As a 4th grade teacher I love the time from October to December. The holidays are full of fun, giving, and happiness. The holidays are also filled with chaos, less than normal schedules, and sugar crazed children. Blink and the last few months of the calendar year fly by, yet every teacher crawls into bed each night asking themselves the same question: How did I survive today? Over the years I have developed an arsenal of holiday activities that help me battle thru Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in the classroom. I have tested out many holiday activities, but I have narrowed my list down to ten based on student feedback and my observations. Each one of these activities brings holiday fun to my students, while covering curriculum. It’s the best of both worlds.
Here are 10 academic activities to get you thru the holidays.
1.) Bone Bridges
I incorporate STEM in my classroom regularly. You can target so much curriculum in one activity. Plus STEM promotes team building and problem solving skills. This STEM challenge has students create “bone” bridges out of various objects. I love the diversity of this task and every year my students produce new designs I have never seen. The design element and level of precision needed to complete this task keeps your students focused during such a hectic time of year.
Click here for the resource Bone Bridges STEM Challenge from Feel Good Teaching.
2.) Haunted House For Sale
I guarantee your students will not mind this Halloween themed writing assignment. Students put their descriptive writing to the test as they attempt to sell a haunted house. The creativity runs high with this assignment and there are nice art projects that accompany this writing piece. My students’ parents love seeing the final outcome of this project too.
Click here for the resource Haunted House for Sale from Clutter-Free Classroom.
3.) Visiting a Pumpkin Patch Activity Pack
The reading passage is based on a true farm that offers unique fall activities for visitors. My students LOVE reading this passage and then we complete the STEM challenge, where students must create their own roll-able wagon that can carry a small plastic pumpkin!
This resource contains math activities, a reading passage, a STEM challenge and logic challenges perfect for UPPER ELEMENTARY students. All activities are fall themed including Halloween costume shopping, a pumpkin patch passage, a pumpkin wagon STEM challenge and more!
Click here for the resource Visiting a Pumpkin Patch Activity Pack from Tanya Yero Teaching.
4.) STEM Thanksgiving Parade Floats
This holiday activity is my all-time favorite. To start, we read the book Balloons over Broadway. Based on the life of Tony Sarg this book outlines the story of how Sarg invented the giant balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The illustrations are gorgeous and this book beautifully connects to the STEM challenge. Students create parade floats with standing balloon characters. It’s a tradition to complete this challenge the last day before Thanksgiving break in my classroom.
Click here for the resource STEM Balloons over Broadway STEM Challenge from Smart Chick Teacher.
5.) Black Friday Printables
This FREEBIE is fantastic. Plan this activity and the STEM Thanksgiving Balloon Floats and you are set for a day! These printables have different reading and math tasks based on Black Friday. This activity is real world applicable and easy to implement in the classroom; perfect for that last day before Thanksgiving break where you are hanging on by a thread.
Click here for the resource Black Friday Printables FREEBIE from Teaching with a Mountain View.
6.) STEM Holiday Trees
Every year when I explain to my students that they will be creating three-dimensional trees out of construction paper and an empty wrapping paper roll they roar with delight. Soon after my classroom gets quieter. It takes no more than 20 minutes for my students to figure out that this STEM challenge is indeed a challenge! Getting the trees to stand on their own requires grit from students. Team collaboration and communication are key elements for this holiday activity, but the end result is worth it.
Click here for the resource STEM Holiday Tree from Smart Chick Teacher.
7.) Christmas on Cloud Nine: Idiom Activity
Another print and go resource. Students love to learn about idioms. This activity has students decorate a winter themed picture with drawings of idioms using the phrase literally; short and sweet.
Click here for the resource Christmas on Cloud Nine from The Peanut Gallery.
8.) Rockefeller Tree Holiday Activities with STEM Challenge
This resource has everything you need to plan out an entire day. From a STEM challenge of raising the Rockefeller Tree without using your hands to printables that cover specific math standards your students will have a rocking good time collaborating together to complete these assignments.
Click here for the resource Rockefeller STEM Challenge from Tanya Yero Teaching.
9.) Digital Classroom Escapes
Digital Classroom Escapes are interactive activities which promotes peer collaboration and problem solving. Cryptic messages, challenges, and puzzlers combine to create the perfect blend of learning and fun! My students GO BONKERS for digital breakouts. I can’t give them enough! They’re perfect for the hectic holiday season because there is no prep on your end!
Click here for Holiday Themed Digital Classroom Escapes from Tanya Yero Teaching.
10.) Performance Tasks
If you need a print and go activity to fill the last hour of the day after the annual winter chorus assembly or something to fill the Tuesday before Thanksgiving performance tasks are your answer. I love any performance task that reviews curriculum that I have previously taught. Just make copies and you’re set. Quick and easy.
Click here for Halloween Themed Math Tasks from Tanya Yero Teaching.
Click here for Winter Themed Math Tasks from Tanya Yero Teaching.
Click here for FREE Halloween Themed Reading Tasks from The 4th Grade Fix.
Click here for Winter Themed Reading Tasks from The 4th Grade Fix.
11.) Logic Puzzlers
Logic puzzlers are perfect brain teasers to promote problem solving and deductive reasoning. MY STUDENTS LOVE THEM! I keep these puzzlers on hand for those unexpected moments where you need something meaningful and quick! The key to logic challenges is to stay organized throughout the clues. Encourage your students to put X’s in the boxes when a clue is ruled out. Through deductive reasoning, they will slowly start to make connections and place X’s in other boxes. Have students put circles in boxes that match the clues. My students beg for more logic puzzlers.
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If you’re looking for some good holiday books for upper elementary head to this blog post!