We have all experienced the dread that often accompanies rollin’ into a lengthy wet weather period. Toss gusty winds into the mix, and many of us are ready to crawl under our desks. Although this is a dramatized intro (you know how I love these), let’s be honest here. Rain doesn’t always elicit warm and fuzzy feelings for teachers when it comes to school days. Therefore, with the rainy season officially upon us, it only seemed fitting that I put together a little post in regards to rainy day tips and tricks that have worked well for me over the years. It’s all about saving your sanity as we roll into the season of inverted umbrellas, squeaky plastic boots, and lost coats.
We all know that that we have to provide opportunities for student movement during drizzly days. Most of us have all heard of GoNoodle by now. This is a no-brainer and ALWAYS breaks up those days when you’re stuck inside. It’s an essential tool. However, I believe that this shouldn’t be the only movement that you squeeze into those rainy days. There are so many other easy ways to slip movement and brain breaks into your routine. This brings me to Rainy Day Tip #1. Get up and move every 20-30 minutes. Whether it’s a quick set of jumping jacks or a round of body spelling, any and all movement is critical for our littles . . . especially when the weather is less than desirable. Here are a few ways that I have injected some successful movement into my day without jackin’ up the schedule too much.
- Whole Body Learning – get them up and moving while they are learning and/or interacting with a lesson. I outlined a few ideas below.
- Instead of having your students raise their hands to provide an answer, create movements or motions for answers and invite your kids act out their answers instead. Not only will ALL of your kiddos be involved, but you’ll have them movin’ too!
- If you’re teaching a lesson on sentence writing, have them act out the sentences and punctuation (CLICK HERE TO read one of my blog posts on this idea).
- Before you launch into math practice paper-pencil style, act it out first (CLICK HERE to check out a post outlining this idea). The possibilities are endless as you can link a movement or motion to just about any standard. This strategy works on dry days too as movement is highly brain compatible 😉
- Transitions – don’t just move to the next group . . . really MOVE! I like to put on instrumental tunes as my students are coming in from recess, cleaning up after a project, or moving from group to group. Read your crew and play a tune that fits the current mood. Pop on a peppy tune to get them re-energized or select a slower ditty to create a calming effect. My go-to wordless song collection comes from Ron Brown’s Intelli-Tunes. His album, Keep It Movin’, offers 26 short little tunes from a variety of different music genres. They are the perfect grab-n-go rainy day resource to help set the tone for smoother transitions and re-focusing classroom workflow. Read all about it in a blog post HERE.
- Wacky Workout – speaking of Ron Brown and getting kids moving, Wacky Workout is the another must have drizzly day resource. This collection of instrumentals is the perfect get up and wiggle resource. Ron created a series of fun short tunes that invite kids to complete various movements/motions/dance moves. The best part is that he explains what to do before each new movement track begins.
- Dance Party – I also may or may not host an occasional impromptu dance party after an intense lesson and/or assessment that happens to fall on a damp day. Okay . . . I DO! This is a fun one to toss in once you know you have control over your crew. Simply pick a tune that your kids are into these days, crank it up, and dance your hearts out before transitioning into the next activity.
DON’T JUST PUSH PLAY
I know it’s so much easier to slap on a movie, but actual PLAY during those days when our little ones are stuck indoors is critical. Not only are they able to take a much needed break from core content, but they also interact with one another during this process. I urge you to pull out tubs of build-it toys and math manipulatives during those indoor recess slots – blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, linker cubes, Zoobs, Magformers, Geo Boards, etc. When these items are in action, I always extend the play time just a bit. Our morning recess is only ten minutes, but I break for 15-20 during rainy days. It’s okay to let them be little . . . especially when it’s raining. (Spoken like a true tenured teacher with a decade under her belt, huh?) Well, I guarantee that you will get more out of them when you slip back into content and that’s what I’d tell the boss man should he ever walk in on us. #paymenoworpaymelater
TONE IT DOWN
Music is such a wonderful way to set a calm tone in your room during wet weather — for YOU and your students. Instrumentals are great to play when your crew is arriving in the morning or when you are transitioning between groups and/or activities. These wordless songs also are a great way to set the tone during inside recess or your quiet writing block. Just keep your radio/speaker playing low in the background and watch the magic unfold.
My suggestion is to select tunes that YOU like and load them into a playlist on your i-Pod. Here’s a list of my go-to artists and the types of songs that put me at ease. Just type them into the search bar in i-Tunes to check them out. Not all of these artists’ songs work, but listen to samples and hunt for those perfect chill out tracks. **All of my suggestions may not be for you, but it’s a starting point. If you find one that catches your ear in the mess below, you can search for similar artists/songwriters.
- George Winston – piano
- Jonathan Elias – piano and violin
- Peter Pupping & Fred Benedetti – all Beatles instrumentals
- Blackmill – electronic with a slow dreamy beat
- Explosions In the Sky – alternative-flavored instrumentals
Soundtracks are also a great source for background music. I suggest that you pick movies/TV shows that you enjoy and that put a smile on your face. When you search in i-Tunes, look for the original scores as they will not have any singing. Again, listen to the samples and pick and choose the songs that fit your style and needs. Not all of the selections will be suitable . . . and to your liking. I always avoid the tracks that tend to be played during climatic or dramatic parts in a movie or series as they elicit feelings that I am looking to keep in check and control. On that note, here’s a list of my favorite soundtracks . . .
- Downton Abbey
- Stranger Things
- Road to Perdition
- Memoirs of a Geisha
- The Village
- Unfaithful (I know this isn’t the best choice of titles, but the music is really lovely)
Heads Up 7 Up and Four Corners are great rainy day breaks to have in you back pocket, but I have a few more ideas for you to add to your arsenal. The best part is that many of these simultaneously slip in some standards-based content.
- Charades – use this game to work on parts of speech. I like to load index cards with verbs. Have one student volunteer to be the actor and invite the rest of the class to get out their mini while boards. Secretly show your “actor” the card and have them get moving. Students in the audience write their verb guess on their white boards. This not only gets kids moving and keeps them quiet, but it also reinforces that verbs (i.e. doing words) show ACTION.
- Active Sorts – any average sorting activity can be turned into an active team game. These simple activities have proven to be a stellar way to break up a rainy day (or long afternoons for that matter). Check out my Stick ‘Em Up freebie in action HERE and snag your free copy of it HERE (it’s editable . . . #winning).
- Tea Parties – tack on a little interactive practice to any standard by hosting a tea party. Not only does it practice a standard, but it gets your babes up and moving . . . QUIETLY. I have used this idea with everything from fact families and ten frames/matching facts to compound word connections.
- SitSpots Obstacles – Sit Spots are the most amazing teacher resource. These little Velcro shapes have ENDLESS possibilities. In addition to management strategies, I also used a set of SitSpots to set up math fact obstacle courses. Read about this fun idea HERE. **NOTE that this post is super old and the contest is long over. However, it includes a hop to oodles of other SitSpot ideas. These are definitely clutch on a rainy day (or any other day for that matter).
- Bean Bag Fun – break out the bean bags. I always forget about this one, but the kids love to play with these things. Partner up and gently toss, play follow the leader, or introduce a hot potato passing game. You’re littles will love it and it takes just a few minutes to work these into the schedule.
- Board Game Rotation – during those longer inside recesses or a Fun Friday afternoon, host a board game rotation. Place 4-6 different board games around the room (Chutes & Ladders, Candy Land, Sorry, Twister, Operation, and so on). Assign your students to a game board (3-4 players at each station) and set a timer. Allow them to play for 6-10 minutes. When the timer sounds, invite them to get up and move to the next game.
Coloring pages, word searches, and math solve-its are great choices during rainy days. These can pop out during a recess time slot or as early finish activities. Fern Smith’s Classroom Ideas and From the Pond were my life savers in this area last year. My kids ATE up their pages and were always begging for more.
This last tip area is just for you . . . the teacher. I cannot tell you how many shoes I have ruined due to the lake that managed to manifest itself right outside my ramp within the first five minutes of a rainstorm. I don’t even want to think about it (((insert super sad face and images of a woman burning fistfuls of twenty dollar bills))). Thanks to a random gift from my mom and a super storm last December, I finally figured out a work around. You ready for this “sole” saver tip? Bring in cheap rain boots to leave at school. Maybe you already are privy to this amazing tip, but I sure wasn’t. It took me NINE and a HALF years to connect the dots . . . but, it was an absolute game changer. So, in addition to the old umbrella you leave at school, pick up a pair of funky galoshes to store with it. It’s one of the best $20 investments you’ll make this year 🙂 #boom
Alright, so there you have it. A few ideas on how to beat the wet weather blues and keep your crew in check, learning, and smiling. Thanks for taking the time to come and see me today. Check back soon for more ideas.