5 Tips for Keeping Students Engaged During the Holiday Season

Keeping students engaged during the holidays can feel impossible. With the season comes tons of excitement and extra energy. It can be hard to keep our students focused those last days and weeks before the winter break. But don't fret, friend! With a little extra effort on our part, we can be sure we don’t lose them during this exciting time of year. Here are 5 tips for keeping students engaged during the holidays!

Maintaining holiday engagement is fun and easy when you've got the right activities planned! Come along to see these ideas for keeping students engaged during the holiday season.

Holiday Fun

Holiday excitement begins as early as mid-October when we begin to get ready for Halloween and continues all the way through the end of the calendar year with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. To say that it can be tiring to try to "compete" with the holidays is an understatement. 

Holiday engagement activities aren't just about learning they are also fun and exciting for students.

But there's really nothing better than seeing holidays through the eyes of a child. So it's time that we stop "competing" with the holidays and use them to our advantage. I have always found it best to embrace the excitement for the holidays instead of trying to fight it. It makes for a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved. 

Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years for keeping students engaged during the holidays.

#1 Consistency: Stick to Your Schedule

You might be laughing out loud at this point. Consistency during November and December? Yeah right!
No, but really. Our routines may change slightly, and there's no doubt that we will have many scheduled and unscheduled interruptions. But the more we can make each day follow our normal routine, the better. 

Keep your students on an easy to implement learning schedule with holiday engagement activities that fit seamlessly into your daily routines.

Our students thrive in consistency and when they know what to expect there is less room for the unknown. Obviously, flexibility is key here because we all know that there are often holiday-related activities that change up our schedules just a bit. However, we can still be intentional with our routines and procedures in the midst of the holiday chaos. This will help tremendously in keeping students engaged and feeling safe during the holidays. 

#2 Add in Holiday Fun to Your Lessons to Keep Students Engaged

The holidays will be at the front of your students’ minds, so why not add them into your lessons? It is so much fun to incorporate a little holiday fun into your ELA and math lessons. When it comes to math, I love to add things like a Christmas Place Value Lesson with a little help from Santa's Elves. With this resource, students will have plenty of practice working with tens and ones with a Christmas twist! You'll find center activities, games, worksheets, and more. Plus, the craft at the end of the unit will make everyone smile and add a little extra holiday cheer to your classroom. Use it as a bulletin board display for a simple and easy way to decorate!

Include this Christmas place value holiday engagement lesson in your math lesson plans for place value practice your students will be excited to complete.

The fun doesn't have to end with math though! There is plenty of room for holiday sparkle in your ELA lessons too! These Plural Nouns Gingerbread Activities are some of my all-time favorites! In this resource, you'll find a variety of activities focused on plural nouns. Students will love the clip cards, printable booklets, and the gingerbread craft! These activities make it fun to focus on this important skill during the holiday season. 

Gingerbread ELA holiday engagement activities keep your students excited about practicing plural nouns.

If you're looking for even more, be sure to check out this FREE Christmas Beginning Consonant Blends resource! This FREEBIE is filled with printable pages you can sprinkle throughout your day to add a nice dose of (no prep!) holiday fun!

Grab this FREE Beginning Blends resource to add to your holiday engagement activities this month.

#3 Get Them Moving

Be strategic about using movement in your day to help get the wiggles out! As primary teachers, we know how important it is for our students to move around. This is especially true with all of the extra energy they will have during the holidays. Pair the holiday excitement with the colder temperatures and you've got the perfect recipe for lots of extra energy.  For these reasons, I try to incorporate movement as much as I can during the day. 

Write the room activities like these are perfect to include in your holiday engagement lessons because they get your kiddos up and moving while learning.

We do this by adding center activities like write the room which get students moving as part of their activity.  I also love to use GoNoodle for brain breaks! By adding in brain breaks every hour or two you can see a dramatic decrease in the pent-up energy.  And . . . these intentional movement breaks are the perfect way to burn some energy and get students focused for the next activity.  

YouTube also has some great educational videos that incorporate song and dance into learning. Jack Hartmann's music channel is one of my all-time favorites. 

You are sure to find some great songs that line up with your current teaching.  And when those movement activities match up with academics you've got a great use of classroom time!

#4 Positive Reinforcements

My kiddos sometimes forget rules and procedures in the midst of all of the holiday excitement. We need to reinforce positive behavior now more than ever. I like to add in some new rewards during this time of year to grab their attention!

Use positive reinforcements to keep your kiddos excited about learning and increase holiday engagement.

I like to have them work towards a class reward like a hot chocolate party or a cupcake decorating day. We also use individual awards such as special tickets. My students can earn tickets for things like taking their shoes off, sitting at my desk for the day, and having a snack in class. These rewards cost little to nothing and mean so much to my kiddos. 

Hint: You can ask parents to send in all of the supplies needed for a hot chocolate party or a cookie/cupcake decorating day. They are usually more than happy to help, especially during the holidays! 

#5 Implement Group Work

Group work is a normal part of our daily routine, but I like to kick it up a notch during the holiday season. Building in some opportunities to work together is a great way to increase engagement.  There's a natural pull to staying on task that happens when students work together.  

And if you can connect group activities to the holidays that's even better! Games are always a great small group activity that works well for practicing and reviewing concepts. This is also a great time to tackle a larger-than-normal project or connect your learning to STEM.  You might even consider having kiddos pair up during center time to work together on clip cards or puzzles. Having a buddy to work with can really boost engagement! 

Use group work to increase holiday engagement as your students practice key skills and concepts during the winter months.

I hope these 5 tips for keeping your students engaged throughout the holidays make your life a little bit easier. Try to embrace the holidays and join in the festivities with your students. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the magic of the holidays with children.

Want More Holiday Fun?

I have tons of engaging holiday resources to keep your students busy for the entire season! Check them out in my TPT store.  You'll find engaging activities for math and language arts that are sure to keep your students learning right up until the winter break.

Save These Tips for Keeping Students Engaged During the Holidays

Be sure to pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board. Then come back as often as you need to for tips and ideas on keeping your students engaged during the holiday season.  

Looking for exciting ways to increase holiday engagement in your classroom during the winter months? These holiday engagement activities include resources to help students practice key math and ELA concepts with a fun holiday theme they will look forward to. Be sure to check out the Beginning Blends FREEBIE to start increasing holiday engagement in your classroom today. #thechocolateteacher #holidayengagement #holidayelaactivities #holiday mathactivities

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