Join us in this second episodes about implementing book clubs in your middle school ELA classroom. This episode will be all about adding accountability and fun!
If you’ve been wanting to start book clubs in your middle school classroom, but you’re not sure how to do it, this episode is for you. This first episode of the series will explain how to form book club groups in your classroom and how to choose the right novels for your middle school students.
If you are wondering how to keep your middle school ELA students interested and engaged while reading, this episode is for you! We will talk about what to do other than a simple whole-class read to assess your studetns comprehension, provide them with higher order questions, and keep them all awake and active in the lesson. This episode will provide you with ideas that you can take immediately back to your own classroom.
We have a solution for preparing your middle school ELA students for high stakes standardized testing in an effective and fun way. We call it Test Prep Tuesdays. Listen to find out how this method of ours avoids burn-out and encourages a growth mindset with the practice needed to prepare students for the end of the year test!
Looking for fun and creative Christmas themed lessons for your middle school ELA class? We’ve got you covered with several of our favorite Christmas themed activities! Teach the standards while having some engaging and original Christmas fun! Be sure to check out our blog for all of the mentioned links and free printables! https://elacoreplans.com/middle-school-ela-christmas-activities/
Middle School ELA Christmas Activities
Add a little fun in your ELA class at Christmas time by reviewing important ELA skills and concepts. We do realize that everyone does not teach in a school or community like ours, so some of these ideas may not work for your students. Please be mindful of those students who may not celebrate Christmas. We hope, however, that you can use at least one of our middle school ELA Christmas activities this year!
Skits with a Twist!
Paper bag skits are a hit and can be used any time of year, but a Christmas spin can be put on these, and kids LOVE IT! Plus, it hits on the listening, speaking, and writing standards. You can do this in two ways.
- Place five random items in paper lunch bags. You will need a bag for each group of students that you have. Groups of four to six work best for this activity. For Christmas, make the items placed in the bag Christmas related. Think candy cane. Christmas ornament. Silver bell. Etc. Once the kids are in groups, give each group a bag. Each group can have the same items or different ones inside the bags.
- Instead of putting items in a bag, simply put pictures of the objects in the bag. This will save time and energy on your part. One group may have a picture of a candy cane, an elf, a grumpy looking man, a cabin covered in snow, and a cup of steaming hot chocolate. Another group can have a picture of the Grinch, a gift, a gingerbread girl, a sled, and a reindeer. The students take those pictures and write a skit to incorporate them. They will have to act with imaginary items, so they will have to be creative in their dialogue and actions so that everyone understands what the item is.
After all of the groups are finished writing their scripts, allow students to perform the skit for the class. You can require all students in the group to act or allow some of the more shy students the ability to walk through with signs or make sound effects “off stage”.
While writing, speaking, and listening skills are all covered extensively, this activity is also perfect to review elements of drama, like stage directions and asides because you can tell students what to be sure to include as they write their scripts. When students can effectively write an aside, they have a clear understanding of what one is and how they move a plot forward in a drama.
As the class watches the skits, have the students choose the best and most creative skit. This makes this activity one of the best middle school ELA Christmas activities because everyone is engaged in each part of the process.
Middle School ELA Christmas Trees
One of our most useful and standards based middle school ELA Christmas activities is to allow students to decorate the classroom with ELA Christmas trees. Using the large green bulletin board paper, cut out a large tree. Then, give students printable shapes of ornaments. Hold discussions about ELA terms. I have found that middle schoolers have brains like junk drawers when it comes to ELA concepts. Nothing is organized or categorized. If you ask, Give me an example of figurative language,” someone may shout out, “Adjective!” This is because everything is jumbled. Making different trees in your classroom can help your students categorize ELA terms and literary devices. Make a grammar tree. Make a figurative language tree. Make a story elements tree. You get the idea.
You can split your kids into groups and have each group be responsible for a tree.
You can also go a little deeper than categorizing terms and talk about how authors create things in stories. For example, you can have a tree focused on the development of theme and the ornaments that go there can list these – characters, setting, plot… You can have one on how authors create mood. Click here for a free printable that will give you ideas as well as printable ornaments for this project.
Analyze Figurative Language in the “Mr. Grinch” Song
The song “Mr. Grinch” is full of creative and hilarious metaphors and similes. First, have students listen to the song closely to listen for any similes or metaphors. Have them put tally marks on a chart each time they hear a simile or a metaphor. You’ll need to give out a sheet of paper with two columns, one titled similes and the other metaphors.
After this first lesson, discuss each example from the song and analyze its meaning. For example, one line in the song is, “You’re as cuddly as a cactus”. Discuss what cuddling a cactus would be like and then why this simile was used to describe the Grinch.
Assign each student one simile or metaphor from the song and have them illustrate it and write the meaning. Then, have students practice writing their own original similes and metaphors like the ones used in the song. We have a resource in our TpT store with some useful handouts for this activity if you don’t want to make up your own.
Complete a Rewrite of A Christmas Carol
What is Christmas in ELA class without doing something with the classic story A Christmas Carol? Perhaps one of the most important middle school ELA Christmas activities involves this classic story and movie. We place students with a partner to rewrite a part of this story in modern day terms. We divide our class into groups and assign each group a scene. Some work on the Ghost of present scene, some the Ghost of Christmas past scene, while others rewrite the Ghost of Christmas future scene. We encourage our students to think about how social media and cell phones can change the story.
Speaking of Scrooge, it is totally okay to watch the Christmas Carol movie as long as students do some comparing and contrasting to the original text. For the past several years we have used the Disney version with Jim Carey’s voice as Scrooge. It is great! To be sure that we have our kids focused, we have them fill out a simple movie viewing guide. If you want them to compare and contrast the movie to a story or play version that you’ve read in class, you can have them fill out a Venn diagram. Then, to be certain that they watched it, we have our students answer questions that are based solely on the movie. Click here to purchase our questions to use for your own classrooms.
Hold a Classroom Gift Exchange With a Twist and a Writing Assignment
Now, this next idea may be something that may not work as one of your middle school ELA Christmas activities, and we understand that. But we wanted to share it just in case it is something that you would like to do. Gifts are a Christmas staple. And, in middle school, Christmas parties are usually a thing of the past. So, we developed a ELA classroom Christmas gift exchange game! Our students have loved it every year since!
The kids do NOT buy something. Instead, they look around their house and find something to give away, and the funnier the better. We have had kids bring in a dusty duck decoy, a potato, a can of beans, and even a roll of toilet paper. We incorporate writing as well.
Each student writes a paragraph that describes their gift in a creative way. We tell them not to use the name of the item in the paragraph, and to not use any words that are associated with its actual use. For example, if a student brought in an umbrella, they should not use the words umbrella or rain, or used to keep someone dry in their paragraph. Instead, we have them to brainstorm creative uses for the gift. For example, instead, you could write, “It can be used as a fly swatter or a swimming pool for a baby duck.” The paragraph is used to make the other students think that this gift is the best!
Students choose a gift and then read the paragraph to the class. At this point, they don’t unwrap the gift. When it’s the next student’s turn, that kid can either take another gift from the table or steal one that’s already been taken. This is why the writing should be very persuasive. Tell students that they want to “sell” their gift with the words that they write about it. It is their challenge to make the gift sound like something amazing, even though it isn’t!
At the end, once everyone has a gift, students all unwrap them at once. This is when the laughter begins. Once the unwrapping is complete, you can teach students to write thank you notes and tell them that no matter what gift they ended up with, they have to come up with a reason they will be thankful for it and how they will use it.
To make this all happen, you will need some items on hand that can quickly be used if students forget to bring in something or cannot bring something. You’ll also need to make sure you have wrapping paper and tape on hand. Play Christmas music while you play this.
Watch Out for That Grinch Middle School ELA Games
We have created several PowerPoint class games called “Watch Out for That Grinch!” These are hands down one of the most fun games that we play all year, and our students beg to play them over and over. The Grinch is the “bad guy” in each of these games because when he shows up, he takes away all of the points a student has earned. It is that little bit of luck that keeps the kids fully engaged in learning and entertained! These Grinch review games we play are with figurative language, apostrophes, I or me pronouns, and capitalization. Check out our bundle of these games here.
Christmas Short Story for a Quiet Day’s Work or To Leave for a Sub in Middle School ELA
If you’re like us, sometimes you need something to have on hand for a quiet class period or you are needing to plan for a day away from school. We have a cute Christmas story called “Christmas Everyday” we use for these times in December. The story is about a girl who makes a wish to the Christmas fairy for Christmas to be every day and the trouble it brings when her wish is granted. After reading the story, we have our students answer 15 multiple choice comprehension questions, analyze the setting to determine if it affected the plot or the characters, and identify the parts of the plot. This Christmas short story with activities and questions is available in our TpT store.
Merry Christmas, everyone! We sure hope you found these middle school ELA Christmas activities inspiring.
Shannon and Tammy
A greatful heart truly does bring joy. This Thanksgiving season, we wanted to provide a list of all of the things that we are thankful for as teachers.
If you need an engaging lesson for the days before Thanksgiving break, this episode has you covered! Listen to hear a creative writing assignment that your kids will remember forever! Plus, we will share some other fun Thanksgiving worthy lesson ideas. Be sure to visit our blog https://elacoreplans.com/middle-school-ela-thanksgiving-lessons/for the links mentioned and the free printables!
Middle School ELA Thanksgiving Lessons Your Students Will Love
There are so many fun middle school ELA Thanksgiving lessons that will make this time of year memorable. We would like to share some of our favorites with you.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving activities is an oldie. I think I did this when I was in middle school, but I’ve never forgotten it. Have your students write about Thanksgiving from the Turkey’s point of view. This makes an excellent activity on teaching point of view and on teaching perspective and how that perspective can create humor or suspense.
Write a Thanksgiving Story From the Turkey’s Perspective
One option is to have your students independently write a story telling about Thanksgiving from the perspective of the turkey. Before writing the story, have students do some brainstorming about the personality of their turkey and how things would be viewed through a turkey’s eyes. Most students have a lot of fun dreaming up a personality for their turkey. I always ask my students a few questions to get them started. Will your turkey be a country turkey or a city turkey? Will it be a shy turkey or the life of the party? As a class, brainstorm all different types of personalities that people can have, and then allow students to choose one for their turkey. This generates excitement and really brings the story to life.
Opportunity to Teach Dialogue and Dialect
You can spend time talking about how dialogue should match the personality of a character, and teach students about dialect. If your turkey is a valley girl, (that may date me. I don’t know if that term is in use anymore) you will want your turkey to say things that match it. So it may sound like, “I was like totally minding my own business when like this man wearing like leaves on his shirt like showed up in my part of the woods.”
You can even show some clips of movie characters to explain this. Think about the turtles on “Finding Nemo”. They have that surfer dude persona, and their dialogue matches it.
The other brainstorming you will want to do before students write the story is to really get into the mind of a turkey and to think about how things could be described. In the story “Rikki-tikki-tavi,” Nag and Nagina, the two cobras, don’t call a gun a gun. They call it a bang stick. Have students use this same strategy of naming something unknown for their turkey. What would they call a table if they didn’t know it was a table? Maybe a big log with legs? What would they call a human? A knife? An oven? This is a fun part of the process.
Once your brainstorming is done, your students will be ready to write a story. There are a few way this can be done as well.
- Let them write it individually and share them when they are done.
- Let them work with a partner.
- Let them write and pass the story. One group writes the beginning of the story and then passes it to the next group who continues it. This way, depending on how many groups you have in your classroom, there would be maybe four stories going at once that could be read afterward.
A Quick Write if You Are Short on Time
Now, if you don’t want to have students write a whole story, but you still want to do an activity where the students learn about perspective, you can have them do what we call a quick write. Have them write a short description of something that is a part of Thanksgiving from the perspective of the turkey and let the rest of the class see if they can guess what it is. For example, one student may describe an oven from a turkey’s point of view. Another student may describe pumpkin pie.
If you would like another idea on quick writes, this link will take you to our blog on strong verb paragraphs.
A Resource for You!
We have a free resource in our TPT store that has some printables that you can use for the Thanksgiving from the turkey’s point of view activity. This resource also has an option that you can use as a guided writing exercise. In this one, your students will fill in the blanks for the first paragraph of their story as they decide on a setting and then write as if they are the turkey and they hear someone creeping up on them. The questions will guide them in writing what happens next, and they will end up with a very suspenseful tale of their turkey. These stories can be written in one class period and can turn out pretty funny!
Acrostic poetry is another perfect middle school ELA Thanksgiving lesson. These are simple, but perfect for reflection. If you want to make it more meaningful, have your students write it about things that they are thankful for. I have even told my kids that it would be special if they could write one that could be read at their thanksgiving dinner. Some kids in the past have even written an acrostic poem prayer that could be read for their family.
A Reading Passage
If you’re looking for something to have on hand for a quiet class period around Thanksgiving time, or if you know you’re going to be absent, we have a cute Thanksgiving story called “Wishbone Valley”.
“Wishbone Valley” is a short story about a boy who faces a lot of trouble after running into the ghost of a Thanksgiving turkey. After reading the story, your students can answer our multiple choice comprehension questions or practice writing an objective summary. This resource is available in our TpT store.
Play a Thanksgiving Game!
We also play a Figurative language review game called “Watch Out for That Turkey.” It will keep your entire class engaged as you review the types of figurative language: simile, metaphor, idiom, personification, hyperbole, oxymoron.
This is a game of luck. There are twenty questions to review figurative language. Some questions ask for students to identify the definitions of figurative language, and others ask students to decide which type of figurative language is at use in a sentence.
After students answer a question, you will go over it using the answer key slides, explaining why the answer is right. Only after they have listened to the right answer and an explanation, will you allow them to choose a colored box on the slide. There are three colors to choose from per round/question. Those students who get the question wrong cannot choose a color for that round.
Behind each colored square is a number. Students earn the points on the card. Here’s the kicker, though; Turkeys erase all points earned so far. So if a student chooses a color with a turkey behind it, all points earned so far are wiped away for that student. This is what keeps the students excited and into the game. They never know when a turkey may be overturned. If you’d like to play that game, you can check out our TPT store!
We hope you enjoy these middle school ELA Thanksgiving lessons, and we hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving break with your family and friends!
Today’s episode is all about games you can play in your middle school ELA classroom. We’ll tell you all about six super fun games that you can take back to your classroom immediately! Be sure to visit our blog for all show notes and printables!
ELA Core Plans provides teacher-written lesson plans, bellringers, and novel units designed to coordinate with Common Core State Standards.