When does your winter break start?  We have the entire week of Christmas off, so we are down to 5 days. But as any teacher knows, each day will get harder and harder as the kids get crazier.  What do you do to keep the kids on task?

Last week I made a list of what I call “Must Dos.”  We have a million district tests (okay, three) that we spread out this week to try to calm the room.  This is also “wrap up week.”  We are almost done with the science chapter and we need to work on the DBQ, so those are must dos.  I will share this list with the class and use it like a checklist.  Once the list is done, then we can begin holiday activities:D  (Of course, all make up work needs to be completed before individual students may do those activities.  I teach 5th grade, and many students are struggling with responsibility.)

A treat I did last week was to reward students who brought homework with a massive load of homework passes.  Seriously.  I calculated about how many homework passes they would need for one week, and I gave them half one day and half the next.  (Yes, homework is this much of a problem.)  Now, you would think that kids who don’t do their homework anyway wouldn’t care, but nope, not true.  The second day I had twice as many kids turn in homework as the first day.

So, what are some out of the box ideas to do this week?

Hands on Science

This is a freebie from my TPT store.  Students work together to cut out the planets.  The sizes are listed.  It is a real eye opener for students to see how large and how small the planets are in comparison with Earth.  All you need is construction paper, pencil, measuring tool (ruler, yardstick, etc.), and scissors.  You can find it in my store here.

Task Card Math

Okay, this may not be what the students want to do, but before we get into full holiday swing, we are going to practice some math.  We are struggling with multiplication and division – especially in word problems – so I created these 12 Days of Christmas themed task cards.  The word problem strategies vary, so students really have to think.  Some word problems ask for two responses, while others involve multiple steps to solve.  All problems deal with basic operations and decimals.
I will probably have the kids work with partners.  This is a paid product in my store.  If you are interested, you can find it here.

SOLO cup ornaments

Solo Cup Ornaments

I love to do crafts.  Seriously.  However, crafts x 24 students = way to much $$$$.  This craft is sure to please both your students and your wallet.  All you need are Solo Cups, stickers or Sharpies or other decorations, and string for the tie.

In my opinion, clear cups are much nicer.  They melt 100% better as well.  Sometimes the cups melt flat.  I have no idea why this happens sometimes and not others, but I would turn on the oven and let it really warm up before I put in the cups.  I have noticed that the cups melt faster after I have done a few batches, so I have a sneaking suspicion that the oven just isn’t hot enough when they turn out wavy.  Some kids like the wavy ones, so I use those as well.

If you look at the pictures, the white lined cups just do not melt as well.  Again, some kids prefer this so I guess it is just what you like.  (I like the clear ones because the light shines through.)

Best of all, you can do this for just a few dollars!  Do not scrimp on the cups – Solo cups are the best.  I know our grocery store puts them on BOGO near the holidays, so that is when I stock up.  I usually make enough for 2 per student.  As far as decorations, use what you have.  I bought a big tub of fake jewels last year and still have enough for 2 more years – just glue them on.  You can put out stickers or permanent markers (I am not big on letting kids use those, but the option is there.)  Make sure you have yarn or string for the tie – put that on before they begin decorating

What are your ideas?  How do you keep kids engaged the last week before break?