33 Merry & Bright Christmas Activities for Students
Every year, around the second week of December, I’d start scrambling to come up with ways to keep the kids engaged in class and well-behaved. The closer kids get to winter break, the more the wheels start to come off behaviorally.
So how can you hold on tight and keep them learning? These Christmas activities for students can be easily sprinkled throughout the month. Excited kids need frequent brain breaks, but most of us can’t afford the loss of learning time to just be ALL FUN ALL THE TIME.
So find a healthy balance! Put some of these easy Christmas activities for students in your centers while you run focused, rigorous small groups. A little Christmas cheer, a little pedal to the metal. Everything in moderation, I always say!
What should I do for Christmas at school?
In my professional opinion, there’s no harm in adding some Christmas activities for students to your classroom, so long as you are inclusive and thoughtful about it. For example, if you add a Christmas tree to your classroom, or host a gift exchange, be mindful of other religions within your homeroom class. Don’t assume that everyone celebrates the winter holiday the same way. Look for ways to incorporate every child’s experience with the holidays.
You should work hard to invite students from different cultures to bring their own traditions to the classroom so that everyone feels welcome. If there are students who celebrate Hannukah or Kwanzaa in your class, make sure to find out and look for ways to celebrate.
Diwali is a major holiday for many students, although it’s usually observed in October or November. It’s celebrated by over a billion people each year. Here in Texas and in New York, it’s recognized as a school holiday by some districts with large Indian populations. Think about ways to include these students and create a festive atmosphere in your classroom. I love this post to help teachers get ideas about Diwali.
I’ve included a parent letter below you can edit, if you need some ideas.
Keep reading to find more Christmas activities for students, but lean on your homeroom parents for multicultural party ideas!
Google Classroom Christmas Activities
If you’re in need of some centers or stations activities, or are still doing remote learning, Google Classroom Christmas activities for students can save the day! These are not free activities, but they do look like a good value.
Best for Elementary
The following Christmas activities are great for elementary school students. I’ve made a note of what ages are best for each assignment.
My Life as Santa’s Elf Christmas Writing from Teacher Features is perfect for 2nd and 3rd grade. It’s a fun way to engage kids in writing and costs $4.50. There are 12 slides that help students with short responses and with the planning of longer writing pieces.
Assorted Christmas Themed Activities by The Techie Teacher is ideal for 3rd and 4th grade. It’s a bit less rigorous than some other options, but it can be a great way to keep kids engaged during center time while you work on more challenging stuff in small groups. It’s $4.25 and there are 10 activities.
Persuasive Writing Activities for Christmas by Kristine Nannini works well for 3rd-6th grade. The writing prompts for Christmas are super cute! These activities can be used in print but a Google Classroom digital version is included with purchase. It costs $4.00.
Kindergarten Christmas Activities for Google Classroom is great for kindergarten and first grade. It’s $6.00, but you get 51 pages of sight words, phonics, and math. It actually looks like a great deal to me!
Great for All Ages (and FREE!)
These two Christmas activities for students can easily be adapted to kids of all ages.
Flip Grid Christmas Questions Challenge – I love using FlipGrid, and so do students of all ages. You can do as many of these as you want! You can ask a new question each day the week before Christmas, or try doing it for the 12 Days of Christmas leading up to the school break.
Kids will respond via video to your prompts. They practice making eye contact, planning their responses on paper first (if a multiple part question), and often rehearse a few times.
One of my favorite features is that kids get to watch each other’s videos, too. I like to choose a particularly thoughtful one to spotlight by showing it to the whole class, although I do get permission first. Here are some possible questions:
- What is your favorite holiday tradition?
- If you could visit the North Pole for a day, what would you plan to do?
- If you won a thousand dollars at Christmas time, how would you spend it?
- If you could prepare a holiday feast for your family, what would you cook?
- What is your favorite holiday memory?
- What is your favorite holiday movie? If you don’t have a favorite holiday movie, what about a song?
- What do you love to do on cold winter nights?
- What has changed about you since the beginning of the year?
- What is the most special Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
- Do you think you’ll set goals for the new year? Why or why not?
- What’s your favorite holiday decoration?
- What happens in your home on Christmas morning? Who wakes up first? What happens next?
A Kwanzaa Educational Video – I like this short video to educate kids about Kwanzaa. It explains why Kwanzaa is special and teaches them a short history of the holiday.
Christmas Activities for Elementary Students
Here are some Christmas activities for students that won’t necessarily have them glued to a screen! Many of us are over it, so hooray for these!
Encourage students to participate in Do Good December. One of the best things about Christmas is helping children experience the joy of giving and being selfless. You can easily create your own that’s customized to your own school.
A FREE 100s Chart Christmas Picture for kindergarten through 3rd grade. Until kids have mastered that 100s chart, they need endless practice! So this activity makes the mundane feel magical.
A FREE Dot Marker Christmas Mystery Picture Set for kindergarten and first grade. This is similar to the previous activity. Kids get to use dot markers (but whatever works, honestly), to practice sight words and letter recognition.
Start an Elf on the Shelf for Your Classroom – This is a classic activity that’s perfect for lower elementary. My coworker does a FULL BLOWN Elf of the Shelf for her students each year. She even sells an Elf in the Shelf kit that makes it easy to do in your own home or classroom. No more thinking of something creative at the last minute! To order your own kit, fill out her order form here.
Daily Christmas Read Aloud – Click the link to find a great selection of holiday books to read to your kids! We like to visit the library and pick up a ton of Christmas picture books at once, and try a new one each night.
Host a Christmas book exchange at your class party. This is a fun way to promote literacy in the classroom. I always put a price limit on the book, and I bring several extras for any students who didn’t participate.
FREE Decorate a Christmas Tree Decimal Activity – This activity is perfect for 4th-6th graders. It’s a bit harder to find free stuff for older grades on TPT, but this one is high quality and hits the mark!
Have a Christmas-themed DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time with students. Invite students to wear their pajamas. We do this activity on the last half day before school lets out for Christmas break. Students love wearing their jammies and bringing a single pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal. We have tons of books checked out from the library, which students choose before we begin. We limit our DEAR time to about an hour. I also limit overhead lighting and try to include lots of lamps and super soft music.
Check out my post: “The Five Kinds of Students that Teachers Remember Forever.”
Watch a Christmas movie in bits and pieces on your indoor recess days. Every December, we start having fewer outdoor recess days. If it’s at all possible to go outside, we do, but WOW the wind out here in West Texas combined with cold temperatures can make it no fun at all. I start a Christmas movie on Netflix, and we watch in 15 minute increments. They love it!
A free fractions activity where students decorate a snowman. Anything that combines art and math successfully and seamlessly is a win in my book!
FREE Christmas figurative language task cards -Well, figurative language is my jam! These are incredible task cards that require a simple sort between metaphor and simile. These would be a super simple addition to any literacy center.
Writing assignments on special Christmas paper – here’s my freebie!
An entire project based learning unit based on designing a Gingerbread House – with math and literacy components! I love it when you can download one item and have enough engaging yet rigorous activities to last you several days! Kids love projects like this.
Stuck inside for recess? These Art for Kids Hub Christmas drawings will keep everyone completely engaged and having a blast for about 15 minutes. I put it on the SMART board, and hit pause frequently while the kids produce their drawings. They love to give them as gifts.
Christmas Activities for Students in High School and Middle School
When you’re dealing with middle and high school, nothing can be too cheesy! I like these Christmas activities for students, but you know your own kids best. See if anything catches your eye!
For middle school, this FREE Ugly Christmas Sweater logic puzzle is a great last day of the fall semester activity!
Host a Christmas photo booth in your classroom! Post the pictures on Google Classroom so students can share them.
HMH has a great free resource: Roll a Christmas Story. You roll a die three times to choose a character, setting, and problem. Students fill in the details and write a fun Christmas story.
Write a research paper about Christmas traditions around the world. I like the idea of having each student take on a particular country, write their essay, and even contribute a single slide to a classroom Google slides presentation.
Have a hot chocolate bar in your room one day. This is an easy and fun treat. All you need are styrofoam cups, hot chocolate prepared in a slow cooker (be careful!), a ladle, and plenty of toppings. Topping ideas are whipped cream, small candy canes, chocolate chips or caramel chips, cinnamon sticks and more.
Give students a Christmas writing menu – let THEM decide what to write about this holiday season!
FREE Winter Break Would You Rather Brain Breaks in a Google Slideshow. Kids need frequent breaks, and Would You Rather Questions are perfect because they’re short. It’s the perfect thing to do in the middle of a mini-lesson that’s not as mini as you hoped.
While you’re at it, nab my 50 Fun Thanksgiving Would You Rather Questions. The Google slides are free and included in the post!
Have an ugly sweater party in class. This is a great idea because ugly sweaters are plentiful at places like Goodwill and Salvation Army. Lots of kids will be able to participate.
Take a class photo with ridiculous Christmassy headbands, or any other inexpensive accessory you can find at the dollar store or in bulk from Amazon.
A blind paper plate drawing on your head makes a hilarious party game or brain break.
As a homeroom class, pool donations to give the gift of agriculture via Heifer International. Show students videos about the organization before attempting to raise money. Once the money has been gathered, vote on an animal(s) to purchase together.
Decorate a classroom Christmas tree. Invite people to bring ornaments from home to loan the class for a mismatched but lovable vibe! Alternatively, print free templates like these, let students decorate, and then laminate, hole punch, and hang on the tree!