Advice, Guest Bloggers, Resources

Make It to Break: 5 High Interest Activities

Guest Post by Jessica Noffsinger

Ahhhhh…the week before a school break.  Nothing strikes fear (or exhaustion) in teachers like the prospect of kids ramping up to the next break.  (Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring Break, Summer–they are all the same!) Kids expect “fun” and games while teachers see learning that needs to be completed.  What are we to do?

Today I will share with you five tried and true strategies that I use in my own classroom to make the week before break meaningful and fun!

 Please note–these are not related to the holidays, so they can be used before ANY break!

Digital Breakouts

Have you ever been to an escape room?  If not, you should totally check one out over break. These group games allow you to use a variety of clues to escape from a locked room.  Now, you can share this activity with your students.

Digital breakouts are a fun, challenging, and a great way to build critical thinking skills into your classroom!  Bring to life using a digital breakout.

In the sandbox here, you will find 240 different puzzles for your students to solve.  All you need is a device per group. My favorites include The Sneaky Snowcatcher  and Turtle Trouble.  

Engineering Design Challenges

With the introduction of Engineering standards into the NGSS, I use these activities before breaks to engage students and build classroom community.  

My favorite “goto” sites to find great challenges are teachengineering.org and Engineering Go For It.

Science Superheroes

This year, my students are going to research the physical/chemical properties of various elements and then use them to create a science superhero!  Each student must find 10 of each type of property, document their research, and then synthesize their findings by identifying 3 superpowers their hero (or villain) will have based upon their element.  

They will then design trading cards with a visual of their hero which they will share before the break with their classmates. I have previously used this activity with types of rocks/minerals, planets, and biomes.

Get the project I created here FREE!

Kahoot/Quizziz Day

These online gamified learning sites provide a HUGE variety of review activities that allow kids to compete to show off their science smarts.  In my classroom, we play 3 or 4 review games for what we have learned this quarter. Then the winners of each of these games get to pick a fun topic to play!  Examples of student-selected topics include Disney movies, Marvel Super Heroes, or animals!

Want to be a big hit? Let them use the app on their phone to participate–they will be beside themselves with excitement! See what you can find on Kahoot and Quizzizz!

Board Game Day

Collaboration is an essential skill in any classroom setting and playing board games support this in an authentic, engaging way.  Students can bring in a favorite board game to play with their classmates the day before class.

It amazes me each time because students are SO excited to interact face to face and they get to practice communication, turn taking, and empathy!

What are your favorite board games to play with students before a holiday? Let us know in the comments below!

To find out more about Jessica, visit her page here.

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Find more FREE holiday activity ideas here.

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