The first few days of school after a long break, like the winter holidays, can be notoriously unproductive. Kids and teachers alike have been gone just long enough to get out of routines, throwing schedules out of sync. Plus, students are still fixated on the fun experiences they had and the gifts they got during the holidays. Instead of trying to fight it, harness their enthusiasm for this subject and use it as the basis of post-break lessons.
Since kids are going to be talking to each other about their break anyway, use it as a lesson in communication. Have them write or draw a list of one to three things they want to share about their experiences. Then, have them take turns briefly talking to the class about it. This lesson incorporates preplanning and public speaking, and it can easily be adapted to a “show and tell” format as well.
Perhaps the most obvious way to use winter break experiences in the classroom, and yet also the most flexible, is to turn them into writing prompts. Ideas include: the gift they were most proud to give someone, the person they were most excited to spend time with during the holidays, or something they wish they’d done during the break. Minds in Bloom has a list of 20 more ideas for writing prompts here.
Schedule some quiet writing time to let kids create a holiday memory book. You can provide an outline to keep them on track, and let them decorate their books with drawings or stickers.
Ring in the New Year
Have kids talk or write about some of the most important things that happened in the previous year, then write or illustrate New Year’s resolutions or personal goals for the upcoming year.