students engagement during the holidays. student smiling engaged working.

The holiday season was always my favorite time of the year in the classroom. Decorating, themed crafts, and excitement in the air make the holidays extra special whenever you are a teacher. However, all of the excitement and out of the norm activities can make it difficult to keep student engagement. There are so many distractions, and I’ll admit – they are pretty fun! We’ve gathered some tips to help keep student engagement as you close out the first half of the school year and move into your holiday break (cheers to that!)


Performances, assemblies and class parties, oh my! Your calendar may be filling up with special dates and this can add a little extra craziness to your days. Embrace the joyful chaos of the holiday season, but keep in mind that students thrive in routine. Students rely on the security of knowing what comes next in their day. Keep engagement by keeping your normal classroom routine as much as possible. Although it may be tempting to become more relaxed in your schedule throughout the holiday season, this will only make your days longer and you will likely begin to feel like a glorified babysitter when out of your routine.  Between special activities, try to keep that schedule as normal as possible to help students cope and keep your sanity. 


Is there a full moon…every single night of November and December?! If your class is like mine was during the holiday season, it may seem like they all chugged a peppermint mocha before entering the classroom each day. They are overflowing with energy during the holiday season! Add extra brain breaks to your day to help get those wiggles out – this is a lifesaver!

Fluency and Fitness is ideal for short, educational brain breaks that help students get out a burst of energy multiple times a day! 


While it is important to keep your normal routine as much as possible, there is nothing wrong with switching things up here and there to prevent students from getting burnt out. Updating their seating chart or your reward systems halfway through the year can help students to feel refreshed and engaged in something new. 

Try adding a holiday themed reward system! Here are a few of my favorites: 

christmas paper chain links

Compliment or Kindness Chain

Decorate your classroom with a festive chain. Students can add a link every time they receive a compliment OR when you catch them showing kindness to others! 

Christmas Lights 

Add a paper Christmas light around the room each time your students show positive behavior! You could even let them take turns coloring or cutting the craft themselves. 

Elf on the Shelf 

Students may have an elf that comes to their home each year…why not have an elf visit your classroom? Have fun moving the elf here and there. The elf can send your students reminders of behaviors to focus on while they are visiting for the holidays! 


Noone likes a grinch during the holiday season! Lean into the holidays with themed activities that will keep students having fun! While sticking your routine as much as possible,  tie in small holiday activities to embrace the cheer! For example, if you are learning to count, add or subtract…why not count marshmallows in a cup of hot chocolate?! Yum! 

If you would like some Christmas activities for literacy and math centers, check out this blog post from Tickled Pink in Primary!

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