The December classroom rush is done. Winter break is over. It is time for students to return to the classroom, and, you might find, time for a January reset. What is the purpose of this mid year reset? Sometimes, and maybe it has happened to you in previous years, students come back from break and act as if they have forgotten every single rule and procedure you worked on all year. This can be very frustrating for teachers and students, who truly do benefit from routine. This post will provide some winter teaching tips & ideas and focus on how teachers can hit the reset button, while still having some back to school winter themed fun.
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Reset Classroom Expectations
The first step to getting students back into the “grind”, is reminding them of classroom rules and expectations. A simple way to do this is by displaying (if you have taken them down) procedures posters. Having these up and reviewing them as a class several times a a day (yep, I meant several) will remind students of the way your classroom family functions.
Even if it seems odd, repeating, reviewing and relearning these procedures will be a huge step in calming down the winter break sillies and kicking off your January reboot. Having students review these posters chorally with you, with actions, can help students remember these procedures even better! Research has shown that while simple repetition of information can help students remember it better, it can bore them. Adding actions (and a sprinkle of humor) will enhance the memorization process and keep students engaged with the task. When students are being loud, and clearly need a reset/reminder, I stop what we are doing and just start our rules “chant”. The students jump right in and join me. This is a wonderful way for them to think about expected behaviors and it serves as a quick brain break. The chants and actions do not need to be complicated, your students can even help you make them up!
Ease Back in with Winter Themed Classroom Resources
While you are refreshing students on the procedures of the classroom, you still need to get some work done. Using themed activities is a great way of resetting a classroom after a break. Why not make it extra fun with some winter hands-on classroom activities? When you think of January classroom themes, these ideas might come to mind: Martin Luther King, Jr., Winter, Snowmen, etc. From this list, we have created a new resource: The January Reset Pack. This resource is PACKED with winter activities (for 1st and 2nd grade) to get your students out of the break mindset and back into school mode. It is the perfect resources for your first days or week back from winter break. Let’s take a peek at this pack and how you can use it to get kids ready to slide back into the routine.
Get the January Reset Pack
The January Reset Pack includes several ways to get your students rocking those ELA skills after winter break!
1. Kickoff idea
Read aloud some winter themed picture books. (I recommend one a day the first week.) Use these books to practice prediction, summarizing, main idea and a phonics sound hunt. Here are a few favorites:
The Mitten and The Hat by Jan Brett
This book, with amazingly beautiful illustrations, provide a sneak peek at different characters and at upcoming events in the side bar pictures of each page. Students will love these books, and teachers will love the rich comprehension practice including summarizing and predicting.
There was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow
You HAVE to sing this one that matches the chant of our childhood. Students will get a kick out of the repetition and will definitely sing along.
How to Catch a Snowman
This book is perfect to use as a kickoff for a STEAM activity! Students will create their own snowman traps.
One Frozen Lake
Of course as a Minnesotan, I could not leave out this book about a grandpa and grandson ice fishing. If you live in an area where the lakes do not freeze over, your students will be mesmerized!
2. Pack Resources
Snowball Brawl Partner Game
Partners will practice diphthongs with this four in a row game. This would work great after a quick review of diphthongs, and could be their needed brain break after that mini lesson.
Main Idea Mitten Match
This activity would be a great center or partner activity after a winter themed picture book main idea discussion.
Students will go crazy for Snowman Stacks! They will write their spelling words three times on the snowman, once on each snowball. This activity sheet would be a great phonics center.
Arctic Animal Report
After reading The Mitten or The Hat, ask students to name the animals in the books. Then, have your students head to Epic Reading, or find Arctic Animals books from your library for them to use as a research source. Use this cute template for them to compile their research.
Can Math be winter themed? Of course it can! Check out these ideas.
1. Kickoff Idea
Try some online winter themed Math games, like those at Math Playground! Playing these games whole class can kick things back into gear. Then, follow this up with the winter themed math from the January Reset Pack.
2. Winter Time Clocks: Telling Time Puzzles
Use this telling time center after reviewing clocks, or reading a time themed picture book!
3. Penguin Color by Number
These activity sheets, perfect for independent work time, focus on addition to 8 and two-digit addition.
Winter Art: Snowflake Symmetry
Snow can be beautiful! Each snowflake is unique and a work of art from nature. This art project will have kids focusing on symmetry while also seeing nature up close.
1. Kickoff Idea
The Science activity included in the pack is a hands-on lab! Students will be thrilled.
1. Kickoff Idea
Make your own snow! (Or if you live in an area with snow, grab a bowl full.) Then, see how long it takes to melt. You will compare this time to the Ice Melting Experiment below. Need the recipe to make snow? Check it out in our Snow Globe Transformation Pack. This is an ENTIRE day filled with snow activities. Maybe good for the first Friday after break, if they have mastered the rules and procedures, of course!
Peek this resource (including the snow recipe) here: Snow Globe Transformation.
2. Ice Melting Experiment
This hands-on lab does require teachers to gather a few things, but nothing will have to be purchased! Win! Students will love watching the ice melt and comparing the lengths of time in the different container types.
Winter Social Studies
Studying Winter around the world will be fascinating for students. The included teaching slides and writing prompt will get them thinking of cozy winter vibes all day long.
1. Kickoff Idea
Have students predict what winter is like in the different locations featured in the pack. They can draw what they think these wintery locations will look like or list adjectives to describe each place.
2. Winter Wonderlands Around the World
These teaching slides, also part of our Snow Globe Transformation Pack, show beautiful photographs of wintery spots around the world. Project each one and discuss adjectives to describe each place. Then, have students complete the writing prompt. An extension idea: Head to Google Earth and find each place on the globe.
Hopefully these winter themed classroom resources, as well as our winter teaching ideas & tips helps your students, and you, get back into the groove after break and hits the big January reset button.
Get the January Reset Pack