The first day back after a holiday can be tough for everyone – teachers and students! Usually, I am pumped and excited to see my class, but there is always that little niggle at the back of my mind thinking, ‘What are we going to do all day?!’
Like most school calendars nowadays, they are packed to the brim with events and assemblies, which undoubtedly enhance kids learning. Unfortunately, it often means I am diving straight into my programmes by the first week. However, I do like to use the first day to reconnect with my class, find out how about their holidays and reestablish the expectations of our learning/working habits after a two or sometimes three-week break.
To help you with your first day back struggles, I have put together five activities we like to do upon returning to school:
1. Two Truths and a Lie
This is one of my favourites is two truths and a lie. The students write down three things they did in the holidays. Two are actual events, and one has to be a lie. You can set it up, so the class rotate in small groups reading out their activities, or you could do it as a whole class sharing time. The class love guessing yours, so get in on the action! Additionally, students can share their two truths and lie during transitions throughout the day.
2. Refresher on Teamwork
I find it helpful to recap what makes a great classmate. I like to divide a large piece of poster paper into four quadrants. A great classmate is…, says…, can…, is not. After a quick discussion on lesson expectations, I break the students into pairs, and they have to complete four sticky notes, one for each of the quadrants. Then we come back together as a class and share our findings. It is an excellent refresher for the students to remind themselves and each other how we respectfully and kindly treat one another.
3. Get Writing
Another activity to do related to holidays is getting the students to complete a written recount about one day or multiple events in their holidays. I used this activity after our last holidays, and it was an excellent opportunity to focus on different sentence openers/time connectives used when writing a recount. My Year 3s did a splendid job with their writing, and our 3D displays are still hanging in our classroom, attracting comments from visitors to our room. Our recount templates are available to you, and we have included alternative versions for different age groups and varied terminology to cater to schools worldwide.
Want to mix up your back to school writing? Reverse this task and ask your students to write about what they think YOU got up to during the holidays. Students love the opportunity to get creative when writing about their teacher!
4. Holiday Bingo
A popular return from holidays activity my classes have liked in the past is holiday bingo! Students share a list of different things they did during the break, from getting on a plane, baking cookies, watching a movie or having a sleepover at a friend’s house. You could do this part as a whole class or quick 5 minute independent brainstorm. I then write all the activities down on the board until we have a long list. Next students complete their 3×3 or 4×4 grid and fill the boxes with activities they did in the holidays from the list. After allocating each event a number, I use a random number selector app. When a number appears, we check which event it matches, and students cross that event off their bingo board. The first to complete their grid calls out bingo and is the winner!
5. Create a Fun Display
If you are one who takes down their displays at the end of each term and needs something to brighten up the classroom, but you don’t want to write holiday recounts. We have another 3D display that can be used all year round. Our 3D light bulb display involves students writing what they are looking forward to in the new term, learning goals they wish to achieve and ways to be kind to others. Click here or the image below to find out more about this resource.
These are just some favourites I have used in my classroom over the years. If you have any fabulous activities for heading back to school after a long break, please comment! We always love hearing from fellow teachers!
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