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Keeping Students Engaged on Winter Break

Keeping students engaged on winter break can be an uphill battle when you are competing with the excitement of being out of school, family activities, and new toys at holiday time!  In this blog post we will give you some tips to help keep your students focused and ready to learn when they return to school after the break.

You’re almost there! Whether you are keeping track on a calendar or through your students’ focus, the countdown to winter break is ticking down. While the last few weeks can be hard in the classroom, they are still a crucial time for learning. So, what can we do to make the concepts we are teaching stick? Here are five tips to keeping students engaged on winter break. 

image of two students building a bird house in the snow during winter break

The Gift of Learning:

One of the best ways to get students engaged on winter break is to create a gift that will not only be fun but educational. We all like to send a little something with your students for the holidays, why not the gift of reinforced learning?

You can do this by making manipulatives like a pie with fractions if you are working on fractions in math. With the pie chart (see what I did there) send some story problems so they keep their noodles working! 

If you are working with plants in science, send them some seeds home with directions and ask them to keep a journal on the progress throughout winter break. This can even be a family activity that parents can get involved in. 

Want to get some STEM activities in?  Send home a STEM project that asks students to build a snowman on a snowy day and determine the dimensions of each section.  Using math skills to build the “perfect” snowman.  Then, have students journal the changes that their snowman goes through each day after.

Or, have students use craft sticks, rubber bands, and string to build a bird house for winter flying friends.  This requires science research on the birds in their area and math skills to build the birdhouse.  Engineers in the making!

For English class, have students keep a journal about what they did every day of winter break. Each day challenge them to look for something different in their day like a random act of kindness or give them the challenge of something new. This could be a character or family scavenger hunt that will get them away from screens and possibly engaged in conversation. 

Get Parents Involved:

Young Student on Winter Break at a Museum

Another way to get your students engaged on winter break is to bring in the parents or guardians. We all know that not everyone has supportive parents, so we may have to do a little extra by planning ahead.

Before break really hits, send out a survey or suggestions for students to do with their parents. Try to suggest outings that would reinforce what you are doing in the classroom.

For example, instead of hitting up the mall for those after the holiday sales, maybe everyone could go to a museum that is kid friendly or you could all go jump and talk about gravity. Pulling parents into student learning is an important part of a successful classroom whether it is winter break or not. 

If you do work in a school where there are underprivileged students, try to arrange a parent group and raise funds so the students can go and learn together. This would be similar to a field trip but without you having to be there although you would be more than welcome I am sure. 

Try Something New:

Young girl holding eggs over her eye to show baking on winter break from school

Sometimes it’s good to take a break from the day-to-day learning activities over winter break. This doesn’t mean you have to stop learning altogether! Give your students an assignment that asks them to spend time with a family member making cookies.

Send each of them some ingredients as well as a recipe (this still helps with fractions!). Have students take pictures and write about their time making these cookies with their parents, grandparents, or siblings. This not only stresses the importance of family time, it helps with math (sneakily), and helps create a memory.

Time Well Read:

Young student reading a book on winter break

You can even get your students engaged on winter break in the car! If you find yourself in the car a lot, bring along a book or other educational activities. Turn the radio down and listen to your child read a book. Then, let them listen to the radio or watch an episode or a part of a movie.

Set a time limit for screen time and then you can read to them. Go back and forth for the duration of the trip!

If you want to get really creative, get a book that goes along with a movie. Read for a while, then watch that part of the movie. Repeat this pattern until the book and movie are done (or you’ve reached your destination).

Get Outside:

Two boys building a snowman in the snow on winter break from school

A great way to keep students engaged on winter break is to have some fun outside, especially if you are lucky enough to have snow! The cool air will revitalize your child and make them want to keep going.

Once their energy level is up (or a little lower) you can come in and focus on baking, reading, doing a fun math game, or anything else that doesn’t involve your child gazing into a screen and getting lost. 

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Two boys building a bird house in the snow on winter break from school

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Two boys building a bird house in the snow on winter break from school

Winter break is a great time for parents to get involved in student learning. If you are reading this as a parent, help your child’s teacher by keeping his/her mind engaged and working.

A week away from school can mean a month’s worth of work is out the window, so lend a hand and spend quality time learning over winter break!

You don’t have to be practicing your times tables or reading a novel to reinforce learning. Family time stimulates the brain and creates magical moments for your child; make their break unforgettable. 

Thank you for stopping by the blog today and know that each of you is near and dear to me!  I love to read your emails and comments on how the ideas have helped you in the classroom or at home with your child.

Do you have a favorite activity to send home with your students?  Are you a parent and have a favorite activity you do with your child over break to keep them on track?  Share them below!  They may be featured on a future blog post!

Until next time friends,

Thanks for reading! Farrah

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