Do you do a countdown to winter break in your classroom? This time of the year is so much fun in the classroom! I love the 3 weeks leading up to winter break because we have a blast! I make sure to stay curriculum-focused with a holiday twist, which can be a tough balance sometimes. Let me tell you my 15 day countdown ideas to winter break and how I make it fun while still staying focused on learning!
15 Day Countdown Gifts
First, in November I send out a letter to all of my student’s parents asking for donations.Then, for the 3 weeks leading up to winter break, students come into the classroom and receive a surprise of the day each day as a countdown to winter break! I ask that parents send in one of the same items for each student and give a list to choose from. Usually about 5-6 parents volunteer and then I purchase the items for the other days as needed (I typically go to Dollar Tree to get these items.) Although these surprises are small, my students always get super excited about them!
Here are some items that students get. Remember- they only get one each day so it’s just little items to brighten their day and make them feel special!
Hot cocoa packets
Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes
On the last day: BREAKFAST (see the details below for this special treat that I plan each year!)
Holiday Breakfast Writing
On the last day before winter break, I always cook my students breakfast and that is their special surprise for that day! They absolutely LOVE it and it makes them feel so special. (and truthfully-I love it too and look forward to it every year!)
I bring in a griddle and heat up mini frozen pancakes for them (you can get a HUGE pack at Costco or Sam’s Club.) While I am making them breakfast, I have a guest reader read the story,“If You Give a Pig a Pancake” by Laura Numeroff, to my class. You might think this book is for younger students but let me tell you something- older elementary students absolutely LOVE these books by Laura Numeroff as well. They are so engaged when I read a picture book over a chapter book and plus it’s fun to do something different right before break when you are all tired anyways!
Then, while they eat breakfast, I have my class write their own story using this If you give a….Writing Prompt. This is how I tie this fun little holiday tradition to the curriculum! Students will work on Cause and effect and If, then stories. They use the organizer to make a comic with 4 different sequencing events. Watch them laugh, talk and eat together while writing their stories! They might not even realize that they are doing work! The guest speaker can be anyone you want it to be! I have had the principal, librarian, custodian and parent volunteers before! Students get excited when someone besides me comes in to read to them! It’s new and fun!
Holiday Math Centers
The final thing that I do to make the countdown to winter break fun and light-hearted is add some fun holiday flair to my math centers. My math centers are set up so that students complete one center per day. This way I only have to change them out bi-weekly!
Here are my favorite centers to use around this time in math:
This 4th Grade Math Holiday Center Bundle includes 4 centers and is the perfect review of skills from the first semester as it works on the following -
This Christmas Multiplication Digital Code Breaker is perfect for practicing multiplication skills for 2nd-5th graders. There are 5 different Christmas multiplication digital code breaker sheets included that focus on single digit multiplication with a joke for the students to solve on each page. Then, there are 2 social media inspired problems to solve. Each code breaker sheet has multiple problems for students to solve using the code of images with numbers.
This December center includes Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years themed word problems and coloring sheets. Each set has 8 word problems involving either 2x1 digit or 2x2 digit multiplication. You can check out this post for more engaging word problem activities for upper elementary students!
You can use this review packet as a center, assign it to early finishers or for extra credit if completed over break. Students love the themed pages! The best part?! There is NO PREP involved - just print copies for your students and you are ready to go!
-Multiples of 10 & 100’s
-Multiplication word problems
-Multidigit Addition & Subtraction
-Crack the code (Multiplication)