Have Middle- or High-School Students Work With Primary-Grade Students
First, arrange with an elementary grade teacher (kindergarten and first grade generally work best) to have his or her students write letters to Santa making their Christmas gift requests.
After you receive the letters from that teacher, assign each of your older students a letter from a younger student. They must read the letter and then respond to the child’s wishes as if Santa is responding.This is a good “point of view" activity. Students are not writing from their own point of view. They are pretending to be someone else, in this case Santa Claus, and they must adjust their thinking and writing accordingly.
Points to Keep in Mind:
- Start early. Remember that it may take quite a while to get the letters written and shuttled back and forth between classrooms. Consider starting before Thanksgiving.
- Plan ahead. Do you want the responses to be on plain notebook paper or are you going to buy Christmas stationery? Are you going to use envelopes or just fold the letters?
- Type the responses. The little ones will share their letters with their buddies, and those little ones are smart! They will notice right away that Santa’s handwriting looks different and quickly question why that is. If you don’t have access to computers or word processors, think about telling the little ones that Santa’s elves helped write the letters.
- Remind your students of their audience. They are not writing for their teacher, their parents, or their friends. They are writing for young children and they must adjust their writing style to allow very young children to understand.
- Tell students to be careful what they promise.They have no way of knowing whether or not the young student whose Christmas requests they are responding to will actually get what is on their list. For example, it's not a good idea to tell the little one that a new Wii is on its way. In this case it is okay to be a little vague. For example, Santa might say, “I see you really want a new scooter. I’ll let my elves know and we’ll try to get that for you." Check their letters to be certain they've stayed within the guidelines.
This is a fun lesson plan that not only builds academic skills, but really allows older students to help out younger ones.This is one activity that just about always makes everyone involved happy, even the most reluctant students!
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