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9 Festive Holiday-Themed Writing Activities For Middle School ELA

    festive writing activities for middle school

    Looking to fill the last weeks of December with holiday-themed writing activities? You’ve come to the right place! Channel your holiday spirit while engaging students in fun yet meaningful learning opportunities.

    Many teachers feel like getting anything meaningful done in these last weeks of December is impossible. And, yes, as winter break inches closer, it becomes more challenging to keep students on task. However, if you find creative ways to bring festive fun into your classroom, you can channel the holiday spirit into meaningful learning opportunities. 

    I’m here to help you leverage that festive (and sometimes chaotic) energy to engage students in writing activities that align with educational standards and bring the holiday magic into your classroom. The best part? It doesn’t have to involve hours of planning and prep work. (That’s a gift in itself.)

    Read on to discover my favorite low-prep writing activities designed to keep students engaged in learning while having a holly jolly time in the weeks leading up to the holiday break.

    9 Fun & Festive Writing Activities

    Stop battling the “pre-winter break” struggle with your students. Instead, make the most of the holiday spirit by assigning these festive and fun writing activities perfect for December!

    1. Character Ugly Sweater Contest

    Like an ugly sweater contest, but make it literary.

    Hosting a character ugly sweater contest is the perfect way to combine characterization with a little holiday fun. This activity seamlessly blends creative artwork with analytical writing, challenging students to design a Christmas sweater for a literary character. Start with a blank ugly sweater template. Then, let students have fun decorating an “ugly” sweater that represents their chosen character, including quotes, images, symbols, adjectives, and more. Have each student write a paragraph analysis explaining their choices, turning a classic festive sweater into an opportunity for character exploration and analysis.

    Alternatively, you can have your students create symbolic sweaters representing a theme or an entire novel!

    2. Winter-Themed Poetry

    A perfect writing activity for December and beyond.

    If you’re looking to steer clear of specific holidays, winter-themed poetry is the perfect option. Encourage your students to explore the beauty of winter through the lens of poetry. This is a perfect opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge of figurative language and poetic devices. Students will have a blast bringing winter to life through symbolism, metaphors, personification, symbolism, onomatopoeia, and more! To add an extra layer of creativity, have students exchange and illustrate each other’s poems, putting their descriptive writing to the ultimate test. Then, they can go around matching the illustrations to the poems.

    If you want to kick up the holiday spirit, have your students write magically descriptive poems about abstract concepts, like holiday cheer, or concrete images, like a Christmas tree.

    3. “Paint” a Picture with Sensory Details

    Oh, what fun it is to write with sensory details!

    Looking for a quick yet effective writing activity this December? This is it. Challenge students to describe the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures associated with the holidays. Whether it’s the scent of gingerbread, a twinkling Christmas tree, or the soft crunch of snow under your boots, students bring classic holiday settings or items to life with this fun writing challenge. Encourage them to create a description by combining descriptive writing and as many of the five senses as possible.

    Want to add a little twist? Have students share their descriptions, and their peers guess the holiday element based on the vivid sensory details.

    4. Holiday Memories

    Practice narrative writing with a holiday twist.

    Teaching narrative writing is a must in the secondary classroom, and it certainly comes with its challenges. Luckily, December is the perfect time to inspire and engage students in narrative writing prompts. Rather than the dreaded “I have nothing to write about” roadblock, students tend to have more to say regarding their favorite holiday memories and traditions. Challenge them to delve into their most cherished holiday memories, describing them with great detail through sensory language and imagery. Remind students that their pieces should make the reader feel like they were also experiencing the moment.

    This reflective exercise sharpens narrative writing skills while tapping into the magic of the holidays.

    5. “Roll Out” a Holiday Story

    Another festive activity to help students surpass writer’s block.

    Break through the “what do I write about” roadblock with the “Roll Out” A Holiday Story activity. Select six holiday-related options for classic story elements such as character, setting, conflict, and theme. Assign each option a number 1-6 so when students roll the dice for each component, it will determine a brainstorm for their narrative. Not only does this spark creativity, it also gives each student something more specific to write about while leaving plenty of room for creative fun. These unique plots often turn out festive and sweet or ridiculously funny, making them a joy to read.

    This engaging exercise transforms the (often dreaded) writing process into a fun and festive game, making it both entertaining and intellectually stimulating.

    6. A Festive Argument

    Teenagers love to argue, right? So, why not make it festive?

    While this activity has the main elements of a classic argumentative writing activity, it has a festive twist. Rather than choosing from traditional argumentative prompts regarding social media or school uniforms, provide students with a list of holiday-themed topics to take a stance on. This writing activity requires them to employ persuasive and argumentative writing techniques, incorporating ethos, pathos, and logos, to make their case. Despite the holiday twist, students must articulate their opinions in a structured and convincing manner.

    Some favorite topics include arguing for the best Christmas tradition, holiday movie, or winter activity. Feel free to steal these for your classroom!

    7. A Children’s Christmas Book

    Who doesn’t love a good Christmas story?

    This activity is a great way to review plot structure and get into the Christmas spirit. Invite students to gather around as you read a few of your favorite Christmas stories before encouraging them to write (and illustrate) one of their own. Students will craft holiday tales, bringing the magic of storytelling to life through words and illustrations. It’s also a perfect opportunity for students to exercise their knowledge of theme and descriptive writing. Spread the cheer by teaming up with a local elementary classroom and having your students read their stories to the younger kids.

    Remember, it’s possible that some of your students don’t celebrate Christmas. Adjust this activity to best reflect your students’ winter holidays and traditions.

    8. A Recipe for the Perfect Holiday

    Talk about a recipe for festive fun!

    Writing about abstract concepts can be challenging for students. That’s where this activity comes into play. Rather than the pressure of diving into an abstract concept in an analytical essay, students will transform holiday-related abstract ideas into concrete creations with this fun and creative writing activity. Instead of writing a recipe for holiday food, students will write their recipe for the perfect holiday. Students must create a list of “ingredients” before bringing it all together with a step-by-step process. Since holidays mean something different to each person based on their experiences and traditions, this is a personalized activity packed with meaning.

    Have students bring in their favorite holiday recipe (for an actual food or beverage) to share with the class and serve as inspiration for the elements of a recipe.

    9. Gingerbread House Listing

    Get ready for a tasty treat of persuasive writing!

    In this writing activity, students aren’t necessarily decorating gingerbread houses, but they are trying to sell them. Have students put on their realtor hats and use persuasive writing to “sell” their very own gingerbread house. Students will draw a gingerbread house before creating a compelling real-estate listing, attempting to convince you to make a purchase. I recommend having students review actual house listings first to get inspiration and build a stronger understanding of what to include. This hands-on approach combines real-life writing with creativity and holiday fun.

    You can take this a step further by letting your students actually build their gingerbread houses for a delicious extension activity!

    Even More Holiday Writing Activities

    Ho, ho, ho no it doesn’t end there! Here are a few more holiday writing activities to sprinkle into your plans over the next few weeks.

    • Assign festive bell ringers
    • Write a Christmas dialogue
    • Provide holiday story starters
    • Create Christmas movie character diary entries
    • Write creative holiday-themed news articles
    • Take a stance on the great real vs. fake tree debate
    • Correct grammar in holiday-themed sentences

    So Much Holiday Writing Fun to Have, So Little Time

    If you’re like me, you may want to do all of the things. But trying to do that (in the weeks leading up to the holiday break, no less) is enough to drive any teacher insane. And I’m all for supporting teachers in maintaining their sanity during these next few weeks. In fact, if you need some tips to help you do so, check out my teacher’s guide to surviving the holiday season.

    If you’re torn between choosing from multiple writing activities in this post, consider doing a Holiday writing choice board. Your middle school students will love the freedom to select a writing activity that resonates with their interests. The element of choice promotes a sense of ownership over their writing while keeping students engaged and focused on festive yet meaningful activities leading up to winter break.

    It’s Time to Get Festive!

    Rather than fighting to get your students to pay attention, channel their festive spirit into meaningful classroom experiences. Trust me, it works wonders. So, if your students normally moan and groan when you assign writing, get ready for a change! Middle school students always eat these festive writing activities up.

    What other fun and festive writing activities do you have to add to the list? Let me know in a comment below!

    Looking to incorporate even more holiday fun in your classroom? Here are 8 more festive ELA activities to try!

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