The first week back after winter break can be tough for both the students and the teacher. This is because the kiddos well-rested, but out of their school routine. So I’m gathering up a few ideas and activities to do your first week back. If you’ve been a blog reader of mine for a while, you’ll know that several years ago, I wrote an older blog post about things to do your first day back, but I’m adding to it now! If you’re interested in reading that older blog post, click here to open the blog post to read after you’re done with this one!
A preview of what to do your first week back after winter break…
- Have students set resolutions and goals
- Reteach and revisit expectations
- Practice speaking and listening activities
- Dive into winter themes
- Plan a fun experiment
- Don’t be scared to dive right into engaging content
Activity Idea #1 After Winter Break- Resolutions and Goal-Setting
You’re fresh off New Year’s Eve and the start of the first of the year. It’s the perfect time to teach your students about resolutions and goal-setting. One activity to do during your first week back is to celebrate resolutions! Have students set goals for the rest of the school year, either personally or at school. Within my reading flip book, you’ll find a goal-setting page just for the kiddos! This is a perfect reading comprehension activity that allows them to set goals.
(Link: New Year’s Flip Book)
The reading flip book comes with a reading passage, two follow up comprehension activities, and a resolutions page. This would be perfect for the first day or two after coming back from winter break.
Activity Idea #2 After Winter Break- Reteach Expectations
(Link: Rules & Procedures)
Yes, you spent most of your August teaching your students the rules and procedures for your classroom. Don’t let a two-week winter break take away from all of that progress. Spend a few minutes a day revisiting rules and procedure lessons. This will help refresh the kids’ memories of what is acceptable behavior in the classroom! The image above is a sorting activity that kids can with a partner or a small group where they sort and discuss good choices and poor choices in the classroom.
Another activity for students to do during the first week back after winter break is to write about their rules and procedures. It’s very important that students know exactly what is expected of them, especially during fire drills, lock down drills, and other emergency level school procedures. These activities can take between 5 to 15 minutes a day and will pay off greatly for the rest of the year.
Activity Idea #3 After Winter Break- Practice Speaking & Listening Activities
(Link: Speaking & Listening)
Also piggybacking on idea #2, it’s also important to start day 1 in January focusing on Speaking and Listening activities. Spending 5-10 minutes a day on Speaking and Listening activities can improve morale, student relationships, student behavior, and comprehension. There are many perks. Plus, students may really struggle with listening and following directions the first few days since their routines have been thrown off the last two weeks. I have five different grade levels of Speaking and Listening activities. Links to individual grade levels are below under the next image.
In the two images you see above, communication and collaboration are focused on. This can help ease students back into their school days after two weeks off for winter break. Give students activities where they can discuss with intention and listen carefully to collaborate with their peers.
Activity Idea #4 After Winter Break- Incorporate Winter
(Link to Winter Reading Blog Post)
If you’re looking for more activities to do your first week back, look for winter themed reading, writing, and math activities. The kiddos will know it’s chilly outside… there may even snow on the ground. They’re reading to start learning about winter time, whether it be nonfiction passages or simply fictional winter-themed stories. Last year, I gathered up a few great winter read-alouds. Read that blog post here. The links to these books are affiliate links to Amazon.
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Snow Bears by Jan Brett
- A Loud Winter’s Nap by Katy Hudson
- The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming
- Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright
- There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro
- The Mitten by Jan Brett
- The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer
(Link: Winter Writing Activities)
Teaching a focused, intensive opinion or informational writing unit the first few days after a break may not be the best idea. The kids won’t be as focused as they could possibly be for a Common Core- aligned writing unit. Ease back into the second half of the year with some fun winter narrative writing activities. Students will cut out, rearrange, and glue down steps of a story to create their own narrative winter themed writing pieces.
(Link: Winter Differentiated Reading)
Small group can be a bit tough to manage and control when student behavior isn’t perfect. Use these winter differentiated passages to help plan out your small group time with a fun winter theme!
Activity Idea #5 After Winter Break- Plan a Fun Experiment
(Source: The Science Kiddo)
Hands-on science experiments with winter themes are the perfect idea for activities to do your first week back. This experiment is an exploding snowman in a bag. First, the students will use an Alka Seltzer tab and snow. They’ll put it in a Ziploc baggy. Then, students will watch the bag swell and possibly pop. After they watch the reaction, they’ll try to figure out the scientific reasoning for this reaction.
(Link: Play Learn Grow)
Another easy, winter-themed science experiment would be the snowstorm in a jar. First, students will mix several ingredients in a jar, including baby oil, Alka Seltzer tabs again, white paint, glitter, and water. Then, students will observe how the material interact with each other, making the snowstorm in a jar occur.
Activity Idea #6 After Winter Break- Don’t Be Scared to Dive Into Content
Some teachers may take the first 3-4 days of the new year to do themed activities and take it easy. But don’t be scared to dive right back into content on day 1. As long as you’re giving your students highly engaging activities where they can participate in hands-on materials, they’ll be ready to go on day 1. My language and reading foundational skills units have a lot of hands-on activities that review their grammar skills. Some even introduce brand-new skills in a student-friendly manner where they’ll be engaged and focused.
Staying focused on reading can be tough those first few days back because the kiddos will be tired and not as focused. Use highly-engaging texts, such as my comprehension task cards on binder rings. Even though they’re doing the same type of reading comprehension activity as always, it feels fun and new to keep them more engaged!