It’s that time of year: When you’re not sneezing from all of the pollen in the air, you’re busy trying every trick in the book to keep your students engaged through those final weeks of school. Over on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! this week, Tammy asked her fellow teachers for ideas on the best ways to help get kids excited to learn when they’d rather be playing outside. Here’s what they suggested.
1. Keep activities brief and engaging.
Now is not the time to dive into a brand-new 500-page novel or nonfiction book. Instead, try focusing on shorter activities that pack in a lot of movement and hands-on exploration.
“Create games to teach content and free choice during math and reading centers.” —Jody B.
“Try lots of Brain Breaks!” —Greg S.
“Make memory books. There are a ton of examples on Pinterest.” —Mary T.
“Go outside!” —Stefanie B.
2. Make a time capsule.
“For preK and kindergarten, we get a manila folder and have the kids decorate them to put all their work in it to create a portfolio. We also create time capsules with favorite things they learned, memories and friends so they can save and remember their lives during this year.” —Martha V.
3. Emphasize free choice.
Capitalize on student enthusiasm by letting them focus on topics of their choosing.
“Let them pick a topic to research and present the ideas as a booklet and speech.” —Caroline R.
“Students can select their own books and develop reading groups.” —Kamil S.
4. Pick an end-of-year theme.
Make the routines more fun with a focused theme. “I started a pirate classroom theme last week just for fun. I changed lots of decorations in my room to pirate things. We are reading pirate books, doing pirate alphabet review, making pirate projects and a keepsake box. The kids were over-the-moon excited! You should have seen their excellent behavior this week trying to earn a gold doubloon for the class treasure chest. It’s as simple as changing up these last few weeks of school to keep them excited and willing to put in some effort.” —Jen P.
5. Know when to let go.
Even with all of these great ideas, don’t feel too badly if it’s still hard to capture the kids’ attention. While you always want to have a plan and do your best, you know what they say about best-laid plans. As Ruth F. advises, “Just ride the madness until the end!”