Throughout my years of teaching I have received an impressive collection of apple ornaments, Starbucks gift cards, and at least ten “World’s Greatest Teacher” mugs. However, my most unique Christmas gift ever was given to me a couple years ago. She walked up to my desk with her blue eyes shining and handed me what she described as a "Christmas ornament".
It was two fingers (I assume from a nail shop) with crimson red polish strategically painted on them to represent blood. They were placed inside a little glass jar for display. I wanted to gasp, however, I acted like I had just been given a Christmas toy solider ornament from the Spode Christmas Tree collection!
Those two fingers have now been incorporated into my creative writing lesson plans in an assignment called, "The Box". I put the fingers, along with four other items, in a box. Students have to write a story using all five items. They love the fingers, and I get some extremely interesting stories. Even my unenthusiastic writers get excited about this activity.
The crazy thing about this writing activity is that they love it. The students are engaged from beginning to end. Most of them want to share their stories with the entire class.