5 Ways to Engage Students Before a Long Break

By Kirsten Hammond

Ever feel that buzz that happens before a week-long break, such as Spring Break or Winter Break? You try everything you can to engage your students and keep their attention?

Teachers are counting down the days. Students may feel antsy and talk about their plans for the week of no school. Sometimes, behavior gets a little extra rowdy and it may take your super teacher strength to get them to focus!  

If you’ve ever felt this way, this blog post will give you some tips on how you can engage students before a week-long break! 

small group teacher

Vote on a class reward

Have the class decide on a goal to focus or improve on and allow students to vote on a class reward when the goal is reached.

Something that really grinds my teacher gears is a talkative class. After one particularly talkative day where students were blurting things out from left to right, I sat with my class towards the end of the day and asked them what we could focus on to help our day be a little more productive.

They all agreed that they may have been talking a little too much! We combined a “Secret Student” chart with something very popular – Among Us!  

Students worked each day to contain their blurts, and if a secret student was revealed for good behavior, that person could color in the chart. Once the chart was filled up, we voted on a class reward! 

incentive rewards for class

Review expectations

Model, reinforce, and practice classroom routines and expectations. If you stick to this especially before a break, it will be much easier to redirect.

I used a wooden chime to get my students’ attention. It was great because we continued to practice to the point where it was second nature! There wasn’t a need to raise my voice (or talk), I would just ring the chime and wait. 

student in distance learning

Spark discussion

Utilize quick-writes or a question of the day related to the break with prompts such as “What are you looking forward to about the break?” This can be a fun and engaging way to allow students to talk about what they will be doing (instead of during your lesson)!  

To make it fun with my students, I would say the question and pass around a rainbow ball. Students would say their answer and choose someone raising their hand. Most of the time I gave them a time limit. 

students smiling with art

Start a project

Have students start a fun project related to what they are learning before the break and have the students finish and present the project after the break.

Doing the project can help keep their energy on what they need to do at school, and it’s an easy way to engage the students when they come back while you’re practicing routines after a break.

One year, our class published a book. We started on the project where each student contributed a couple of pages before the break, and students were able to pick up where they left off after the break.

students in pe

Go outside!

Conduct a lesson outside (depending on the weather). If it’s a nice day, this would be  great chance to get outside and have some fresh air!

Something I did in one of my first years of teaching upper elementary was a STEM challenge outside. Students loved it, and it was so much fun! 

students stem challenge

Keeping your students’ attentions before a break can be tricky, but totally doable. It’s important to stay consistent, keep them on their toes, but still have a little fun.

Do you want even more ways to engage your students for any time of the year? Grab the free Smart and Simple Ways to Engage guide!

kirsten hammond

Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.

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