Those festive-filled last days of school seem to be a far cry from the first days back in school after the Christmas holiday. Getting your students back into learning mode might feel like trying to oil the wheels of a huge stream train. In order to get kids into the school routine again as swiftly as possible, you’ll need to take some things into consideration. This sort of preparation will make the first days back much easier on you and on your students.
Things to Consider after the Christmas Holidays
Children are used to sleeping for longer
Children are likely to be groggy in the first few mornings of the new school term. Their sleep pattern has adjusted to family life and that’s all suddenly been uprooted. Coming up with some morning activities for primary school kids can help to jump-start the day and get their minds in the process of mentally waking up as early as possible in the school day. This probably only need to be a quick activity that will get their brains in gear. Or get their bodies moving and pumping oxygen.
Children are used to doing what they wish and not following a regimented routine
During the Christmas holiday children will most likely have been given the freedom to play and do what they want most of the time (it is Christmas after all!). Adjusting back to a programme of lessons and breaks might be difficult, especially for young children. Ease students back into the curriculum by giving them options and choices. You might offer two different activities that cover the same topic where children can choose which one they’d prefer.
Young children might miss their parents
This likely won’t be an issue for older children who are used to going back to school after Christmas, but for kids in early years education, suddenly being away from their parents and relatives after spending a long holiday with them can bring back some separation anxiety. Be attentive and sensitive to the worries of your students. You might want to start off the new term by asking children to share fun things they did during the holidays, presents they received and New Year’s resolutions they made. Talk openly to the children about the change in routine, having come back to school for a new term, and get them excited about the things they will be discovering.
Activities to kick start term after Christmas
Here is our list of back to school after Christmas activities each designed to boost brain power and get kids back into the swing of school.
1. New Year’s Resolutions
What better way to start off the new term on the right foot than to think about goals and ambitions? Talk to the children about new year’s resolutions and ask if anyone knows what they are. Try to get each child to think of their own new year’s resolution.
You could carry out this activity during circle time by going around the circle and getting everyone to say what their new year’s resolution is. Or you could have everyone write their resolutions on a piece of paper with a drawing and use them to create a display on the wall together. Having them in view will help to remind the children of their goals as the term progresses. Use colourful post paper to create the display and ask the students to help you decorate it.
2. Hold a Coffee (Juice) Morning
Start the new term off on a positive note by gently easing the children back into the school routine. Bring in some biscuits, fruit, juice and hot chocolate and hold a mini coffee morning where students get to catch up with their classmates and with their teacher. You could ask the children to stand up one by one and tell the class a bit about their holiday or play some games to get the children working together and break the ice that might have formed from not seeing their classmates for the Christmas period.
If you plan a coffee morning for the first day back perhaps you could tell the students about this before the break, so they will be looking forward to their first day back at school a bit more.
3. Name Catch
This is a really simple game that is designed to get children communicating and working together after a long break apart. Have your students stand in a circle and give someone the ball. The person with the ball has to say someone else’s name before throwing them the ball. Challenge the students and make the game a bit more exciting by encouraging them to throw quicker and quicker, similar to Hot Potato.
This is a good game for helping students learn each others’ names, but even if they already know each other, this game will force children to work together as a whole group, putting them in good stead for other group work in class in the next term. Find some other useful friendship games in our blog How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Activities for the Classroom.
Our Constellation Ball is filled with colourful beads and designed for sensory play, helping children to focus.
4. The Name Tag Challenge
This is a STEM challenge that will have the entire class concentrating and quiet as they use all of their lateral thinking and problem-solving skills. This engineering activity calls for each child to create their own name tag by a set of rules (e.g. ‘your name tag must stand up on its own’). Each student will be given the same set of materials, then it’s up to them to create a name tag that ticks all the boxes. You could supply A4 Holographic Card as a fun sensory material to use as the base of their name tag.
Not only will this get kids brains running and ready for more substantial subjects, but observing how each student approaches the task gives teachers a good assessment of how each student works and learns. Find more festive worksheets here.
5. Write a Letter to Themselves
Give the students an overview of the subjects they will be learning that year. This will help them to get excited about new topics coming their way, but also give them a sense of time and how long their term will be. Hand out paper and envelopes and have each student write a letter to their future self. You could aim for the time of reading to be the end of the term, or even the same time next year. Encourage them to think about what will have changed in the time period. Perhaps they could pose some questions for their future self to answer.
If you want the letters to be opened in a year’s time, perhaps you could ask the children to write a Christmas card to their future self and decorate the cover.