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May 23, 2018

5 Activities to Wind Down the Year While Keeping the Learning Going!

By Nancy Jang
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    The weather is getting warmer and the sun is shining. Every day is starting to feel like a beach day and it’s getting harder and harder to focus on anything academic. Over the years, I have found that keeping the kids busy with fun but engaging activities while sneaking in some academics is the best way to go.

    Here are five fun activities to keep the kids learning even in the last few days of the school year:

    Write a letter to the incoming class

    Before starting this project, we brainstorm about all the many things that we have done during the year. We make a huge list of field trips, assemblies, art projects, and other special events that happened in first grade. This exercise not only serves as a prompt for writing the letters, but helps my first graders realize their many accomplishments and experiences.

    I use this end-of-year write-up from Scholastic Printables to take our brainstorming to the next level. Referring to our list, students fill in the writing prompts and the end results are very special letters to the incoming first graders. I collect these letters and put them on the desks for the first day of school next year. What a special gift for my new first graders in the fall, and a memorable way to wrap up the year for my current class.

    Make a Big Book

    After writing individual letters to the incoming class, I wanted to extend the activity by creating a Class Big Book! Each student chose one prompt from the end-of-year write-up to rewrite on a separate piece of paper and illustrate. My students really embraced this writing activity, adding individual details that put their stamp on the piece. One student took the prompt, "My favorite book that I read was..." and changed it to "My favorite book that Miss Jang read is . . . "

    In another example, one of my kiddos chose a favorite time in class to write about. He loved math workstations, where they were allowed to build using pattern block and polydrons. In the last example pictured the student wrote about what is the most important rule to follow. Apparently, I need to review that I'm Miss Jang and not Mr. Jang!

     When everyone is finished, I’ll bind them into a big book to read to the new class at the beginning of next year.

     

    Perform a Reader’s Theater

    During the regular school year, we have pacing plans to adhere to and I rarely get to do a reader’s theater with my class. but, with only a few more weeks left in the school year, this is the perfect time to have the class practice lines, paint sets on butcher paper, make costumes, and bring in props from home. We loved the Three Little Pigs and have been reading variations on the tale all year long. So, for our reader's theater, I found this script from Scholastic Teachables. With a little creativity and team work, sets and costumes were put together, and the outcome was quite a show!

     

    Take on a STEM Challenge

    The end of the year is also a great time to take on some STEM challenges! Paper airplanes, egg drop contraptions, and building a better kite are just a few of the challenges to explore for any grade level. Just send a note to the parents for anything you need such as cardboard, tape, cereal boxes, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, plastic water bottles, and any other odds and ends, and then let them build! Here are three fun STEM challenges we came up with last year to get you going.

    We have so much fun with these activities and it's thrilling to see the kids learning so much with the hands-on experiences of building and experimenting. Thinking ahead to the future, I can envision a STEM-themed classroom using these bulletin board designs and STEM-Star personal poster set.

     

    Take a field trip to the next grade level

    First, I prearrange with one or two of the second grade teachers for a convenient time during the school day for my little firsties to visit with their second graders. A few days before we go, I ask my students to prepare five questions to ask the second graders and we write them down. On the day of the field trip, when my class arrives, I introduce the first and second graders to each other and they have a few minutes to chat and get a quick tour of the classroom.

    I like to time this field trip to take place immediately after Open House because the second graders are showcasing all of their best work from throughout the school year. This tour helps alleviate some of the anxiety for the first graders about next year and allows the second graders to gain confidence as the "Big Kids" in the group.

    Enjoy these last few days with your class and have a wonderful vacation!

    Nancy

     

    The weather is getting warmer and the sun is shining. Every day is starting to feel like a beach day and it’s getting harder and harder to focus on anything academic. Over the years, I have found that keeping the kids busy with fun but engaging activities while sneaking in some academics is the best way to go.

    Here are five fun activities to keep the kids learning even in the last few days of the school year:

    Write a letter to the incoming class

    Before starting this project, we brainstorm about all the many things that we have done during the year. We make a huge list of field trips, assemblies, art projects, and other special events that happened in first grade. This exercise not only serves as a prompt for writing the letters, but helps my first graders realize their many accomplishments and experiences.

    I use this end-of-year write-up from Scholastic Printables to take our brainstorming to the next level. Referring to our list, students fill in the writing prompts and the end results are very special letters to the incoming first graders. I collect these letters and put them on the desks for the first day of school next year. What a special gift for my new first graders in the fall, and a memorable way to wrap up the year for my current class.

    Make a Big Book

    After writing individual letters to the incoming class, I wanted to extend the activity by creating a Class Big Book! Each student chose one prompt from the end-of-year write-up to rewrite on a separate piece of paper and illustrate. My students really embraced this writing activity, adding individual details that put their stamp on the piece. One student took the prompt, "My favorite book that I read was..." and changed it to "My favorite book that Miss Jang read is . . . "

    In another example, one of my kiddos chose a favorite time in class to write about. He loved math workstations, where they were allowed to build using pattern block and polydrons. In the last example pictured the student wrote about what is the most important rule to follow. Apparently, I need to review that I'm Miss Jang and not Mr. Jang!

     When everyone is finished, I’ll bind them into a big book to read to the new class at the beginning of next year.

     

    Perform a Reader’s Theater

    During the regular school year, we have pacing plans to adhere to and I rarely get to do a reader’s theater with my class. but, with only a few more weeks left in the school year, this is the perfect time to have the class practice lines, paint sets on butcher paper, make costumes, and bring in props from home. We loved the Three Little Pigs and have been reading variations on the tale all year long. So, for our reader's theater, I found this script from Scholastic Teachables. With a little creativity and team work, sets and costumes were put together, and the outcome was quite a show!

     

    Take on a STEM Challenge

    The end of the year is also a great time to take on some STEM challenges! Paper airplanes, egg drop contraptions, and building a better kite are just a few of the challenges to explore for any grade level. Just send a note to the parents for anything you need such as cardboard, tape, cereal boxes, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, plastic water bottles, and any other odds and ends, and then let them build! Here are three fun STEM challenges we came up with last year to get you going.

    We have so much fun with these activities and it's thrilling to see the kids learning so much with the hands-on experiences of building and experimenting. Thinking ahead to the future, I can envision a STEM-themed classroom using these bulletin board designs and STEM-Star personal poster set.

     

    Take a field trip to the next grade level

    First, I prearrange with one or two of the second grade teachers for a convenient time during the school day for my little firsties to visit with their second graders. A few days before we go, I ask my students to prepare five questions to ask the second graders and we write them down. On the day of the field trip, when my class arrives, I introduce the first and second graders to each other and they have a few minutes to chat and get a quick tour of the classroom.

    I like to time this field trip to take place immediately after Open House because the second graders are showcasing all of their best work from throughout the school year. This tour helps alleviate some of the anxiety for the first graders about next year and allows the second graders to gain confidence as the "Big Kids" in the group.

    Enjoy these last few days with your class and have a wonderful vacation!

    Nancy

     

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