May 14, 2016

Sweet Summertime: Summer Countdown Bloghop

Happy Saturday friends! Thank you for following along on this awesome Summer Countdown blog hop! I hope you score some wonderful freebies along the way. Keep reading for a freebie and a TPT giveaway ;)

Is anybody else as excited for summer as us?! I know I am :) My summer vacation actually started yesterday at 3:45pm. Crazy, right?! I can't believe the school year has already ended. I always get sad on the last day of school. I work in a small school so the relationships that I build are pretty tight and I miss my kiddos SO much. But as sad as I was, I was also ready for a break. 

I can definitely tell that the break is approaching. My students have been extremely chatty. I have a really quiet and well behaved group, so it was something I wasn't used to all year. 

Coincidentally, my last day was Friday the 13th. ;)

With the end of the year approaching for most schools, I thought I would share my top 5 tips for keeping my students busy and focused throughout the crazy.

As the last days are being counted down I think a lot of kids and teachers begin to get too relaxed about school. Movies are played and bad behaviors are overlooked. I believe in teaching as much as I can, for as long as I can. Yes, even on the last day of school. We only have so many hours a year to spend with these kiddos to make a difference in their life. I'm tired, they're tired, but putting a movie in isn't going to teach them. That's a babysitter. 

I teach using games, going outside, or doing fun activities. The kids can be actively learning even when you're doing something as simple as having a competition with math facts or baking for another class. It's easy to get caught up in the thrills of the approaching break, believe me, I want to. But I also have a duty as their teacher to teach them things! My kids have never seemed to mind. 

We do Accelerated Reader at my school. The point parties and rewards are over, but my kids are still reading and wanting to take tests despite the need for a reward. They just love to learn! Teaching for as long as you can is still possible, you just have to motivate yourself to do it.

I LOVE GoNoodle. We use it daily in my classroom. During the end of the year we are tired and ready for summer. When I can tell my kids are beginning to lose interest I always turn on their favorite video and suddenly they are back with me. GoNoodle is an easy way to achieve engagement while also doing activities to promote physical and mental exercise. 

Their favorites are Pop See Ko, and any videos with cats. This class is crazy about cats. 

Another fun thing to do at the end of the year is random acts of kindness. In my class we counted down the days, starting at the number of students I had in my class. Each day we would draw a name and they would get to pick a kindness deed to be done that day. They loved being able to spread happiness throughout the school, and the other kids loved it too. 
One day my kids made cookies for another class. 

Some days they would read to other classes, write kind notes to students and staff, smile at everyone we passed by, and pick up trash. Each day a student had a unique idea to celebrate our last days with kindness.

Compliment Parties are my favorite kind of party. 
Throughout the year my kids work for parties when they have a certain behavior while with another teacher or outside of the classroom. We usually base it on being great with a sub, getting a compliment from another teacher for having polite manners, or showing bravery and courage. 

When they demonstrate any of these great behaviors they earn the chance to guess a letter on our hangman board. If they guess a correct letter it goes into the correct space, if not then it goes into the discard pile. They have to earn every letter to get the party, even if they know what the hangman spells out. I usually have it spell out the party they are going to earn, but in a fun way. In the past we did "Sleepy Time Celebration" for a pajama party or "Super Sundae Surprise" for an ice cream party.
I always tie each party to something we are learning in class, or make a review game for them that has the theme of our party.

Although we do this all year, I still have a game going until the last day of school. Sometimes my kids earn it in the last week. We had our last party on Wednesday. I think this motivates them to keep up with the great behavior they had shown throughout the year.

Go Outside!!

My kids love being outdoors! We can do so much of our learning out there. I teach at an Agricultural charter school, so we do have access to a lot of outdoor activities. Even without this there is so much you can do. We read outside all throughout the month of May. They think it's so fun to get the blankets and read like they're at a picnic.

Spring is also the perfect time to plant! We plant flowers, butterfly plants and vegetables in all of our gardens. 

We had a watermelon party outside this year too. We taste tested different kinds of watermelon, made graphs, wrote stories and had a seed spitting contest. We used the packet It's A Watermelon Summer by Mrs. Baker's Dozen. So cute and perfect for the end of the year!!

Thank you so much for joining in and hopping through some amazing summer activities. I have a little freebie for you for joining in with us! I created some colorful tags that I attached to bubbles for end of the year gifts. Click Here to download this freebie! I got a 6 pack of large bubble wands at Wal-Mart for less than 4 dollars. Such a great deal! 

You can also enter my giveaway below for a $10 TPT gift card to celebrate the start of my Teachers Pay Teachers store! The winner will be announced Wednesday, May 18th.

This would be great for all of your end of the year needs. I just added a set of  end of the year awards to my store, so check them out!

Hop on over to The Bender Bunch for the rest of the countdown!
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