Fun Fridays: Ways to Incorporate Learning Into Any Activity
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
A colleague of mine sings this silly song on Fridays: “Friday, Friday, Friday is my favorite day.” I always think of it in the mornings when I’m on my way to school. (Well that, and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," which is actually playing on our morning drive, over and over again.) The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize how big of a deal Friday really is. I decided to bring this end-of-week excitement to my students in the form of Fun Fridays.
Fun Fridays is a short 30-minute block of time for community building in a creative way. Fun Friday activities vary. I try to incorporate an activity on Friday that we would not normally do throughout the week. It usually relate to something I’ve seen on TV or online, or read in a book. My original Fun Fridays came from the show Minute to Win It. My fellow blogger Brian Smith has a fun and (and funny) post where his kindergartners illustrate some of the activities. I couldn’t believe people could do those crazy tasks in just one minute! I time the kids for fun, but do not hold them to the minute standard. How can this idea be incorporated into your classroom?
Pick Activities That Do Not Require a Lot of Preparation or Supplies
My all-time favorite Minute to Win It activity is "Face the Cookie." Students have to put a cookie on their forehead and move it down to their mouth without using their hands. I often use Oreos.
This activity only requires one cookie per student (I give one extra for students to eat).
Students cheer on their classmates as they watch them make the silliest faces as they work so hard to get the cookie in their mouth.
At the end of the lesson, students get to choose a side for persuading: Oreos are the best, Oreos are the worst — then create a persuasive writing piece about them.
What if you have extra Oreos?
If you use Oreos and have lots of extras, you can join up with the phenomenal Jen Wagner and be a part of the O.R.E.O. Stacking Challenge. This is another Fun Friday activity where the kids get to stack Oreos while tallying, strategizing, communicating, collaborating, and having good old-fashioned fun. There are so many ways to connect learning to this project it would take my whole post to name them. Check out her site, and the plethora of projects you can sign up your class for.
Host a Family Game Night
Another great place to find games is Family Game Night. I was watching this show one night with my son when they created a jumbo Jenga game. The game consists of building a tower with blocks and then removing pieces strategically so as not to collapse the tower and then placing that block on the top of the tower. On the show they used giant blocks, which I don't have, but I do have regular-size pieces. I bought two Jenga sets and borrowed two from parent volunteers — game on! This is a great way to add communication, teamwork, and strategizing to the classroom on a Friday afternoon.
Looking for other ways to use those Jenga cubes?
Another twist on the game would be to add review questions to the blocks. You could create a math set and a language arts set. One idea could be for subject and predicates where students have to pull the block, read a review question, and then answer it before placing the block back on top. This could also work for spelling words. One kiddo pulls the block and says the word while the next person in line has to spell the word before it is placed back on top of the pile.
Last and Finally Not Least, We Venture Outside
If a beautiful day is in the picture, don’t miss the opportunity to explore all around. A haiku hike is always a wonderful way to get ready for the weekend. Students love finding a cozy spot to sit and read or write. We sometimes go outside for a nature hunt, then bring back what we’ve found and create a nature collage for our class. What students love most is being able to go outside and create. This is a great lesson on painting outside that I use with my students.
A lot of creativity comes out of these Fun Fridays. What I care about most is the connections students make, the learning that they don’t see coming, and the enjoyment they always seem to have without realizing how much more they are actually getting from this short amount of time.
I will close in honor of my friend Michael Pon who says to me every Friday, “Friday, Friday, Friday is my favorite day!”