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How to Make Back to School After Winter Break Easier…and Fun!

You might have spent the last two weeks wearing leggings and eating whenever you feel like it. And now it’s time to get back to school after winter break.

It’s hard to get back into the “normal” swing of things. For both the kids and the teachers.

Here are some ideas for those first days back to make things a little less daunting and a lot more fun.

New Year Countdown


When we get back to school after winter break I want to hook the kids so we start with a New Year count down. I give them party squawkers from the dollar store and hang up a Happy New Year sign.

Tip: You can get them really cheap after the holiday. I display a New Year’s countdown like this one from Youtube on our screen. We countdown and celebrate with our squawkers and toast with cookies and milk! This sets the tone for the rest of our day as we ease back into school.

Setting Goals


After our countdown, I read the book Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. It’s a hilarious story about a little boy that doesn’t give up to reach his goal.

It’s not a serious goal by any means because it’s a kite he’s trying to get down from a tree. But I think funny and lighthearted books are a great way to ease back into school. And trust me. Your kids (and you) will laugh like crazy at this story!

After reading the book, we discuss what a goal is and how we think we might achieve those goals. Then I have the kids pick a goal- either for home or school. They write their goal down and write one thing they will do to help them reach that goal.

One Word

At the beginning of the calendar year, I have students pick one word for their year. I start off by reading the picture book One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck.


After reading, we discuss picking a word and some examples of words they can choose from. They write their word on a 3×5 slip of paper or index card and decorate around the word. We hang them up as reminders when we need them throughout the rest of the school year!

Rebuilding Reading Stamina


When we get back to school after winter break I treat it like the beginning of the school year. Many of the students may not have read over the long break so they need to re-build their reading stamina.

I like doing a Reading Boot Camp or Super Readers Training Camp for this. (We also do this at the beginning of the year!)

Every day of the first week or two back, we have camp and work towards reaching the stamina we had before the break.

In third grade, we aim towards 25 minutes the first week and 30-35 minutes the second week after break. Your students might require less or more time. It’s a fun little way to get them back into independent reading.


Review Games for Math

A fun way to ease into math after a long break is to play games! One of my favorite review games is a scavenger hunt.

I set up a paper or digital scavenger hunt where the kids review any math skills we’ve learned in the first part of the year.


As they solve the math problems, they collect letters to a mystery phrase. They love the challenge of trying to figure out the phrase!

Playing these games not only helps the kids review skills, but it helps us go over rituals and routines those first days back. Reviewing things as simple as what to do when you need help is way more fun with a game!

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