Survival Teaching Strategies You Need In December - Amber from TGIF (Third Grade is Fun)

Survival Teaching Strategies You Need In December


Every teacher knows how amazing, yet exhausting teaching in December feels.  Between the excitement and fun activities, to all the crazy schedules and responsibilities during December, keeping your students engaged during this time can be WILD!  I have teamed up with an amazing group of educators to bring you a round up of some of our tried and true activities to keep your students on task and excited about learning (while having a lot of fun in the classroom too).

Check out these 7 amazing ways to keep your students engaged this December!

ENGAGING MATH CRAFTS THAT SHOW OFF STANDARDS, yet totally exhausting for teachers. Math crafts have been such a SANITY SAVER for me over the years. Here why I love them during the holidays....
  • Students love math crafts and enjoy working on the math and then coloring.
  • Students are invested in giving their best math work since it will go on display.
  • Students show their work with the models and strategies included on the crafts.
  • Teachers love the no prep crafts. Just copy and go!
  • Teachers appreciate the printable picture directions - perfect for sub days.
  • Teachers like students practicing math standards in a meaningful way.
  • Admin loves seeing that math standards are being met.
  • Everyone loves how the math crafts decorate the hallway or classroom.
Math crafts can be handmade by teachers by providing a template for students to trace and cut or teachers can copy them on the copy machine. Students can add their math to the inside of the craft and color it for display.

If you are short on time, these premade winter math crafts provide no prep practice on missing factors, beginning fractions, division strategies, place value, two digit addition strategies, two digit subtraction strategies and missing addends.


When a break is coming up, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to start the next thing on your curriculum map. Of course, you still want to keep things educational in a way that continues to help your students grow and retain the knowledge they’ve acquired so far this year. Tiffany from The Learning Effect likes using hands-on activities and collaborative learning to keep students engaged and learning. One way she does this is by having students create their own board games. Create Your Own Board Game is the perfect pre-break project for your students. It can be used with any subject and for review or as a way for students to show what they know. There are many different ways to use this project - as a final project after finishing a class novel, as enrichment for a specific math skill or science topic, or at the end of a unit of study to practice what was learned. The best part of the project is having a game playing day! After students create their games, they play each other’s and make their final tweaks based on their peer’s feedback. A project like this is fun, and students become fully invested in their work. It’s a great way for students to show what they know through writing questions and answers for their game and when playing others’ games. Plus, who doesn’t love a time filler that is educational but has complete student buy-in?


Keeping a schedule during December can be a challenge too. It seems there's always something on the daily schedule that interrupts your normal lesson routine such as assemblies and class parties. Carla from Comprehension Connection has had success with themed teaching. Even upper elementary students love themed weeks. She uses themes like reindeer week to introduce animal research, close reading about caribou, partner plays she's written, and of course, fiction and nonfiction literature. The themes are festive, yet inclusive too for those who may not celebrate Christmas.


Teaching upper elementary students in December can be an exciting but challenging endeavor. With all of the excitement that the holidays bring, it can be difficult to keep the kids focused and engaged. To help with this, Marissa from Creative Classroom Core likes to incorporate the holiday spirit into her ELA lessons be using short stories with themes related to December holidays or winter. With classic stories like "The Gift of the Magi" by O.Henry or "The Christmas Present" by Richmal Crompton, it is easy to find holiday themed stories that fit seemlessly into your existing curriculum. After reading, Marissa likes to encourage students to write about the characters, plot, or their own holiday experiences. This not only makes learning more enjoyable but also connects their personal experiences to the curriculum. Read more about incorporating holiday themed stories into your upper elementary curriculum on the Creative Classroom Core blog!


As the holiday season approaches, elementary school teachers are faced with the challenge of maintaining focus and engagement amidst the excitement in the air. Ronnie from A Teacher's Wonderland has some ideas for your December lesson plans and some tips to help you navigate this festive time of year. First and foremost, embrace the holiday spirit by incorporating themed activities into your lessons. Whether it's working on math centers (with winter themed games) , or helping a snowman escape from an awesome escape room, or exploring different cultural celebrations, infusing the season into your curriculum can excite your students and keep them motivated. Don't forget to prioritize self-care during this busy time. It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind, but remember to carve out moments for relaxation and rejuvenation. After all, a well-rested and happy teacher is a happy teacher. So gear up, embrace the chaos, and enjoy the wild ride of teaching in December!


In December, it's crucial to maintain kids' enthusiasm for reading, and one way Vanessa from Longwing Learning does this is by challenging kids to read different types of books or genres and writing them down. Here's how she incorporates it during December in her classroom: First, she creates a bingo card with holiday-themed books using the Monthly Genre Book Logs. She challenges the kids to read these books during the month. As the month passes, she and her students read aloud the various holiday-themed books. When they finish reading a book from the bingo card, they get to mark a square on it. The goal is to complete a row, column, or diagonal, just like in the traditional bingo game. By incorporating these challenges in December, she keeps the joy of reading alive throughout the festive season.


The holidays are a busy time of the year and teaching isn't any easier during this time. The children are excited for all that's coming up, including their extended winter break. How could you possibly get through this tiring time while trying to educate the students even a little? Tammy from The Owl Teacher likes to add a little twist to December by exploring the science related to the holidays. By making science fun and seasonal, students will be engaged and likely to learn a thing or two! In Tammy's blog post Engage with Holiday Science, she walks you through all the different science activities you can do and provides you with a freebie to get started.


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