5 Tips for Surviving the Day Before a School Break


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I’ve been there, you’re barely making it to fall, winter, or spring break and now you have to deal with the CRAZY that comes right before. Students are overly excited about their vacations, challenging behaviors are magnified, and you are TIRED. 

I used to seriously dread these days. They were just something to get through, right? Wrong!! Once I finally learned to work with those crazy days, they became some of the best of the year. Now I’d love to share my tips with you!

How do you survive the days before school vacation?

1. Finish Important Work EARLY: 

Without a doubt, you will have absent students on the day/days leading up to a school break. When at all possible, try to finish units and assessments a few days BEFORE vacation. If a student is out, you don’t want those important assignments to carry over the holidays. That adds unnecessary stress to you and families! Instead, try to assign meaningful but ungraded tasks on the days before a break. 


This is the time to focus on classroom engagement and community. Think of activities, read alouds, games, etc. that will build rapport with students. Always try to send students home remembering how fun and encouraging school is—not how boring and stressful. 

Check out my favorite seasonal read alouds for building community here!

Thanksgiving Books for the Modern Classroom

10 Upper Elementary Novels that Inspire Gratitude

The Best Christmas Novels for Upper Elementary

15 Winter Themed Novels for Upper Elementary

The 10 Best Middle Grade Novels for Summer

3. Don't STRESS the Little Stuff: 

This idea also goes along with community building but considers the teacher’s attitude. Be sure to have REALISTIC expectations going into school breaks. Students are going to be very EXCITED—whether it’s fall, winter, spring, or summer. In addition, if you have behavior challenges in your classroom, they may be magnified with that excitement. Go into school aware of this, with realistic expectations, and a plan of action. 

4. Join the FUN: 

What can you do to work WITH your students’ excitement, not AGAINST it? Are you able to have a party? Board game day? Pajama day? Themed snack? Fun activity with another class? This doesn’t have to be expensive or require volunteer help. Just be creative about the structure of your day and how you can make it memorable. 

5. Consider Hosting a THEME DAY: 

A few years ago I wrote a FULL DAY of lesson plans for The Legend of the Poinsettia with the day before winter break in mind. These plans consisted of a read aloud and plans for reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. On my team, each teacher claimed a subject and classes rotated around, doing themed activities all day. This made the day FUN and the time FLEW! I was amazed how well it worked for us. I’ve also done this in a contained classroom and the results were the same!

I highly HIGHLY recommend trying a literacy day like this. Now my collection of full day studies has expanded to:

  1. Creepy Carrots 
  2. Thank You, Sarah (Thanksgiving themed)
  3. Molly's Pilgrim (Thanksgiving themed)
  4. The Legend of the Poinsettia (Christmas themed)
  5. Red and Lulu (Christmas themed)
  6. Martin’s Big Words
  7. Henry’s Freedom Box
  8. Malala’s Magic Pencil
  9. Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot

Image of Full Day of Lesson Plans for Creepy Carrots by Aaron ReynoldsImage of Full Day of Lesson Plans for Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson Image of Full Day of Lesson Plans for The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola 

Image of Full Day of Lesson Plans for Martin's Big Words by Doreen RappaportImage of Full Day of Lesson Plans for Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen LevineImage of Full Day of Lesson Plans for Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Image of Full Day of Lesson Plans for Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven

If you’re looking for a fun, meaningful, and PRE-PLANNED literacy day, look no further! Your days before break can be some of the BEST days of the year!

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