'Tis the Season for Gratitude

The holiday season is a time for fun, gratitude and (unfortunately) stress.  To make your holiday season more relaxing and enjoyable, I’m providing some tips to make it go more smoothly for you and your students.

In the secondary English classroom, I don’t usually teach lessons that are specifically designed for a holiday, but I do try to have activities and readings with themes that fit with the season.  Recently I read about a school that is promoting an “acts of kindness” social media campaign.  Students capture moments of kindness, posting comments and photos to social media sites.

This inspired me to create a Holiday Instagram Activity.  The activity gets your students researching, reading, and writing about historical figures, local heroes, or others who exemplify kindness and generosity; then they create an Instagram post.  Additionally, students write clever hashtags to accompany their post.  In the spirit of the season, I’m providing it as a Freebie at this link.

“The Gift of the Magi” is a wonderful story about personal sacrifice for love, so it’s fitting for the holiday season, too.  Since my students are facing the PARCC assessments this school year, I’ve been teaching them to synthesize their readings and write short literary analysis essays .  One lesson I created is a paired passage with the story and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.”  If I don’t get to it before winter break, I know it will also work nicely with Valentine’s day.

After rereading “The Gift of the Magi,” I realized that I’m feeling less grateful than in the past, so I’ve decided to focus my holiday season on gratitude.  In fact, I made a “thankful tree” for our Thanksgiving dinner.  I invited our friends and family to write something they were thankful for and hang it on the decorative branches.  I plan to keep using it throughout the month and hope this will remind me to appreciate the many simple joys in my life.  As I recently read in a New York Times article, gratitude is a choice.  

Here is an unexpected note my husband left on the table for me recently!

Besides taking time to be thankful, winter break should give me time to pursue goals to improve my TpT resources. I would like to hire a proofreader (no matter how many times I revise my work, I always seem to miss typos), improve my blog design, and learn Photoshop.  In fact, our local community college is offering an online continuing education class that I can take beginning in January. 

What do you hope to enjoy for your holiday season?  Do you have activities planned for your students or family?  I’d love to read them in the comments below!

Be sure to click on the links below to read more 'Tis the Season tips from amazing secondary teacher-bloggers!


  1. Kim, I love your gratitude tree! It would be a wonderful idea for the classroom too. The Instagram activity looks like a very engaging one for your students. Have a wonderful holiday season!

  2. What an awesome idea - to pair social medial campaign with acts of kindness - since secondary students love both! Adding that to my own surprise pack for this season! You are likely aware that also adds IQ to both the intra and interpersonal domains. Not a bad return on a fun idea! Thanks Kim!

  3. The gratitude tree is adorable. I too love The Gift of the Magi. Have a great holiday season!

  4. I want one of those trees in my office!

  5. We do acts of kindness too, but I love the social media twist you put on it! I also think your poetry pairing for Magi is great. Thank you!

  6. Acts of kindness seem so much more important these days! I am planning to go visit my nearly 102 year old Granny over the break and I think a small act of kindness for the nurses is in order!

  7. Snagging that instagram freebie - how super clever for older students!
    Thanks for joining us on the hop!


  8. When you're tired, you want to relax after a stressful working hours, you need to have time to take care of the kids active.
    Please visit our website and play exciting flash games.
    Thanks you for sharing!
    Friv 4


Back to Top