A kids drawing featuring a sweater with a dog in the center, puffy snowflakes, and text that reads: Ugly Christmas Sweater

Ugly sweater contest: A creative classroom activity for December

Kick off the holiday season with an engaging classroom competition by creating ugly sweaters! This activity can be modified to suit students of all ages. Follow these five steps to lead students through this creative classroom activity that’s perfect for December.

1. Define “ugly sweaters.”

This step might seem silly since ugly sweaters are so commercialized nowadays. However, students may take “ugly” literally and just scribble on the sweater template. Defining it for them clearly and showing them numerous examples is key to ensure you have a successful outcome.

2. Determine contest rules.

This is where you discuss any specific rules you want to provide for your contest, if any. For my third graders, I asked them to be creative and to take it home if they wanted to add extra pizazz to their sweater. I also gave them a three-day deadline. Again, this is all flexible and to be determined by you.

3. Pass out sweater templates.

Give students this ugly sweater template to decorate. You can have students just use markers and crayons, or pull out the art supplies too! Glitter, construction paper, or anything else they add to their sweater will make it more creative and festive.

4. Vote for the most ugly sweater of all.

This part is optional, depending on your class and age range. You can narrow it down to the top five if participation was required from all students. Or if you decide to not compete, this part can be skipped.

5. Put their ugly sweaters on display.

Display them all! The finished products make great hallway decor.

What other fun or creative activities do you have planned this holiday season? Let us know at @ArizonaEducator on X (formerly Twitter) or Arizona PBS KIDS on Facebook.


About the author

Marissa Will is the mother of two, Olivia (6) and Logan (4). Writing was her first passion: she’s a freelance writer and a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication alumna. Will is currently educating the future leaders of tomorrow: She has spent the past nine years educating third grade with a master’s degree in elementary education from Northern Arizona University-Yuma.

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