Today's topic is...
Normally the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can wear on the nerves of the most patient of teachers, but I love this time of year in my classroom! A number of years ago I started a special holiday behavior incentive with my class, and it works every year, even with the most difficult of groups.
Every day I put HAPPY HOLIDAYS on the board. If the class is not following directions, not working quietly, not lining up without talking, whatever...I remove a letter. Once letters have been removed, they can not be earned back. If the class has at least one letter left at the end of the day, they earn a present for the class which goes under the tree.
In each gift is something written on a card that the whole class receives. Some of the gifts are special privileges, some are activities, some are things I have bought (I'd rather not be specific in case any of my kids read this!). The gifts are opened a day or two before the last day of school before holiday break. This allows me to plan all of the special activities they have earned those last couple days. I'm sure all of you can think of things you and your kids would rather be doing the last day or two before school is out besides the regular curriculum! Especially years like this one where we go back to school for Monday and Tuesday of Christmas week. Ugh! But the gifts they earn end up being gifts for me too as I don't have to do too much regular teaching (if any!) those couple days.
The kids love to see the presents begin to pile up under the tree, and they are quick to get after each other about being quiet and following directions. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing! Have I ever had a class that lost all their letters in a day? Absolutely! I make sure my kids know that gift is no longer able to be earned. The class is always much better behaved the next day. That is why I don't allow them to earn letters back once they are gone. I don't believe in giving them back just because they choose to be good at the end of the day.
It is so much fun when the class finally gets to open the presents! I draw name sticks to decide who gets to open them. The student I draw comes up to get the next gift, opens it, and reads the card to the class. Usually the kids cheer when they hear what the gift is!
This is such an easy plan to implement! Just come up with gifts for the number of days you have until the winter break, write them on cards and put them in gift bags or boxes, and write Happy Holidays on the board. I do have a bundle I put together with 5 mini posters, Happy Holidays letter set, Merry Christmas letter set, 21 gift cards, blank gift cards, holiday bookmarks, homework passes, and 3 coloring sheets as well as a complete set of directions in my TPT Store.
I hope the days you have left until your winter break fly by! Be sure to check out all the other management tips to keep your students on track!