Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1a
What You Need: Cornstarch, water, food coloring, Popsicle molds with built-in sticks, camera
What to Do: Your students have been perfecting their handwriting all year. Now give them the chance to show off how well they can write letters, numbers, and their names with something other than a pencil. Ice-pop chalk is the perfect medium.
To make the colorful chalk, mix together equal parts cornstarch and water and tint with food coloring. (Substitute washable paint for food coloring if you’re concerned about staining.) Pour the mixture into ice-pop molds and place in a freezer.
On a sunny day, bring students outside and let them write with the ice chalk on concrete. “My kids liked that when it melted, it was goopy and still fun to play with,” says former reading specialist Lorie Kaehler from Minnesota. “It added a component of sensory play to the activity.” As a memento, snap a photo of students next to their ice-pop chalk art.
Hang Up Your Favorite Memories
Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.4; SL.K.5; SL.K.6
What You Need: T-shirt templates cut from white construction paper, crayons, bulletin board decorations (grass, sun, clouds, etc.), twine or other clothesline-like material, clothespins
What to Do: Make your last bulletin board of the year a memorable one. Jami Domeny, an elementary teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, creates a clothesline of paper T-shirts that feature students’ favorite memories from the school year.
Get started by bringing your class together to brainstorm all of the things they’ve learned or experienced this year. Have each student illustrate his or her favorite memory on a T-shirt-shaped piece of construction paper. To create the bulletin board, label the top “Hanging Up Our Favorite Memories.” String the twine from one side of the board to the other to create a clothesline. (You might have two separate clotheslines to fit all of the shirts.) Invite students to share their drawings with the class, describing their memories. As students finish, use clothespins to hang their T-shirts on the clothesline.
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.10
What You Need: Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe, scissors, light-blue construction paper, aluminum foil, glue sticks, yellow finger paint, white crayons, cotton swabs, nontoxic glow-in-the-dark paint
What to Do: The end of the year is a bittersweet time—for students and teachers alike. Use this activity to emphasize the importance of growing up and moving on. Share the book Fireflies, explaining that, just like the book’s character, it’s time for you to let your students go as they “fly” on to the next grade level. But before you do, students can create a firefly “jar” to remember you and their classmates.
Give each student a pair of scissors and a sheet of light-blue construction paper. Instruct students to round out the edges of the paper by cutting, then fold the long ends and glue to form a jar shape. Next, have students cut an oval shape out of the foil and glue it to the top of their construction-paper jars to make the lid. (For the younger set, precut the jar and lid.) Help each student dip his or her thumb in yellow paint. Students can then circulate the room and make a thumbprint on every classmate’s jar. Don’t forget to include your thumbprint, too!
After the prints dry, give each student a white crayon to draw wings on the thumbprints to create fireflies. Finally, use a cotton swab to brush glow-in-the-dark paint on the thumbprints. You can darken the room for your students to see their “fireflies” light up and take flight.
Up and Away
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.10
What You Need: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, construction paper (white, black, and brown), tempera paints, paintbrushes, glue sticks, photos of students, lined writing paper
What to Do: Set the minds of your students soaring with this activity from April Larremore, a kindergarten teacher at Sallye Moore Elementary in Grand Prairie, Texas. After reading Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, Larremore helps her students create their own hot-air balloons out of construction paper.
For each student, precut one hot-air balloon shape from white construction paper, one balloon basket shape from brown construction paper, and two thin rectangular shapes from black construction paper to serve as the rope connecting the basket to the balloon. Students can decorate the balloon shape using paints. Once the paint has dried, help your students assemble the hot-air balloons with glue. Adhere students’ photos so that they stick out of the hot-air balloon baskets.
To complete the activity, instruct students to dictate or write about the places they want to go or the goals they want to achieve.
“You could make your focus related to where they want to go over the summer, or to the next grade level,” Larremore says. Attach the written responses to the bottom of the baskets and hang the balloons on a bulletin board.
Standard Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.1
What You Need: A clean, empty pizza box for each student, craft paint, paintbrushes, markers, round sponges
What to Do: How do you send home all of your students’ fabulous work at the end of the year? Molly Mosely, a kindergarten teacher at Sacred Heart School in Pana, Illinois, uses pizza boxes. Each year, a local pizzeria donates boxes to the class. They come flat, so all Mosely needs to do is fold them inside out so that students have a blank canvas to decorate.
To begin, Mosely’s students paint their hands with bright colors, and then stamp them side by side on the top of the box. Once the handprints have dried, students print their first name in large letters above their fingers. You can write “Kindergarten” at the top of the box and “Keepsakes” under the handprints. Then have each child add polka-dot decorations by dipping the sponges in paint and applying them to the box. When the paint has dried, help students fill the boxes with writing samples, art projects, and class photos to bring home and cherish. Students can join with partners or small groups to share their favorite project from the year.
“They are so proud of their work,” says Mosely. “Many past students will come in and tell me how they still have their boxes!”
Image: Courtesy of Lorie Kaehler