Surviving Christmas in the Classroom!
Surviving Christmas in the classroom? Is it possible? Yes, it’s both crazy and exhausting – but TONS of FUN!
This Christmas in the Classroom Survival Guide is written to save teachers’ SANITY and provide teaching SURVIVAL STRATEGIES!
Right here in this article you’ll find a FREE Math COLORING PAGE to get you through the holidays, plus many engaging Christmas holiday ideas and resources for your upper elementary classroom. Your students (and your administrators!) will love them! ((Keep reading!))
Tip #1: Keep Students Focused
Students generally thrive on structure and routine, and we all know what happens when our daily procedures and schedules are thrown out the window! That’s when chaos and issues arise. My best advice is to keep the structure of the daily routines as much as possible but with a dash of some special holiday-oriented lessons.
Tip #2: Holiday-Oriented Lessons
Didn’t I just suggest that you keep your typical everyday routine? Yes, but I meant – routine with a holiday twist! Instead of your usual reading book, use some holiday and seasonal books, stories, and articles. Instead of working on multiplication and division in your math workbook, use some fun, high-interest coloring pages.
Below are fun coloring pages featuring multiplication organizers that provide challenging problems, but with the support of an organizer.
Students and teachers alike love the organizers for keeping students’ work aligned for fewer mistakes. Another added bonus is that students’ handwriting and size improve with these organizers.
During the Christmas season or not, organizers are definitely the way to go while students are learning new math skills, such as long division and multiplication
Division is so much more fun when a mystery Christmas coloring page is involved. After solving division problems, students color the quotient boxes to reveal a special holiday image. These long division problems feature 3-digit and 4-digit dividends with 2-digit divisors.
Your students will enjoy discovering the picture as they show off their fine motor coloring skills. Four different Christmas holiday pictures are included.
For students who are just learning multiplication facts, this Christmas tree game allows students to “decorate” the Christmas tree. To play, students either roll a dice or use the game spinner. The number they spin or roll is multiplied by the number on their game card. It’s a no-stress game because the products are listed on the Christmas tree. Students simply cover the products on the tree. When the card is filled up, they win – great for fact fluency!
The photo above shows students using the spinner with a paper clip.
With this game, teachers can allow students to focus on themselves and their own learning because they don’t have to compete against anyone but themselves.
But students who want an added challenge can compete against a classmate to see who can fill their Christmas tree the quickest.
This game is “No-Stress” for students because they compete only against themselves – not other students! Math facts from 2’s – 12’s are included.
This resource is perfect for indoor recesses, fast finishers, stations, and guided math.
Tip #3: Movement in the Classroom
Have you noticed that your students have ants in their pants that make them dance? Yeah, mine do too!
So, let’s just go with it! Let’s get them up and moving in a controlled, educational kind of way.
Try some Task Cards!
These Christmas math Comparing Numbers by Solving Expressions task cards feature 24 different cards with addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Great for Christmas games and activities, such as Scoot and even board games.
Task cards are so versatile. The class can play together, students can be divided into small groups, or students can play individually to focus on their own skills.
Tip #4: Crafts and Art Projects
Use Pinterest! Duh, right?Whatever topic or skill level you need – Pinterest has you covered. I’m sure you know all about using Pinterest as a search engine to find nearly anything your heart desires.
But let me tell you about one of my favorites! Below is the Christmas Scrapbook Keepsake, which is one of my absolute FAVORITE Christmas activities! I love putting a roaring fireplace fire (from Youtube.com) on the Smartboard and creating a cozy atmosphere for students to create their special gift to a loved one. Paper bag booklets are fun and different. Students really enjoy showing off their artistic flair as they write, draw, color, and decorate their one-of-a-kind booklet!
You can choose a roaring fire from these fireplaces – click on this link: Youtube.com Fireplace with Christmas music.
This MysELF on the Shelf mini-booklet is great fun for students and adds some imagination and whimsy.
Anyone who enjoys that special little Christmas elf who likes to hide around houses and classrooms will love this. This booklet encourages students to imagine having their own elf adventures. They draw pictures and write sentences about themselves as elves.
Tip #5: Behavior Management and Rewards
Sometimes you need a quick-fix behavior management idea to get through these chaotic days. I’ve got two quick behavior management strategies for you that both work in the short-term.
I’ll start with the easiest first. Simply choose a holiday word, like C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S and write each letter on your whiteboard, or anywhere front and center for students to see.
When they talk or get noisy, erase a letter – no need to even say a single word to them. When they’re caught being good, add a letter. Make it a game and challenge them to keep all of the letters by the end of the day.
Almost as Easy, But Not Quite:
This behavior management tool is just a bit more involved, but still quick and easy. First, print out a photo the size of a full sheet of paper. Laminate it, if you plan to reuse it. Then cut it into 6 (more or less, depending on your students) pieces. As students are caught being good, they’re rewarded with a puzzle piece. They “win” when all puzzle pieces are awarded. You can also use this method to reward specific behaviors. In the picture below, I’ve used a Santa Claus photo as an example. If you’d like to read more about how I use this method in class, click this link to read another blog post.
Reward Good Behavior – A Lot!
Below you’ll find I’m a huge fan of free, “no-frills” rewards – like a few extra minutes of i-pad/computer time or recess, reading a favorite book, working on assignments sitting anywhere in the classroom, etc.
However, sometimes, like in the days leading up to holidays, small, tangible rewards can work wonders! Rewards can be as big or as simple as you want. I’ve been known to give small holiday erasers, pencils, chocolate kisses.
Below you’ll find the Christmas Multiplication and Division FREEBIE that I promised you. You and your students will LOVE the organizers to keep work aligned and neat. If you like the organizers, check out my store for complete worksheet and organizer packs to use all year!
Tip #6: Brain Breaks
If you reach a point where your students need a brain break, try these on for size:
For a musical brain breaks with dancing, try this Youtube Video of the Crazy Santa Dance, or try Just Dance Kids | [Just Dance 2] Crazy Christmas – Santa Clones. If you want a song only, start with Up on the Housetop from Little Fox.
If your students are into drawing, at this Art for Kids Hub Youtube Channel, students can learn to draw all kinds of characters and animals.
Tip #7: Remember to Have Fun!
The inflatable antler toss game shown below is a blast! Students LOVE a chance to play, and this would work well as a reward or for indoor recess time. Click on the photo below to visit Amazon for game choices. As for the headband – check out your local stores and I’m sure you can have a goofy Christmas headband for just a couple of bucks.
Finally, no Christmas is complete without an Ugly Sweater contest! Host one in your class, or allow students to design their own ugly Christmas sweaters. There are some free ugly sweater worksheets on Teachers Pay Teachers to try out.
Finally – enjoy this WILD and CRAZY time in your classroom!
This truly is the time for special relationships to really take off and blossom, and for all of us teachers (and administrators) to chill and remember that kids really do need to be kids!
Students benefit the most from educational and FUN activities that encourage students’ creativity and artistic sides.
Most importantly ~