I admit it. The weather turns warmer and I start to lose focus. Fortunately, as an adult, I have strategies to help me return my attention to work that needs to get done. Our students, however, may not obtain those same abilities. That means, as teachers, we need to make sure we keep learning interesting until that last bell rings. Here are 10 ideas that are sure to engage learners in your classroom (and help you keep your sanity).
1. Set Up Creation Stations - Creation Stations are great for student engagement. Set up areas in your classroom with all sorts of supplies or recycled materials. Give your students a challenge such as “create the strongest bridge possible with your given materials” and then let them go! Test their creations and be sure to let them share their projects with others.
2. Write and Perform Short Plays - Writing plays keeps children actively using the literacy standards they have learned in your class and also motivates them since they will get to perform the plays they write. You can tie it in with a previous unit or have them create plays that highlight the different events from your school year.
3. Become Nature Scientists - Take advantage of that warm weather and take your science class outdoors. Let the children become nature scientists. Teach them how to observe and take notes as a scientist would on things they find. You could extend this activity by adding an art project displaying what they observed.
4. Create Multimedia Presentations About Your School Year - There’s no doubt about it - students love technology. Use multimedia to allow students to create presentations that highlight their year. Some possibilities include Prezi, Animoto, or Slideshare.
5. Create a Memory or ABC Book - Giving students the opportunity to reflect on their school year by creating a memory book or an ABC book is a great way to provide closure for your class, while continuing to perfect learning standards. Each student can create their own page in the book, writing about a memory that the entire class enjoyed during the year. Include an autograph page for classmates to sign, then compile all of the pages and make a copy for each student to take home the last day of school.
6. Choose Reading Themed Days - Choose a day each week and vote as a class on a variety of themes. Students then can dress up for those days and bring books relating to that theme for independent reading. Some ideas are: fairytales, travel (continents/countries), series books, adventure, or famous people.
7. Write Letters to Your Future Students - Have your students write letters to next year’s class. They could include advice on how to be successful, a few things they will learn, or tips to make it a great year. Students could also write a letter to you. Some of the greatest reflections and changes I have made are brought about by the perspectives of my students. They tell me their favorite parts of the year and what they would change.
8. Make a Video for Your Future Students - This idea takes #7 to a new level. After writing students’ thoughts, advice, tips, encouragements, etc., they can create a video that can be shared with next year’s students. You can choose to share it with them at the end of this year to get them excited for next year, or share it at the beginning of your new school year.
9. Write a Top Ten List - Students reflect on their year and write a top ten list of favorite events or activities you shared as a class. These can be done individually, but I have found them to be more fun if students work in groups. Sharing these on the last day of school is a fun way to reminisce.
10. Join Another Class for Buddy Reading/Writing - Set aside a regular time with another classroom during those last weeks of school. Students really enjoy being either the big buddy or having a little buddy. If yours is the older class, they can read to or write for the younger students. If yours is the younger class, they can hear stories that are perhaps above their level and can generate ideas for the older students to write.
Those last few weeks are tough, but keeping your students engaged in fun, exciting activities that they look forward to can make all the difference. Please share with Big Universe what you do to keep your students engaged. We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!