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December Holiday-Themed Activities and Resources to Keep Students Engaged Until Break

Work on upper elementary skills and standards while celebrating with these December holiday-themed activities and resources.

It’s here!

I can practically hear the jingle of bells and smell the spice because it is winter, and there is a whole slew of holidays on the horizon.

As a teacher, I also know that the holiday season presents something of a struggle in the classroom. With a variety of breaks coming up ranging from a day off here for conferences to several days off there for winter break, fall and winter in the northern hemisphere are tough on students, and their attention spans are everywhere except at school. 

To fight against the wiggles and daydreams plaguing my students during this time of the year, I like to find some December holiday-themed activities and resources that will point toward the holiday season while still focusing on the skills and concepts that we need to cover during this time of the year.

Here is a list of my favorites.

December Holiday-Themed Activities and Resources to Keep your Students Engaged Until Break

December Holiday-Themed Activities and Resources for Upper Elementary

#1| Picture books (+ mini book activity)

One of my favorite ways to learn about and celebrate a variety of holidays during the winter season is through picture books, and all you need to help focus students while reading a picture book is a good graphic organizer. One of my favorite new Christmas books is “A World of Cookies for Santa” by M.E. Furman and Susan Gal. It does a great job of showing how Christmas is celebrated worldwide and what type of cookie each place leaves for Santa. Grab the free activity below to go with the book. It’s set up for you to do two places per day throughout the month.

I will also be putting together another post with picture book recommendations for many more December holidays.

#2 | Close Reads with Mystery Pictures

When considering my favorite December holiday-themed activities and resources, I would be remiss not to bring up a close read or two. With so many Close Reads with Mystery Pictures in the store, it may not be surprising to find out that we have a couple of different close read resources to choose from this December holiday season. 

First, let’s talk about the Christmas Close Reads. These close reads, with their Christmas-inspired images and passages, will allow students to practice their reading skills while activating their creative sides. The best part, these mystery pictures hung up around the room and in the hallways also make for some great decorating!

If you don’t want to focus on Christmas specifically, we also have the December Close Read passages with mystery pictures. This close read set includes passages about Penguins, Candy Canes, and Ice Hockey.

#3 | December Holidays Around the World Game Show

This December Holidays Around the World Game Show is like no other. While working on questions that span a large number of reading skills, students will learn about a variety of December holidays that people celebrate around the world. 

#4 | Sticker Style Digital Activities

I always love adding self-checking, holiday-themed activities into my classroom as a way of setting the mood and creating excitement throughout the year. These types of activities are a perfect addition to centers or stations or even independent activities for students during classroom transitions. 

December Holiday-Themed Activities and Resources to Keep your Students Engaged Until Break Pinterest Pin (1)

This Christmas ELA Digital Sticker Activity is perfect for exactly that purpose. With fun, Christmas-inspired stickers for students to earn, this activity will add to the holiday mood and give students a chance to work on their reading skills without any fussy prep or extra work for the teacher.

#5 | Holiday of the Day Writing Prompts

Although we have Holiday of the Day Writing Prompts for the entire school year, this December set is extra special because they allow students to explore more holidays than just those typically associated with the holiday season, including Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day and Bacon Day…Yum!

#6 | Figurative Language Holiday Light Craftivity 

I love this Figurative Language Holiday Light Craftivity because it is both a way of decorating and a way of testing your student’s figurative language skills. Students will match figurative language terms to examples as they color in a variety of holiday lights that can be hung around the room. Take this activity one step further by asking your students to create some of their own examples! Check out even more ways to use this activity in this blog post: 3 Ways to Use this Figurative Language Holiday Craftivity.

Celebrating the December holidays doesn’t have to take away from the learning in your upper elementary classroom with all of these skill-focused December holiday-themed activities and resources. Using just the resources on this list, your students will study figurative language, identify ELA concepts, and work on their writing.

For even more ideas for celebrating holidays in your upper elementary classroom, take a look at some of these other blog posts!

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