Winter Break is upon us...and just like you, the students are ready for some time off. So, PLEASE, unless they ask (and by they I mean the students, not their parents),
DO NOT SEND HOME A WINTER BREAK PACKET!
Lord knows you are NOT going to grade it, so why are you wasting their time and your paper? Keep it real, you're literally going to THROW AWAY THE WINTER BREAK PACKETS when you realize they have done nothing but collect dust in your "To Be Graded" pile.
actual footage of a teacher "grading Winter Break packets"
I assume you are fearful that the students will experience a learning loss while they are home over the break, but FEAR NOT. There are ways you can help your students stay on track during the break and minimize the amount of time you spend pretending to...I mean...grading.
*sigh* "That's boring and the kids won't do it," you say. Perhaps. But, I'm not talking just any ole' type of journaling. I'm talking bullet journals! Switch it up and make it interesting for your students. If you're going to waste paper (printing templates), then at least waste it on something that they might unzip their backpack for. And when it's turned in, everyone's will be unique to them and (hopefully) a pleasure to look at.
Unless your students are extremely artistic, I recommend that you do print some templates for them to use. There are plenty of examples on Pinterest, but here are a few free ones that I thought you might like:
Bookshelf Reading Log:
Math Facts (Multiplication):
Winter Bucket List:
Tip: To inspire your students, be sure to show them examples of completed bullet journals like the ones here. Include a few blank pages for those that want to extend the journal with their own illustrations.
2. Flat Stanley:
After reading to students one of the many stories about Flat Stanley's adventures (or showing them a YouTube video...because we are "Keeping it Real"), students will make their own Flat Stanley. Tip: Make the Flat Stanley more durable by laminating it. Send Flat Stanley home with your students and encourage them to journal each day, sharing his adventures. If possible, students should take pictures of Flat Stanley throughout the entire break.
Flat Stanley Template: http://www.flatstanleybooks.com/parents/parents-downloads/
Flat Stanley's Adventures (Inspiration): http://www.flatstanleybooks.com/parents/parents-gallery/
To help students remain organized with Flat Stanley's adventures, you can have them fill out this travel log provided by Special Education Hot Spot: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Flat-Stanley-Travel-Journal-1131105
For those that have access to a smart phone/tablet, you can share your Flip Code with your students and upload content specific videos for them to respond to throughout the break. I especially love Flipgrid because it allows students to "show what they know" and encourages healthy conversations and debates between students.
Ideas for Using Flipgrid Over Break:
*Share what text you are reading. Would you recommend it to someone else? Why/Why not?
*Are you enjoying your Winter Break? Why/Why not? If not, what would make it better?
*Record yourself reading a passage (fluency.)
*Students prepare questions and interview each other.
*Number Talks: Share a problem and have students respond with different ways they were able to solve it.
*Mystery Location: Students ask yes/no questions to find out where their classmates are located during break.
Seriously, your students will love you for not torturing them, so I hope I caught you before you decided to print 50 million pages of busy work. Oh, and don't forget, it's also totally 1000% ok to let your students have an entire Winter (Brain) Break to themselves.
If you are looking for something to exercise your teacher brain over the break, register for our Week of Magic online workshop. We have 6 amazing new educators (+ me) presenting this year and it's going to be GREAT! Use promo code: TEACHERMAGIC to save some mula baby!
For more activities and ideas to use with your students, be sure to check out resources from our friends over at TwinklUSA.