This time of the year in the classroom is hard. Students are wanting to be on break and it feels like more of your time is spent managing behavior than teaching meaningful content. And let’s be honest, teachers are trying their best to keep their attention on school instead of the countdown to break. Anybody else checking the forecast to see if a possible snow day will be coming soon?
An alternative to the chaos
It seems that all the activities leading up to holidays are packed full of energy. Parties, assemblies, and special crafts make the students excited and active. I’m not saying these things are bad but they are packed full of energy and excitement. It’s energy on top of energy! Teachers walk away feeling like they were hit by a tornado. The only calm activities we do in the midst of this madness is to watch a movie or read a book to the class. Here is an alternative idea to the hype and energy before breaks.
This activity is very low prep! Just print it out and gather the materials. You can get this activity ready and have it sitting in a box in your closet. On a day that you need it, you’ll be ready to go! I have 10 activities planned but just pick the 4-5 activities that fit you and your class the best. Some of the activities are very simple like play-doh or coloring, while others take a little more preparation like the salt dough mosaics or ice cube painting.
Here is an example of the salt dough mosaic.
Whole Class Winter Activities Set-Up
To get the best response from your students, set this up while they are out of the classroom at lunch or specials.
- Create 4-5 obvious stations with the directions clearly displayed. I have already planned the activities for you here but feel free to come up with your own! Keep it mind that it should be something the students can do on their own and that will keep them calm.
- Find calming music to play but don’t show it on the projector. Try to keep distractions minimal in your classroom so students can be fully focused on the stations. This 8 Hours of Relaxing Music or this 6 Hours of Instrumental Music will work nicely!
- Dim the lights. This is the most obvious thing students will notice when they enter the room. If you have lamps in your room, turn the overhead lights off and the lamps on.
- Go get the students! As you are coming back to the classroom, stop for bathroom breaks and a water break. This way, students won’t have any excuse to disrupt the calm.
- Before you open the door to your classroom, give the students all the directions they need. Tell the students that class is going to be different today. Explain that you will not be doing any teaching or talking and neither will they. They must remain completely silent for this lesson. Anything they need to know is on the directions at each table.
- There are two ways to direct students through this activity:
- Students can pick whatever station they want and change stations whenever they want. Remember, explain this before you enter the classroom.
- Split the students up into groups of 4 and have them go to a specific station. Use a bell or timer so they know when to rotate to the next station.
- Did it work? Did this activity calm your class down? Did it calm you down? Did the next lesson of the day go better?
May your winter break be soon and your students be calm!