How To Exercise Your Brain Over Christmas Break

Christmas Brain Exercise

This article is written especially for my students (You know who you are!), but anyone can benefit from these tips to keeping your brain in shape while you’re sleeping in, scarfing down tons of fudge (Bring me some!), and… Did I mention sleeping in?

Let me know which ones you choose to try…


Research the symbolism of the three Christmas decorations: The star, wreath, and candy cane. Start with Google, continue with Wikipedia, and make sure you scroll down to read the resources at the bottom of the Wikipedia pages.

Practice your reading by choosing an article, selecting a reading level that isn’t too easy, but makes you stretch yourself a bit, and reading at Once you’ve finished reading the article., test your reading comprehension by taking a quiz.

Little Axe English Teacher Debbie Self suggests keeping your eyes peeled for literary symbolism when you’re watching television or movies. You’ll can find symbolism, theme, conflict, characterization, elements of plot, and more in your favorite television shows and movies. Feel free to share these in the comments section, too!

Retired reading for pleasure teacher Claudia Swisher recommends the traditional: Ask for books for Christmas — and then read them!

Is someone in your family baking? Suzy Holt of Tulsa suggests you offer to help. You can read and follow directions (This is an important skill in class and on the job!) while building relationships with your family members. When I was growing up, I helped my mom make fudge, Christmas cookies, and (nonalcoholic) wassail. I still make these things because they bring back such great memories.

My students: Grades aren’t due until Jan. 8! Earn up to 5 extra credit points on your lowest daily assignment grade by posting the literary elements you find in TV/movies in the comment section below. You must mention the movie or TV show episode, and name and desribe the literary element used. You and your five friends cannot share the same element/episode/movie. Here’s an example: In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok,” the Enterprise crew meets an alien race that communicate solely in metaphor. Or course, it takes awhile for our intrepid space explorers to figure this out. So the aliens maroon its captain and Captain Picard on a planet with a dangerous monster so the two can reenact one of the aliens’ folk tales, and understand their method of communication.

You know, this sounds like fun. Perhaps I should start class next semester with nothing but metaphors, and see how long it takes my literature students to figure out what is going on… or revolt.


Break out the pencils! (OK, pens, or keyboards will work, too…) Mrs. Campbell from Wright City, OK suggests you write a paragraph describing your Christmas dinner. Be sure you use sensory descriptions that will make my mouth water. Feel free to share your descriptions in my comments — particularly if your paragraph involves chocolate.

Interview the oldest family member you can find. Find out how they grew up is different from how you’re growing up. What was technology like? How was school different? What were important things that happened in the world when they were younger? What is the most interesting thing they ever did? Make sure you take good notes, or record the interview. Then write a biographical essay about your relative.

Are you traveling? Tracy Pickering of Tyrone Schools suggests you research the place to which you’re traveling. You can even research the places you’ll pass along the way. Find out about the history and interesting aspects of these places before your trip, then interview people and take pictures while you’re there. When you return home, you can write an essay, or create a Prezi presentation or Animoto video of your trip using the information you researched, the interviews, and the pictures you took.

Be sure to share your exercise tips in the comments section, too!



Related topics: Student Engagement

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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