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June 5, 2015 An Engaged End to the Year With Camp Read-a-Lot By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    As the school year wraps up, creating teacher time while still engaging students can be a challenge. Camp Read-a-Lot is an adaptable idea perfect for a range of ages. Students spend a day fully engaged in reading and the quiet time allows for some much needed teacher time to finish up paperwork or other end-of-school activities. Follow three simple camp rules to make camp a success.



    Start Simple

    This doesn’t have to be fancy or difficult. Letting students read in a new room location with their shoes off can be all that’s needed. I invited students to bring in sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, or other camping-style gear and that was it. We turned the lights on dim, which magically helps keep the noise down, and played a CD of outdoor sounds. You could take it to the next level by setting up small tents or creating different camp locations with a picnic table, wading pool, or bath house, but I wanted to keep decorating to a minimum since we were finishing up our last week.

    Reading with a blanket Boys reading together

    Read…. A Lot

    Invite students to bring school-appropriate reading materials from home and have your classroom library ready. I pulled out some non-leveled books, children’s magazines, and art books that I don’t usually have available every day. That’s all it takes! Inspire students with different reading challenges throughout the day, such as read a book you’ve never heard of, read a book to a friend, or try a suggestion from someone you don’t usually sit with. My kids didn’t need any persuasion. They snuggled up and stayed engaged just looking at the books from their classmates. If you want to change it up, try a “magazine hour” or sit in a circle and tell ghost stories campout-style.

    Adding to our reading was a fun book swap. I pulled out discarded and prize books stashed in my cabinets and invited students to bring in books they were no longer interested in hanging onto. All of the books were set up on a counter for display and students took turns selecting from the stories. Each of my students ended up taking home four new-to-them books that they were thrilled to receive. Hopefully they will have at least four new reasons to read this summer!

    Reading on the Rug Smiling with a book Reading and snuggling

    Camp It Up

    Small touches can add big Camp Read-a-Lot fun. Throw together a fake campfire with twigs and orange or red tissue paper. Set up a small camping lantern or turn off all the lights and use flashlights for a while. Craft camp-like signs to hang around the hall and classroom. My class pre-made small solar ovens (an amazing idea stolen from fellow blogger Alycia Zimmerman’s cook out). On Camp Read-a-Lot day, parents donated a few supplies and we took the ovens outside to bake s’mores. Neighboring classroom teacher Rebecca Winberg invited in folks from the local bike shop and a member of the Coast Guard to talk about bike and swimming safety to our classes. Our librarian happened to unearth some Camp Read-a-Lot certificates, which the students loved getting to celebrate our day. Use Printables to get other fun reading certificates for your campers.

    Setting up solar ovens Eating s'mores Camp Read-a-Lot Certificates


    Camp Read-a-Lot was a fun day for students and a calm day for me. I felt I gave my students some important safety rules for summer, a good supply of reading materials, and a fun way to celebrate the last few days of school. Other great suggestions for your last few days might be creating a summer bucket list, spark summer reading with book teasers, create a coloring book with classroom photos, or set up the Summer Reading Challenge. How do you wind down with students and still keep kids engaged through the end of the year?

    Read About It


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    Summer Camp Book List


    Let’s Go Camping Close Read

    Crazy Camping Word Problems

    Camp Kindness Game

    Other Camping Ideas


    Take Your Students to Typing Camp

    Math and Science Outdoor Camp

    Family Reading Night Camping Theme

    Arthur Goes to Camp Lesson Plan

    Holes Discussion Guide

    Summer Camp Activities at Home

    Reading with sleeping bags


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Susan Cheyney