Spicing Up the Winter Classroom

By February 18, 2020 News

Mid year and winter in the classroom can feel stale and uninspired. So much school has happened, and yet there is so much more to go. Adding new elements and ideas to our routines can help breathe some much needed energy back into our classrooms. 


Switch up a classic game! What’s your go to game? The one that at this point kids give you a token eye roll to when you say it’s time to play. Staying with the same game adds comfort to the classroom to our kids, but a new variation can pose a new challenge to our kids. 

  • Rock, paper, scissors: I just learned from a teacher at my last workshop that this classic game can be played with your feet instead of your hands! Check it out here!
  • Achi Pachi: Instead of one student being Achi Pachi, have two or three! This keeps everyone on their toes the whole game. Or, prompt the questioner to pose each question with a different question starter, or that answers must be shared in 2-3 sentences. 
  • Pass the clap: Instead of playing this game standing up in the circle, try the game sitting and with hands crossed with the person sitting next to you. This makes the students’ brains think about team building differently as their hands are not one after another. One tap is to the right, two taps are to the left! Confused? Check out this video 🙂


Switch up your classroom routine! By February our classes become so predictable that kids know exactly how we’re going to start before they even walk through the door. Switching up your routine allows for the kids to feel the excitement of a new class halfway through the year.

  • Start with a team cheer! Instead of waiting until the end to celebrate our accomplishments, get everyone cheering right at the start. Keep going back to your team cheer during class to get some smiles out of your kids.
  • Start with a writing prompt! So often we wait until the middle or the end of class to get our kiddos writing. Have a prompt on the board before student’s even walk in. They can gently enter class or a new idea, and you can sip your coffee while they write 😉 Starting with writing allows for more rewrites and collaboration on writing throughout the class period as well. 
  • Have backwards day! Get everyone’s brains moving and start with the goodbyes, and end with the hellos! It will be silly and fun to watch your kiddos move backwards all class long.


Try some new team challenges! Kids love challenges that get them working together and wow their brains. Team challenges also encourage mutual trust– a huge component in bringing down the affective filter!

  • The human table challenge– This was a personal favorite of my students. I was always amazed to see them make it work! 
  • Minute to Win it Games- Remember this fun TV Show? Students love these challenges and you probably already have all the supplies in your classroom. Have them strategize, create their own rules, or maybe their own challenges! 


Celebrate with your kids! It may seem like the winter blues has got zero learning occurring, but take a break in class and look back at where you all started. Those Novice babies fly this time of year, and pointing out their incredible growth will re energize all of you! Your intermediates need the recognition of growth since it takes a longer to get through those sublevels in intermediate. Have kids create awards for one another or awards for themselves. They are working hard everyday to acquire a new language with you. They, and YOU,  deserve the pat on the back!