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Engaging Activities for After Winter Break

When students step back into the classroom after winter break, they have had a wide range of experiences while away from school.  Some students will be eager to return to the stable school routine, while other students will be reluctant to get back to work after a relaxing vacation.  By setting the tone with the right activities, you can welcome your students back to school and set the tone for the rest of the school year.  In this post, I’m going to share some engaging activities for after winter break that you can use in your classroom.

Choosing Activities After a Long Break

When it comes to choosing engaging activities after winter break, there is definitely not a shortage of suggestions online! In fact, there are so many suggestions that it can be hard to sort through them all.  I wanted to share three priorities that teachers should have when deciding on the first few activities after winter break.

  • Priority 1: Welcome students back to school
  • Priority 2: Build classroom community
  • Priority 3: Ease back into the classroom routine, with an emphasis on growth mindset

As long as you keep these three priorities in mind, you’re sure to have a smooth transition into the new year. Your students will be excited to be back among their peers and will be ready to challenge themselves academically.

5 Engaging Activities for After Winter Break

Here are five engaging activities that you might want to use in your classroom after winter break. All of these activities address one or more of the top three priorities that I shared above. 

1. Write a Letter to Your Students

One of my favorite ways to welcome students back after winter break is to write each of them a letter.  This is a great way to grab their attention and set the tone for the first day back to school.  Your students will likely be experiencing a wide range of emotions, and a student letter is a great way to address some of those feelings right from the beginning.

You can ease anxiety by explaining what you will do on the first day back.  The letter can also help you set a positive tone for the remainder of the year.  Whenever possible, it’s helpful to include at least one sentence that is customized for each child.  This will help students feel valued as individuals.

I have created a free New Year letterhead that you can use to write your welcome-back letters! Just head over to my free resource library to access this printable.

2. Get Reacquainted

Another worthwhile activity to do with your students after winter break is an icebreaker activity.  This gives your students time to ease back into the classroom community.  Get-to-know-you activities are a great way to remind students that your classroom is a safe space to interact with peers and share ideas.  

A dice rolling getting to know you activity with questions about imaginary creatures

Taking the time for these activities will help your lessons run more smoothly when you’re ready to dive back into academics. You’ll find that students are more willing to participate in group discussions and collaborate with peers during partner work when the classroom community is strong.

3. Have a Snow Day!

A fun way to ease back into learning is with a day full of snow-themed learning activities!  Students (and teachers) are often not quite ready to let go of the holiday festivities after winter break, so themed learning activities can help to bridge that gap.  

In the past, I have shared about a snow day filled with ELA activities that had a fun winter twist.  Be sure to head over to that post for snow book recommendations, a free writing craftivity, and other learning activity ideas!

4. Review Classroom Procedures in a Fun Way

I recently write a post all about classroom management after winter break, so you know how I feel about reviewing classroom procedures after the holidays.  However, this important task doesn’t have to be boring or tedious! In fact, something as simple as acting out examples and non-examples of classroom expectations can be an engaging way to review them.  

Two scenario cards for rule and procedure practice

Students also enjoy discussing classroom rules and procedures with scenario cards.  Each card comes with a different scenario that requires students to draw on their knowledge of classroom procedures.  As they think about what the fictional student should do in the situation, they will be reminding themselves of the appropriate ways to respond to different scenarios that they will encounter in the classroom. 

5. Set Goals for the New Year

Finally, goal-setting is an important but engaging activity to include in your post-winter-break lesson plans.  This is especially true if you are focusing on creating a growth mindset classroom.  Encouraging students to set goals and challenge themselves is an essential part of developing a growth mindset.

A completed new year banner

I have written an entire blog post with different types of goals, resolutions, and mindset shifts for students to complete in the new year. All of these activities can be completed and assembled into a new year banner.  These are perfect to display on a bulletin board or around the classroom to remind students of all of the great things they can accomplish with hard work and dedication.

Printable Goal Setting Activities

If you would like your students to create their own goal-setting growth mindset banners, I have you covered!  I have put together an easy-to-use printable resource with a variety of new year goal-setting activities.  You can mix and match the activities to help your students create their own unique new year banners. 

A variety of colorful new year banners

If you’d like to take a closer look at all of the activities included in this resource, you can find it in my TPT shop.

Save These Activities for After Winter Break

Be sure to save this post for future reference!  Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest.  You’ll be able to quickly and easily locate these tips and resources when you’re looking for engaging activities after winter break. Saving the pin below will also help other busy teachers find simple and engaging activities to do with their students after the long break.

Engaging activities for after winter break

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