An Anabaptist Resource for Teaching and Learning
Over the years, teachers have become very creative with helping students get through the winter slump–those months between Christmas and Easter when the only hint of vacation or respite is a huge blizzard or ice storm that leaves the roads treacherous.
At the Mennonite school where I taught, each teacher planned February Fun days for their own classroom. Within that month, we had five days that the teachers collaborated on and designed for the entire school. In our local Mennonite high schools, there are “Spirit Days” These were five days usually in February and March. In the local public school where I taught, the entire school district participated in “Spirit Week.” Whether you are planning for the individual classroom, an entire school, for a week, or for a month, I am here today to give you an assortment of ideas to make a dull winter a bit more enjoyable.
I sent home a calendar with each child with the plan of what we were doing each day. This was the accompanying explanation of the upcoming days. I attempted to have a balance between days that I was doing the extra work for theme days and days the parents needed to do extra work. Beware that while parents enjoy seeing the enthusiasm of their child, it can get to be overwhelming for the parent if they need to send something along or dress their child in an unusual way multiple times a week.
100th Day It’s the 100th day of our school year! We go back to page 100 in our books to see what we were learning way back there. Bring a small bag with 100 small items to share with the class (100 cheerios, stickers, m-n-m’s, blueberries, etc).
Trade-around day A day to trade desks and lunches. Pack a lunch for a classmate and we’ll pick names to see who eats it!
Teacher’s favorite color day If you do not know what it is, you’ll have to ask your children. We will wear it, eat it, write with it, and soon you might be feeling it!
Twin day day Find someone with clothes similar to yours and match with them!
Dress-up day A day of ordinary folks in extraordinary clothes. If they don’t wish to dress up as an occupation or famous person, they should at least dress in wacky colors or sunday best. Anything—just so it’s different.
Chowdown day Bring a healthy finger food snack or two to share, such as crackers and cheese, finger jello, veggies and dip, frui, etc. We’ll spread it out on a table to munch from throughout the day. You will not want to pack much in your child’s lunchbox today.
D.e.a.r. day Drop everything and read! You may bring your pillow or favorite blanket to curl up with. Keep a book handy for when that bell announces an all-school reading blurp.
Valentine’s day Wear red, pink, or white. Use red pens instead of pencils today. For a special lunch, we’ll decorate cupcakes in valentine’s colors. Valentine’s cards and treats are optional.
Game day Bring your favorite board/card game to play with a group. It’s best if the games can be brought in a few days early so i can get things arranged for group sizes. During the day we’ll play learning games to go with the subject we are in.
Stuffed animal day Bring your furry friends to share the day. Bring as many as you like, as long as they’re stuffed!
Hat & pin day Wear hats and pins galore. The more, the merrier!
Socks & slipper day Spend the day in comfy footwear! Shoes will still be required outside, of course.
Popcorn day Have a popcorn party to celebrate the completion of achievement tests!
Sweet treat day Indulge your sweet tooth for a day (at a superior’s discretion) Give them gum or candy.
Hot drink day Bring on the mugs and hot chocolate! We’ll provide one cup each of tea and hot chocolate mix.
Balloon day Pop a balloon and have the class it says to have! We may end up having story first and reading class last! I also like to tie balloons to the desks in student appreciation and then release them later that day with the school address tied to the string.
Just-in-case day Is in place for a theme day that’s been cancelled and needed to be bumped, or if we get a new idea for something else.
Licorice day A day with a random schedule. We will be picking pieces of licorice out of the basket to see what class we will be having next. It could be math in the morning and bible in the afternoon.
Music day Bring your favorite tapes and CDs to listen to throughout the day. Story tapes are fine too; we will listen to a few of those.
Backwards day Wear your clothes backwards, comb your hair backwards, or wear your backpack backwards. We will be facing the back of the classroom, doing our papers backwards, and have a backwards schedule beginning with singing “our day of school is over” and finally ending with “good morning, class.”
Different name day Choose a name other than your own and be someone different for a day. We write the names on name tags so we do not forget who is who. Have your name chosen before you come to school!
Formal day Come dressed in your Sunday best with your best manners. “Yes, ma’m” and “No, sir” will be required throughout the day. If there would be a mother or several mothers that would like to prepare a formal meal and set up in the basement, it would be greatly appreciated. Please, thank-you, and passing dishes to the left will be expected.
Team work day We practice working together with a group. We participate in several team activities throughout the day and eat lunch with our hands tied to a friend’s hand.
Hobo day Come in your best hobo gear with bib overalls, handkerchiefs, and dirty faces. Don’t forget to pack your lunch in a knapsack and include a raw hotdog and marshmallow or two to roast. We will tramp up to the orchard for a hillbilly roast. Hotdog rolls, ketchup, and mustard will be provided.
Fishy day Bring books about fish, pictures of fish, and stuffed fish for us to enjoy. We will be trying to catch as many goldfish as we can throughout the day by doing good work and having good behavior. Who will be the best at eating a worm from the fishing line?
These are days designed to encourage whole-school collaboration and involvement. A healthy school culture can be taken for granted or difficult to cultivate. It’s one of those intangible things that have a huge influence on your school. Many teachers and administrators and school boards grapple with how to grow a good school culture. Themed days will not be an instant fix, but maybe they can come one step closer to a the school spirit that you would like to build.
Kick-Off Day A relay is sent out to inform the students of a one hour delay. A special relay is sent to the students that are not on the bus route informing them that the bus will pick them up today. The teachers will ride the buses to pick the children up. As each child is picked up, the teachers greet them with a “It’s February Fun” song and a donut.
Early Bird School will begin early and dismiss early. The hot lunch group for the month will be asked to make breakfast for the school. Or a cereal party could be held in the basement for the entire school. Families would be assigned to either bring a gallon of milk or a favorite cereal.
Drama Day A week prior to this day, the student body will be split into groups and given a script to act out and perform on Drama Day. A group leader will be assigned and from 2:30-2:50 each day of that week when the groups will meet to assign parts, discuss, and practice their skit. The students will arrive on Drama Day in appropriate costume and will remain in costume throughout day. Parents will be invited to attend to watch the skits/plays in the afternoon. A group of three or four judges will give out first, second, and third place prizes to best skit/play group.
Upset the Fruit Basket Each teacher will choose a different subject than normal to teach and then teach the subject for each grade. Perhaps each teacher can also choose a fruit to represent their class and give the snack out as the students enter the classroom. Recess would be held as a whole school on the soccer field playing jug-a-lug or other game. The last period of the day would allow each class to go back to their respective rooms for study hall.
Wear Your Color Day One day prior to this day, the students are separated into 8-10 teams. Each team is given a color name and the team arrives at school the next day wearing its color. The teams interact together throughout the day such as sitting in chapel together, eating lunch together, and competing in competitions such as a tug a war and “making a snowman family” (using toilet paper to “dress” members of the team).
Spaghetti Day Another mixed-up schedule day and another hot lunch. They won’t even know who their teacher will be next because even the teachers will be switched! Spaghetti is served for lunch.
We are nearing the end of February. Use these ideas to prepare February Fun with your school. And if February isn’t a good time, no worries. The ideas can all be redefined as “March Madness.” Or, feel free to print these ideas and file them away to revisit when planning Winter Fun next year!
CONTRIBUTOR: Kendra Martin
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