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January 16, 2017

5 Ways to Deal With Delay Days

By Meghan Everette
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    I’m experiencing my first real winter, and while I love the change in seasons, the winter weather can make for challenging school days. Delayed start days can really mess with your schedule. When you throw in lunch, a special subject or PE, and a delayed start, you are down to just a few hours and often are left with only a small fraction of attendees. How can you make sure you have a few ready-to-rock activities that will ensure learning can happen while saving yourself the stress of re-planning and aligning? Here are five ways to save a delayed start day:

    1. Magazines

    Break out the classroom magazines! I don’t know about you, but even my best implementation leaves me with an odd leftover set or an extra week of my magazine order. I tuck them to the side of a rainy day and . . . voilà! Perfect delay day activities. Blogger Brian Smith has awesome before, during, and after reading ideas for using informational text. Add in my favorite paper plate activity to summarize text and you’ve got enough to cover your short day with meaningful text activities!

     

    2. STEM

    I’m always looking for more time to fit fun STEM activities into my day. Kids get really excited about content, but often these integrated activities take a good bit of extra time. That delayed start just added a few odd hours, so capitalize on them! Some activities can be materials-heavy, so take the time to fix up a box of all the tool you need. Come delay day, you’ll pull out a box and be a hero in your students’ eyes. Check out blogger Christy Crawford’s “Five Quick Tips for Successful STEM Lessons.” Then check out these activities to get you started:

    Cupful of Valentine Fun: STEM Kits to Challenge Your Class 

    Snowy Science: Four Frosty Experiments

    Snow Day! Science Activities With Leftover Snow and Ice”

    States of Matter: Engaging Students With Snow and Science

     

    3. Snowball Summaries

    One of the hardest things about delay days is getting students to focus on substance instead of snow. Use this time to work on reading comprehension with a snowball twist. Pick out some great winter or snow-y themed books. Then ask students a comprehension question, such as a short summary of the main idea or a prediction partway through a chapter. Have students respond on white paper (this is a great time to break out those miscopied scraps!) Then ball up the papers and throw them in a 60-second “snowball fight.” Call time and make sure everyone has a snowball. Ask for students to share responses from the ball they captured. It’s a fun, active way to read and discuss while building a safe space to share responses. Check out our winter booklists complete with other fun snowtivities:

    ”11 Picture Books for Snowy Days

    Snow Much Fun: Wintertime Books

    Winter Book Ideas

    Books for Winter Weather

     

    4. Field Trip Time

    One of the best things about technology is how we can open our classroom to the rest of the world. Snowed in? Go on a field trip with the magic of a virtual experience.

    Set the Scene: If you have a few minutes before kids arrive, move your chairs into a new arrangement, such as an outline of a ship mast, or push them away completely and opt for floor travel. Even more time? Craft a simple costume piece to dress the part before you “depart.” Read blogger Christy Crawford’s ideas for “Getting Ready for a Virtual Field Trip” to get started.

    Select a Destination: Many trips can tie easily to your standards, so look for a trip to enhance student learning. Studying immigration or American history? Travel to Ellis Island. Studying climate? Hop on the Magic School Bus and get to the science museum. And don’t rule out holiday trips at different times of year. The First Thanksgiving trip to Plimoth Plantation can be a valuable learning experience about Native and early Americans no matter what time of year it is. Check the Scholastic Webcasts for great field trip options, or look for virtual tours at Smithsonian or large museums worldwide.

    Follow Up: Virtual field trips are about much more than watching a video. Read a fiction book about the same topic. Find a supporting article and look for comparisons and contrasts with the virtual information presented. Have recording sheets or “look fors” for students to find while “touring.” Have students demonstrate their learning by making a travel brochure or information flyer about the place they visited. If you’re stepping back in time, let students craft a newspaper from the time period. The work you do around the trip is as important as the destination itself.

     

    5. You Teach It!
    Challenge your students to take over for the day. List your usual subjects and what you’ve been studying in each one. Allow students to pick a topic they feel comfortable with or are particularly excited about. Then give them planning time. Share how you plan lessons and decide what examples or activities students will complete. Younger students can use less planning time and go straight to explaining. They love to “play school” and read books to each other or show how to solve a problem. Older students can spend more time researching or developing ideas to present to the class that extend what they’ve already learned. They can share a cool video clip, complete a short activity, or tell about a lingering question they answered through research. Be sure to leave enough time for each student or group to have an opportunity to “teach.”

    I’m experiencing my first real winter, and while I love the change in seasons, the winter weather can make for challenging school days. Delayed start days can really mess with your schedule. When you throw in lunch, a special subject or PE, and a delayed start, you are down to just a few hours and often are left with only a small fraction of attendees. How can you make sure you have a few ready-to-rock activities that will ensure learning can happen while saving yourself the stress of re-planning and aligning? Here are five ways to save a delayed start day:

    1. Magazines

    Break out the classroom magazines! I don’t know about you, but even my best implementation leaves me with an odd leftover set or an extra week of my magazine order. I tuck them to the side of a rainy day and . . . voilà! Perfect delay day activities. Blogger Brian Smith has awesome before, during, and after reading ideas for using informational text. Add in my favorite paper plate activity to summarize text and you’ve got enough to cover your short day with meaningful text activities!

     

    2. STEM

    I’m always looking for more time to fit fun STEM activities into my day. Kids get really excited about content, but often these integrated activities take a good bit of extra time. That delayed start just added a few odd hours, so capitalize on them! Some activities can be materials-heavy, so take the time to fix up a box of all the tool you need. Come delay day, you’ll pull out a box and be a hero in your students’ eyes. Check out blogger Christy Crawford’s “Five Quick Tips for Successful STEM Lessons.” Then check out these activities to get you started:

    Cupful of Valentine Fun: STEM Kits to Challenge Your Class 

    Snowy Science: Four Frosty Experiments

    Snow Day! Science Activities With Leftover Snow and Ice”

    States of Matter: Engaging Students With Snow and Science

     

    3. Snowball Summaries

    One of the hardest things about delay days is getting students to focus on substance instead of snow. Use this time to work on reading comprehension with a snowball twist. Pick out some great winter or snow-y themed books. Then ask students a comprehension question, such as a short summary of the main idea or a prediction partway through a chapter. Have students respond on white paper (this is a great time to break out those miscopied scraps!) Then ball up the papers and throw them in a 60-second “snowball fight.” Call time and make sure everyone has a snowball. Ask for students to share responses from the ball they captured. It’s a fun, active way to read and discuss while building a safe space to share responses. Check out our winter booklists complete with other fun snowtivities:

    ”11 Picture Books for Snowy Days

    Snow Much Fun: Wintertime Books

    Winter Book Ideas

    Books for Winter Weather

     

    4. Field Trip Time

    One of the best things about technology is how we can open our classroom to the rest of the world. Snowed in? Go on a field trip with the magic of a virtual experience.

    Set the Scene: If you have a few minutes before kids arrive, move your chairs into a new arrangement, such as an outline of a ship mast, or push them away completely and opt for floor travel. Even more time? Craft a simple costume piece to dress the part before you “depart.” Read blogger Christy Crawford’s ideas for “Getting Ready for a Virtual Field Trip” to get started.

    Select a Destination: Many trips can tie easily to your standards, so look for a trip to enhance student learning. Studying immigration or American history? Travel to Ellis Island. Studying climate? Hop on the Magic School Bus and get to the science museum. And don’t rule out holiday trips at different times of year. The First Thanksgiving trip to Plimoth Plantation can be a valuable learning experience about Native and early Americans no matter what time of year it is. Check the Scholastic Webcasts for great field trip options, or look for virtual tours at Smithsonian or large museums worldwide.

    Follow Up: Virtual field trips are about much more than watching a video. Read a fiction book about the same topic. Find a supporting article and look for comparisons and contrasts with the virtual information presented. Have recording sheets or “look fors” for students to find while “touring.” Have students demonstrate their learning by making a travel brochure or information flyer about the place they visited. If you’re stepping back in time, let students craft a newspaper from the time period. The work you do around the trip is as important as the destination itself.

     

    5. You Teach It!
    Challenge your students to take over for the day. List your usual subjects and what you’ve been studying in each one. Allow students to pick a topic they feel comfortable with or are particularly excited about. Then give them planning time. Share how you plan lessons and decide what examples or activities students will complete. Younger students can use less planning time and go straight to explaining. They love to “play school” and read books to each other or show how to solve a problem. Older students can spend more time researching or developing ideas to present to the class that extend what they’ve already learned. They can share a cool video clip, complete a short activity, or tell about a lingering question they answered through research. Be sure to leave enough time for each student or group to have an opportunity to “teach.”

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