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January 7, 2019

6 Simple But Important Things to do the First Day Back From Break


Why does it seem like you finally get into the swing of things and then BAM a break happens?  It doesn’t fail.  How do you get those students back on track after a long break, like winter break?  This can be challenging because your students probably slept in, ate whenever and whatever they wanted, went to their friend’s house often, and stayed up later than usual – less structure definitely!!!!
The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

Getting your students to focus again after break doesn’t have to be a struggle.
  It will just take some easing back in to a typical school day.  Here are 6 tips to help your students, and let’s face it, you, transition smoothly back into your typical day.

Open-Ended Activities

The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

Students have been away from school and academics for many days now.  It is important that you gradually pull them into the academic school day, but at the same time letting students know that they are expected to be in “school mode.” 
From the moment my students walk into the room, I want them to continue expectations that I set for them at the beginning of the year.  For me, that was bellwork.  I always, and I mean ALWAYS, use my “Tell Me About It” for bellwork.  This is a great way for students to get out everything they are dying to tell you about break, but in a structured, fun activity. Get these for FREE HERE!!! 
The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

Students are always given the opportunity to share their papers with the class or I let them know I will read and comment on all of them.

Review Academic Content

The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

This is a great time to review content from before break.  I’m guessing that students probably didn’t remember everything.  Plus, it gives students immediate positive feelings of academic success on the first day back. 
I do try to make these activities unconventional, hands-on, and/or fun.  This could be anything from open-ended writing prompts, to coloring activities, to cut and paste activities.
For instance, before break we were learning 3-digit addition with regrouping.  We spent a few months building up to regrouping and after break we are hoping to jump into subtraction with regrouping.  However, I want to make sure my students still remember addition from before break.  I will probably have my students do a colorby code that’s full of practice but fun because it’s not basic paper/pencil or maybe my QR code task cards to utilize technology.  Again, review, but different and fun. 

Review Routines and Expectations

The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

You remember those routines and expectations that you practiced over and over again at the beginning of the year for a few months?  Yes?  Great.  Well, guess what?  Your students, probably not so much.  Well, they may.but will probably need some refreshing. 

Most of your students probably enjoyed a lot of freedoms over the winter break and they may want to try to extend those into your classroom.  It’s different from the beginning of the year when nerves were keeping students in check.  Now, they KNOW you.  It is imperative that you uphold your rules, consequences, and procedures as early as possible. This way, there is no excuse for negative behavior.  Students need a little reminder that they are back and school and should act accordingly.

Of course, these reviews of routines and expectations should come at the time that they are happening - snack time procedures before snack time, restroom procedures before restroom breaks, cafeteria procedures before lunch, etc.  You get the idea.back to school 2.0.

Get back to routine

The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

In order to review those procedures for routines, you need to get back to your routine.  This isn’t the time to try stations if you have never done them before (even though I wouldn’t recommend them on the first day back even if you have)!  Students crave structure and they will be glad to see the same routine in place as when they left.

They will be tired

The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

I recommend no new content for the first day back.   I would suggest using this time to review, review, review.  Why?  Well, they will be tired.  Getting back to “school mode” will not be easy after two weeks of vacation.  Use the time to do SHORT bursts of activities.  Students will not have the attention they had before vacation; they will need to work up to that again. 
5-10 minute lessons are ideal.  Lessons with movements are ideal.  Open-ended activities are ideal.  These are nothing new to teaching, just be mindful of using more of it on the first few days back.

Change up Groups

The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak

The one change that I would recommend is changing up any groups that you have in the classroom, whether they be academic or simply seating arrangements.  Sometimes not having those common relationships upon return will help students focus more and get back on track easier.


The first day back from a break can be difficult in the elementary classroom, especially a long break like winter break!  The students need a reminder of what school was like before break!  Here are some tips and activities that help get over that winter break hump, or any extended school break!  Students will enjoy being back at school and in the routine that they love and find fun. {1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th} Freebie included #elementaryisland #winterbreak


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