Merry Christmas!

Christmas-Themed Language Arts Activities

Merry Christmas | Christmas Acrostics | Gift Certificates |
Lump O' Coal | Christmas Memories | Christmas Charades |
Christmas Taboo | A Christmas Tale | The First Christmas |
Unselfish Letters to Santa | Cracked Carols |

Merry Christmas
In ten minutes, how many words can you make from the phrase "Merry Christmas"?

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Christmas Acrostics
An acrostic is a very simple kind of poem. The writer chooses a word and writes it vertically (going down the page like the word "ANGELS." Each letter then begins a new line in the poem. The poem should describe the word formed. An example is given below:

Above the
Night sky
Each of the heavenly host to
Loudly proclaim the
Savior's birth.

Try to make acrostics using the following words or phrases: Christmas, wisemen, star, stable, manger, bells, angel, gift, Merry Christmas, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman.

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Gift Certificates
Not all presents sit under the Christmas tree in pretty boxes. Sometimes people give gift certificates for Christmas. A gift certificate is a simple piece of paper that lets the person who owns it trade it in whenever he or she wants for a gift. Sometimes a gift certificate works like money. It may be worth $10, $20, $50, or another amount (which is written on the certificate) at a certain store. Sometimes a gift certificate gives its owner a special privilege--dinner for two at a nice restaurant, three months at a health club, a pound of one's favorite candy at a candy store, and so forth.

You can easily make your own Christmas gift certificates. Think of several things you can do well, things that other people would appreciate. Maybe Mom would appreciate your washing the dishes. Maybe Dad would appreciate your cleaning the car. Maybe your younger brother or sister would appreciate your offering to read to them or play with them. Maybe Grandma or Grandpa would appreciate your running errands for them.

Have you thought of things you could do for your friends and family this Christmas? Then you're ready to make gift certificates. I've designed four sample gift certificates which you can view by clicking here. You may print these, color them, fill in the blanks, and give them away; or you may create your own.

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Lump o' Coal
programmed word cards
Christmas stocking

Program 50 or more cards with familiar words -- word families, sight words, thematic vocabulary, etc. (Christmas die-cuts look nice, but index cards with words printed in Christmas colors work just as well.) On 5-10 cards, simply draw a lump of coal. (I use more coal cards for older students and fewer for younger children.)

Have students sit in a circle and pass the stocking around the circle. Students must reach into the stocking and pull out a card without looking. If a student draws a word card and reads the word correctly, he or she keeps the card and places it in front of him or her.  If a student draws a word card and reads the word incorrectly, he or she simply returns the card to the stocking. If, however, a student draws a coal card, that student must return all of his or her word cards to the bag.

Play continues for a predetermined length of time or until three consecutive students draw coal cards. At the end of play, students count up their cards. The student with the most cards in his or her hand wins.

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Christmas Memories
Think of a favorite Christmas memory, then write a paragraph describing it. Begin by stating time and place. Choose strong action verbs. For instance, "We mixed the dough, let it chill, rolled it thinly, then cut it in a variety of Christmas shapes..." is more descriptive than "We made cookies." After you have written your basic paragraph, read through it. How many details do you include? Can you add more? You want your readers to be able to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste your memory. Maybe you wrote something like, "The cookies smelled delicious." You know what "delicious" means, but your readers still don't have a clear understanding. Try describing the smell in more concrete terms like, "As the cookies baked, the delicious aroma of real butter, molasses, cinnamon, and ginger filled the kitchen." After you have finished editing your memory, recopy it neatly and put it in a special notebook or folder. Add other memories as you have time to create a personalized book of Christmas memories.

This also works well as a class or group activity. Each person should write and edit one or more memories. After everyone is finished, students/group members should exchange memories. Other readers can preview the paragraph, marking sentences that are unclear and noting which sentences they especially like. If possible, each student should ask two or three others to review his or her work. Students can then make any final changes based on comments and neatly copy work onto a fresh piece of paper. The teacher can then collect these paragraphs, photocopy a set for each student, staple sets or place them in a three-ring binder, and give each student a copy of the class's Book of Christmas Memories.

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Christmas Charades
Divide group into two teams. Each team should brainstorm a list of as many words related to Christmas as possible, write each of these on small slips of paper, and fold papers in half. Each teams papers should then be placed in two separate containers. Call on one player at a time to draw a paper from the opposite team's hat and act out the word given. If the player's team guesses the word, it receives one point. If it does not guess, no points are assigned (since the opposing team which wrote down the word being demonstrated would have an unfair advantage were they to guess).

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Christmas Taboo
A player chooses a card with a word related to Christmas at the top. He or she gives verbal clues to help other players guess the word, but he or she cannot use any form of the five related words written on the lower portion of the card in his or her clues. Click here for printable playing cards.

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A Christmas Tale
This activity is most fun with a large group. One person begins telling a story. After thirty seconds, the first person must stop and point to someone else. The person to whom the speaker points must immediately continue the story. Anyone who cannot continue within five seconds is out. The stories may be silly, but each continuation should be semi-logically related to the overall story. (For example, anyone who began reciting "As I Was Going to St. Ives," when the story was about shopping on Christmas Eve would be out.)

For ESL or EFL purposes, you may tape the original story. After each student has spoken, you may play back the tape. Anytime a student hears a grammatical error, he or she should raise his or her hand. Stop the tape, call on the student, and ask the student to re-state the error, followed by a correction. If the student successfully corrects the sentence, he or she gets a point. If several students catch the same error, the first student to raise his or her hand is called upon and gets a point if successful. If no student catches an error, the teacher may correct it for a point. With beginning students, it works well to play the teacher vs. the class. If the teacher wins, class continues as usual. If the students win, everyone receives some small prize like a sticker, a cookie, early dismissal (older students), etc.

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The First Christmas
Read the Biblical account of the first Christmas. List the main characters. Now list other persons that appear. Create appropriate costumes for all of the characters and act out the story of the first Christmas. Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds might wear long robes and sandals. You can use towels of scrapes of cloth for headpieces. Angel wings could be cut out of poster board or construction paper and taped to someone's back. Halos can be made by stringing shimmering stars together. Sheep and donkey ears can be made from construction paper, and so forth. After you've created your costumes and practiced your play you can invite friends and family to watch your performance of the Christmas story. 

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Unselfish Letters to Santa
Too often, the traditional Christmas writing activity -- a letter to Santa -- becomes an exercise in greed. Stave off the gimmies by having students write a different kind of letter to Santa: Instead of writing Santa with their personal wish lists, encourage them to think of other people's needs and wants this Christmas. Ask them to write a letter making requests for friends, family members, acquaintances, even strangers.

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Cracked Carols
As the holidays approach, children are seemingly compelled to share "alternate" versions of traditional holiday songs. ("Jingle bells, Batman smells, / Robin laid an egg ...")

Instead of groaning inwardly as you hear the same worn-out parodies, dissect a song or two in class, examining rhyme and meter. Then, direct students to choose a Christmas song and create their own humorous take on it. Parodies are fine ... as long as they're original. But anybody overhead singing "Deck the halls with gasoline" gets coal in their stocking!

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U.S. Toy Co. (125x125)

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