If you are anything like us, you love Christmas, but at the same time, you don’t want to drop everything for ‘Christmas craft’ for the entire month of December.
We like to run reading and maths lessons all the way through to the end of term! You might be reading this thinking that it is a little on the strict side. However, over the years, we have found it is not only good for learning, but it is a highly successful behaviour management strategy too.
Kids need and thrive on routine, and we know that many feel safe and settled when routines are in place. It is easy for behaviours to slip when many exciting things are happening or when students aren’t sure what to expect from you or the day. Keeping up with literacy rotations and maths lessons is one way of ensuring you still have some routines among the Christmas interruptions, concerts, assemblies and other events that pop up.
In saying that, reading/literacy groups don’t need to follow the traditional lessons that you have taught throughout the year. We like to give our activities a little festive twist. This way, kids are excited to engage in the activities, and we are still keeping them involved in rigorous learning up to Christmas.
To help you, here are some ideas to get you started. It is easier than you may think. We have included a range of activities that can be used for various age groups. These ideas should work a charm, keeping your reading groups running smoothly through to Christmas.
1. Christmas themed reading
Many schools ask for guided readers to be returned relatively early to be cleaned, sorted and prepared for the following year. As frustrating as this can be, we do understand the logistics of why schools might do this. But don’t let a lack of reading material stop you from running reading groups.
It is the perfect opportunity to introduce Christmas themed content. Older students can read about Christmas around the world or how and why some traditions came about, while younger students could read simple picture books or excerpts you find online about Christmas.
There are loads of Christmas themed reading passages on Teachers Pay Teachers that you can print and use as guided reading text.
We love immersing our students in Christmas themed literature in December. In fact, we often run a book advent calendar (read about how it works here).
Dedicate one of your literacy activities to completing a book review about a story you have read together in class, or even asking the students to review a Christmas book of their choice. Perhaps, students could write an alternative plot twist or ending.
Having a book review as a part of your reading group activities is also an extra excuse to read all of the fun Christmas picture books like Pig the Elf, Macca’s Christmas Crackers and Yule Not Open this Book (to name a few of our faves!)
Grab a copy of our free Christmas book review template here.
3. Christmas Blooms Grid
We love a good Blooms matrix for many reasons. One primary reason is they cater for a range of learners in the classroom and allow for student choice. Our Christmas Blooms activities are IDEAL for reading group rotations, plus we guarantee your students will be engaged in their learning!
To make implementing something like this a lot easier, we have created templates to go with every activity on the grid. That way, tasks are clearly scaffolded, and students can complete tasks independently at a higher level.
If you want to know more about why we love these sorts of activities and how to simply and easily implement them into the classroom, check out this blog post next.
4. Christmas vocabulary
We know that building the field with specific vocabulary is important in literacy development and Christmas is no different. Including a Christmas vocabulary task in your reading group rotations is another fun idea.
It could be as simple as discovering the meaning of words found in the lyrics of Christmas carols (for older students) or reading and sorting Christmas symbols (for younger students).
A word search is also another easy vocabulary activity for reading groups.
5. Make a kindness Advent calendar
Here at Rainbow Sky HQ, we are all about Kindness all year round, but especially at Christmas. A kindness advent calendar is a lovely twist on the traditional advent calendar. You could ask students to create their own (we have a template ready for you here).
You may just ask younger students to write a few ideas on post-it notes and then collate the ideas as a class. For older students, however, they could be given a calendar to complete independently.
Teacher tip: For primary students, use a Kindness Advent Calendar as your reading text. Then ask students to create their own as a follow-up task.
6. Creative Writing Prompts
Christmas is such an easy time to have fun with writing. This type of centre can be run over a few days or a couple of weeks, so students have time to produce high-quality writing.
We love to give students a choice when it comes to creative writing so they become excited about the writing process. Prompts could include:
- If you could give one gift to the world this Christmas, what would it be?
- Santa’s sleigh has broken down! How would you help him deliver all the presents?
- Make a list of rules Santa has for the Elves at the North Pole.
- Create a guidebook for one of Santa’s reindeers.
We have some free Christmas Creative Writing prompts here. All you need to do is print and go!
7. Set up a mini research project
We have shared many times how we are big fans of setting up flipbooks as mini research projects for students. We love that they are scaffolded, involve student reflection, higher order thinking and require little input from the teacher once the initial setup has been done.
A flipbook like this is great addition to reading group rotation as students can work on it for the few weeks leading up to Christmas. It is also a handy go-to for early finishers!
“Such a beautiful resource, and love the ideas behind it! Thank You!” Miss Conte
8. Christmas Compliment Wreaths
Christmas time is about the gift of giving, but it doesn’t always need to be physical gifts. Setting up a compliment station during reading groups is one way to make our compliment wreaths. Students spend time writing compliments during the rotation and later in the week, you already have compliments ready to use for your wreath craft!
There you have it, reading groups don’t need to end as you near the finish line of the school year. In fact it is a wonderful opportunity to engage students in Christmas themed activities while still keeping the routine (and hopefully calm) in your classroom.