January and February have brought their fair share of snow days and illnesses to my classroom in Kentucky! My, otherwise, normally peppy students are starting to feel the effects of missed days, too many inside recesses, sickness, and early sunsets. The yawns start early in the day and continue throughout the afternoon. Here are some ways I’m trying to get over our winter weather behavior slump!
Activity Ideas to Rise Above a Seasonal Slump!
At our school, students can enter the building at 7:15 and wait in the lobby until 7:25. While waiting in the lobby, students are able to move/dance to music playing if they choose to do so. The younger kids really get into it, but not my fifth graders! No Cha Cha Slide or Macarena for them! Maybe they’re too cool? Too tired?
This short amount of time really isn’t getting them pumped for the day. So, I’ve started to implement a one day a week fitness routine in my classroom during this ten-minute period before the bell rings. Right now, I’ve only offered it to my classroom, but I would like to build up to inviting all four of our fifth-grade classes. I’d also like to implement these three days a week. We do some very quick forty seconds on, twenty seconds off exercises! For example: jumping jacks, planks, push-ups, and sit ups.
Reading Breaks Re-Engage Minds
I’ve noticed the biggest slump in productivity during guided reading! During this time, students work with me in small groups on level-appropriate text. They read, work on vocabulary journals, and respond to comprehension prompts. I’ve started to stop my countdown timer, have them get up and exercise, then come back to my table. The kids love to pick their favorite move and teach others in their group. At the same time, it gets their blood flowing, and then they come back to me more awake and engaged. Typically, this takes a few minutes from their inside recess, but since they’re moving it’s not too big of a deal!
Re-Inventing Indoor Recess
Inside recess is my WORST nightmare! Temperatures here have been below freezing. Kids sit around on chromebooks and tablets, wasting their twenty minutes away. No movement is occurring, socialization is limited, and they end up less motivated for the rest of the day. I have implemented a technology free month for February if we must have indoor recess. Kids are encouraged to create games, bring activities from home, and to get loud! Their favorite games right now include “snowball” fights, passing games, and pretend shops. I love seeing them use their imagination and interacting with one another so well!
I’m sure you’ve seen it in your classrooms too—the glazed over eyes, tired faces, and limited engagement. I hope that some of these small ideas may encourage movement from your students and get them back on track too!
Jessica Tice is currently in her fifth year of teaching Kindergarten at Western Elementary in Scott County, Kentucky. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Teacher Leadership and English as a Second Language.
Tice is a mom to two very busy boys that are active in school, soccer, and scouts. She enjoys working out daily and instilling that same value in her students by incorporating physical activity and purposeful movement throughout the school day.