George Lucas Educational Foundation

Coming into the holidays: do you coast, or ?

Coming into the holidays: do you coast, or ?

Related Tags: Classroom Management
More Related Discussions
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share
The time between Thanksgiving and Winter Break can be challenging. Lots of kids and almost all the adults are looking forward to the break, and some begin to anticipate this school free time zone before it's even there. Other kids are both longing for and dreading the extreme lack of structure they will be facing spending 24/7 at home. School may be a much better place for them, and they are mad that it won't be there for them. What do you do for this period? Is it business as usual to maintain routine and order for the kids? Do you change up your routine and pick activities that are more active and engaging to keep students on task? Do you throw up your hands and phone it in? What are you doing, why do you do it, and how has it worked for you? Inquiring minds would like to know...

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

Comments (3) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Diane Darrow's picture
Diane Darrow
Artist and Educator

I need to go with my kindergarteners high energy and switch how/what I teach. We will study world holidays and this year be joining an on-line card exchange. There is lots of art and games linked to literature, history and culture. This year I have several students obsessed with Legos so I am considering a Lego afternoon. We build and have fun while still learning about math. I look at it as a break in the routine but course the standards are still being woven into the fun.
The other grades (1st and 2nd) have one day a week of "enrichment" clusters. Students take a school wide interest survey which then feeds the staff ideas on what enrichment classes could be taught. Once the courses are decided, students sign up. Then one afternoon a week for 4 weeks students go to the classroom and teacher whose enrichment class they signed up for. The two grades and classes are totally mixed up. The energy and vibe throughout the school is amazing. Finally students get a choice and an opportunity to step outside the typical school day box. It keeps them focused and feeds their need for high energy activities.

Susan Betten's picture
Susan Betten
5th grade teacher

In my class, Math is still at Math time, Reading is still in the morning, etc. However, the one or two days before a holiday I always figure they need something engaging to compete with all the excitement they feel in anticipating their break. We do have a holiday party but I keep it short and sweet. 30 minutes tops! The school has a movie (which I hate) but there it is and what can you do?

My favorite thing though is what I set up a few years ago. I knew I didn't want to have to grade a ton of Math papers over my break and I knew they most definately didn't want any homework. I never send homework home over a break. So, I made up a way to teach a required skill which we normally cover at the end of the year in one unit only I break it up to cover it bit by bit the few days before any break. Counting change. For thankgiving, I have students use local grocery advertisements, they work in teams trying to plan healthy meals. I proclaim winners for those who create the healthiest meal, and the least expensive meal. While they are working on that I call kids back in pairs to practice "purchasing and counting change back" for various grocery items. I teach 5th grade.

By the time Memorial Day rolls around they've mastered counting change (little by little over the year) then we work on adding tax or a tip to our "purchases".

Over the winter break I don't have them shop for TOYS. I figure they don't need to get more of that. I had a calendar with pics of cats and dogs and set up a "Pet Rescue" giving each student a given amount of "money" (clip art) and they can "rescue" the animals which are all priced differently (cats one price - dogs another). They can come up with whatever combination of animals they'd like to rescue. The Pet Rescue was a bigger hit than when I tried having them shop for "toys".

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to integrate some technology into this?

Susan Betten's picture
Susan Betten
5th grade teacher

there are some students who AREN'T looking forward to the break. Maybe I have more needy kids that many but honestly I can see some clinginess starting already. I see it in "love letters" (which I really appreciate) but it's their way of saying they're going to miss being in the room, a place of safety and joy.

I like to play a game I made up called "highlight/lowlight" and last Friday and today I noticed they were playing it during their lunch break without me being there. To play you just take turns sharing what you think is a highlight or lowlight in your life right now.

Before a break (like tomorrow) I'm going to ask what they THINK will be a highlight and a lowlight. I'll let them share with a friend and then volunteers may share with the class. I know that those who live in the most severe situations will approach me to tell me their lowlight privately (and sometimes they'll just blurt it out in front of everyone) and those who have it better, who might just want some affirmation like to pull me aside to share a highlight.

I know they played highlight/lowlight at lunch because I made sure to spend a little of my lunch break with them, just sitting with them. They look forward to the times when I'll do that. I learn a ton more than what I might if I hadn't. I think before a holiday is an ideal time because often our cafeteria will make a special holiday meal and it just FEELS like family time to them.

One lowlight I heard in previous years was something like, "It's cold". It turned out they didn't have heat ... and this is Michigan, folks so a few phone calls, a translator and voila' ... help was on the way.

I'm no social worker or pyschotherapist but I do know they need a safe place where they can share a lowlight now and again. Playing that "game" has been part of of how I create that safe place.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.