Fun, easy classroom activities to boost student engagement and energy levels during the winter months, whether in person or virtual.
Wavebreak Media Ltd/123rf
Have the winter doldrums made their way to your students? With cold temperatures, snow-covered playgrounds, and a school year like no other, it’s probably feeling kind of tough right now. Check out these ideas for beating the winter blues and upping the energy in your classroom (in person or virtual)—and remember that spring break is around the corner!
It might be too cold to go outside, but research about kids and exercise has shown that when kids move around during the school day, their concentration levels, classroom behavior, and overall mood get a major boost. If your students’ energy levels are starting to drag, call for a brain break and try one of these easy movement activities:
Play a tried-and-true movement game like musical chairs or charades.
Try a site like GoNoodle for some great interactive movement videos you can do as a class.
Roll these fitness dice and have kids try each fitness movement that comes up.
Get in a virtual airplane and travel to the warmth of Mexico or a tropical island! Try out a virtual field trip site like this one from Discovery Education or Learn Around the World to take a virtual tour and learn fun facts about your destination. Have students bring in beach towels so you can all sit on the beach and discuss the different creatures you might see or activities you might participate in while on your trip. This is a great opportunity to incorporate geography, science, and different ecosystems you may already be studying. Via ABC News
As teachers, you probably have your days scheduled down to the minute, but to liven things up, try flipping science to the morning, reading to the afternoon, etc. Everyone will welcome the change of pace (including you). Via Elementary Matters
If you notice students are particularly sleepy or lacking in focus, ask a volunteer to come to the front of the class to demonstrate a new concept, or ask a student during a video lesson. Students will perk right up at the sight of one of their peers being the “expert.”
The winter may be dull and dreary, but your classroom doesn’t have to be. To turn your teaching space into one that wakes you up and makes you feel good, try brightening up a boring wall with some colorful paper to showcase your students’ artwork. All you need is:
Or, create a rainbow reading corner like this one by grabbing the following supplies:
Via Mind Sparks
It’s no secret that helping others makes people feel good, and with Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day both falling in February, it’s a great month to bring some warm fuzzies into your classroom. Here are some simple activities that promote kindness:
Have students write thank-you notes to the school custodians, and keep the classroom extra clean to make their jobs easier. Via The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Make a kindness chain. Take small strips of paper and have students write down an act of kindness they’ve witnessed recently, then link together all the strips. Put up the paper chain in the classroom, and whenever students experience a kind act, they can add another link to the chain. Try to make the chain go all the way around the room! Via Sugar, Spice and Glitter
If you can’t make the chain due to being physically apart, modify the activity by having students write down a way of being kind they’ve witnessed or hope to do themselves.
For Valentine’s Day, have kids write a kind note to each other, then take it one step further by decorating valentines for patients at your local children’s hospital or nursing home. Via The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Have students deliver a goody bag of treats to every school bus driver at the end of the school day. Via The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
Music has been used since the beginning of time to lift people’s spirits and make gatherings more fun, so why not use it in your classroom for the same reason? You can play upbeat music for kids when they arrive at school, then switch to slower classical tunes to help them focus when it’s time to work. No matter what genre you choose, music is one of the simplest ways to make the day more enjoyable. Via Elementary Matters
Download some of your favorite songs or order a few of these CDs geared toward learning:
Traditional desks can be uncomfortable and make some kids antsy. Alternate seating options allow for more freedom of movement and give students a fresh classroom perspective. Here are some different seating options to try:
Via The Wright Nook
Whenever possible, give students the chance to bundle up and get outside the classroom. Whether for recess or for a special lesson, breathing in the fresh air can often revive sleepy kids and improve their moods. Here are some lessons that incorporate the winter elements:
Snowball launchers: Explore design and physics by having students create snowball launchers with basic supplies you have around your home or classroom. Then get outside to test your creations! Via Little Bins for Little Hands
It doesn’t take much to add some excitement to a regular old school day. Plan a fun activity that kids can “earn” through hard work or good behavior—it can be super simple or more elaborate depending on how much you time you want to spend. Via Elementary Matters
Make snow ice cream: This snow ice cream recipe is super easy and loads of fun. Try it out the next time there’s a good amount of fresh snow on the playground (it’s a great excuse to get outside, too!). Via Babies to Bookworms
Host your own winter Olympics trivia game show: Many students are interested in the Winter Olympic Games, so why not hold your own Olympics trivia game in the classroom, complete with a moderator, teams, and a grand prize for the winners? Via We Are Teachers
Plan a pajama day: Have kids wear their PJs to school and serve hot cocoa during story time.
Turn one of the many holidays in February into a special lesson or mini-party that you and your students can look forward to:
100th day of school (varies)
Groundhog Day, Feb. 2
Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14
Presidents Day, Feb. 17
Random Acts of Kindness Day, Feb. 17
Mardi Gras, Feb. 25
Have more tricks for beating the winter blues? We want to know about them! Share them with us in the comments section.
And don’t forget to make it easy to collect everything you need for your classroom activities by posting a wish list. Wish lists are the easy (and free) way to let parents know what you need for your classroom—and families can even purchase items right through Amazon!