Secret Santa Writing: A Christmas Service Learning Activity to build Classroom Community
Christmas can be such a busy time of year, and sometimes it can be tricky to find time to do the “fun stuff” with your class along with everything else that needs to be done before the holiday break- and getting Christmas shopping done for your own family! But, here is an idea that is pretty easy to integrate into any elementary classroom: Secret Santa Writer’s Workshop!
(notice: this post contains affiliate links)
Today, I volunteered at my friend Katelyn’s 4th grade class to do the intro lesson for my Secret Santa unit with her class, one of my FAVORITE activities I’ve ever created. (By the way, she is also a fellow Busy Bees blogger and TpT’er Inspriation from Room 14!) I am so glad she let me come and “borrow” her class since I’m currently a stay at home mom.
This unit isn’t only a fun way to integrate writing into the curriculum during Christmas time, but also as a unit to build classroom community- AND bring in Christmas cheer! Students are assigned their own person to be a “Secret Santa” for and will write letters to them from writing prompts throughout the unit. They will also report things they have done to their teacher, in writing.
For this intro lesson, I read the students a fictional story I wrote as I had students hold up the pictures to go along with it. The story is about child named Andy who was not being very kind to his classmate, Carl. Santa had written him a letter telling him that since Santa couldn’t be there himself, he needed Andy to be his “Secret Santa” and look after him. Sure enough, Carl and Andy become best buddies and find out they even have some things in common! After reading the story, we had a classroom discussion about the things that Andy did to be nice. We discussed how we could apply this story into their own classroom, which led into introducing the “Secret Santa” unit.
I explained that students would draw the name of a classmate, and they would be writing letters and doing kind things for this person. They need to make sure to do lots of kind things, because they will be reporting them to their teacher! I also made the point very clear that students were not to tell anyone who their Secret Santa is, not even their best friend. This ruins the surprise!I prepared the names ahead of time before going to the classroom. (The name tags pictured above are included in the product and have editable text boxes for you to fill in your own student’s names!) I had students draw the names out of a Santa hat to be extra festive! I had students come up one at a time, and Katelyn wrote down their names and who they had so she had a record (since I did not have time to learn all of the student’s names). (This is an important step, because students are sure to forget!)
Once students were all assigned, I gave them their first writing prompt. The students were to write a compliment to their Secret Santa. I made sure to tell the students NOT to include their own name in the letter, but they could sign it as their “Secret Santa”. Students MUST put the name of who it is to, though, so it can be delivered by their teacher.It was so much fun to read the student’s clever responses! Here are some of the letters from today:
As you can see, it’s SO much fun! The students will be doing up to 10 letters with writing prompts to their students and up to 4 “Report To Me” writing responses to their teacher. It’s all up to how much Katelyn wants to integrate before the Winter Break! At the end, the students will do a super fun “reveal” activity that is included in the packet! It is all very low prep because everything is provided! Included are:
Lesson Plans (4 pages)
Secret Santa Story
Pictures for Secret Santa Story
Name cards with editable text boxes
10 Secret Santa Letter Writing Prompts (to project on board, SMART board, or write on board)
4 Report To Me Writing Prompts (to project on board, SMART board, etc.)
10 Student “Writing Prompt” pages
4 Student “Report to Me” pages
Secret Santa Reveal Cards
***ALL PAGES IN BOTH COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE!!***
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I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and bring some fun festivities into your classrooms!