Keeping your students engaged in your classroom during the busy holiday season can be tough. I put together a list of 5 Ways to Keep Your Students Engaged During the Holiday Season that I hope will help relieve some of the “craziness” that can occur in even the best students during the month of December.
5 Ways to Keep Your Students Engaged During the Holiday Season
- Stick to your normal schedule as much as possible. I know, I know…December is CRAZY! Parties, programs, presents, etc. However, when you can, follow the same format that you would during a normal week of school. Children like routine. They know what to expect, and what is expected of them when they are following your normal schedule. However, you can definitely change it up a little to include some holiday themed activities. Throw in some holiday reading passages during reading time, holiday fact practice during math, and holiday themed science and social studies activities. Check out some of my favorite educational holiday themed activities for each subject area here:
- Pick a few things to try, but DO NOT try to do it all. It is not humanly possible to do every single holiday themed activity that you find on Pinterest. I pin WAY TOO MANY ideas, get overwhelmed, and don’t do ANY of them. It’s a vicious cycle 😉 Pick out 2-3 new things that you want to incorporate into your classroom this holiday season, and then stop looking. If you get overwhelmed, your students will get overwhelmed.
- Reward Positive Behavior. This is important anytime of the year, but especially when you know that students will have an even more challenging time staying focused. Here are some ideas for rewarding positive behavior:
- Earning Snowballs – Students can earn a snowball (cotton ball) for positive behavior. I like to use this as a “whole class” reward system. When the students are doing what they should be doing, they earn a snowball into a jar. Once the jar is full, they earn some type of reward. (A hot chocolate party would be perfect!)
- Christmas Book Raffle – Order some extra Christmas books from your Scholastic Book Order. Place the books out with a bucket in front of each one. Students earn tickets for positive behavior. Once they earn a ticket, they write their name on the back and place it in the bucket in front of the book that they would like a chance to win. You can draw a name at the end of the week or right before Winter Break.
- Positive Notes and Phone Calls -Positive notes and phone calls are great anytime of the year, but during the busy holiday season, they become even more beneficial.
- Classroom Management Christmas Ornaments – I love this idea from Maria at Kindercraze. Her kindergarteners earned jewels to decorate their ornaments for good behavior.
- Get Your Students Moving. We know that students need to get up move. We really cannot expect primary students to sit still all day. I love using GoNoodle for brain breaks. I also like to incorporate movement into our learning. My students like using these Christmas Reading on the Move Passages. I also make sure to get them moving around the classroom more often. We do more partner work, small group work, and flexible seating if my students can handle it. A good game of Santa Says (Simon Says) is always a great brain break as well.
- Play Games. Who doesn’t love a good game? My students are obsessed with games. If I can teach or review a skill with a game, I’ll do it. Some of my favorites include:
- Pick a Spot – I do this throughout the year with a variety of skills. One that we have been doing a lot lately is short vowel sounds. I write each vowel on a Post-It note and hang them in different places around my classroom. Every student picks a vowel to stand next to. Then, I pull a short vowel word out of a cup. Anyone standing by the vowel that is in that word has to go and sit down. The students left get to choose a new vowel or stay where they are. This continues until only one student is left standing.
- Holiday Word Scramble – Write letters to spell out holiday words on index cards. Put each scrambled word in a bag. Pass out the bags to groups of students and have them race to unscramble their words. You could even give groups a couple of words. Ideas for words include: Christmas, Hanukkah, candy cane, snowman, ornament, stocking, gingerbread, etc.
- No Prep Printable Games – My Games Galore packs are a monthly must have in my classroom. I like to print these games to have on hand when we need to review a skill or we just need a change of pace.
- Spin and Color – This simple no prep game is perfect for students to do individually or with a partner.
What are some of your favorite ways to keep students engaged during the holiday season?