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January 1, 2023

3 Activities for Surviving the First Week After Winter Break

Confessions of a Frazzled Teacher

It's tough to go back to school after enjoying a nice winter break! If you are like me, you will have forgotten everything - passwords, routines, where anything is, etc. Just thinking about everything I need to remember gives me anxiety.

Now, think about your students. I'm sure they haven't thought about school, let alone thinking about routines and procedures.

Because of this, it's important to really focus on reteaching your expectations with students. Do not just count on your students knowing what to do. Spend as much time as you need to get your students back on track with what you want from them. 

This time spent will be well worth it in the long run.

Please note: There are links to products in this blog post. Using them will not cost you anything but may earn me a small commission if you make a purchase. will totally make my day!

My Favorite Ways to Survive the First Week of School After a Break

1. Reviewing Procedures Carousel

This is one of my favorite activities to complete after a break since it has almost no prep and gets students moving. This activity will definitely get your students remembering the classroom rules!

Materials Needed: Chart Paper and Markers



  1. Brainstorm a list of places your students spend a lot of their time: classroom, lunchroom, bathroom, hallway, etc. Write these places on top of the chart paper. (This can be done ahead of time or with students.)
  2. Then divide students into groups and send them to a paper. They get a small amount of time, like 3-4 minutes, to write as many things as they can to show behavior, how they should act, what they should look like in these locations, etc.
  3. Next, rotate the groups to a different location. They repeat the steps of adding information but first have to read what is already written. They should not duplicate information. This gets students to think beyond the basics. It gets more complicated as each group cycles through. Because of this, I add time in each rotation (like 5-7 minutes). 
  4. Once all groups have cycled through all the locations, we come together to share what was learned. 

Helpful Tips: 

  • Give each group a certain color marker so you know who has contributed what information.
  • Pair higher readers with lower readers to make this activity run smoothly.
  • Discuss your expectations ahead of time to keep it from being a free for all! This activity will be loud, but it works well!

2. Procedure Pantomime

This is another activity that will get your students thinking about behavior. Unlike the first activity, this one can last all week...all month...or all school year if your students need it!

Materials Needed: Index Cards and a Pen (or marker)



  1. Have students brainstorm a list of basic rules/procedures. You can also write down scenarios that took place at the beginning of the year that made you unhappy. These may include things like not pushing in chairs, yelling out in class, etc.
  2. Write these down on note cards. Put only one rule, procedure, or scenario on each card.
  3. Pull these note cards (a few each day) and have students act out the scenarios in two ways. First, have students exaggerate what not to do. Everyone will laugh because of the ridiculousness. Then redo the scenario correctly (always end on the correct note). The visuals will definitely give students a reminder of how they should act! 

3. New Years Goal Setting

I love setting goals with my students. It's important for them to think about positive ways they can improve.


  1. Print out the task cards and recording sheet. (Click on the picture below to get these free!)
  2. Place the task cards around the room.
  3. Have students walk from card to card answering the questions.
  4. Meet back as a group to discuss their answers.
New Years Task Cards

What are you doing the first week back after your break?

The first week after a long break is tough! Teachers need to reestablish procedures and routines. This blog post contains 3 activities to do with students after a long break (like Winter Break). These activities are all low prep/no prep, making planning easy for teachers. Bonus!!! There is a freebie included! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher {Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders; classroom management; January lesson planning}

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