Tuesday, December 6, 2016
How will you survive December?
Have you said this to yourself already? Kinders are especially excited this time of the year...and it isn't going to get better. They have something new and exciting to tell you every morning: "Mrs. Collier, we put up our tree last night." "Mrs. Collier, you won't believe where our elf was this morning." "Mrs. Collier, we went to my cousins this weekend and had a party." "Mrs. Collier, Mrs. Collier, Mrs. Collier." You know the drill. How will you survive? Here are 6 tips to help.
Keep the routine. Everything in the early childhood classroom depends on routines and expectations. When they know “what” you want, they’ll give it to you. BUT, when you change all the routines and expectations…expect chaos. It’s not their fault, it’s yours. Oh, I’m sorry…that was blunt. I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s the truth. I talked to a colleague last week who said, “I’ll never survive until Winter Break, they are already crazy.” Having had my own children and twenty plus years in the classroom in December, I thought I knew what she meant. She proceeded to tell me she knew she wouldn’t be able to “get much out of them” until after Christmas. Wait…what? After Christmas? Do you have 3 weeks to waste, I don’t. So I asked, what do you mean? Well, I’m not even going to try centers or reading until then, they can’t focus. Please, please, please tell me she is the only teacher in the universe who thinks like this. I found myself wondering what her class would look like over the next 3 weeks, if anything would be gained, or if they would all melt down into a crazy spiral of counting minutes until the end of each day culminating with the teacher all but canceling the holiday party as a consequence to lawlessness. Then, I decided I didn’t want to know. Don’t do it. Keep a routine.
Keep them busy. This goes hand in hand with the routine. Students who are busy (and I mean “Good Busy”) don’t cause problems. This is one time of the year, I ok with an “I’m Done” Box. Typically, writing in journals, reading independent small group books, or self-choice reading as my “go-to’s” for this time of the day, but I think a great activity could be writing and making Christmas cards for people in your building who don’t typically get them (secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, lunchroom monitors, cafeteria workers). I think, they should have to write a sentence or two before being allowing to draw or color.
Read Holiday stories with a purpose. Read Alouds are a must and a pet peeve, all at the same time. They should be an integral part of your day and your lessons, but so often teachers use them to throw away time. Connect, connect, connect. There is nothing that says we can’t read fun holiday books, but know why we are reading them. Yes, I do understand students should be allowed to listen for enjoyment, but a great read aloud lesson can be both: enjoyable and meaningful. If you are going to read it, make the most of it. Can we talk about how the elves in “The Wild Christmas Reindeer” are the same and different as the elf in “The Little Elf?” Can we make a rule chart for Teeka about how to train reindeer?
Write with voice. What a fun time to write sentences with excitement? Even kinders can write sentences with voice when it comes to Christmas. “Do you want a doll? Yes, I want a doll! Do you want a truck? Yes, I want a truck! Do you want a top? Yes, I want a top!” Easy and certainly “entry-level” excitement and voice, but it’s a start. First and second graders could elaborate. “Yes, I want a doll because I love to play house. No, I don’t want a truck because I have too many. Yes, I want blocks because you can never have enough.” Adding voice “words and phrases” like, “Oh, no! The hot chocolate spilled.” “Wow, that is a big plate of cookies.” Wouldn’t this be a fun writing lesson? (I know I never post about math, but could you use flyers for an adding and subtracting lesson?)
Dance. When all else fails…dance! One of the songs on GoNoodle is “Happy Merry Everything.” It’s not much of an organized dance, but it’s got a great message. It doesn’t just celebrate everything, as the title suggests, but says things like “Don’t be greedy,” “donate old things” and “start a foundation.” It isn’t specifically about the holidays, but you can enjoy the dancing frogs. A quick You Tube search turned up “Christmas Freeze Dance” and “Crazy Santa Dance.” If you can spend 2 or 3 minutes transitioning between activities and dance…you may get their attention in a good way.
Finally, only the essentials count: chocolate, coffee, and Christmas cookies.
So, don't be like Santa and fly by the seat of your pants, you'll regret it.
If you'd like a free Christmas word card just for fun, CLICK HERE or the picture below.