What’s in Your Winter Work Packet?
Due to a sinus infection and a ton of holiday parties, this week’s Top 10 post is a little late – sorry guys! I don’t know about you guys, but as excited as I am by the idea of 2 weeks off of work, I’m slightly scared of this year’s Holiday break. It has taken me 14 weeks of hard work to get my kids where they are, and I’m acutely scared of the backslide they will have with 2 1/2 weeks of not speaking English, not reading books, and sitting in front of the video game systems I know they have at home. So, I went ahead and put together a Winter Work Packet for my students, and while it doesn’t have 10 sections, it got me thinking about the Top 10 things to put in a Winter Work Packet.
10. Holiday Science Activities – Send home this link, or some of these directions so that your students can play with science principles over the break. Plus, what better way to get parents and children interacting than by having them make snowflakes?
9. Social Studies Connections – Have students begin researching a new social studies topic, or extend an existing topic. Not sure what to have them do – check out my internet scavenger hunts, which can easily be sent home over the break and connect to many content topics at different levels.
8. Fine Motor Skill Practice – Are your student’s handwriting as terrible as mine? Sometimes poor handwriting is a product of students not taking the time to develop those “little muscles” in their hands. Color, cutting and working with dough all help this, and would be fun, easy activities for students to work on during the break.
7. Educational Websites – Since so many students will be on the internet anyways, why not suggest some good quality websites for them to work on? My students will be on Starfall, Storybird and MathMagician due to my work packet. If you need some more suggestions, feel free to check out my IKeepBookmark site for ideas.
6. Experiential Learning Prompts – Create a list of experiential learning “field trips” for your students to go to, places not all kids regularly visit, but perhaps should: the zoo, museums, historical sights and monuments, farms, etc.) Have kids write in a journal about their trips, or make a mini photo album.
5. Projects – When I taught 3rd grade, I used my Holiday Shopping or Ice Cream Shop math projects during Winter Break to reinforce math skills. However, you could also use something like my Animal Research Books to reinforce science skills or my Historical Person Projects to reinforce social studies skills. Whatever type of project you choose, make sure it is clearly explained to the students before the break, and that students will have access to whatever they need at home.
4. Writing, Writing, Writing – I used to buy blank composition notebooks for my kids Christmas presents, and then ask them to fill them with writing during the break. If you don’t want to buy notebooks, writing journals are easy to make – kids can even decorate the cover during that crazy last week of school. This year, I’m cheating and having my students write on www.storybird.com! No matter how you have students write, writing is a great way to work on literacy skills during their holiday vacation.
3. Fact Practice – Every teacher I’ve ever met (grades 1-5) has wondered aloud why their students don’t yet know their facts. So, this is a great time for kids to work on those facts! Whether they need addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, most kids could use more time to work on their facts. Have students use flashcards, work on the computer, write them 5 times, complete a chart, use worksheets, whatever works – but have them practice those facts.
2. Reading Logs – Students should definitely be reading during break. Sending home a reading log is a great way to help guide them along. If you don’t already have a reading log – try out mine. They are focused on practicing comprehension while recording time spent reading. Also, it sometimes helps to suggest titles to books, so that those books just might show up under the Christmas tree!
1. A Bribe – Even the best elementary students are still kids. When they have a choice between playing with new toys and completing a homework packet – which one do you think they’ll choose. So, I always include a bribe for work packets that come back complete. This year, I am offering cookies, but I have offered sparkly pencils, popcorn parties, no homework passes, candy and a variety of other bribes. You know what will work for your class – offer whatever it takes to get those work packets worked on!
Hope these ideas help you develop your Holiday Work Packet!
P.S. I write a Top 10 post every Sunday. Here are some past Top 10 posts: Top 10 Holiday Read Alouds, Top 10 Indoor Recess Ideas, and Top 10 Phonics YouTube Videos. Check back each Sunday for more Top 10 Lists.