December is a fun month, but for students and educators, it can also be a challenging month. Pre-holiday excitement, extra-extracurricular activities, teacher furloughs, and the occasional snow day can test even the best-laid plans and attention spans.
We asked our Idaho Education Association Facebook page friends to list some ways they help maintain student focus in December, while still allowing time for fun, too. Here’s what they had to say:
I draw names for little prizes, things I've picked up for cheap or free- pencils, sharpeners, erasers, key chains, pocket dictionaries, etc. When students turn in a major assignment such as an essay, I pick a winning name out of my tin bucket with students' names on popsicle sticks. For smaller assignments, I sometimes give out little candies such as Jolly Ranchers or small Tootsie Rolls. – Ingrid Spence
We do a fun scrapbook project with a Christmas book we read. I am able to assess state standards and the kids can use their creativity on the computer to put together the scrapbook. This project completely fills the reading time between Thanksgiving and Christmas break! – Teri Haines Gottlob
I have my students decorate my classroom any way they like. It's fun to see how creative they can be. – Janet Davis
I break out the Christmas stamps, stickers, and candies as rewards…they're not big but the kids love to see “what's next?” Santa, an elf, a snowflake, etc. I change the words to the Hokey Pokey to the Reindeer Pokey! They love making antlers and tail, and Rudolph's nose! – Renee Orth
My students have the option to bring me history-related ornaments for our holiday tree. I exchange them for late passes and candycanes! It spruces up the room, allows them some seasonal art, and helps out the kiddos that need a pass this time of the year! – Rhandi Aber
Lots of activity and hands-on activities for the kindergartners. We do some physical songs about snowmen. We study the 5 senses during December which is always fun! – Kathy Duplessis
I try to make sure I have a holiday-ish lesson plan–maybe more hands-on, a different assessment tool than usual, or something more social than usual. This year we are doing the hero stages through the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as an archetype search. – Madelaine Love
Do you have another tip to suggest? You can post it on this thread at Facebook or as a comment here. Watch our Facebook page for other questions and opportunities to share ideas with your colleagues. You can suggest a question by emailing Julie Fanselow.