Whether you’re a student or teacher, the winter can be a particularly difficult time of year. With the cheer of the Winter Holidays in our rearview mirror, the span between now and Spring Break can seem like a long one. The days are colder, darker, and shorter. For some, State Testing is inching its way closer and closer. The Winter Blues are here and it takes a special effort to keep the mood up in your classroom. Here are some of my favorite tips to consider for your students.
Now is the time to get your students out of their seats and move around the classroom. Well, as much as you can while maintaining social distancing guidelines. When I was in the classroom, I called them “Brain Breaks” and they’re just what my students needed to let out some energy. I highly recommend using GoNoodle. It’s free and offers videos that both energize and relax. Some of your students may think they’re “too cool” to dance along. Inspire them by getting out of your own seat and dancing along too.
Take a Virtual Field Trip
While most schools are opting out of field trips this year, you can bring the field trip to your class. So many organizations and museums are adding a virtual experience just for teachers to share with their classrooms. You may want to “send” your students someplace sunny (Everglades National Park) or out of this world (Access Mars). Check with local museums to see what they offer for teachers.
Work Towards a Group Goal
As the saying goes, “Team Work Makes the Dream Work.” Since this time of year can be so draining, create a group incentive for the entire class to work towards together. The reward doesn’t have to be anything outrageous, but just enough for your students to get excited about. It can be based on your class behavior or maybe completing homework. A pizza party or popcorn and a movie have both between favorites with my students.
There’s just something about being around plants that helps me feel refreshed. If you look around your classroom, and it feels a little bare, adding some plants is an easy fix to give your room new energy. Students can take pride in the classroom plants and will want to help take care of them. Who knows who will discover their green thumb. To give students desk special treatment, some grocery stores sell mini succulent plants at a bargain price.
Celebrate the Holidays
Even though the weather is less than ideal, there are so many fun holidays to celebrate during the months of February and March. Give your students a mental break and celebrate them. This can be through themed lesson plans, a special snack, or going all out and dressing for the occasion. Holidays you may want to add to your calendar are Valentine’s Day (which is always a favorite), Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, and St. Patrick’s Day.
Embrace the Cold
If you live somewhere that’s truly experiencing winter, what a great opportunity to create some STEM lessons. Use the ice and snow that’s nearby to investigate chemistry, architecture, or engineering. If you live somewhere that’s too warm for snow, consider using the store bought version instead. You could even take advantage of the weather and create experiments that involve solar energy. Your kids will love using a class Solar Oven to make s’mores.
Embracing this time with your students, whether in-person or virtually, will help create a happy learning community. It’s going to take some hardwork and determination from everyone, but trust that Spring Break is just around the corner. The holiday is going to feel even sweet when you get there!