Motivate your young writers by having students craft letters to Santa, create winter scenes, describe gingerbread houses, and come up with candy cane adjectives. These festive activities will hold your students’ attention during this busy time of year while helping them learn and practice some important writing skills. After they've finished, reward them with the chance to "elf" themselves, play an online dreidel game, or check in with Santa online.
This is my second year doing this art and writing project, and I love it. I start off by reading a winter story. Then I give my students a piece of blue construction paper and a bunch of scrap paper. The directions are to make a winter scene without using scissors, crayons, or pencils. At first it seems like the pictures are a bunch of little pieces, but they soon turn into amazing works of art.
After the art piece is finished, we talk about writing, and specifically about using catchy leads in the beginning to grab the reader's attention. We consider starting with onomatopoeia or a question, for instance. Then I have them write about what is happening in their scene. This motivational piece of writing lends itself really well to getting students to write multiple sentences and add details.
We begin this high-interest writing activity by discussing adjectives and then using them to describe something around the room. Then students get the exciting job of tasting a candy cane and brainstorming adjectives to describe it. Finally, students publish their adjectives on a big candy cane cut from 12" by 18" construction paper.
All of the students in my class celebrate Christmas, so this year we decided to write letters to Santa. What bigger motivation can there be for a kindergartner? They really got into catching Santa’s attention and not being rude by starting out saying that they want something. On their own, the kids talked about how they had to have neat handwriting and use their spaces so Santa would be able to read their letters. We hung up the letters with a cotton ball Santa craft found at DLTK, but of course I copied and mailed a set of their letters to the North Pole.
This year we have been working on adding details to our drawings and on writing sentences. Now that most of my students have mastered these skills, we are focusing on adding details to our writing. What could be more inspiring than their own gingerbread house? This lesson from a past blog post shows how you can easily turn a common kindergarten activity into a descriptive writing lesson. I also include a calculating money extension activity for upper grade teachers.
Now that your students have worked on their writing, let them practice their computer skills with some of the many creative holiday sites out there. Students and families alike will love transforming themselves into elves, reading Santa's blog, or creating their very own virtual blizzard.
Enjoy this holiday time with your students and your families.