It’s that time of year. The holidays have come and gone, the skies are cloudy and gray, and the rules and routines you’ve worked so hard to put in place might be boring even you. Need a snow day? Instead of relying on the weather gods to cure these mid-year blues, why not do a little something out of the ordinary instead. Here are 10 ideas intended to ignite some mid-year magic in both you and your students.
1. Desk Fairy/Class Mascot Visit: Are the kids starting to treat your classroom more like they treat their messy bedrooms? Surprise the kids by having the desk fairy (or in my case, Bubbles, our class fish) pay a special visit to the desks of the neat and orderly, leaving behind special certificates, treats, prizes, etc. It’s fun to watch the chosen ones speculate over the mystery while the others voluntarily begin tidying their spaces in hopes of a return visit.
2. Brain Break Videos: Switch up your normal brain break activities for a few of these pop-culture infused, energetic videos. 20 Brain Break Clips: Fight the Fidgeting They are sure to add a little flare to the regular school day!
3. Community Outreach: Do some good for the community! Collect 100 non-perishable food items to donate to the less fortunate for the 100th day of school (thanks Deb). Create special Valentine’s Day cards for delivery to a nearby elderly home. Pick up litter around the school yard while discussing the environment and the 3 R’s. The possibilities are endless!
4. New Chants: If I have to hear myself sing, “One, two, buckle my shoe…” one more time I might combust! Substitute your go-to managerial cheers for new ones. You might be able to find some new ideas on my Pinterest board titled Transitions: Songs/Chants.
5. Literacy Buddies: Team up with a class from another grade level in your school to promote an excitement for reading and writing. Visit with the class once a month for the remainder of the school year with a theme in mind ( i.e.-share a favorite book, perform a special poem, share a piece of writing, play an iPad app., etc.) Children of various age levels have a way of bringing out the best in each other.
6. New Class Pet: I recently visited another classroom that had a pet bunny (that hopped around the classroom freely) and a pet tarantula (that did not…PHEW!) You’d think those pets would serve as a distraction for the kids, but I could tell within 5 minutes of being there that it only strengthened the sense of community/responsibility within the class. If you’re a little more on the tame side, I’ve found that Beta fish and hermit crabs make excellent, easy-to-maintain classroom pets. Also, check out this organization called Pets in the Classroom that gives teachers grants to buy and maintain classroom pets!
7. Guest Appearance: Find an academic reason to invite a friend, family member, parent, or grandparent into the room to read a book or conduct a mini-lesson. I’ve invited grandparents in to share items from long ago, military parents to discuss the service they provide to the community, and my husband to read books about his favorite pastime (baseball). Elementary schools tend to be populated by mostly women, so it’s also a great way to bring some male role models into the academic setting.
8. Teacher Report Card: Turn the tables and allow the children to assess you! Create a kid-friendly report card for the children to fill out privately. Discover their favorite (and least favorite if you’re brave) activities, subjects, and things about you as a teacher. The data collected will not only give you insight into what makes each child tick, but it will help you adjust future instruction as well.
9. Reader’s Theater Skit: Promote fluency and expression while bringing your children’s favorite stories and characters to life. This can be done whole-class or in small, differentiated groups. Supply props, costume items, kid-created scenery on bulletin board paper, and music when appropriate. Once the children grow comfortable performing in front of an audience, record their skits and allow them to self-assess their oral reading skills while watching themselves on the SMART/Promethean board. They will feel like movie stars!
10. Make a Mess: When in doubt, make a mess! Whip out your box of art supplies and have the kids create something memorable. Check out my fellow educational blogger’s site called Wonder Teacher, as it is an excellent source for integrating arts into the regular curriculum.
If you have any other ideas for generating some mid-year excitement, please share! I could use a few fresh ideas myself. Thanks!!!