Learning Center


Motivate Young Writers with Holiday Topics

December 13, 2016


Picture and label writers:
Identify the BME of PK-1 Opinion Writing
List and sentence writers:
Require the WHAT & WHY in Primary Opinion Writing

FAQ: What are ways to use the upcoming holidays to spur on my young writers?

ANSWER: When the holidays draw closer, young students often get so wrapped up in the excitement that they struggle to stay focused on their learning. Rather than deny them this normal reaction, let’s use it to spur on their writing.

Here are four favorite ideas that motivate students to write even more in the weeks leading up to the winter holiday.


PK-K students could draw and label a picture of Santa… or they could paint and label Santa! Kindergarteners in Maria Bachuchin’s class at Bailly Elementary (Chesterton, IN) used their knowledge of pictorial writing to “draw” Santa with paint instead of crayons. They painted Santa one day and labeled him on another. Painting is a great motivator for young writers and could be applied to a variety of different holiday items (e.g., Christmas tree, the North Pole, etc.).

Paint & Label Santa


If students have a solid understanding of phonics, invite them to generate holiday-based lists. Provide a photo as inspiration and ask them to list everything they see in the scene. This activity allows students to continue to work on sound-stretch spelling, writing on a line, and precise vocabulary and word choice.

Santa Photo Collage


If students are already writing single sentences, then this third idea might be just what you’re looking for. Kindergarten teacher Maria Bachuchin set Twinkle the elf in front of students. Naturally, they had lots of questions. What is that? What’s his name? Whose is that? How old is it? Rather than answering their numerous questions, Maria simply said, “Let’s write these questions down.”

For several days, students wrote questions to Twinkle. Maria planned this activity to coincide with instruction about writing question sentences. (TIP: Maria made sure that Twinkle replied. Of course, that only prompted students to write even more!)



If students are already writing multiple sentences, target simple opinion writing. Utilize the three blackline masters below and tape them to create a WHAT-WHY-HOW product.

Opinion Writing
  • Within the first sentence students write/draw WHAT they would like to receive this holiday season.
  • Within the second sentence students write/draw WHY they want it.
  • Within the third sentence students write/draw HOW they would feel if they received this gift.

All four of these ideas could be easily adapted to any holiday or seasonal topic. In fact, if you check out the “Related Posts” connected to this video article, you’ll find a few more ideas that would be very appropriate this holiday season.

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