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November Math Centers for 1st grade and 2nd grade
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Ideas to Engage Students After Winter Break

New Year, Seasonal, Winter

Written by: Mary Kate Bolinder

If you’re looking for ideas to engage students after winter break and beat the back-to-school “blahs,” you’re in the right place. For the first week back from winter break, we have a great list of post-holiday activities, lessons, and routines to welcome your students back to the classroom. Some students (and teachers!) will be thrilled to be back at school, others…not so much. And that’s OK! Let’s swing into the new year with activities to engage all learners.

Ideas to engage students after winter break

If you’re reading this before winter break: It seems hard to imagine planning anything for the new year when many teachers are trying to make it to the finish line before winter break. BUT your future self will thank you if you prep some of these activities before leaving for winter break! Imagine walking back into your classroom after the break with a stack of engaging activities ready to go. That means no stress or planning over break so you can truly relax! Keep reading to find out how to manage these fun, engaging, low-to-no-prep activities to start the new year off right. Tip: If you live in a climate where winter = extreme weather, have some indoor recess activities planned before school is back in session. You’ll thank yourself later!

Idea #1: Invite Calm with Coloring

Color by number worksheets are an easy way to review skills and gently nudge students back into the morning work routine. Turn on some calm music and allow students to work through the color by number picture.

Idea #2: Jump back into the math routine with winter-themed centers

January Math Centers for 1st and 2nd Grade

use january math centers to review first semester standards after winter break

Ready for hands-on learning? Students can dive back into the math routine with our January math centers. With winter-themed math centers for first grade and second grade, there’s something here for learners on all levels. Use these activities to engage students after winter break for math centers, independent work, small group work, or a choice activity. The winter math centers include 10 standards-aligned centers, and include these math skills:

  • Subtraction Mitten Math
  • Expanded Form Penguin Comparing
  • Addition Snowman Puzzles
  • Story Problems Winter Stories
  • Counting Money Winter Gear
  • Mental Math Roll and Add
  • Measurement Nearest Inch (estimate and actual)
  • Geometry Penguin Shapes
  • Graphing Winter Sports
  • Place Value Snowflake Numbers

1st Grade January Math Centers

2nd Grade January Math Centers

January Math Puzzles

january math puzzles to use with early finishers or for morning work to engage students after winter break

Students love these math puzzles. Teachers love that they are easy to prep, and self-checking! January Math Puzzles are a great option for your early finishers, math centers, enrichment opportunities, morning work, or even intervention groups. 


January Math Puzzles

DIGITAL January Math Puzzles

Idea #3: Honor MLK Jr. with memorable classroom activities

celebrate dr martin luther king in the classroom with a fun reading and writing project

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated each year in the United States on the third Monday of January. Inform and inspire students with Dr. King’s messages of justice, peace, freedom, and equality. Take a look at the collection of activities and videos we’ve assembled inspired by Dr. King, or engage students in the lapbook writing activity about Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr. Lapbook Kit

Idea #4: Get back into the habit of writing every day with January Writing Pages

january themed writing prompts are a good activity for the first week back after the winter break from school

Forget that tired old writing prompt “What did you do over winter break?” The January writing prompts for 1st and 2nd grade are filled with 20 different writing prompts to get students back in the writing routine. Teachers love that the writing prompts are in print and digital versions. What’s included in these writing prompts:

  • 20 different writing prompt pages
  • Solid lines version (2nd grade)
  • Handwriting lines version (2nd grade)
  • Handwriting lines version (1st grade)
  • Planning pages for each prompt (1st and 2nd grade versions)
  • Mix of informational, narrative, opinion, and free writes
  • Digital version of each prompt on Google Slides(TM)

Print and bind all 20 writing prompts to create a new student writing journal for the new year.


January Writing Pages

Idea #5: Start the new year off on the right foot by weaving SEL in from day one

Now more than ever, teachers are seeing a need to include Social Emotional Learning into their daily classroom routines. Help your students be the best version of themselves by including SEL instruction and activities on the first day back in the classroom. Students learn best in an environment where they feel safe and respected. Help create this attitude in your classroom with these 5 easy ways to incorporate SEL into your day.

Start the first day back from winter break with an emotional check-in. On a whiteboard or chart paper, write “Being at school today makes me feel…” and have students write a word or draw a picture that reflects that emotion.

help students feel good about transitioning back to school following a break with emotional check ins to see how they are feeling

Teachers and students alike also benefit from using our Social Emotional Curriculum. Our SEL curriculum allows you to take back your classroomincrease positive behaviors, and teach your students.  Throughout these lessons, you will find that your classroom environment will feel even more healthy, productive, and safe for your students. Studies are finding that the need for teaching these essential skills is more important than ever before and yet, most school districts don’t provide this for their teachers.  We are here to help!


toothy task kits

SEL Curriculum

Idea #6: Rethink Your Routines

A new year means a fresh start. If there is an area of your day that could use a refresh or change, now is the time to do it! Browse the following blog posts to give your classroom routines a boost.

With these low-prep, no-stress activities, the new year in your classroom will be off to a great start! What ideas would you add to engage students after winter break? Tell us in the comments below!

ideas that will engage students after winter break from school


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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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