Winter break is usually a time to rest, rejuvenate, and relax. Which naturally means that when it comes to an end, it can be rough getting back into the groove of things. It’s no shock that as hard as it is for us, it’s also difficult for our students.
On top of it being tough getting back to routines, I like to keep in mind that not all of our students may have had a great break. Some students may not have eaten enough and couldn’t wait to get back to have consistent meals. Other students may have had the time of their life on a great family vacation. Either way it goes, it’s really important to make space for all students’ feelings to help them feel safe and valued at school again. Generally, I stay away from having students journal about their break.
So what do we do instead to create this space? I have some tips to help make the transition back into the classroom a little smoother! These are all easy, fun, and engaging ways to help you all reconnect after that refreshing break. So let’s dive into 5 fun after break community building activities that everyone will love!
Would You Rather
Would you rather is ALWAYS a hit with students! It’s a great way to get students up and moving during those first days back. They love to share and learn about each other’s likes and dislikes. To show their answer, you can have them sit, stand, or go to a specific side of the room for their choice to help get some energy out as well. It’s an easy, fun, and safe way to reconnect together while being silly doing it. Check out THIS Would You Rather pack that students will have a blast with! Editable slides are included to add your own engaging prompts for students.
Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up
Is it just me or do you notice your students LOVE to talk when they return from break?! So why not let them? I like to get the conversations going with a simple Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up game. To play, every student stands up with their hand in the air. They walk around the room until they find another student to pair up with.
Note that some “rules” are discussed during this activity. Some examples are:
- We pair up with the first person we lock eyes with.
- We are kind and that means saying things like, “I would love to talk with you.”
- We strive to talk with different people we don’t normally work with.
- We make sure to include someone that may not have a partner.
Once everyone has a partner, we have “rounds” for students to have conversations. You can provide different topics for students to talk about such as, “What are some reasons why you are excited to be back at school?” or “What is something new you learned while you were gone?” The possibilities are endless and the kids truly enjoy the conversations. This is a great way to get students moving and talking. We will typically have 3 or so rounds, usually lasting about 3 minutes, so that students have an opportunity to reconnect with different classmates. A good gauge of time to start a new round is when you can hear when it starts to quiet and they begin wrapping up their conversations.
Celebrate the New Year
A great way to get students engaged and eased back into routine is with a New Year’s Celebration! There are so many easy and fun ways to celebrate and here are my faves:
Have a New Year’s Countdown. Check out this FREEBIE!
Reflect on the past year together!
Set goals for the new year.
Create a class Vision Board.
You can learn more about these fun engaging new year celebration ideas HERE!
Hot Seat is an awesome beginning of the year activity AND it’s a great one to bring back after winter break. Students can get to know more about each other and have another opportunity to simply reconnect after a long time apart. One student will take the “Hot Seat” while the other students get to ask questions. The students have 1 minute to ask as many questions that they can about the student in the hot seat. Some questions I’ve heard are, “What’s your favorite color?”, “Do you like dogs or cats better?”, and “Do you have a favorite toy?” It is totally student led and they always enjoy being in the hot seat, as well as asking questions about their peers. Students in the hot seat can always pass on a question they don’t want to answer to ensure everyone feels comfortable. This is also a great time filler throughout the first few days back when you’re trying to get back in your groove.
Raise your hand if you’re EXHAUSTED returning from break! I’m pretty sure almost everyone will have their hand up (including students) so why not get them up and moving around the room with a good old game of scoot. This allows for more time chatting with each other to build more on that solid connection they’ve already established. Check out THIS scoot activity that students will absolutely LOVE!
Back to the Basics
Just like it’s important to take time to solidify your classroom community after break, it’s equally as important to take time to ease back into routines. Spending time practicing those expectations again and AGAIN is crucial during this time as well, so that the rest of the year runs smoothly. Check out this easy and fun way to practice routines and procedures I learned about a few years ago!
Grab this free resource now!
It’s super simple and EFFECTIVE! Talk about a win win. All you need is an anchor chart and some Post Its and if you’re a teacher, I know you have those on deck! You simply write a class reward- i.e. game day, pajama day, movie day, learn outside day, etc.,- on an anchor chart. Make it something really engaging that your students WANT to work for. After you’ve written your reward, you are going to cover it with sticky notes that have expectations for students to meet written on them. Some of these may include- everyone cleaned up at the end of the day, all the books were returned to the classroom library correctly, a friend earned a compliment in the hallway, etc. These are rewards students will work towards TOGETHER! Students will be excited to work to meet these expectations in order to remove the sticky notes to reveal the hidden reward! They LOVE it! When you subscribe, you’ll have access to an editable sticky note reward template with rewards done for you!
Want to learn more ways to create a smooth transition back from breaks that make your time back together more meaningful and less stressful for YOU? Check out THIS post with more engaging and easy ideas!
I hope you learned some great tips and feel a bit better about getting back into routines in the classroom after break. Do you have any great tips or ideas for teachers? Leave a comment below! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including The Mystery Reward Template FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how-to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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