December 1, 2017

Comfort & Joy in the Secondary Classroom

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This month, I am a part of the 12 Days of December Blog Hop and Giveaway! I have teamed up with some awesome secondary teachers and we will all be sharing about "comfort and joy" during the holiday season in our classrooms.  We are also doing an incredible giveaway that you can enter as well. To learn more, click HERE.


                                
I love the Christmas holiday season! Being a teacher though, the holidays can be kind of rough. This is the time of year that my students are kind of irritable and ready for the break, we are trying to fit in all the curriculum we can before the final exam, and everyone is getting sick. UGH! It can be a tough time but I still like to find ways to bring comfort & joy into my classroom despite the difficulties!

Here are just a few easy ways teachers can bring the holidays into the classroom even if they don't have a lot of time or money!

Holiday Activities


Have a coloring contest! 

Grab a coloring book, google a cute picture, or check out Blogger Andreja Vucajnk's awesome Christmas Coloring Pages for Adults. Make copies and give your students some time to color. I have done this several times with my classes and they always go over really well. I don't care what age students you teach, most enjoy coloring! This activity takes as much time as you allow it to take. I would typically do this after a test or exam so that students finished early had something to work on and wouldn't disturb those still working.

Incorporate Christmas Around the World

Many teachers like to incorporate different holiday traditions by doing Christmas Around The World, which is awesome! Being a Social Studies teacher, I love doing this. To make this easy, check out this awesome website that enables you to click on the country's flag and it tells you about how they celebrate Christmas. This would be a fantastic website to have students explore and find out about different traditions around the work. 


Create A Christmas List 

Have you read the book, The Christmas List? If not, you should! After reading this book, I was inspired to have my students participate. I have students write their name on the top of their paper. Then they walk around the room silently and write positive comments on each other's papers anonymously. I also participate writing on their papers as well as have my own paper. We go with the rule of, "if you can't say something nice, you don't say anything at all." This has been a very successful activity that my students have always enjoyed.  


Use Holiday Writing Prompts 

Use Holiday Writing Prompts as bellringers to start class. Instead of having students do your normal entrance work, mix it up a bit! Here is a fun freebie that I made last year! Click the photo below.


Music

Use music to get everyone into the spirit. This one is SO easy! Just turn on the radio, make a playlist on your phone, or turn on a CD. Have fun holiday much playing when students come into the classroom first thing to get them energized and excited about the class. Play more instrumental music while they are working on an independent assignment. I suggest something like Manheim Steamroller or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra so that students will be able to focus.


Read Holiday Stories

If you have time, use a fun holiday storybook or an audiobook. There is nothing like having students sit and listen to you read a classic story from their childhood (like The Night Before Christmas). I have a rug in my room and usually have my students sit on the rug and it brings us all back to childhood & adds a bit of joy to the class. 

    Decorate The Classroom


    Christmas trees and Menorah 

    A Christmas tree is an obvious decoration of course but remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. My first year of teaching, a student asked why I didn't have a Menorah and I answered her honestly by saying that I didn't have one. She asked if she could give me one. I told her that I would LOVE to have a Menorah and would proudly display it in the classroom if she would like to donate it to me. Remember to think about those that don't celebrate Christmas but do celebrate this time of year!


      Lights 

      This one is pretty easy and if you wait until after Christmas, you can probably buy all that you want at really cheap prices for next year. A teacher in my school actually decorated her entire classroom ceiling with clear Christmas lights and kept them up all year. The kids loved it! 


      Vinyl Clings 

       am such a sucker for vinyl clings. You can get some of the cutest ones at the Dollar Stores for $1 and hang them on your windows and door window. It just brings a touch of fun and is super cheap!! 


      Door Decorations

      I like to buy those cheap $1 dollar coverings that cover the entire door. I have one with a Snowman that I put up every year that is super cute. These are easily found at the Dollar Store as well and can be reused from year to year.


      Or you can get really ambitious and do something like AP Government teacher, Emily Edmondson Farmer, and create a door decoration that goes with your content area. Is this not the BEST door for a Government teacher?! I love it!!!

        Get creative like my awesome school librarian, Daria Howard, did! Check these decorations out made with books and paper!! She found the inspiration on Pinterest. 


         



        Teacher Funnies! 

        Teachers should have some fun too! Here are a few fun things we have done this year at my school before and are planning for this year too! 


        Holiday T-shirts 

        We all ordered a holiday t-shirt specific to the subject we teach and wore them on the same day! Here is our picture from this past week! FYI: We got them all from AMAZON. (Disclaimer: I live in Alabama. It was 70+ degrees today.) 

        Next Friday is our "Ugly Christmas Sweater" day! 

          My awesome teacher crew! Love my peeps!



          Food 

          Our Morale Committee has started coming around to give teachers treats like coffee and muffins periodically. This has only happened twice this year but it is so nice to get a knock on your classroom door offering you some yummy treats! It just brightens your day!



          Get Togethers! 

          Even though it is a rough time of year and we are all ready to get home, on the last day of school before the break our PTO provides us with a faculty lunch. Our students usually get out of school at 1:00 on that last day so we have our lunch then and enjoy a time of teacher fellowship, which is so nice. We used to do it at an evening get-together but it conflicted with so many other holiday events that we changed it to lunchtime, which has really worked well. We really don't get to spend very much time actually talking on a daily basis. Interruptions are constant in a teacher's world. So it is nice to spend some quality time with our co-workers enjoying the season before we break for the holidays. 

          I hope that this post has given you a few ways to instill a little "Comfort & Joy" into your classroom and school this holiday season! If you have any other great ideas, feel free to share them here! 

          Be sure before you leave, you need to enter the awesome giveaway that I am a part of! You can win some fantastic prizes! 


          Also, don't forget to check out all the other great posts that will inspire you! 

          Click the image below to find out more!






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