This post is part of a paid partnership with Tanya G. Marshall The Butterfly Teacher.
As we forge ahead into fall and winter, teachers are faced with exciting back-to-back seasonal events. So, you need something fresh and fun for holiday learning. That’s where Easel by TPT comes to the rescue. This post shares easy ways that Easel’s tools make your seasonal activities more engaging without sacrificing academic rigor. Grab your favorite note-taking tools and get ready to make holiday learning fun!
What is Easel? How Does It Make Holiday Learning Fun?
If you’ve ever asked either of these questions, you’re not alone.
Easel by TPT is a quickly growing suite of interactive tools made to help you teach, engage, and assess learners digitally. This platform currently features two types of lessons: Activities and Assessments.
But don’t let the titles fool you into seeing them as run-of-the-mill options.
Both Activities and Assessments have features that allow you to make the most of your festive, digital lessons.
Easel Activities has moveable shapes, answer boxes, audio, images, and a pen tool for hands-on, digital learning. Easel Assessments, on the other hand, brings interactive elements to classic question formats in order to engage students and auto-grading to your assignments in order to save you time.
Let’s dive into some holiday activity examples of creative ways you can use Easel to make learning fun.
Gratitude Writing Prompt Cards for November
The Thanksgiving holiday in November presents a great opportunity to help students focus on being grateful.
Within Easel Activities, students can type their responses to gratitude writing prompts like these.
Some of the writing prompts can include:
- “Today I Am Grateful For…”
- “Here’s what it means to be thankful. ________”
- “I Can Show An Attitude of Gratitude by…”
Easel Activities also includes an audio feature where you can upload verbal directions or stories about gratitude for students to hear.
Audio prompts are especially helpful for those who need additional accommodations. But why stop there?
Jazz up your gratitude prompts with fun sound effects or jingles that make writing even more interesting for students.*
Using Easel Assessments for Class Discussions on Thankfulness
Another engaging gratitude-themed activity for November involves using Easel Assessments.
Based on its name, it may seem like Easel Assessments is just for graded quizzes or tests.
However, you can use Easel Assessments for a “Cultivating Gratitude Scenarios” exercise during your morning meeting time.
For example, I’ll record mini-stories and upload them to an Easel Assessment. Once students listen to these scenarios, they answer questions about whether the characters were displaying thankfulness or not.
For each answer choice, I also really like adding images showing people displaying different character traits. Then, I have my students answer a question such as, “Which student is showing appreciation?”
An idea like this is possible because you have the following question formats in Easel Assessments:
- Single Select: A multiple choice format where only one answer is correct.
- Multiple Select: A multiple choice format which allows students to choose more than one response.
- Polls: A single choice format where students select one response but no answers are wrong! This can be used for social-emotional check-ins or voting style activities.
- True or False: A question with two choices that are, by default, true and false.
The fact that Easel Assessments gives instant feedback to the students means no extra grading work for me. Having that time freed-up means I can turn this assignment into a class discussion on practical ways to show gratitude.
This is a win-win for character education and vocabulary development!
“Would You Rather…?” Thanksgiving Style
In my 12 years of teaching, I’ve honestly not met a class that didn’t enjoy a good “Would You Rather…” activity. So I brought the idea over to my Easel Assessments with a Thanksgiving edition.
Each year, I enjoy using read-alouds that connect with the holiday or season we’re celebrating.
After enjoying the read-aloud for Thanksgiving, students can now complete a digital version of “Would You Rather” where I’ve uploaded images in the question section.
Then using the poll style question format, students will select which option they’d rather have for Thanksgiving.
For example, “Would you rather eat cranberry sauce all day or eat gravy all day?”
These types of school holiday activity ideas are not only funny, but they also offer a chance to build social-emotional connections as students get to see which classmates picked the same answers.
And just like the gratitude assessment, you can extend this into a discussion where students explain why they picked certain options.
Editing Elf Letters Using Easel Activities
A fourth holiday-themed idea combines elves and Easel Activities. Raise your hand if you’ve used an elf in the classroom during December?
Yes, I’m not the only one!
Since students enjoy funny elves in the classroom, why not use Easel’s tools to connect learning with “elf letters.”
These task cards are written from elves who made several grammar and spelling mistakes.
Students must highlight and correct each elf’s writing mistake inside Easel Activities.
There are two options for how Easel can help you achieve this:
- Create slightly transparent colored rectangles to serve as “digital highlighters.” Students will then drag these highlighting boxes over each grammar mistake, or…
- Instruct students to use the shapes tool to create hollow circles to “circle” each grammar error.
I took it a step further by writing a letter to the students from “a tired elf teacher” and then recording an audio file in my best elf voice reading the instructions to the students.
Just imagine the delight students will experience as they listen to the instructions for this assignment in a funny elf teacher voice!
The audio file in Easel makes it so easy to add these kinds of details to lessons that make learning so much fun.
Holiday Picture Captions — Writing Fun
Another easy way Easel makes holiday learning fun is with a holiday picture and descriptive writing exercise like this.
You can upload stock images* of fun holiday scenes and have your students write a caption to go with each picture in Easel Activities.
Take it a step further in Easel Assessments and have students select a caption you provide that matches the correct holiday scene.
With this idea, students get writing and reading practice in a way that incorporates seasonal aspects, which boosts engagement.
Decorate the “Ugly” Holiday Sweater Activity
Did you know any teacher can create an Easel Activity or Assessment from scratch? Try it out with my final school holiday idea that puts a digital spin on a fun classic.
Since Easel Activities allow pieces and images to be moved around, you can have your students decorate an “ugly” holiday sweater online.
My favorite aspect of the movable pieces within Easel is that students cannot distort or resize the pieces! Your kids also cannot accidentally delete slides or pages, which allows them to freely enjoy finishing their creations.
Once my students finish moving icons onto their sweater designs, I would have them type a description of it as if they are entering it into a holiday fashion show!
This exercise can be expanded into other seasons like:
- pumpkins in October
- turkeys in November
- Christmas trees in December
- snowmen and snow-women in January
The list goes on!
Fun holiday learning ideas like this work so well for early finishers.
Not only is this a creative way to keep kids engaged during any holiday, but they also get to review their adjectives and descriptive writing skills using Easel’s tools.
Is Easel Only for Holiday Lessons?
Hopefully one of the fun holiday learning activities above will help you get the ball rolling on your lesson planning this November and December.
These are just a few of the easy ways Easel makes holiday learning fun!
But you don’t have to stop with just the holidays. All of the tools described above can be used for:
- moveable pieces for math manipulatives
- audio files for poetry recitations and read-alouds
- poll assessments as exit-tickets
There are so many different subjects and lesson types that fit with Easel.
The goal isn’t perfection, but progress.
Don’t feel like you have to master all the features at once. You and your students can enjoy the variety these quick digital tools provide one step at a time.
Happy Holiday Teaching!
Tanya G. Marshall taught elementary students for 12 years. She specializes in literacy instruction, and culturally responsive/inclusive teaching for upper elementary students. She now works full-time as the lead curriculum designer for The Butterfly Teacher. When she isn’t helping other teachers or creating learning activities, she enjoys trying new foods with family and friends, being outside in nature, or curling up with a good book! You can learn more about her and find more learning resources for your students or children at www.thebutterflyteacher.com
*Make sure you have the right to use any content you upload to Easel.