Calming the Hectic Holidays

So excited to link up today with Focused on Fifth for Unwrapping Holiday Classroom Ideas!
I don't know about you, but my kids are practically bouncing off the walls in anticipation of Winter Break! (Teacher included!) But we're all getting a bit tired and cranky with the pressures and time crunch of the holidays. To keep the positivity high, each year my grade level partner and I host a holiday book exchange.

To set the ambience, we put on a crackling fire on the Smartboard and serve hot cocoa & cookies. (Now mind you, in Southern California, it is sometimes HOT in December, but having that fire blazing (while the air conditioner is on) makes us feel like it's winter! :)

Each child brings a gently-used wrapped book and places it in the center of the circle. Then just like the present game you've probably played at every family gathering, we call out student numbers. Since both of our classes use student numbers, two kids may either choose a book from the pile of presents or "steal" a book that has already been unwrapped. Once a book has been "stolen" twice, the third owner is safe and gets to keep the book! If a student's book is taken, they also may either choose a new wrapped book from the pile or steal someone else's already unwrapped book.
 It was hilarious to watch children either try to hide their unwrapped book from the possibility of getting stolen, while others were trying to "sell" their book and play up the positive features!
This was such a huge hit with our kids; they loved when other students would open a favorite book, then reminisce about the story. A few kids snuck away to a desk to begin reading immediately; warms a teacher's heart.
How do you take a breather from the hectic build-up to Winter Break? Be sure to head on over to Focused on Fifth for more great ideas for creating a positive classroom environment!
Focused on Fifth


  1. Both of these ideas are so much fun! I use a crackling fire in my classroom as well...but I really like the idea of adding in some hot cocoa. The book exchange is super fun...I love that you are creating hype and excitement around reading. Thanks for linking up with us.

    The Organized Plan Book

    1. The 12 days of Christmas is a wonderful idea for a linky party; I wish I'd found it sooner! :) The kids definitely get hyped about new books! Love it!