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January 14, 2016

Give Me a Break!

By Lindsey Petlak
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Getting back into the swing of a school schedule after the winter break can be tough. You might even need a break after your break. Guess what? So do your students. Making that transition can be tough for your kiddos, and when you add the probability of indoor recess on top of that (for those in cold climates), everyone starts to go crazy. Use these tips for giving your students a break — you’ll be happy you did!

     

     

     


    Functional Flexible Seating:

    In my post "Functional, Flexible Classroom Seating Options," I highlighted some of the ways I have found flexible seating to work in my classroom and make a positive impact on student behavior. These may not all work for you, but using one or two ideas from the following might shake things up just enough to grab your students' attention and save your sanity:

    • Group seating: Whether you have tables in the room already, or you push together desks, let students prove they can be better together with group seating to kick off the new year!

    • Individual carpet squares: I purchased my industrial carpet squares at the local dollar store, but you can often get them donated from carpet shops. Kids love to pull out one or two to sit or lay while reading and working.

    • Cozy reading chairs: I brought in two old chairs from home for comfortable reading seats and the kids absolutely love them. Bring in your old chairs and give them new life! Otherwise, hit up a thrift shop for cheap finds!

    • Lap desks: These come in many shapes and sizes, but offer students the ability to sit around the room and still have a work surface. I asked for my lap desks as a classroom donation, but you could snag some on deep discount as a fun seating with functionality option.

    • Reading tent: Fancy or utility, bringing in a reading tent adds a sprinkle of magic to the classroom. What better time to offer a welcoming nook for your students to cozy up with a good book?

     


     

    Ready, Set, BUILD!

    Giving kids time to build with purchased materials, or recycled junk is one of my favorite activities, not just because I’m a STEM nerd, but because I have seen without fail the amazing impact and tangential benefits that giving kids even 1520 minutes a day to build can bring. These activities boost creativity, teamwork, perseverance, and critical thinking/problem-solving.

    You could have activities planned, like this "Frosty, Frozen STEM Fun" project, or offer a completely freestyle building opportunity using any variety of materials. Either way, the kids will benefit and so will you. Plus, research backs tinkering in the classroom! 

     


     

    Trust in Teamwork

    What better way to kick off the new year and give your kiddos a much-needed break throughout the day than with some fun team-building activities and games. These usually only take a couple of minutes, and not only do they offer fun movement opportunities, but perhaps more importantly, they re-establish classroom camaraderie and partnerships. All too often we kick off the school year in the fall with loads of team-building activities, and then fail to continue those activities intermittently throughout the year.

    Coming back from break in the dead of winter is the perfect time to revisit those team-building exercises, even if they are the same ones you did in the fall! Students will know more about their classmates now for quiz-related activities, can be paired with different partners than before, and love revisiting favorite games from earlier in the year. Need more ideas to fuel your team-friendly fun? Check out my previous post highlighting my favorite teacher-tested-kid-approved activities for team building throughout the entire school year!  A few of my favorites highlighted in the post include:

    • Guess Who? Paper Ball

    • Connected Web

    • Never-Ending Story

    • Play-on-Words Roller Ball

    • STEM Challenges

    • Math Card Games

     


     

    Movement is a MUST

    All of these suggestions have incorporated movement, because it’s a must-have in every classroom if you want to do what’s best for your students and also save your sanity. This is perhaps never more important than at this time of year for so many reasons. Whether it’s relaxing, focused yoga, or dance mania, a quick movement break can be just the trick to get the wiggles out, refocus, and move on with more success. (Personally, I love doing a high-energy body movement break like dancing, followed immediately with a calming option such as yoga poses.) Find resources to facilitate your movement breaks such as Genia Connell's "Tips for Calming Fidgety Kids" video, Kriscia Cabral's "Brain Breaks With GoNoodle," or Brian Smith's "Dance Party in Kindergarten."

     


    Try at least one of these over the next week, and hopefully it will bring some stress relief, wiggles and giggles to brighten your wintery day! Thanks for reading, and see you again soon!

    Getting back into the swing of a school schedule after the winter break can be tough. You might even need a break after your break. Guess what? So do your students. Making that transition can be tough for your kiddos, and when you add the probability of indoor recess on top of that (for those in cold climates), everyone starts to go crazy. Use these tips for giving your students a break — you’ll be happy you did!

     

     

     


    Functional Flexible Seating:

    In my post "Functional, Flexible Classroom Seating Options," I highlighted some of the ways I have found flexible seating to work in my classroom and make a positive impact on student behavior. These may not all work for you, but using one or two ideas from the following might shake things up just enough to grab your students' attention and save your sanity:

    • Group seating: Whether you have tables in the room already, or you push together desks, let students prove they can be better together with group seating to kick off the new year!

    • Individual carpet squares: I purchased my industrial carpet squares at the local dollar store, but you can often get them donated from carpet shops. Kids love to pull out one or two to sit or lay while reading and working.

    • Cozy reading chairs: I brought in two old chairs from home for comfortable reading seats and the kids absolutely love them. Bring in your old chairs and give them new life! Otherwise, hit up a thrift shop for cheap finds!

    • Lap desks: These come in many shapes and sizes, but offer students the ability to sit around the room and still have a work surface. I asked for my lap desks as a classroom donation, but you could snag some on deep discount as a fun seating with functionality option.

    • Reading tent: Fancy or utility, bringing in a reading tent adds a sprinkle of magic to the classroom. What better time to offer a welcoming nook for your students to cozy up with a good book?

     


     

    Ready, Set, BUILD!

    Giving kids time to build with purchased materials, or recycled junk is one of my favorite activities, not just because I’m a STEM nerd, but because I have seen without fail the amazing impact and tangential benefits that giving kids even 1520 minutes a day to build can bring. These activities boost creativity, teamwork, perseverance, and critical thinking/problem-solving.

    You could have activities planned, like this "Frosty, Frozen STEM Fun" project, or offer a completely freestyle building opportunity using any variety of materials. Either way, the kids will benefit and so will you. Plus, research backs tinkering in the classroom! 

     


     

    Trust in Teamwork

    What better way to kick off the new year and give your kiddos a much-needed break throughout the day than with some fun team-building activities and games. These usually only take a couple of minutes, and not only do they offer fun movement opportunities, but perhaps more importantly, they re-establish classroom camaraderie and partnerships. All too often we kick off the school year in the fall with loads of team-building activities, and then fail to continue those activities intermittently throughout the year.

    Coming back from break in the dead of winter is the perfect time to revisit those team-building exercises, even if they are the same ones you did in the fall! Students will know more about their classmates now for quiz-related activities, can be paired with different partners than before, and love revisiting favorite games from earlier in the year. Need more ideas to fuel your team-friendly fun? Check out my previous post highlighting my favorite teacher-tested-kid-approved activities for team building throughout the entire school year!  A few of my favorites highlighted in the post include:

    • Guess Who? Paper Ball

    • Connected Web

    • Never-Ending Story

    • Play-on-Words Roller Ball

    • STEM Challenges

    • Math Card Games

     


     

    Movement is a MUST

    All of these suggestions have incorporated movement, because it’s a must-have in every classroom if you want to do what’s best for your students and also save your sanity. This is perhaps never more important than at this time of year for so many reasons. Whether it’s relaxing, focused yoga, or dance mania, a quick movement break can be just the trick to get the wiggles out, refocus, and move on with more success. (Personally, I love doing a high-energy body movement break like dancing, followed immediately with a calming option such as yoga poses.) Find resources to facilitate your movement breaks such as Genia Connell's "Tips for Calming Fidgety Kids" video, Kriscia Cabral's "Brain Breaks With GoNoodle," or Brian Smith's "Dance Party in Kindergarten."

     


    Try at least one of these over the next week, and hopefully it will bring some stress relief, wiggles and giggles to brighten your wintery day! Thanks for reading, and see you again soon!

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