Sunday, May 31, 2015

Multi-grade Fun at the End of the Year-Last Day Activities!

Our school is very small-K-8 school; we have a total of 31 students. Because the size is so small, we always start and end the school year together. It can be a challenge because the age span is large (5-14) and you want everyone to be involved.  One of the things I like about our school is that we are like a family. Believe me, that really makes all-school functions so much easier to do.  So, you may be wondering what kindergartens like doing the graduating eighth-graders like doing. Well, this is how our day went.

Teachers passed out bracelets that glow in the dark. There were green, yellow, orange, blue, purple and pink bracelets. Each color that had six we given to kids to create the blue, orange, yellow and green teams. Pink and purple were combined to make a team of six, too.

We arrived at the school ready for worship. We have three pastors who rotate and bring a plethora of different types of worship every Friday...and the last day was on Friday. We sang songs together, allowing our eighth-graders to pick their favorite songs because this would be their last worship with us. Then we listened to a great nature worship about otters. Now it was time for the fun to begin!

After worship, we headed out to play kickball. We combined colors so that orange, yellow and pink made one team and the other colors made the second team. We played for about 45 minutes.

By the time our kickball game ended, it was getting really warm. We headed into the gym to play a rousing game of Bible Charades. Teams reverted to their original colors and each team was allowed to draw a paper with a Bible story on it.  They spread out over the gym to figure out how to act out their story without words. They were creative and good. Every team was a winner.

Next, we played beach ball volleyball. My older students are use to playing volleyball, but the little ones are not.  We made up our own rules and the game was a lot of fun. First, you can help the server get the ball over the net. Then, the team can hit the ball as many times as they want to, but the ball has to be hit by a second player before the first player can hit it again. The third rule change said there were no out of bounds. It took a while for them to catch on, but they did. Of course, the volleyball was a beach ball.

After that, we played a few Win It In a Minute games. We used m&m's to make faces on a plate using a straw-no hands allowed. Because I bought long straws from the 99¢ Store, we clipped them for any of the younger students who needed a shorter one. Each child had six pieces of candy and had to suck up the candy to make the face. I used the big m&m's because they were too big to go into the straw.

Using green painter's tape, I created zigzag patterns across the tables. Using a straw, two kids blew a cotton ball back and forth across the table while a third team member counted the number of times it crossed the table in one minute. At the end of the minute, we rotated until everyone had a chance to play.

I cut six-inch fish out of tissue paper. Another teacher made paddles from a paper plate by cutting the plate in half and gluing a craft stick on the flat side of the plate. (For thorough drying, make the paddles the night before.) Using the green painter's tape, a starting point was marked. On the other side of the room, there were five tables-one for each group. Every team member, K-8, was given a tissue paper. Each team received a paddle. At the sound of go, the relay started. Older members walked with the younger ones, encouraging and advising them. There were two children who finished a lot later than the others. The entire school cheered them on.

Half of each team was given a craft stick which they placed in their mouth. The other members stacked cereal on the stick. In the actual game, the students stacked their own cereal (or dice or marshmallows) on the stick, but because our tiny ones couldn't hold the stick straight, we gave them the team member job of being the stacker.

Finally, we ended the day with fun food like pizza. The only complaint I heard from anyone went along the lines of, "Aren't we playing more games?"

I hope that this will help you plan your last day of school. If you need more help, you can check my Pinterest board, End of Year Activities.

Here's to you and a wonderful, relaxing summer! God bless!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Full STEAM Ahead

Once a year, I like to give my kids a chance to just create from scraps and pieces of this and that. One year, we had lots of mechanical items that could be taken apart and made into something else. It took a while for them to understand that the only direction that day was to create something on their own. By the end of the day, they were pretty proud of their creations.

This year, I took another avenue. This year, it was all about cardboard. I saved every tissue box; I saved toilet paper rolls. The day before our big day, I went to Walmart and used a shopping cart, pushing it all around the store. Every place someone was emptying boxes and stocking shelves, I asked if I might have the empty boxes. Sometimes, they were required to send the boxes back for some credit, but most of them were made available to me. I loaded my treasures into the back of my little gold Ranger and headed back to my classroom.

The following day, I presented the kids with the boxes, scissors, rolls of tape, glue and staplers. My only requirements were: it had to be original and something on it had to move. My job, then, became circulating around the room, answering questions and providing the kids (grades 3-8) with anything else they needed.

Again, it took a little while to get started, but once they did, they had a creative blast. Here are a few of their projects:

Of course, these pictures are were all of a work in progress. They made vehicles, animals, video games and more. The greatest thing they got out of it was thinking for themselves. Several weeks after we had enjoyed our day, one of the boys came to me and said, "You know, ever since we had that day when we made things out of boxes, I've been thinking that I might like to make things when I grow up." This came from a student who had no idea what he wanted to do in life. Things may very easily change, but at least he is seeing possibilities.

These two days have made me decide that, next year, all year long, my class is going full STEAM ahead with STEM and STEAM activities. I can hardly wait for the school year to begin. Oh, wait, I guess I should finish this year first.