December is quite an exciting time in the classroom! Students are excited about the first snow, the sounds of Christmas music and the anticipation of the gifts of the season. It can be a challenging time for the teacher trying to teach these easily excitable students. Holiday fun on one hand and lesson learning on the other? We teachers don’t stand a chance! Sometimes it’s best to just join them instead of trying to beat them at this game. I’ve got your back when it comes to engaging students to learn! What I’ve decided to focus on is reading fluency and vocabulary.
Use Christmas songs schema to close read with all, including sweet and low students! Start with short phrases cards first. Reading these phrases help struggling readers feel successful from the start.
- Introduce each card and read them for the students.
- Play “Around the World” by having two students compete to see who can read the phrase first. The winner goes up against another student and you keep doing this around the classroom (hence the name of the game).
- In small groups, play a matching game by printing 2 sets.
Next, roll and read longer phrases of the same song. For fun, tally the ones read correctly. We just put tally mark inside the box for each phrase read.
Finally, we read the song in paragraph format and close read to answer questions about the text. Students identify answers to questions linked to standards. Learning that’s educational as well as fun!
If you don’t have the time to make your own, click above and here you'll find popular kid-choice Christmas songs that are public domain that have cute clip art and are easy to print with minimal cutting. Easy low to no prep involved!
Encourage oral vocabulary talk in your classroom centered around Christmas themes and critical Tier 2 academic words!
Distinguish—Help! Santa can’t distinguish between all his reindeer! Discuss how we can see little differences in people or things that look exactly alike: freckles, dimples, slight colorings, different collars/bows.
Describe—Santa is looking to add more reindeer to his team. Create your own reindeer that Santa would want to choose! Students will choose a name that “sounds” like a reindeer (compare reindeer names of the current ones). Then, tell what the reindeer “is, can, won’t and will” that will show Santa that this is the reindeer for him!
Draw (Infer/Conclusion)—Draw from your knowledge of reindeer names and create your own. What might the name of your own reindeer mean when it comes to their favorite color, food and their birthday month? Do the same with a snowman, gingerbread man and elf!
Compare/contrast—What can you do on a hot day compared to what you can do on a cold day? What is the same about each day? What is different? Contrast the differences. Write your ideas in the Venn diagram. Also compare and contrast a snowman/gingerbread man and hot cocoa/ice cream cone too!
Identify—Identify what is needed to build a snowman and what is needed to bake cookies in a cut and paste activity. Identify syllables too.
—Retell how to decorate a gingerbread kid. Do it together as a whole group, and then put it into centers for students to retell the story again. Work on writing by having students rewrite the sentences on handwriting paper. More independent students may retell how to make a gingerbread house.
Here's to keeping your students learning while having some fun for the December holidays! Remember to take some time out for yourself over your break so that you have a refreshing start to the brand new year! Cheers!