Our guest blogger, Peggy James, blogs weekly on http://thegateway.org.
Welcome to week 3 of our Summer Slide Buster series! We have been having fun choosing and testing activities, and we hope you found some of our suggestions interesting and useful. Whether you are a teacher, a parent, or both, you can find activities on the Gateway to inspire all the kids in your life to keep their minds active during the break.
I agree with humorist Dave Barry’s idea that “The nuclear generator of brain sludge is television.” Let’s boot some television time this summer and suggest other fun things to do to keep this sludge from pushing our kids too far down the summer slide! I will discuss a week’s worth of activities in each of my summer columns. Please try these activities with your own children or students, send them out to your student’s parents, or tuck them away for later.
Doing the daily activities with my test group for a couple weeks led me to a big realization. The success of summer activities, classroom activities, (and really any other activities) is directly related to how “fun” that activity seems to students. If I can make something seem really fun, the kids love it! If I have them do the same activity, but it seems too much like “school,” they won’t. It’s probably not really that simple, but it made me think a lot about how material is presented in the classroom. Teachers who love what they are teaching let that excitement come through in their lessons. That excitement is contagious and students want to learn the material. Aside from the planning and preparation, the success of a classroom lesson lies in the enthusiasm and passion of the person presenting. Make it fun!
This week, I worked with resources I liked from the Gateway. I tried to tweak the activities and my own introductions to make each one seem more like a fun activity than a traditional lesson. It is summer, after all!
This Music and Math Monday, we are featuring 2 activities that span both subjects. I like these activities because they allow music beginner parents and teachers to share music theory and math with students, and they are useful as a preview, introduction, or review of fractions. Both would be good in elementary school, and I think that they would help older students, too. In Teaching Note Values with Note Cards, kids make different sized notecards for different types of notes. This helps the kids see the relative values of the notes and how the parts make a whole. We bound our cards at the top so each kid had a little reference book at the end. Each page equaled a whole (one whole note, 2 half notes, 4 quarter notes, etc.) I thought Playing Fraction Pies (an online tool) would only work for kids who already understood fractions, but even the kindergarteners loved building measures of notes until their pies were full and listening to their rhythms played out for them. They even got to email the musical creations to their friends!
For Tasty Tuesday, we are posting two healthy eating resources to help kids learn to read food labels and make healthy snack choices. Reading Food Labels from Nourish Interactive is a nice online game that introduces food labels and choosing balanced meals. The K-3 kids that tried it here loved dragging and dropping different foods on their virtual plates. Once you get to the resource, just click on the picture to get started. For a fun activity that can really get kids moving and involve the whole neighborhood, try Reading Labels: Which Snack is the Best Choice? from PE Central. For this activity, kids collect labels off their favorite snack foods. They will run around and combine physical activities with learning to read the different parts of the labels. It was a great way to burn off some summer steam.
We are getting egg-y this Wacky Wednesday. The egg drop resources here and here will help you get started with an awesome egg drop competition. Kids can make egg protection contraptions for fun on Wednesday, or you can give them time to work on their contraptions throughout the week and have a competition with friends (or have them bring their contraptions to school and have a fun competition at the beginning of the year). While you are on the subject of eggs, why not try some of these Egg-cellent Adventures?
On Thursday, we want to remind kids to read, read, read! Continuing to read and write is very important for keeping up valuable skills. If your kids are into reading any books that have movie adaptations, these are some activities for you. In Popcorn Book Report (for younger kids) and Bag It (for older kids), students write and draw pictures about a book following a certain format on a lunch bag. When they are finished, they get to fill their bag up with popcorn and watch the movie. Perfect for a hot summer afternoon.
We took a break on Friday to enjoy some museum time. If you are having your kids work on a summer project, this Friday would be a good day to do some research on the topic. If they take some notes on the computer, it might be fun to create some word art with the notes. Doing Artwork with Words can also help important ideas and topics pop out for the kids.
Have a great week. Please share your success stories and great summer ideas.