Building Community Around the Holidays

We all know that community building is one of the most important things we do in the classroom. But that’s just something you do at the start of the year and then it’s smooth sailing, right? Did I just hear you laugh out loud? It’s important to START building your classroom community at the beginning of the year. But it might be just as important to weave in community-building lessons, activities, and opportunities throughout the year. That’s why you can begin building community around the holidays with this free Building Community Craftivity. Use it in your classroom during the holiday season and winter months.

In this activity, students write positive notes to each of their classmates throughout the month. Then, on the last day before break during your holiday party or other festivities, they get to read all the notes their classmates wrote for them.

Building Community Around the Holidays by Kristine Nannini

What makes this activity perfect for the season is that students put these positive notes into a paper stocking—or other winter item, like a mitten. It also serves as great holiday or winter-themed decor for your classroom!

In this freebie, you will find everything you need to easily implement this craftivity in your classroom. It includes templates of stocking parts and mitten parts that you can print on cardstock and give your students as a tracing template.

Building Community Around the Holidays by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays by Kristine Nannini

There are many opportunities to infuse a little learning with the writing piece, as well. You can use more open-ended statements. You can also provide support for students who may be stuck when it comes to thinking of something to write about their classmates. This freebie includes note templates with sentence starters and dice with affirmations that students can roll to give them ideas about what to write! Challenge your more prolific writers to incorporate some more complex vocabulary words and sentence structures. Just remember, the goal of this activity is building community, so keep it light and fun!

Building Community Around the Holidays by Kristine Nannini

How to Implement:

Here’s how this building community around the holidays activity worked in my classroom:

  1. Each student receives a piece of white printer paper or cardstock for the top of their stocking or the cuff of their mitten. They also receive a piece of construction paper for their stocking or mitten. Let students choose the color of the construction paper for more personalization and variety in the decorations.
  2. Print out several copies of the templates on cardstock and cut them out. Have students trace each part on the appropriate paper and cut it out.
  3. Then students should glue the top and bottom of their stockings or mittens together.
  4. Take a white letter envelope, seal it, cut it in half, and have students glue the envelope onto the back of their stockings or mittens. This is where students insert their letters, giving the stockings or mittens a “stuffed” look!
  5. Have students write their names on the top of their stocking in large letters, and allow them to decorate their stocking or mitten.
  6. Don’t forget to include one for yourself!
  7. Then, hang your students’ stockings or mittens in an area of your room that all students can access.
  8. Print out a class list for every student to keep them organized. Teach your students how to check off a classmate’s name once they finished writing that student’s letter. This is to make sure they didn’t forget anyone.

We also talked about different things to write to students and how sad a student would be if they received a hurtful letter or didn’t receive a letter at all. I even gave them the idea of writing personal things to their classmates, instead of the general “You’re a great friend!” They really liked this idea! This is a great opportunity to introduce the sentence starters and the Roll-and-Write dice that students can use to help them generate ideas.

Tips for Success:

Print out a bunch of copies of the notes I’ve included in the freebie and place them in a little bucket near the area where you hang up the stockings or mittens. This way, students have the freedom to grab them and write their notes during indoor recess, a break, first thing in the morning, at the end of the day, etc.

When I did this with my students, I kept a second basket on the shelf for students to put their finished letters in. I decided it was easier for me to put them into the students’ stockings. But feel free to have your students “stuff” the stockings or mittens themselves. (I do recommend reviewing how to do so gently so they don’t accidentally damage or rip someone else’s stocking or mitten.)

Some of the notes my students wrote were SO sweet! The kindness was overflowing!

Make sure to hang the mittens and stockings for a cute display!

Building Community Around the Holidays by Kristine Nannini
Building Community Around the Holidays by Kristine Nannini

Bonus Idea

One of my readers noted how she might do a similar activity for Valentine’s Day using my heart craftivity. You can find that HERE. Showing kindness and building community around the holidays is certainly something we do all year long. So there are plenty of opportunities to adapt this craftivity for different holidays, seasons, and times of year.

Opt-in below to grab the freebie!

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