As you relax in the comfort of your home, most likely in your favorite pair of pajamas, the realization dawns on you – your teacher break is about to conclude. The time has come to think about how to reset your expectations after spring break with your students. It may not be something you necessarily WANT to think about, but it is the reality. That cherished, well-earned break, though regrettably brief, is about to wrap up. If, like me, you’re haunted by visions of oversleeping on that initial return or the chaotic first day sans rules and routines, fear not! I’m here to guide you in effortlessly reinstating all those essential norms.
Fun Ways to Reestablish Expectations After Spring Break
As educators, we spend a lot of time with our students building community and teaching expectations. It pays off during times like these when established, it’s really nice when students pick back up the routine quickly. However, at times it is hard to get back into a routine and consistency is key for these moments. After breaks, we spend the first few days reestablishing our classroom rules and expectations as a refresher to everyone. Here are some quick, easy, and FUN ways to get everyone back on track!
I’m one for practicing an expectation in the moment and I believe role playing is a powerful way to do so. We role play what our expectations look like, sound like, almost looks and sounds like, and the most hilarious part- the not at all. If after a break my students are being lax on an expectation, we might have a quick discussion reviewing what it looks like, then I might do a few silly “what it doesn’t look like”, and then we practice together. It’s super simple, but a great and entertaining way to quickly reestablish our expectations. If you would like to learn more about teaching routines and procedures, check out this must have teacher guide HERE!
If you make ANYTHING a game, it automatically makes it fun! That’s the rule!! So why not make reviewing expectations a game too? You could easily create a quick quiz of expectations on platforms such Kahoot or Nearpod to turn your content into engaging fun! Students are able to work individually or in groups so you can meet everyone’s needs. If you would like to learn more about these types of digital resources, you can HERE!
This is an idea I found a few years ago on Instagram that is an absolute HIT! 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.
Students get so excited to work to meet these expectations TOGETHER in order to remove the sticky notes to reveal the hidden reward! They LOVE it! Want it done for you? When you subscribe, you’ll have access to EVERYTHING you need… just print and go! See the exclusive freebie pictured below!
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Have Students Take the Lead
Just like making things into games, having students be the ones in charge instantly engages students and helps them buy into their own learning. So let students be the ones in charge! Divide students into groups and give each one a poster. You could give students an example list of expectations or not and let them brainstorm their own. Students work together to create a poster of their expectation(s) and share with the class! This is a great way to see what they know AND get them working together!
Classroom Community Reconnection Activities
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 and help students feel safe and valued at school again. Generally, I stay away from having students journal about their break. Instead, here are some of my favorite back to school activities to do together to reconnect!
- Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up: I don’t know about you, but in my experience, the students are typically SUPER excited to be together again and just want to TALK! So I let them. 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.
- Connection Circles: These connection circles are a safe haven to share our thoughts and feelings and students gladly welcome them after long breaks. If you would like to learn more about Connection Circles and how to use them, you can check out this blog post HERE.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors Championship
Another fun activity to get students up and moving is a rock, paper, scissors championship! Everyone finds a partner and plays rock, paper, scissors. Whoever wins gets to find another opponent. Whoever loses becomes the winner’s cheerleader. I like this activity for many reasons. They get to move, they get to practice being someone’s supporter, and they get to have fun! Play continues until there are two opponents left, while the rest of the class are designated cheerleaders for their player. They have SO much fun and it’s the perfect way to work on sportsmanship!
Spring Into Action
Of course the last way to get all your expectations back in order is to keep having FUN so students are motivated and excited to uphold all the rules. What better way to do that than busting out ALL the hands on spring themed fun? Below are some of my FAVORITE spring activities to ease students back into the classroom after spring break.
Spring Attention Getters
We all know that getting students attention is crucial and that it might not be the easiest task for us educators right after spring break. This the PERFECT time to bust out some spring themed call and responses, or attention getters. Students LOVE these adorable call back because they are so fun and make redirection a breeze. Check them out below!
Spring Sight Words
You never know how much reading your kiddos might have done over break so brushing up on all your sight words is a great way to ease students back in the world of words. This hands on sight word building activity is spring themed and allows students to plant flowers to practice high frequency words. After reading their sight words on flower pots, students get to build them using their flower petal letters to correctly spell them out. Have your own words you want students to practice? No problem because these are completely editable to fit your classroom needs. Grab them now!
Spring Graphing Games
This fun spring themed resource gives you everything you need for an engaging graphing unit. Students get the opportunity to practice organizing, representing, and answering questions about data. They will have an absolute blast practicing important graphing skills in hands on ways.
Spring Bump Games
Bump is the easiest game that is SO much fun if you’re looking to add in a little competitive edge to students’ skill practice. These spring themed games come with 6 different game boards for students to practice all their addition and subtraction skills. Whether you need something fun for your kiddos to work on during centers, small group, or whenever It’s as easy as print and go! Check it out below!!
These are just SOME of the many ways to create a smooth transition back from breaks that make your time back together more meaningful and less stressful for YOU. I hope you learned some great tips and feel a bit better about being back together. Do you have a great tip or idea 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 Classroom Mystery Reward 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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