them.

Create an Inclusive Classroom

I teach in a very diverse school where student celebrate a variety of holidays and celebrations. It is important that any specific holiday writing activities provide students with options and not be completed focused on the upcoming holiday season. Not all students celebrate the same holidays, so why should they write the same holiday focused assignment? As mentioned above I have a holiday writing and a seasonal writing assignment on a double-sided photocopy. Students can select either assignment to complete. You can find examples of my seasonal and holiday writing prompts in this assignment.

The Importance of Student Choice

Students love having options. When they are given choices on an assignment it gives them ownership. Look at your current writing assignments and see where choice can be built in. Do all students have to write about the same theme? Do all students have to submit the same format? The nice thing about creative writing it that is naturally lends itself to a variety of choices and formats. A quick Google or Pinterest search will provide you with assignment format ideas which will help you integrate more choice into your classroom tasks.

Try Writing Prompts as Bell Ringers

If you don’t have time in your schedule to incorporate a fully developed creative writing unit or assignment - try quick writing prompts with your students. My students have journals that they write in. Give your students a creative prompt like “If you could be any animal what would you be?”, then set a timer. Once students are comfortable with writing prompts, start to incorporate more holiday themed writing prompts.  Allow students a few minutes a day to showcase their creative side.

 
 

Use the RAFT Format for Creative Writing Assignments

RAFT stands for Role, Audience, Format, Topic - students must choose from a list of roles on which perspective they will write from. Once they have selected a role, each role has an assigned Audience, Format and Topic. Here is an example RAFT from one of my creative writing assignment: You are an Elf who is writing a resignation letter to Santa over the excessive amount of non-paid overtime required in December. We can deconstruct this sentence into: Role - Elf, Audience - Santa, Format - Letter, Topic - Non-Paid Required Overtime. Students enjoy this format because every part of this assignment is different - formats, topics, audiences do not repeat. It allows them to show off their creativity. You can learn more about RAFT writing in this blog post.

Choice Boards Make Learning Feel Like a Challenge

I loved playing Tic Tac Toe as a kid. That is how I feel when I see a choice board. When creating choice boards for writing assignment think about a Tic Tac Toe board with 9 options. You want students to feel like the amount of options is not too overwhelming. A category is provided at the top of each column to guide the options in that column. For most choice boards I use these categories Reading, Writing, Oral, Media - these align to the required curriculum strands I am required to teach. When students are offered choice in different formats it keeps the learning interesting and provide students with ownership of their work.

Write a Prequel or Sequel

The last writing idea I am going to share today is one that often gets forgotten. Students love to write about their own ideas for a class novel or short story. Offer students the opportunity to write a prequel, sequel, additional chapter, alternate beginning or ending about a text studied in class. I am always amazed at my student’s creativity when given this task. Set a page limit on their creativeness - no teacher has time to read a 40 page sequel (unless you do - which is amazing!).

Here is a quick reference list of 6 holiday writing ideas for you to save to your favourite note keeping place.

  • Write About A Specific Holiday

  • Create an Inclusive Classroom

  • The Importance of Student Choice

  • Try Writing Prompts as Bell Ringers

  • Use the RAFT Format for Creative Writing Assignments

  • Choice Boards Make Learning Feel Like a Challenge

  • Write a Prequel or Sequel

I can’t wait to hear about what your students will write about this holiday season.


About the Author

Kristy is a middle school teacher in Ontario, Canada. She lives with her 3 pets and her husband in the suburbs of Toronto. When she is not reading, eating or sleeping, she shares her teaching ideas on her blog 2 Peas and a Dog and in her Teachers Pay Teachers store.












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