Reestablishing Routines Without Boring Your Students [Freebie]

I wrote this post last year on the iTeach Third blog and thought it would be great to share it again here to help you plan for when you head back to school after winter break! Enjoy!

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background image credit to: Worth a Thousand Words
Happy New Year iTeach Third Readers! There's nothing better than coming off of a long break and feeling rejuvenated and refreshed! I hope you all had some time to take care of yourselves and enjoy some well-deserved time off!


But with our nice long break comes getting back into a much needed routine. Our students have been away from our normal day-to-day for some time now, and it's important that we reestablish our routines that make our classroom run efficiently! A common mantra in our school is, "Go slow to go fast." We might not jump right back into heavy content on day 1 of returning from break, because we know that if we take the time to reestablish our classroom and revisit our hopes and dreams, that we will be able to obtain more later in the year. I'm not sure about your district and pacing, but our second half of the year is often filled with brand new content that our kiddos haven't really been exposed to yet. I'm talking multiplication, fractions, and we can't forget the state tests. We've got to have our classroom running smoothly in order for us to fully devote our focus to these concepts.

But I also know, that when students come back from this break, they know how our classroom works already... they just need a little fine tuning. So I'm here to share a few different ways to get your students involved in reestablishing routines that can be done in fun, engaging ways!



I like to have students move and mingle when possible. I myself am a busy body, so to sit still for a long period of time just doesn't cut it! This activity is a great way to get students to both move and mingle while reviewing little tid-bits that they might have forgotten. 

This works best for things that have 1 answer. I like it to review lots of random little things such as pencil etiquette, parts to a routine, etc. The object is to find somebody who knows the answer to a certain statement. Some of my specific examples include:

Find somebody who...
  • knows how many books we take home in our baggie
  • knows the 5 parts to our 5-star greeting
  • knows where sharp and dull "lost" pencils go
  • knows what to bring to _______ time

If they ask someone and that person can give the answer, they then write their classmate's name in the box and go on to a new one. Here's mine that I'll be using this year in full.


You can either take mine as is (although it is pretty specific to my room) or use it as inspiration to do you own. I included mine as an example as well as an editable version so that you can type in things that you want your students to review in a fun way.  Click the appropriate link below.


Side note: the editable version may look a little fuzzy on your computer screen, but it should print clearly.


We follow the Reader's and Writer's Workshop model and there are many different components that go with it. Instead of us doing a whole group review over each of them, I like to first see what they remember about our expectations. I've done this in the past (and you can read about them here) where I put Y-charts with different focuses around the room. If you are not familiar with the Y-chart, it asks students to think about how something looks like, sounds like, and feels like. 


Students move around the room, write an idea on the different posters on how an aspect of our work shop looks like, sounds like, or feels like. I try to emphasize for them to write down what they SHOULD do as opposed to what they SHOULDN'T do. For example, instead of having students say, "Don't talk." I try to have students say, "Have a zero voice." We like to reinforce the correct behavior, so I often try to have students rephrase if they give the negative by simply saying, "If we aren't going to talk, what will we do?"

After students have time to go around, add their ideas, and read others, I give one Y-chart to each table group. They read all the responses, discuss, and highlight the 3 "most important" things to remember. Then, they report back to the rest of the class. By doing this graffiti activity, the students are in charge for the vast majority of it and are engaged throughout the reviewing process. They get to move, chat, and respond in a meaningful way. 

If you want to use any of these Y-charts for your classroom, you can grab my examples below.


I hope the first weeks back for you are smooth and that you can find time to enjoy your students while slowly getting them back into the swing of things!





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1 comment

  1. This is such a great resource- THANK YOU! I have seriously been looking for something like this to do the first day back from break. Happy New Year!

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