As a holiday approaches, teachers and students alike are getting excited about getting a break for a few days. It is difficult to focus on parts of speech, sentence structure and story sequence when you are daydreaming about snowfall and presents! This is when it is time to take your cue from Mary Poppins: Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down!
Find a short holiday story and have the students read the story first (always good to practice those basic reading skills) and then underline designated parts of speech. Elementary teachers might want to stick with nouns and verbs; upper level students could also find prepositional phrases, conjunctions or pronoun antecedents. Assign a certain type of marking for each part of speech such as a squiggle for nouns, a box for verbs and parentheses for prepositional phrases. If the students have colored pencils, use a different color for each part of speech. Now you also have practice in following directions!
Find a holiday story that has an easy-to-follow sequence designated by marker words (after, eventually, then, finally, not only…). Make a copy, enlarge the print, and then make a copy for each student. Cut the story into two or three sentence sections. Have the students arrange the story so that it follows the sequence of events. You could have them glue it onto construction paper. (Even though they might grumble at first, older students still enjoy cutting and pasting!)
Read aloud to your class. I am always amazed at how intently students will listen to a good story when it is read aloud in an enthusiastic manner. After reading the story, have the students re-tell it one sentence at a time or write it as closely to the original as possible. You can extend this assignment and focus on adding vivid verbs, awesome adjectives and triple threats (three phrases, three adjectives or three short sentences consecutively).
Take a break from your usual textbooks and worksheets and have some holiday fun with English!