Coming back from break can be the worst. Whether you've had a super restful or a super chaotic and stressful time, picking up your school responsibilities and getting back on your school schedule is work.
As I'm planning my own back-from-break lesson plans for our homeschool group, I want to share with you three back-from-break lesson plans for language classes. Each one is designed for a different vibe so that you can find something that perfectly suits your back-from-break feeling.
FEELING CHATTY BACK-FROM-BREAK PLAN
This is the lesson plan for those language teachers that are coming back from break full of energy and ready to chat it up with their students. This is a low-prep lesson plan that places fairly high energy demands on the teacher and the students.
Step 1: Break Chat
First, find out what your students did over break using Weekend Chat. Instead of asking a broad question such as, "What did you do over break?"; consider asking specific yes or no or either/or questions:
- Did you go to someone's house?
- Did you watch a movie or play video games?
- What time did you go to sleep most nights?
- Did you see friends or family?
- Did you light any candles?
In this post, you can find 10 different twists on Weekend Chat that might be a good fit for your first day back from break. Another option (and probably the one that I would choose!) would be to use Card Talk! Have students draw one picture that represents something that they did over break, and discuss their drawings as a class.
Step 2: Flyswatter Game
After you've learned about some of the things that your students did over break, keep talking about them! There are many different ways that you can do this, including Alphaboxes and Write and Discuss, but the one I would pick for the Feelin' Chatty lesson plan is the Flyswatter Game! For this variation, you'll need to do just a little prep: before class, prepare a slide for each of your classes that contains all of the students' names on a single slide. The easiest way to do this is to create a table in a slide, with as many cells as you have students in your class, and drop a name in each one. Or, even easier... you can use the one I created! There are enough cells for 35 names, and you can leave some of them blank if that is too many:
Get this template FREE in our Subscriber Library -- look in the Whole Class Activities / Flyswatter Game folder!
To play the Flyswatter Name game, divide the class into two teams, line up each team relay-race style, and give the person at the front of each one a flyswatter or a rolled up piece of paper. Say one statement that was mentioned during the class discussion, but without a name. For example, "This person ate cake". The two team representatives race to swat the name of the person that ate cake! Whoever swats the correct name first earns a point for their team, and then both representatives go to the end of the line. Make a new statement for the new representatives at the front of each line, and keep going until you're bored or run out of statements!
Step 3: Wrap it up
For an easy culminating activity, have each student draw one thing that was mentioned in class. It could be a picture of Ellis sledding, a picture of Genesis reading, or a picture of Levi sleeping. Have each student write a sentence in the target language on the back of the paper that describes their image. Collect these and save them for content in a future class period! If you have time, you could first give students the opportunity to share the pictures with each other using a structure like Simultaneous Presentations or even Quiz Quiz Trade.
FEELING SLEEPY BACK-FROM-BREAK PLAN
If you're tired and really not in the mood to do anything but sit in your chair--and your students are feeling the same way--this lesson plan is for you.
Step 1: Glyph
Glyphs are a perfect low-energy component to sprinkle into a lesson plan. Coming back from break, you could give students a glyph that asks them personalized questions about their break, or you could ask them questions about... anything! You could use this favorite snowman glyph resource (which is available in Spanish, French, and English)...
....you could create your own glyph using advice from this blog post, OR you could use the ready-to-go, fully editable glyph with multiple coloring page options that is FREE in our Subscriber Library! Look for it in the Whole Class Activities folder!
The question page contains six questions, and you can make a copy for your own drive to replace the questions, the colors, the language, the clipart... anything! Even better, there are three different coloring pages that students can choose from--all of which will work with the same set of six questions.
Have students read the questions and demonstrate their responses by coloring the corresponding portions of the glyph with the color that matches their answer.
Step 2: Directed Drawing
If this weren't a sleepy lesson plan, you might show some of your students' completed glyphs to the class and discuss their responses. But, this IS a sleepy lesson plan, and we want to move on to something else that's going to keep you in your seat. A directed drawing is GREAT for this! We have a few on our YouTube channel, but none that are winter themed (not that they have to be). Here is one that I found that is narrated in Spanish, and if you slow it down to .75x speed your students will be able to hear what the YouTuber is saying quite clearly:
Step 3: Free Write
Finish up the class by having your students write a short biography of their snowman! You could give them a frame or let them write it completely on their own, more like a traditional free write (learn more here). You could ask them to write it from first person perspective ("Hi, my name is Frosty, I am a snowman, I like hot chocolate and snow!...") or third person perspective ("This is Bianca, she is a snow woman. She likes cats and her scarf is blue...").
Collect the free writes when class is over and use them for future content in class!
FEELING NOSTALGIC BACK-FROM-BREAK PLAN
If the holidays have you reminiscing about your younger years and you're not quite ready to let it go, keep the nostalgia alive with Kindergarten Day!
Step 1: Readaloud
Kindergarten Day is an activity that will transport your students back to circle time from their early elementary years. Gather all your students at the front of the room on a rug, sitting criss cross applesauce, and you sit in a chair with a Picture Book. Read the Picture Book to them in your target language!
For this Back from Break plan, I suggest choosing a WORDLESS picture book. This will allow you to tell the story using language that your students will understand, and to allow the maximum amount of teacher-guided conversation while reading.
Here are three wordless picture books that you can request from your local library or rush order online in time for the first day back. Click the link to preview the pictures on YouTube to determine which book you'd like to read!
- Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell: a person and a wolf find each other in a snowstorm
- Another by Christian Robinson: a girl discovers another world through her bedroom wall (bonus: follow up with this Directed Drawing!)
- Small Things by Mel Tregonning: a young boy deals with anxiety that impacts his sense of self
Step 2: Draw a picture
Now, have every student in the class draw ONE picture from the book. This could be their version of one of the illustrations, or it could be their interpretation of one of the parts of the story that was NOT depicted in the original text.
Step 3: Card Talk
Using the Card Talk format, show the drawings of any students that are willing to the class. Ask questions (in the target language) about what their picture depicts.
For something a little less teacher-heavy, you could post the drawings around the room, each one on a large piece of poster paper, and students could walk around the room and write one caption in the target language that they think describes the image.
No matter which Back from Break plan you choose, look at this first day back as an opportunity to focus on connection over curriculum; to remind yourself and your students that there is nothing more important than the relationships you are building with the people in the room, and how those connections extend beyond your classroom walls into the world beyond.