Bringing Meaning to the Season for Middle Schoolers

Are you a Middle School Teacher?  Do you teach teens and tweens?  Then you'll love this Christmas Teaching Idea to promote a different kind of gift giving in and out of the classroom for the holidays!

Personally, Christmas is my favorite holiday.   I love to give gifts and use this sentiment to bring meaning to the season for my Middle Schoolers.

I want to make sure that they understand that the season is actually all about giving because middle schoolers can tend to focus on the material gifts as a way to fit in.

Some great stories that illustrate this are "A Christmas Carol" and "The Gift of the Magi".  I love both equally - which I use depends on how much time I have to work with the text.  This year, I have 3 weeks of school in between Thanksgiving and Christmas break so there's enough time for just one of these things:


Either way I go, I make sure that my culminating activity focuses on the fact that
 I believe everyone has something to give and that their gift does not have to be material.

So I start with a discussion of gifts using questions like:
What is the best gift you have ever been given?
Why is it the best?
(Generally, the reason that it is best is that there is some special meaning to it or it came from someone special.)
Do you think you have special gifts inside of you?

Then, I give everyone a copy of a mirror.  I ask the students to write words or draw pictures of the gifts they have inside of them or other important things to know about them that are on the inside that we might not see on the outside.  

The results are very interesting, especially if you can take time to sit in a circle and allow those who want to share to do so.

Afterwards, we discuss how to use these gifts at school and at home.   For example, the mirror on the right talks about film-making.  I asked, "What could you do to use your film-making gift to help others?"  There were lots of ideas shared from making free commercials for various charities to helping kids with their projects.  For the one on the left, he thought that because he was sporty and has ADHD, people didn't think he was smart.  He was certain he could help others understand ADHD better.  That one was pretty powerful, right?

I encourage all the students to find a way to use their gifts to make someone's holiday better this season.  

Now, what about you?  How do you bring meaning to the season for your students?  Join in the conversation below!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thanks for these terrific ideas, Lisa! Loved your notion of gifts in middle school minds - "I want to make sure that they understand that the season is actually all about giving because middle schoolers can tend to focus on the material gifts as a way to fit in." Wouldn't it be interesting to set up a debate around your keen ideas here to have them show the impact and motivations for gifts they give and receive? Thanks for generating fun new gift-giving ideas. Ellen

  2. I do love The Gift of the Magi.

    Your idea of tapping into your students 'gifts' is something your students will never forget. :)

  3. The mirror activity is so clever, and high school students would enjoy this, too. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love those texts too... and your discussion of using our gifts for others sounds awesome! Thank you!

  5. I love that statement, "Everybody has something to give." I am stealing that right away!!! That's "pinable"! Thanks for joining us on the hop!

  6. Love, love, love the mirror writing activity! Must be a powerful exercise for your students!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!


  7. Great writing activity. Students need to be given time to reflect on all the good they bring.


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