Summer Fun!

Embarrassing tears. Bear hugs. Final farewells.

These are all signs of the last day of school. For students, it is a time to thank their teachers for making a difference. For teachers, it is a time to reflect upon the school year. While students will be embracing the prospect of hanging out with friends and/or family at their favorite places, teachers will be enjoying a couple of months to relax and recharge.

Yet, the end of the school year also brings an opportunity for teachers to celebrate the finale for one class and prelude to another. The following ideas will help you finish the current year with a bang and embark on the next one feeling prepared.

End-of-Year Ideas

1) Student Letters: Have your current students write letters to those who will be occupying their desks next year. Letters can give student advice on what to expect regarding the teacher, routines, and subject matter studied. Then, have these same students write letters that introduce themselves to the teacher whose class they will be in next year.  These letters can include information about themselves, such as, their families, pets, hobbies/interests, favorite subjects, strengths and weaknesses in school, etc.

2) Class Book Swap: Research has shown that learning loss during the summer is minimized with students who continue to read. The Class Book Swap is a chance for each student to obtain a small collection of books for those summer months. Students can bring 3-5 gently used books from home to exchange for the same number of books from other students. Everyone benefits!

3) Balloon Pop Countdown: Hang 20 balloons from the ceiling and choose a student to pop one each day. Inside the unpopped balloon, you will have placed a note with something unusual for the class to do (e.g., “Sit wherever you’d like for the day,” “Do no homework tonight”). A variation would be to do an alphabet countdown during the last 26 days of school with fun activities. For example, A can be for “Art Day,” G for “Game Board” Day, and S for “Softball Day.”

Summer Ideas

A Book a Week: Read one children’s book a week on your own. There are always new titles out which the kids know but you may not. To save time, get the audio book from the public library and listen in your car or while exercising. To balance out your reading, set a goal to dig into some professional books to increase your teaching expertise. Check out Education World’s “Best Professional Book Recommendations for Teachers”: http://www.educationworld.com/a_bestbooks/archives/teachers.shtml

An Extreme Classroom Makeover:  Pledge to become more organized while making your classroom more conducive to teaching and learning. Decorating is a snap if you have a theme. Look at other teachers’ classrooms or better yet, check out sites such as Pinterest and Google and type in “Classroom Makeover.”  Visit yard sales and check out clearance racks to search for items.

The end of the school year and summer months can be a time to unwind a bit and think outside the box for your classroom and your students. More importantly, enjoy yourself while you do it. I guarantee you will feel refreshed and ready for the first bell in September!

Your Turn

Do you have a summer idea to jumpstart your classroom? Please share it with other professionals!