Having a holiday party with your class might be looking a little challenging right now. Perhaps you’ve already exhausted a store of ideas as unexpected virtual learning has continued. If you’re tempted to just stream a kid-friendly movie, we hear you! However, here are some more ways to add holiday fun into a virtual classroom. Maybe you’ll find one you haven’t tried yet!
We all know about playing Jeopardy to review a concept, but you can also make Jeopardy a fun part of your virtual party. https://jeopardylabs.com/ has hundreds (maybe thousands) of already designed Jeopardy games, including fun trivia ones about various topics. Feel free to use an already created Halloween Jeopardy or Holidays Around the Globe Jeopardy. You can also create your own! Make a School or Classroom Jeopardy with categories that will revive holiday and school spirit, such as “Remember When…” with questions about funny moments in your classroom or “Who Is…” where students have to guess which teacher or student is being described. Make it creative with fun questions about school mascots, class pets, and field trips you’ve shared. Everyone will feel closer together—even if you’re far apart.
2. Exquisite Corpse
No, this isn’t a spooky Halloween game, although it could certainly become one. Exquisite Corpse is a writing form where each player writes a part of the story, but they only get to see the last sentence of what the other person has written. The end result? A crazy story that often leaves you gasping or laughing. To play with your students at a virtual holiday event, assign a theme and set up several small teams using the website http://foldingstory.com/. Assign the order of writers for the group and as your lead-off person begins to type, have the others silently brainstorm on a piece of paper or open word processing document. Make sure to inform your students that they’ll only see the last bit of what their partners have written. They have to try to pick up from that point, but they can take it in any direction they want! If you have a group of strong creative writers, give limited rules or writing requirements, but provide lots of writing fodder for those who need help coming up with material. You can include a list of “Must Haves” such as “Your story Must Have – a snowman, a blizzard, a nosy neighbor, and cocoa.” After everyone’s had their turn, listen to each teams’ piece in its entirety and be prepared to giggle!
3. Host a Virtual Art or Costume Contest
Depending on the holiday or time allotted for your festivities, consider holding a virtual art or costume contest. It might be a silly slap-dash event. For instance, “You have five minutes, come back dressed in your best robot costume from things you can grab around the house!” or alternatively, something more serious that allows the children time to prepare. The same formula will work for an art contest. “Draw your best five-minute cornucopia” or “draw your best five-minute dreidel”, etc. will leave you with some amazing artwork. You may want to consider holding a more serious contest for the elite artists in your group, giving them some advanced notice. But wait, will this cause division and un-friendly competition? Not if you have a little forethought and create a large variety of “awards” to be won. Create a Google Form with choices likes “Silliest, Scariest, Fan Favorite, Most Sparkly, Best Representation of the Theme, etc. Five or ten categories and create a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for each choice. Your students will vote anonymously via the form and there will be plenty of victories to go around. It’s a way to ensure that everyone will feel successful. If you are concerned that someone won’t receive recognition from their peers, don’t hesitate to have a “Teacher’s Choice” award in your virtual back pocket!
No, sadly, we don’t mean head to the spa. Heading there with your whole class of rambunctious third graders wouldn’t be much of a relaxing escape anyway. Try a digital escape room with your students. There are several free sites that have pre-made digital escape rooms where students must solve puzzles and “unlock” the next puzzle or room to make their way through a scenario to finish the game and “escape.” Check out https://ditchthattextbook.com/30-digital-escape-rooms-plus-tips-and-tools-for-creating-your-own/ , https://www.simplemost.com/free-digital-escape-rooms/, or this collection of free digital escape rooms compiled here https://mamateaches.com/digital-escape-rooms/ . Pro-tip, don’t grab one of these on the fly. Solve it yourself first…or make sure you have an answer key! Your fun party festivities might end in frustration if your team can’t solve a puzzle and you are not able to help.
Snowman and Head’s Up, Seven Up are two trustworthy standbys for school parties, but Head’s Up, Seven Up is definitely hard to manage right now. However, you can use your screen share to play Snowman! Think of holiday-related words or use your content-based vocabulary words. Once you have the words ready, choose one and write the number of blanks needed for each letter of the word. Students get to guess letters to put in the blanks. If that letter isn’t in a word, you draw one part of a snowman. You can even have the different parts already on your screen (circles, hats, eyes, scarf, etc.) that you drag to form a snowman. When the snowman is completely drawn, the game is over. Students win if they guess the word before the snowman is finished.
Why Do I Need To Have A Party?
Perhaps you’ve read through this list of fun activities and you’re realizing that this could take up a chunk of your instructional time, maybe even your prep time, too. Maybe since your students are learning from home, you’re already battling for attention over the lure of video games, cable, and cute pets. If your thought process is leading you to think, “I don’t need to have a party, these kids are having enough free time already!”, pause. The kids in our classes are losing out on “normal” childhood activities at an alarming rate right now. A holiday party with their classmates and their teacher is a tradition that many of your students look forward to and may already worry about losing. While it isn’t necessarily instructional time, a taste of normal is reassuring and counts as valuable time. Your students are going to remember that you’re a beacon of stability when the rest of the world is sliding. In other words, you’re holding the line—and you deserve to have some fun doing it!
Keep rockin’ it!