Breaking Through the Winter Blues

Jason Kaiser

Assistant marketing manager at Jostens
Jason has worked on a wide variety of print, digital and social initiatives bringing content to life through Yearbook Love, the Digital Classroom and more. A former yearbook adviser, Kaiser has worked with scholastic journalism for more than eight years.

Winter break can be a disruption for everyone; teachers, students and especially yearbook advisers. While the holiday season is a great time to recharge our creative juices, it is sometimes difficult to get back into an efficient work flow. To help pull your students back from their winter wonderland, here are three team building activities that you can do with them post-winter break.

Terrific Towers

Supplies (per team): 20 uncooked spaghetti sticks, 1 marshmallow, masking tape, 1 yd of string
Break up the class into groups of 4-6 students. Using just these supplies, each team will try to build the tallest tower. Here’s the catch: the marshmallow has to be at the very top of the spaghetti tower, and the whole structure has to stand on its own (that means no hands or other objects supporting it!) for five seconds.

Magnetic Motto

Supplies: heavy cardboard or card stock, markers, adhesive magnet strip
Have each staff member create his or her own inspirational motto or “words to live by” magnet. For instance, “When you are down, think chocolate.” —Mrs. Patrick. Once done, staff members can place them on the doors of their cubbies, metal shelving, etc. Throughout the year, they may use the magnets as a way to leave little messages for one another.

What You Don’t Know About Me

Supplies: playing cards, divided into red suits and black suits
This is a variation of a Kagan Cooperative learning activity called Think-Pair-Share. Divide a deck of playing cards into a red-suit half and a black-suit half. Each person on the staff takes a playing card. Half should be from a red suit and half from a black suit. The yearbook staff should mingle around the room to music. When the music stops, each person must find someone who holds the opposite color.

The person with the red card takes 15 seconds to share things that the other person would not know about him or her. Then the adviser says switch, and the other partner shares for 15 seconds. At the end, each of the partners restates something they learned about their partner. Restart the music and have the staff mingle again to find different partners.