The transition back to routine after a long break like winter vacation can be difficult – for teachers and students.
Being intentional about what reading activities you introduce after a longer break can make all the difference. I have five reading activities that are fun, engaging and perfect for jumping back into routine after winter break!
If you read my post about Engaging Students Before Winter Break, then your students probably had reading lists they were working on over break, if not – that is okay too! Any of these reading activities can be adjusted to fit the needs of your classroom. I hope you come away from the post with a few ideas to increase engagement after returning from a long break (or battling the winter blues)!
#1: Buddy Reading
I love the idea of easing back into a literacy routine with buddy reading. This would be a great activity to implement the first week back to school. It will give your students a chance to be social – which they will want to do! – but with academic expectations – what teachers want!
Ideas for buddy reading:
- If your students had reading lists over winter break, your buddy reading opportunity could be structured around that. Pair students up to discuss which books were their favorite, have them read excerpts from books they enjoyed, and discuss. Encourage students to share books they didn’t like as well and discuss why.
- Provide a variety of picture books that students can read in a relatively short amount of time. This creates a low stakes way for students to get back into reading mode.
- If you want to add more accountability to the activity you can provide a reflection sheet with a few questions students have to fill out after they have read with their buddy. Don’t forget to download my free Reading Process Checklist to keep students on track during independent or buddy reading.
- This could be a fun way to introduce new topics you will be studying in the future. It would take some prep-work, but finding books that match up with your reading, science, or social studies standards is a great way to get students excited for what is to come!
- If you live where the weather permits. . . take buddy reading outside and get some sunshine!
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Reading Process Checklist
These printable reading process checklists are perfect to use every time your students sit down to read. They include the 5 step process that will help your students to apply skills & strategies to fully understand & comprehend what they are reading.
#2: Reading Reflections
This literacy activity may be most successful if your students were reading over break, but there are ways you can modify it to fit your needs the first weeks back to school.
If your students worked on a reading list over break, provide them with a list of reflection questions to respond to:
- What did you read?
- Did you accomplish your reading goals for your break? If not, what can you do to meet your goals in the future?
- Which books did you enjoy the most? Why?
- What characters stood out to you the most? Why?
- If there were any books you didn’t enjoy, what did you not like about them?
If your students didn’t have a reading list to work on over break, you can build these reflection questions into your literacy lessons. Reflection is such an important part of comprehension and synthesizing information. Make it a point to read aloud to your students consistently and ask reflection questions to help students build stronger comprehension and writing skills.
To make this a more collaborative activity, you could have students share their reflections with a partner. Encourage students to share their opinions and support them with evidence! This is a great way to get your students comfortable talking with their peers and a low stakes way to talk about differing opinions.
#3: Alternate Endings
Having your students write an alternate ending to a read aloud or a book they’ve read on their own is a great way to encourage:
- Critical thinking
- Personal choice
This activity takes little to no prep and can be done whole group, small group, or independently. To add collaboration, you could partner up students to peer review the alternate endings as well.
#4: Themed Reading Day
This reading activity may take a bit more planning and prep, but the end result will have your students engaged from start to finish! Creating a themed reading day is an awesome way to build excitement and anticipation in the classroom.
What is a themed reading, or learning, day? This is when you choose a topic or theme and it connects to everything that happens in the classroom that day! For example, a Reading Campout where everything is connected to camping and the outdoors.
I think often we choose to have these sorts of reading activities at the end of the school year, but sprinkling them throughout the school year can increase morale.
Theme-based learning can help students dive deep into topics they enjoy while encouraging them to become active learners. So, next time you are nearing a unit in any subject, think about turning it into a theme learning day! This could include reading activities on a specific topic, math games connected to the topic, experiments, and more. If you want to tie in books students have read independently, you could do that as well. When I was in the classroom a lot of my students would go through phases of reading the same books or topics, so it could be fun to find a way to weave that in as well!
Check out my Winter Themed Reading Passages & Comprehension Activities on TpT to use on your themed-learning day.
#5: If I Had to Choose. . . Writing Prompts
To make writing about reading a little more personal try the following If I Had to Choose prompts. All of these prompts focus on important elements of stories (characters, setting, theme) but add a personal twist! I think connecting writing about reading to your students can increase writing engagement and improve reading comprehension.
- If I had to choose a character from a book we’ve read to be my teacher, I would choose. . .
- If I had to choose a character from a book we’ve read to be my sibling, I would choose. . .
- If I had to choose a setting from a book we’ve read to visit, I would choose. . .
- If I had to choose a lesson I’ve learned from a book we’ve read, it would be. . .
- If I had to choose an author to meet in person, it would be. . .
With these prompts your students will be thinking more deeply about the texts they’ve read as well as making connections – both skills we want our readers to have. These writing prompts can be easily applied to a read aloud, independent reading, or small groups.
Put It Into Practice:
- Download my Free Reading Process Checklist! These printable reading process checklists are perfect to use every time your students sit down to read. They include the 5 step process that will help your students to apply skills & strategies to fully understand & comprehend what they are reading.
- Read 4 Ways to Create a Classroom Community that LOVES Reading for more actions you can take to foster a love of reading in your classroom.
- Join us inside The Stellar Literacy Collective, where you will get access to a resource library filled with reading resources, including the 40-Week Sentence Structure resource outlined in this post.