The expository writing prompts on holidays will help teachers encourage their students to explore the cultural diversity of the world we live in. There are a variety of holidays that your children may (or may not) celebrate – including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s and more – encouraging them to share personal stories is a fun way to organically discuss the ways different families celebrate the same season.
For 1st and 2nd graders:
Prompt 1: What is your favorite holiday and why?
Prompt 2: Which is more fun: Christmas (Hanukkah) or Halloween?
Prompt 3: What do you think would be a perfect birthday party?
For the older grades:
Prompt 4: August is the only month of the year that doesn’t have an official holiday. You have been put in charge of creating a holiday to be celebrated sometime in August. What holiday do you create? What will be the traditions? Write an essay explaining your holiday and why it’s important to include it in our calendar.
Prompt 5: Some people think Sept 11th should be made a holiday. Others have argued that by making 9/11 a holiday, it will lose it’s importance and will just be a way for people to extend summer vacation one extra week. Do you think it should be a legal holiday? If no, why not? If yes, what types of traditions, or ceremonies do you think should be held on that day?
Prompt 6: Ramadan is the Islamic holiday that runs annually for one month. One of the observances of the holiday is to fast (not eat anything at all) from sunrise to sunset. One of the many reasons Muslims fast during the holiday is to help them understand the plight of the poor. Do you think you would be able to fast every day during the day for thirty days in a row? Do you think there are other ways to teach empathy about the less fortunate? If you don’t think you’d be able to fast, what could you do to help you understand the sufferings of the poor?
Prompt 7: We celebrate our veterans on two separate holidays each year. The holidays are Memorial Day in May and Veteran’s Day in November. Research what the difference is between the two holidays and write an essay on what the differences are.
Prompt 8: Between November 1st to January 15 there are approximately 29 holidays observed by seven of the world’s major religions. Do you agree or disagree that the greeting of “Merry Christmas” could offend those who observe other holidays? Does wishing people “Happy Holidays” seem more inclusive? What is your view?
Prompt 9: December 16 is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day and to celebrate, your friend gives you a chocolate covered grasshopper. Explain whether you would eat it or not, and why.
Prompt 10: If you celebrate Halloween, do you make your own costume or do you buy one at the store? Do you like traditional costumes (ghost, witch, skeleton) or do you prefer something different? Write an essay describing the best Halloween costume you ever wore and why it was so fun.
Prompt 11: Many people celebrate holidays which are particular to their culture, such as Saint Patrick’s Day for the Irish, Oktoberfest for Germany and Cinco de Mayo for Mexico. Does your family celebrate an unusual or culturally significant holiday. Write about it if you do!
Prompt 12: August 13th is National Left Handers Day. The holiday was created to bring awareness to how difficult some things are for left handed people (For example, scissors and spiral notebooks are designed for right handed people). On National Left Handers Day, you are required to do everything left handed. Do you think you could do it? What difficulties to you think you’d encounter? Write an essay imagining a day of being left handed.
Prompt 13: Many towns don’t allow Christmas displays on town property. Why do you think that is? Is it fair? If allowed, should Jewish people be allowed to put Hanukkah on the property as well? What about who celebrate Kwanzaa? Chose a position and write an essay defending your point of view.
Prompt 14: Not every country around the world celebrates birthdays. Vietnam, China and some countries in Africa don’t mark the anniversary of one’s birth. How do you feel about that? Should your birthday be cause for a celebration? Do we overdo birthdays in this country with big parties and extravagant gifts? Write an essay expressing your view on birthdays.
Prompt 15: Many people decorate their houses in different ways for the holidays. Write about how you decorate your home.