Fun Holiday Writing Activities for Secondary
Looking for meaningful writing assignments that will engage students and encourage them to continue honing their skills? Holidays can be the perfect time to sprinkle in short high-interest writing assignments.
In the month of October, I enjoy sprinkling in some spooky story starters. The advantages are many. For one, students are in prime condition for suspense. Halloween is such an engaging time of year for secondary students. Capitalizing on their interest in “the scary” is a great way to harness the excitement.
Story starters are the perfect way to model narrative leads. We evaluate the effectiveness of the examples and analyze what makes them work. Students can also practice writing their own leads following their evaluation and analysis.
Halloween story starters are not intimidating for students because they don’t have to come up with the opening themselves…which is often the most difficult part. Poof! Writer’s block be gone. Additionally, students can write their responses with a small group, with a partner, or by themselves.
One easy way to use story starters as collaborative writing pieces is to have them each begin with a different prompt. After a few minutes of writing, students pass the prompt and their response (or leave them and walk to the next station) so that they can add onto the next piece.
Story starters are also a good time to emphasize writing skills, like encouraging students to include characterization, conflict, a suspenseful plot, and correctly-punctuated dialogue.
If you want to differentiate it, allow students to choose the trait of writing or skill they want to improve upon with their creative writing endeavors.
You can see the details for my spooky Halloween writing prompts as well as single-trait rubrics here.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to emphasize the importance of gratitude. I enjoy teaching my students how to write an email or a letter just to show appreciation for someone or something they did.
Writing a letter and even an email are difficult concepts for many secondary students to grasp. A decent percentage students don’t know to organize their thoughts in paragraphs. They struggle with expanding on a thought…many begin with only one or two sentences and aren’t sure how to write a proper thank you.
Need a hook? Have students watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It emphasizes the importance of taking time to acknowledge the reasons we should be grateful. That discussion can lead into the thankfulness writing activity.
This is a free resource you can download to help guide the thank you email or letter experience.
Winter holidays are always an interesting time in the classroom. In December, many students have a hard time focusing their energy, especially when they finish work early. One of my go-to “fast-finisher” activities is reading. But, that doesn’t always work right before the holidays.
It’s a good idea to have some high-interest writing activities on hand, like these. Ask students to think outside the box while practicing specific writing skills.
Another idea is to practice figurative language in song lyrics. Students can identify examples of similes, metaphors, and other devices in classic Christmas music. Then, they can write their own examples or research to find additional literary devices in holiday music they enjoy.
And there you have it…several ways to get students writing in meaningful ways without taking the fun out of the holiday season. Looking for more inspiration? Stay up to date with all of my favorite holiday lesson plan ideas via this Pinterest board:
Engage secondary students with these fun, versatile spooky story starter writing prompts…which you can also use as impromptu speech topics!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa is the creator of Reading and Writing Haven and a collaborative blogger on Teachwriting.org.
A middle and high school English teacher for over a decade now turned instructional coach, Melissa is an avid reader and writer, and she loves sharing ideas and collaborating with fellow educators. Melissa use her degrees in English, Curriculum & Instruction, and Reading as well as her Reading Specialist certification to ponder today’s educational issues while developing resources to help teachers, students, and parents make learning more relevant, meaningful, and engaging.
When she's not teaching, Melissa lives for drinking a good cup of coffee, loving on her family, working out, and contemplating the structure of a sentence as well as how she can lead her students to deeper reading comprehension (Melissa's true nerdy passions).