Focus on Five: Holiday Activities

Our school is getting out for winter break on the 23rd this year, so I needed a lot of different holiday activities to keep my students engaged while still working on objectives and goals.  If you are in the same boat or are just looking for some last-minute holiday activities to do with your class, here are some holiday activities, listed by subject or type…

1. Reading

I use the Reading A-to-Z resource for my small group reading instruction.  Around certain times of the year, I like to choose books that are about an upcoming holiday or theme that relates to the time of the year. This year, the theme is traditions and I choose books about Christmas, Hanukkah and different world holidays. I also like to get out all seasonal adapted books at the beginning of the month and put them in our classroom library. Adapted books are great for working on reading behaviors and independent reading skills. Having books that are seasonal can be motivating for students and helps to encourage them to continue to develop independent reading skills. My students really enjoy the Christmas Adapted Book Series and How Many? What Color? What? Christmas Adapted Book.

2. Writing/Language Arts

There are many ways to incorporate language arts during the holidays- structured activities, free-writing, holiday cards and gift tags. For students who are emerging writers, I use the Winter Vocabulary Unit for Special Education. I like this resource because it gives me the opportunity to teach my students about reference sheets/anchor charts and it is a fun way to practice writing. The Holiday Wh- Question Mini-Pack helps students to practice answering wh-questions and writing in complete sentences. My students also enjoy the Holiday Feature, Function and Class game included in the Christmas Reading Center and Literacy Games for Special Education. Every year, we make and wrap presents for our families. Having students write their own gift tags or holiday cards with appropriate adaptations gives their writing practice a more fun, real-world application.

3. Math/Science

In addition to curriculum and materials from The Autism Helper, I am currently using the Unique Learning System for my math direct instruction and some of my science direct instruction. Unique has a monthly theme for all of their subjects and my students have been enjoying the holiday themes. Right before the break, we will be doing an experiment with gingerbread cookies to see which liquid changes the cookie the most, using Unique.  Another holiday math art project I like to do is creating symmetrical Christmas trees. I have students fold a large piece of paper in half and then unfold the paper. I instruct the students to paint a “7” with green paint starting at the fold and ending at the fold. I then have students fold the paper to create the outline of the tree. Students will then unfold the paper again and fill in their symmetrical Christmas tree. After, students can paint decorations on their tree. For a similar project, check out Symmetry Christmas Tree Painting.   

4. Hands-On Tasks

There are a lot of hands-on holidays tasks from The Autism Helper that I use in my classroom. While I do use file folders and similar tasks for students with emerging academic and functional skills, all of my students enjoy completing seasonal tasks.  My students really enjoy the File Folder Activities for Christmas, which includes basic and advanced matching tasks. Another great resource that is not only for the holidays, but for the winter season is the Winter Work Task Mega Pack.

5. Fine & Gross Motor Skills

Fine and gross motor skills are equally as important to academics. Assessments such as the ABLLS-R or SANDI include fine and gross motor skills and some of these skills become direct or indirect goals for our students to master. One way besides writing I like to incorporate fine motor skills during the holiday season is by having students make holiday presents for their family members. I often choose at least one craft kit that either incorporates simple sewing or stringing beads as the one of the gifts my students will make. In addition, wrapping the presents also incorporates another fine motor and life skill for students. Hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree is a great way to get in some fine motor practice.  For more ideas for holiday gifts, check out the blog post Holiday Gifts. I also like to incorporate gross motor activities with a seasonal or holiday theme. During remote learning, we did the Twelve Days of Fitness and we continued the tradition last year in-person. 

I hope this gives you some ideas for some activities to do for the holidays. For more on holiday activities, check out Holiday December Fun!, Holiday Lesson Planning and Gift Guide and Free Christmas Counting Activity. Stay healthy and safe!

Holly Bueb
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