Christmas Ornament Activity for Middle School Life Skills Students

Happy Monday, y’all! Woo-hoo! Only four days left until Winter Break.

I think I mentioned in my last post that I seem to have very little time to plan in December. Probably like you, though, I have some groups that just require more thorough planning. My middle school intellectual disabilities/autism class is one of those groups. These guys require age- and ability-appropriate materials, hands-on activities, visual aids, step-by-step instructions, numerous communication opportunities, etc. I spend a good percentage of my planning time coming up with lessons for groups like this. Sometimes, it is a little overwhelming.

To make it easier, I try to follow the same format in each session:
  1.  Read a book or watch a video related to our topic.
  2. Retell the story or video using AAC and/or visual supports.
  3. Complete a related activity-game, craft, etc. targeting additional communication goals.
  4. Complete a summarizing worksheet that can be used for home practice as well.
This format works pretty well for us, and I pair it with a simple visual schedule to keep us all on track.

Last week, I wanted to focus on Christmas (luckily, we are allowed to use holiday-themed materials). I thought making an ornament to hang on the tree at home would provide a fun activity that could be taken home and (hopefully!) discussed there. Of course, I turned right to Pinterest for decoration inspiration.  I found this cute-as-a-bug (also EASY) Yarn-Wrapped Ornament from The Inspired Treehouse (I did make a few changes for my boys):

 After I found the activity I wanted, I needed a book or video to go with it. I needed something simple with age-appropriate pictures and graphics. For you middle school people out there, you know how difficult it is to find this! It seems like all simple stories are geared toward early elementary aged children. I scoured Teachers Pay Teachers, but could not find what I needed, so I made one on Powerpoint of course. Simple text targeting several Christmas traditions and real photos are perfect for this group. I also used the Powerpoint to target yes/no questions by asking if the students participated in the pictured traditions. 

Following the story, I pulled up the slide about Christmas trees, and introduced the ornament craft.

Using pictures and modeling, I showed them how to make the ornament. We then used the pictures to sequence the process onto a take home sheet. I sent both the ornament made at school and materials to make another home with the boys with instructions to complete another at home. (Hopefully!) the families will carry over some of the language skills targeted in speech at home.

As a Christmas gift to you, I am providing a link to the nonfiction story and take home sheet here: Let's Celebrate Christmas Story and Lesson
 Let's Celebrate Christmas Lesson

If you like this activity, you may find other useful materials in my TPT store. I’d love to hear any comments or ideas you have for your tough-to-plan-for groups as well!

Hoping you have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

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