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3 Winter Holiday ELA Activities That Are Not Christmas Specific

Are you looking for fun and festive ways to keep your students engaged around the winter holidays? I know that some schools and districts do not permit holiday-specific activities, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few other options for non-Christmas classroom activities. Each of these will help you and your students celebrate the winter holiday season while developing ELA skills at the same time! Here are 3 winter holiday activities that you can bring to your ELA classroom right away.

1. Missing Snowman Mystery

Did you hear about the mystery of the destroyed snowman? Mia and her father were working all day on building a huge snowman for the winter carnival in hopes of winning one of the three snowmobile prizes. When they woke up the next morning, however, they discovered that their creation had been destroyed!

The Mystery of the Destroyed Snowman is a winter-themed reading mystery that engages students and challenges them to look for text evidence, infer information, and read more closely. Although this ELA activity works especially well around Christmas, there are not any specific mentions of the holiday in the mystery.

You will start the activity by putting up the “Who destroyed the snowman?” poster on your door to build anticipation. Then, when students enter, you’ll put them in small groups to work together to solve the mystery using a wide variety of modern evidence types (text messages, email, online message board, etc.).

The presentation slides will guide you and the students through each element of the lesson. Once students have made their final predictions, you will go through each of the suspects to show the evidence of their innocence or guilt and reveal who sabotaged the snowman. Not to worry—no real snowmen were harmed in the making of this activity!

2. Snowball Writing

Snowball writing is an interactive, hands-on, winter-themed collaborative writing activity that will have even your most reluctant students putting pencil to paper! It’s one of my absolute favorite activities to do around this time of year, mostly because of how simple and yet effective it is!

Here’s how it works…

You’ll start the activity by giving each student a different narrative story prompt (I like to use picture prompts for these). Students will start writing their stories for an allotted amount of time. I typically give them around 10 minutes or so. Then comes the fun part…

Snowball Collaborative Writing Winter Holiday ELA Activities

Students will crumple their stories up into a “snowball” and throw them to the front of the room. Everyone then gets up and goes to the front to grab a different snowball and they continue the stories where the other left off.

This process is repeated one more time before the stories are returned to their original writers for editing, revision, and a final copy! Students tend to really love this activity. If you’re feeling brave, you can even turn this into a full-on paper snowball fight…

Snowball Writing Winter Holiday ELA Activities

The snowball writing ELA activity is not specific to Christmas, but it will have everyone in your classroom channeling their winter spirit!

3. The Iceman Nonfiction Article

Have you ever heard of Wim Hof (aka, “The Iceman”)? This activity centers around a nonfiction article about this Dutch motivational speaker and extreme athlete whose area of expertise is the very things many of us dread the most about winter: the cold and the ice! Hof has a remarkable ability for withstanding extremely low temperatures—and he swears by the benefits.

Although this is not specific to Christmas, The Iceman activity is a great way to incorporate a winter theme in your ELA classroom ahead of winter break. Students will read an original article on The Iceman before completing a reading response assignment that prompts them to dig deeper into the text and meet informational text curriculum standards! For this, I ask questions like…

  • What is the author’s point of view on Wim Hof? Does the author show any bias?
  • According to the text, what are Wim Hof’s credentials? Is he a credible source?
  • Why might an athlete participate in this method?

You can grade their writing responses or go over them as a class! I then get students to watch an accompanying video and have them respond to it making a text-to-self connection. Finally, I have students complete a creative imagery assignment where they must use sensory words to describe a cold object using the 5 senses!

The Iceman Winter Holiday ELA Nonfiction Activities

BONUS: Escape the Snow Globe

One extra idea you might consider is the winter holiday Escape the Snow Globe activity, which also has no direct references to Christmas. This is a fun way to foster classroom community and improve team building and problem solving skills. Here’s how it works…

Students read the one-page back story that introduces the escape room. The premise is that a group of friends are at a school craft fair when they find a hidden booth selling beautiful snow globes. When the mysterious vendor becomes irritated with them, they find themselves magically trapped inside one of the globes. They must solve puzzles, riddles, and tasks to have a chance to escape.

Escape the Snow Globe Winter ELA Activity

There you have it! I hope you found these ideas for winter holiday ELA activities helpful. If you are permitted to bring Christmas into your classroom, I share 5 Christmas ELA Activities click here. You can check out the ready-to-use ELA resources mentioned in the post below.

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