It’s that time of year – it is beautiful outdoors and kids are ready to let out all of that pent-up energy from the winter months. It’s that time for teachers, too – time for teachers to dig deep into the old bag of tricks and come up with any little thing that will hold the kids attention! For times like this, when it’s still way too early for end-of-year activities, but definitely time for a little variety to grab the kids’ attention, what do you do? What classroom activities can you come up with that will take the kids attention off of baseball and swimming pools for a little while but still stay in line with the skills they need to learn?
Here are some ideas that don’t take lots of planning, but just might provide that little something different the kids need:
Reuse and Recycle Resources!
Task Card Jeopardy - Dig out five sets of task cards that you have already used earlier in the year. Choose several cards from each set to use as the questions in a Jeopardy-style game.
Blackout Poetry from an Old Book – Choose a class novel that’s falling apart, or ask for a discard or two from the library. Give each student a page torn from the book to use in creating a blackout poem in which they use markers to “black out” all of the words except for those that will make up their poem.
Magazine Collage – Recycle a pile of discarded magazines by using them once more as material for a collage with a spring theme, a theme from a class novel, or a review topic.
Read Something Unique!
Find non-fiction articles about student interests. First, give each student a chance to tell the class about an interest or hobby that their classmates might not know they enjoy, and then follow up later with readings on some of the topics the kids brought up.
Read a story you’ve always liked but never had time to use earlier in the year. Maybe choose a suspenseful story from a children’s magazine and read it aloud to the class; kids of any age enjoy listening to a great story.
Read a play aloud. This was a favorite activity in my classes at this time of year. Sometimes there just isn’t time to fit plays in earlier in the year, but plays always seem to be a hit with the kids once you do have the time.
Read poems aloud as choral readings. Big Talk, by Paul Fleischman, a collection of poems for four voices, is one good choice.
Repeat a Favorite Activity, But with a New Twist!
Students love working in groups, but maybe you usually assign group members for behavior or academic purposes. For a change, let students choose their groups.
Repeat a favorite whole-class activity, such as solving puzzles on the whiteboard, but this time with one of your students as the teacher.
Solve a Mystery!
Kids love anything that’s like a puzzle, and mystery stories definitely fit the bill. Preview the story to find just the right spot to stop reading so that kids can work on solving the mystery themselves before reading the end of the story. You could even work in the use of “text based evidence” by requiring kids to show support from the text for their solutions. Solving mysteries is a great activity for group work, too!
And on the subject of mysteries, here’s a freebie from my store – Mysteries Task Cards – a set of twelve cards with a fun little mystery on each one.
Write Instead of Read!
Kids do love to read plays aloud. But could they write one? Challenge groups of kids to take a scene from a class novel and rewrite it as a skit to be presented in class.
Creating advertisements is fun because it’s hands-on and creative. Kids can make an advertisement for anything from a novel (think movie poster) to an editing or fact-checking service. They’ll enjoy the creative process as they design their ad and recall things they’ve studies during the year at the same time. Depending on their interests, and how much time you want to invest, kids could make a poster, a magazine ad, a recorded radio ad, or even a video or slide show to showcase their “product.”
Activities like these are just different enough to get students interested – fun, but not too off track. After all, you want to save the really entertaining ones as long as possible - until it really is the last days of school. At this time of year, just a little twist may be all that’s needed to spark some interest and get one more beautiful spring day in the classroom off to a fine start!
Guest post by Sharon from the Classroom in the Middle blog. Sharon has spent over 20 years teaching English, reading, and other subjects to middle school students. She loves having more time now to create and write about resources for teachers – especially materials for teaching reading, vocabulary, and writing to students in grades 4 through 8. Here is the link to her store, also called Classroom in the Middle.
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