- Grades: 6–8
'Tis the season to be giving, and that is what the Middle School Christmas Extravaganza is all about. This year we are celebrating our 4th annual Christmas Extravaganza. The teachers, staff, and students celebrate the holidays by launching a community food drive and schoolwide event that fosters student-teacher relationships. In previous years, a food drive competition was held between homerooms; however, this year, it is a competition between advisory groups. On the last day of the drive, the canned foods are delivered to the local food pantry, and the middle school community meets in the gym for the celebration. Students engage in a talent show, raffles, and humorous, fun-filled competitions.
Switching from academic activities to holiday activities provides the opportunity to share a few laughs while working together toward a common goal. It also gives us a chance to showcase our many talents, whether they're athletic, musical, artistic, or comic.
Deck the Halls
To kick off the schoolwide event, the advisory groups make posters to decorate the hallways and advertise the event. This is a great time to teach students about the relevant information that is needed for effective advertising. They must include event information that answers their peers' questions and entice them to participate in the activities.
In past years, my students have made 3-D dove ornaments because they are the symbol of peace. We would send the doves to the soldiers who are stationed overseas. A written Christmas message, was rolled up and attached to the dove. Optionally, they could write a greeting on a ribbon and adhere it to the dove’s beak or they could decorate the dove with artistic decorations and send a scrolled message. If a student decides to make an additional ornament as a gift for a parent or guardian, they write a short letter, a poem, or a memoir of their favorite holiday memory to attach to the dove.
- Dove Pattern
- White card stock
- Tissue paper (color of choice)
- Small paper clips
- Fine tip Sharpie pens (colored) or gel pens
- Ornament hook: paper clip, quilting thread, fishing line, etc.
- Copy the dove pattern onto white card stock.
- Cut out the dove.
- Cut a 1/2-inch slot on the dotted line to insert the wings.
- Cut a letter-size sheet of tissue paper in half vertically.
- Lay the tissue paper flat on the desk, portrait style. Fold the paper back and forth in 1/2-inch pleats, like an accordion or fan.
- While its still folded, carefully cut both ends of the tissue paper to round off the tips of the wings.
- Insert the folded tissue paper into the slot until it is divided equally.
- Fan out the wings and use the small paper clip to attach the tissue paper underneath the dove. This will keep the wings open.
- Optional: Write a short message on a six-inch length of 1/2-inch wide ribbon. I like to have students write "Merry Christmas” and “Season’s Greetings" in languages from around the world because we study Western civilizations.
- Staple the ribbon to the dove’s beak, so that one half of the staple goes into the beak and the other half goes into the ribbon.
- Optional: Write a Christmas poem. Roll it up, tie a ribbon or piece of yarn around it, and hook it to the paper clip that is holding the wings.
- Make an ornament hook by unfolding a paper clip so it looks like an S.
- Poke the paper clip through the back of the dove, as seen in the photo.
- Hang the ornament.
In past years, we have had over 140 prizes: gift certificates, crazy pens, giant candy bars, T-shirts, etc. This year, in addition to the other prizes, the advisory groups are asked to contribute one raffle item. Examples include:
- Gift basket
- Coupon to tutor with homework or help clean a locker
- Baked foods
It is up to the kids in each advisory group to decide what they want to give. Food drive boxes and a student checklist are used to collect and tally food items that each student donates. Donors are awarded one raffle ticket for every item that is donated. The advisory groups who take first and second place for collecting the most food win a pizza party or donuts, respectively.
On the last day before the holiday vacation, the middle school family and friends meet in the gym. Students and teachers engage in games. Sometimes the teacher and students are on the same team; sometimes it's teachers against students. Each year, Santa and reindeer teams tackle an obstacle course. Santa rushes to get dressed in his or her Santa outfit while the reindeer get on their antlers. As quickly as possible, Santa sits on a scooter and trusty reindeers pull him or her through the obstacle course, completing tasks such as throwing bean bags into chimneys. These games can be modified easily to celebrate multicultural holidays as well. Other games include:
- Gift Wrapping Race: Students line up to see who can wrap a gift the fastest and the neatest. They can compete against teachers.
- Blind Man’s Snowman Puzzle: Giant cutout puzzle pieces of snowmen are velcroed to a wall, and students are grouped into teams. One student on each team is blindfolded. The other team members give verbal directions to help the blind classmate assemble the puzzle. The first team to put the puzzle together wins.
- "Don’t Forget the Christmas Lyrics": This year we are in the procress of creating our own version of the Don’t Forget the Lyrics game show. Students are picked from the audience to sing Christmas karaoke songs. When the music stops, if they can complete the next five words, they win a prize.
- Hershey's Kisses Race: Hershey's Kisses are buried in plates of whipped cream. Without using any hands, students and teacher dive face first into the whipped cream, grab the Hershey's Kiss with their teeth, open it while wearing oversized mittens, and eat it. The first to eat it wins.
- Hula-Hoop Competitions: The students and teacher compete to keep their grass skirt Hula-Hoops going the longest.
- Hula-Hoop Chain: In an event earlier this year, we had 20 students and three teachers line up holding hands. Everyone in the human chain had to go through the Hula-Hoop (chimney) without letting go of hands.
- Grinch’s Heart Has Grown Three Sizes Today: This is a version of the obstacle course above, except the objective is to create the best decorated tree. In this obstacle course, students race to collect ornaments, decorate the tree, and return the gifts. The audience, through cheering, indicates which tree is decorated the best.
- Cookie Decorating Contest: Students use a plastic knife and NO hands to frost cookies.
Find more Christmas games and activities.
The students put on the talent show. They audition for the show, signing up to perform individually or in groups. We have had many wonderful acts: singing, acting out a Dickens skit, caroling, gymnastics, dancing, bands, Christmas poem recitations, etc. It gives the students a chance to exhibit their special talents outside of the classroom. In this picture, one of our talented students, who later was the star in the high school musicals, sings her favorite Christmas carols. One year, we did a spoof of the American Idol judges. The judges add humor to the show. For the show finale, the teachers sing a Christmas carol to the students. Many students who struggle in the classroom shine like stars on this day.
Throughout the event, Christmas music is played strategically. For example, the Grinch theme song would play during the Grinch competition or when the Grinch enters the scene. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” might play during the reindeer race. One person manages the sound system. Volunteers from the middle school student council deliver gifts and prizes to their fellow students. Teacher announcers host the show, but everyone participates in one way or another before the event is over.
Multicultural Christmas Resources for Middle School
The links below will spark ideas for modifying the above activities for a multicultural event.
- "A Multicultural Mix of Holiday Traditions" (Suite 101)
- Hanukkah Traditions (History Channel)
- European Christmas Customs (History Channel)
- "A World to Celebrate" (Scholastic)
- "Multicultural" (Scholastic Instructor, December 2000)