If you've ever taught at an elementary school, you know that students often come back to your classroom after lunch or recess in a rowdy stampede of excited chatter and movement. The winter can be especially troublesome since students are generally kept indoors for recess, without much of a chance to expend some of their pent up energy.
While you are eager to dive back into your lessons, you may find that some of your students can't sit still, won't stop chatting, or are simply not engaged. When this is the case, productive learning is impossible.
We recommend a brief buffer activity that will help abate some of your students' hyper energy and get them back into the learning mindset. Here are five helpful techniques you can try to get back on track at this challenging time of the school day:
1. Heads Down, Lights Out
Turn off or dim the classroom lights and ask students to put their heads down on their desk and sit quietly for two minutes. If you have access to some calming classical music, that can help too!
2. Independent Reading
In most classrooms, students keep one or several books in their desks which correspond with their current reading level. Give students five minutes to take out these books and read quietly.
3. Drawing or Writing Prompt
Allow students five minutes to quietly draw a picture or write a journal entry about what they did during recess or what their favorite part of the day has been so far.
4. Guided Breathing
Have students sit down and close their eyes. Then guide them through five deep breaths in through their nose and out through their mouths. Dim the lights for an added calming effect!
5. Read Aloud
Have students gather around you on the carpet and give them a chance to unwind while you read them a story.
Overall, activities which allow students a few moments of quiet reflection can go a long way in setting the tone for a productive afternoon of learning!