Back to School Blues???

Welcome to 2016!!!! I hope everyone had a wonderful winter / holiday break!!!  Today’s post is aimed at our fabulous teachers!!!  I know all of you could not wait to come back to school, but unfortunately some of our students may not feel the same way.  🙂 Here are just a few ideas I found that could gently coax those students into remembering how much they love their teachers and their school!!!

This is a long post, but please do read all the way to the end… there are lots of fun pictures to make you laugh today!! 🙂

Idea #1 is for the teachers… (not the students!).  🙂  I just loved the ideas AND pictures from this blog… so this is completely copied from the original blog, so links may not work. The link to the original site is below this picture. 

Survive the First Day Back FB Blog Header

Find the original link here


One of the things that helps me through the first day back after any long vacation is to remember that it’s like a mini first day of school all over again. Someone will be super late, some kids will be absent, someone will cry at some point, you might be lucky and have no bathroom incidents but it’s good to be open and prepared for the craziness. At the very least your students will be very excited to see each other again and want to spend some time chatting.


I always try to start the morning by letting each child share one brief memory from our winter break as part of our opening circle time. After we share we’ll complete this cute page to get in some writing about winter break.

Winter Break Sharing Page

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Another thing that helps me on days like this is to manage my expectations…. which to me can mean going into the day with low to zero expectations and then having a lovely surprise when your class behaves wonderfully! January gives you a great chance to reboot your behavior plan or try something entirely new to keep your students motivated & on task.

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When all else fails, plan some fun surprises for your students. Last year I bought 2014 glasses at a party supply store the day after New Year’s Eve on sale. We took hilarious class photos wearing them. I’ve also done a New Year’s toast with sparkling cider or with actual slices of bread toasted. This year I’m thinking about using ring pops to “ring in the new year” Check back later this week for some free printables to go along with these New Year’s treats.


It can be so depressing when you head back into your classroom in January to see empty, bare walls instead of glittery bright holiday projects everywhere. I haven’t decided which project we’ll tackle first but there are so many bright & cheerful ideas on pinterest to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites:

Snowman Art IdeasImage Credits: Nancy Nolan’s Kindergarten, First Grade Blue Skies, Mrs. Crosbie, Happy Holidays,Artsonia, The Vintage Umbrella

New year's blog post images4I love this post from Krissy Miner about being a performer in the classroom and it is so relevant throughout the entire school year. The more dramatic you are the easier it is to draw in your audience, aka your students. This is harder and harder to do the more tired you are which is what can make January feel like such an exhausting battle. My mantra at this point is just keep smiling!New year's blog post images5

The first day back is a great day to read engaging books that are a bit longer. I find that my students can sustain their attention for an amazing story for much longer that they can keep working on more independent academic work at times like this. Here are a few of my favorite series:

Longer Read Aloud Series


Just like on the actual first .day of school it’s always best to over-plan and over-prepare for everything! You’ll be ready for anything unexpected that comes up but you’ll also be ready for the next few days of school if you don’t end up using everything on the first day.

January Freebies Image



Another thing that has helped me on days like this is to be flexible with your schedule. Follow your class’s lead and shorten or lengthen work periods depending on how things are going with your individual students at that moment. This is something I try to do throughout the year but especially on days when your kids might be feeling a little bit more squirrely!


My favorite tip for any first day back at school or really for any day in gloomy January is to plan some rewards for yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to no matter how small it might seem… a new magazine, nail polish, candy, or a new relaxing TV show.

Survive the First Day Back at School After Winter Break Cover Image

And last but not least go home as soon as you can!




Post-Holiday Classroom Activities

For many teachers and students, getting back into the swing of things after the holiday break may be difficult. Everyone is used to sleeping in, and eating and doing whenever they want to, so the school day routine may be a bit hard to get adjusted to again.Teachers should try to avoid diving right into the schoolwork after break. Instead, make the adjustment a little bit easier by welcoming students back with fun classroom activities that incorporate what they did over their holiday vacations.Here are a few ideas and classroom activities to get your students back on track and motivated to learn once again.

Classroom Activities:

Create a Holiday Memory Book

Have students capture their best holiday moments in a memory book. Students will have more than enough to share, and a memory book is a great way to do that. Ask students to draw or bring in a picture of their favorite holiday outing or gift. Then ask students to write a few sentences about it. Once students have completed their memory book page, have them share it with the class or bind them all together to make a class book.

Make New Year’s Resolutions

Returning from holiday break is the perfect time to teach students how to reflect upon the past year and to make positive changes for the new year. Tell students that the new year means a fresh start and they can make promises to themselves that are positive and realistic. As a class, brainstorm a few resolutions together. Give them the following prompts to get started.

  • In 2016 I want to learn …
  • In 2016 I want to get better at …
  • My goal(s) for 2016 are …

Have a Show and Tell

As soon as students enter the classroom after winter break, they inundate you (and each other) with stories about what every student received from Santa, or all of the fun places that they went while on break. What’s a better way to share all of their experiences and new toys then to bring something in for a little old show and tell? For a different spin on the traditional activity, try having students guess who brought what item in.

Creative Writing Prompts

A creative and calm activity to get your energetic students back into the grind is to have them write about what they did and received over break. Students can get the opportunity to discuss their adventures in a fun writing piece. For instance, ask students to write about the best gift they gave and what made it so special, or describe their family’s holiday traditions in detail. Here are a few more creative writing prompts.

  • What are you most grateful for this holiday season?
  • What was your favorite holiday food that you had over break?
  • Who was the person you spent the most time with and why? What did you do with them?
  • Write about a place that you went over the Christmas break.
  • Write about something you did with your family over Christmas break.

Play a Fun Game

Welcome your students back to school with a few fun games! Try to avoid piling on the schoolwork right away and instead try playing a few fun games to ease students back into the routine. Review games are a great choice for easing students back in. Try games like the “Hot Seat” where one student faces away from the board and chooses three people to give them clues about what is written on the board behind them. Another fun game is “Ping Pong,” where students are divided into teams of two and the team that gets the answer correct gets to throw a ping pong ball into a one of three cups to get a prize for their team. Prizes are things like a homework free pass or lunch in the classroom.

Host a Party

Before you must get back to all the school chaos and your crazy school day routine, kick off the first day or two back to school with a party! Invite the classroom next to yours over for some cookies and hot chocolate. Allow students to share their holiday break stories over a warm cup of cocoa! Students will love the ease and flow of a relaxing day back to school.Winter break was a time for rest and relaxation, so it’s important to remember to ease students back into the school routine slowly and carefully. This will ensure that everyone will be motivated and ready to learn in no time.


Have a class pep rally.

Welcome your students back from their long holiday break with a class pep rally. Kick off that first day back to school with some fun and excitement. Talk to your students about upcoming school activities such as field trips, fund raisers, and more. This will get your students excited and motivated. Try to keep this momentum going for the rest of the day.

Create a holiday memory book.

After the holiday break students will have so many stories they want to share. Have your students write a sentence about the best part of their winter break and then illustrate it. I allow my students to share their work during our morning meeting. Collect your students’ work and create a class book to include in your classroom library.

Cuddle up with a few good books.

Story time can be a great way to help your students with the transition from home to school. There are tons of great winter books available. Allow your students to snuggle up on the carpet as you read some of your favorites. You could also allow them to choose their own books and read to themselves.

Create your own snow.

After reading a wintry book, allow your students to make snow paint. Snow paint is inexpensive, easy to make, and tons of fun. To make snow paint simply mix equal amounts of white glue and shaving cream together. Cut out various winter shapes such as snowmen and snowflakes from cardstock. Allow your little ones to spread their snow all over their shapes. When the snow paint dries, it will become puffy. Your students will have a blast with this activity!

Warm their hearts with a cup of hot chocolate.

Nothing warms the heart like a cup of hot chocolate. Make some hot chocolate with your students. This is a very easy activity that students love. Create a class graph of how your students like their hot chocolate (with marshmallows or without).
My students love this little hot chocolate song that I found a few years back. We usually sing it while we are busy making and enjoying our hot chocolate.

Have a snowball fight.

Write sight words on sheets of white paper. Crumple the paper to make snowballs. Place the snowballs in a bucket. Throw the snowball to a student and have them read the word written on it. If the student gets the word correct, they keep it. If they are not able to read the word, they must throw it to another student. This continues until all the words are read correctly.

Play musical snowballs.

Get your students moving with a fun game of musical snowballs. Musical snowballs is played just like musical chairs, but instead of chairs, you use circles cut out of white paper for each student.
What activities do you have planned for your students when they return from the holiday break?


The majority of these ideas are geared toward elementary school, but with a little tweak here and there… they could easily be used for middle and high school too!!!


Hope you have enjoyed and found something useful today!!! Have a wonderful back to school week!!!

🙂 Cindy


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