Host a holiday book exchange in your classroom with these easy tips!
Host a book exchange in your classroom
I love to host a holiday book exchange during the holidays in my classroom every year. It’s a tradition that I have done since I started teaching and I always look forward to it every year.
How to host a book exchange
Hosting a holiday book exchange is pretty simple. I always do it on the last day before winter break, but you should choose a time in your schedule that works for you and your students. You should typically block out about thirty minutes (give or take a few minutes) for this activity. To prepare, I send home a letter for the exchange during the first week of December. You can grab a free editable letter at the end of this post.
Sending the letter home
Like I mentioned earlier, I send the letter home during the first week of December. Because of the holiday stress, I want to send it home as soon as possible. I also attach a Scholastic book order to it so that parents can order that way as well. Sometimes I receive books the next day and sometimes I receive books on the day of the exchange. When books start coming in, I have students put their books underneath the Christmas tree in my classroom. Download the letter here.
How To Do The Exchange
When it’s time for the book exchange, I have students grab the book they brought and sit in a circle. I sit down in my rocking chair (they sit in a circle in front of me) and I read The Night Before Christmas. However, there’s a twist! Did you know this book has a lot of the word “the”? It’s crazy how many times it’s in there! So, every time I read the word “the”, students give their book clockwise. Yes, I teach and explain what clockwise means before we do this. It takes a few times for them to get it and there’s always one or two students that try to pass it the wrong way every time! I also dramatically enunciate “the” every time I read it. You have to really be on your A game when reading!
Everyone has a book!
After you finish reading, everyone should have a different book than what they brought. If they don’t, just have them rotate one more time. I let students unwrap their books and then they get to read their books. You might have some complainers. Some boys might get “girl books” (I know we try hard to teach our students about gender stereotypes, but I have had boys in the past get Barbie books and complain about it) and girls might get “boy books”. I do let students trade, but this is a judgment call for your classroom and your teaching style. I personally want students to just be happy with the book they get that day and if that means no one ends up with the book they receive, then so be it. I’ve even had kids in the past take home the book they brought because they really wanted that book… I digress. It’s the last day before break and I’m normally worn out, so I let it happen. It’s up to you.
What about students who don’t bring a book?
I stock up on books for this reason. In the letter, I state that students can bring in a gently used book. This means you can barely tell it’s been used- no markings, minor wear and tear, etc. So, I head to my local Goodwill and buy however many books I think I need to. Goodwill has books for $1. I bring in wrapping paper and if a student didn’t bring a book in, I teach them how to wrap their book.
Should you host a book exchange?
If you are willing to do the extra work, then yes! It is really fun and the students always love it! So, if you want to then yes you should!