come up with some lovely holiday gifts with classbooksEven now, I can still remember the thrill I felt as a child when I stepped out into the first cold winter morning of the year. My cheeks and fingertips tingled. I’d take a deep breath, inhaling as much brisk air as my little lungs could hold, then let it out in a big whoosh to see if winter had come to make a dragon of me yet. That was always the test—just as a robin heralds the start of spring, whether I saw my breath or not determined whether winter had truly begun.

Winter is an exciting time regardless of the weather. Even if snow is out of the question and a cool breeze is the most you’ve learned to expect from December, the holiday season is a time of year that kids around the world anticipate with glee. As a teacher, now’s your chance to harness that energy and enthusiasm in the classroom by providing your elementary students with the sort of winter writing prompts that will let their imaginations run wild.

Prompt #1: “Write instructions explaining how your family celebrates the winter holidays as if the reader has never taken part in a celebration before.”

winter holiday writing ideaRather than simply writing about a holiday they celebrate, framing the narrative as a set of instructions opens this writing exercise up to new learning opportunities. Not only does it encourage your students to work on their descriptive language, it also emphasizes the importance of clarity and simplicity when considering the reader’s perspective. Plus, it’s fun and easy to share and compare with classmates to see how traditions differ from family to family!


Divide students into groups or pairs and ask them to peer edit each other’s work to make sure their instructions are nice and clear. Then, after the lists have been edited and polished to perfection, label each list “The ___ Family Guide to Celebrating ___,” filling in the first blank with the student’s last name and the second blank with the holiday they’re describing, or simply “Winter Break” if they don’t celebrate any particular holiday. Ask students to bring in family photos to copy, or ask them to draw their family celebrating, and pair the images with the instructions to professionally publish a Holiday How-To guide as a class!


Prompt #2: “Make up a new winter tradition.”

carol singers christmas promptWinter holidays are all about tradition—but even the oldest traditions had to start somewhere. Encourage your students to come up with a new tradition their family can try out this year. Their new tradition can be holiday-related or simply a way to celebrate winter in general—the only rule is that it has to be something practical that they can actually try out over the break!


After the initial writing assignment, review your students’ ideas to ensure that they are practical, then ask them to share their proposed traditions and discuss together as a class how to incorporate them all into one holiday celebration before winter break. When the day arrives, be sure to take lots of photos of the festivities! Then, have the class collect the photos and ideas into a professionally published class scrapbook full of memories.


Prompt #3: “Pick one thing you love about a winter holiday of your choice. Write as much as you can about it in 5 minutes.”

questions for winter holiday promptsThis writing prompt is a great exercise in both deadlines and descriptive writing, not to mention following instructions. Even better, it’s great material for a class guessing game. Once your students have stopped writing, ask them to pass their papers to the front of the class and read their responses aloud, omitting their names and any holidays or people they have accidentally identified in their writing. Ask your students to guess what the holiday is and see if they can name it correctly!


Stretch their imaginations a little bit further yet by adding an element of surprise to this assignment. Instead of having students choose a holiday, write the names of various winter holidays on pieces of paper and have each student pick one at random. Ask them to research it to come up with one little-known fact or tradition to write about. Combine their research with drawings and clipart and publish it as a fun, professionally bound holiday factbook!


Prompt #4: “Imagine how your winter break would be different if you lived somewhere else.”

christmas around the world writing promptsAdd a little geography and culture to your holiday lesson plan mix with this prompt by asking your students to consider how their climate and society impact their experience of the holiday season. If your school is up north where it snows every year, what would it be like to celebrate Hanukkah on a tropical Caribbean island? Or, if you’re located somewhere where snow is scarce, what would it be like to have a Hallmark-style white Christmas?


Ask each student to choose a specific city or country (somewhere far away!) and learn a little about the climate during December and common holiday traditions in that region to inform their response. After they finish their writing assignment, ask them to draw an illustration to accompany it. Finally, get a big world map and have each student put a big, bright sticker on the place they chose, and take a picture of everyone holding it up or sitting around it to use for the cover of a brilliant new professionally published classbook.


Prompt #5: “Design your own Winter Wonderland.”

winter wonderland ideas for classbooksBring a sense of wonder back to the holidays by asking your students to create a magical world in which the spirit of every winter holiday originated and resides. What does this place look like? What sort of people or creatures live there? What kind of food do they eat, and how do they prepare for the holidays? Ask your students to choose one thing to write about in detail, or make a list of their top five or ten favorite ideas.


Take this assignment to the next level with a little teamwork. Ask your students to brainstorm their ideas in groups, instead of individually, and decide together what to name their winter wonderland. Then, they should choose different topics to write about and illustrate, one per student in the group. Ideal categories will be simple, things like different types of nouns—the people who live there, the things they eat, the places they go and so on—or questions based on the five senses, such as “What will I see there?” or “What does it smell like?” Publish their drawings and descriptions in one beautiful, professionally bound classbook that celebrates not just the holidays, but the magic of pure imagination.


Celebrating Winter Through Writing

Whether your elementary students celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, another holiday or none at all, they all have one thing in common—they’re all looking forward to winter break with eager anticipation. These five writing prompts can provide a creative outlet for all that pent-up energy and allow them to reflect on all the things that make this time of year so special—and perhaps create something special of their own by becoming published authors in the process.

If you want to take advantage of any of these awesome winter writing prompts to publish a holiday classbook that can double as a wonderful, personalized gift for students’ families, make sure you check out our delivery schedule so your magnum opus arrives in time!

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For the gift of more free writing prompts, lesson plans and other classroom resources, be sure to check out our online teacher’s lounge and sign up today for your free publishing kit!


Image sources: Lead image via Pexels user Pixabay; Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 via