A Teacher’s Guide to Survive (and Enjoy) Holidays in the Classroom

teacher holiday survival guide
The days leading up to a holiday in the classroom can be magical or chaotic. The teacher holiday survival guide is your key to success in the busy month of December.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.… Are you singing along with me?

teacher's guide to survive the holidays

This time of the year, teachers either LOVE or HATE the holiday chaos in the classroom. Which group do you fall into?

We all know that our students are starting to get excited about the holidays… vacation…. cookies…. presents. The teacher’s holiday survival guide is here to help!

As teachers, we want to keep that holiday spirit alive but we still have the responsibility to maintain rigor in the classroom, and keep our students engaged in learning.

Let me share some of my favorite holiday ideas to help you make the holidays special and tame the chaos in the classroom.

1. Start a Project

The week or two leading up to holiday break is a great time to start a project with your students. Having your students focused on creating a project in the classroom is a great way to continue learning and give students some choice.

We are wrapping up our water unit and we are currently immersed in a water quality human impact research project. The students have choice in which pollution incident they study as well as their final product (news video, brochure, or presentation). It’s amazing how flexibility in a project really gets the kids excited and vested in their learning.

If you need some inspiration, here are some of my favorite projects:

2. Ugly Sweater Contest (my fave!)


The ugly sweater contest is a tradition in my classroom! Students design an ugly sweater to showcase a big idea they learned about in class this year.

I love this activity because students get the chance to let their creative juices flow while working a content-based activity. Plus, it’s the ONE activity I can assign to finish at home that’s GUARENTEED to come back completed!

My students get super competitive and their projects really shine! Plus, they make great take home ornaments or an way easy to decorate the classroom!

Side note: Last year, I had a student SO INTO this activity that he created a LIFESIZE shirt at home – it was amazing!

Read more about the ugly sweater contest in this blog post.

Ready to jump in head-first? You can find the complete rules, template, awards, and bonus activity here. No prep holiday fun!

3. Music

My middle school students LOVE to listen to holiday music while they work. It’s an easy way to spread holiday cheer.

Spotify and Pandora are filled with holiday stations to choose from. 99% of holiday music is has clean lyrics, so that makes it easy to find a station!

I love to use music during transitions, entering and leaving the classroom, and during group work.

If you don’t want to play the music out loud, sometimes I will let the kids use their earbuds to listen on their computer. Everyone is happy!


science lover gift guide

Still need an idea or two for the science lover in your life? Check out the Science Teacher’s Holiday Gift Guide. I’ve gathered my favorite gift ideas and linked them in one easy place for shopping!

I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing holiday season!

XO, Carrie

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