Is it just me or does the time between Thanksgiving and Winter break feel like the last lap in Mario Kart when everything is insane and the music is playing really fast?! It can’t just be me.
The month of December brings on A LOT of emotions for both teachers and students. In this quick read, you’ll learn 5 simple and effective tips to help you thrive, instead of simply surviving, in your classroom the month of December!
#1 : Keep it Simple
Tip number one is painless. Take it easy and keep lessons simple. Try to stick to your normal routines as much as possible. When things start to become lax, expectations change, or schedules are disrupted frequently, that’s usually when behaviors tend to escalate.
Instead, stay steadfast with upholding your high expectations, while simplifying your lessons. Throw in some read-alouds with simple writing activities students love. Play review games. Complete brain dumps. Keep it all simple. Don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself grace. Leave when you can each day to give yourself a break because to give your students the best version of you, you have to give to you first!
Another huge hack for keeping it simple is no prep activities. These will be your best friends! They are fun and engaging, hands on activities that you can just print and they’re ready to go. Check out some of my favorites HERE! Grab this
#2 : Whole Group Incentives
Who doesn’t love to be rewarded? I know your students do! I love using whole group incentives to keep us all on track, but also treating ourselves for meeting our goals. Motivate students by having them work together to earn pieces to earn a grand prize. The best part about this is that the prize could be simple as a pajama day, stuffy day, or eat popcorn during dismissal day.
Check out these adorable Christmas themed incentive puzzle boards, including Christmas trees and snowmen, where students earn pieces to complete the puzzle to earn a reward. It’s always a good idea to insert in some extra easy fun, while still meeting expectations during those last weeks of the year together! Practice expectations when needed and maintain high expectations for ALL students. Learn some simple tips HERE!
Add in a little extra holiday fun with themed call and responses that will really keep students’ attention! Check out this bundle of attention getters HERE!
#3 : Create Diverse Engaging Experiences
Representation is huge and when it comes to the holidays, we should represent them all. Our students celebrate all kinds of festivities and that is why Holidays Around the World is one of my favorite activities during the month of December. It’s such a meaningful experience to help students learn about SO many amazing winter holidays that are celebrated. You can be as little or as involved as you want. Learn all about it HERE!
And since we’re on the topic of diversity, I want to take a moment here to talk about something we as educators must be mindful of. As exciting as the holidays and break might be to some, not all students are looking forward to it. Some students may feel a lot of anxiety being away from school for a few weeks for a myriad of reasons. Be sure to do some emotional check- ins during this hectic month too because it could be just what a student needs.
#4 : Harness Their Energy
It’s inevitable our students are going to have way more energy than normal and they’re most likely going to have a lot to talk about. I say, work with it! Get your students up to use that energy with activities built for movement and communication. Here are some of my favorite ways to do just that:
Play Four Corners- This can be used with any standard, kids get to move around, they can discuss why they chose their answer, and you get in some review. It’s perfect.
Have a Snowball Fight – It’s winter right? Keeping up with our theme, this is the perfect time to have a fun and educational snowball fight! And don’t worry, you get to stay warm and dry, because yes, I am suggesting you do this in your classroom! It’s super easy too. Your snowballs will be crumbled paper equipped with questions, students get to throw them like madmen for a few seconds, then they’ll pick one up when time is called to go answer its question on their recording sheet. Talk about exerting energy! It is completely versatile because it also can be used with any standard. Your students will BEG to play. You can even use it as a reward for good behavior!
Bust Out the Games – Games use a lot of mental energy, therefore burning overall energy. They’re fun, it’s great skill practice, and students also get to practice being a good sport with a little competition! Check out these themed math center games and these ones for literacy!
Craft Your Heart Out – Need to focus their extra energy? Do a craft! As you know, we’re all about tying in content while working on skills and these math crafts really ADD in some fun. Check out these fact family gingerbread houses and these sweet snowmen to work on place value. These are differentiated and they look great on the bulletin board!
Give Your Brain a Break – Sometimes you just need a break. Oftentimes it’s when you see that energy manifesting in students as “the wiggles”. Well what better way to get out the wiggles than moving that body?! Brain Breaks are one of my favorite ways to help my students burn a little energy and recharge themselves for learning. HERE are some of our favorites! Grab the Back from Break Procedures Checklist Freebie by subscribing below!
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#5 – Plan Ahead
My last tip might be a tad crazy, but hear me out… I know you’re thinking, “Lindsay I am so done. What do you mean, ‘plan ahead’?! Just no.”
I get it. But wait! Visualize with me for a second about returning to your room in January. You’ve planned ahead so EVERYTHING is ready to go. Things are organized, plans are ready, and you can walk in right before the bell, coffee in hand, with NO STRESS. It’s more than making it to winter break, it’s about truly enjoying every moment!
Now again, you’re probably shaking your head at me thinking, no I’m not doing it, BUT what if I told you I did all the hard work for you?
Check out this jam packed Back from Break Kit that contains everything you need when you return from break. We’re talking detailed plans, paired mentor texts, and tons of engaging activities. Grab this kit now, thank your future self and even better… leave for winter break with no stress OR work!!
I really hope you enjoyed learning some quick tips to help you and your students not just survive, but THRIVE through the hectic month of December. 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 Back From Break Checklist 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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