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Friday, May 13, 2016

End of the Year Activities for Upper Elementary

It's here! It's here! The end of the year is here!  Now, I always vacillate between being terribly sad the year is over and being so excited for a fresh start come August.  My first few years teaching, I always scrambled the last few weeks trying to find engaging but still meaningful activities for my students to do those last couple weeks of school.  I wanted it to be EXCITING and FUN but I still wanted to maintain control of my classroom and keep them learning.  It was always a challenge.  I figure there must be other people in my same boat-- searching endlessly for the perfect end of the year activity-- so I compiled a huge list of the best end of the year activities I have found and use.


This compilation of 25 ideas is specifically geared towards keeping bigger kids (grades 3+) engaged the last few weeks of school.  I hope you can find an idea or two! (Note: For more information on each activity, click the link directly below the picture.)

End of the Year Writing
This activity caught my eye immediately.  It's a great twist on the typical assignment to have kids write a letter to the incoming class.  Instead, it's something of a list/poem that explains the best way to be a fourth grader (or any grade level).

End of the Year Reading Activity
This End of the Year Reading Activity was created because my kids LOVE their yearbooks so much! I thought about creating a comprehension sheet to go with our yearbook, but then I realized how time intensive that would be and that I wouldn't be able to use it from year to year.  So I created this fictional, 8-page yearbook with a super fun scavenger hunt to go with it.  It can be used in printable form (as shown) or with the task cards that are included. 

End of the Year Newspaper
I can't find an original source for this idea, but I love it!  Here is what the original pinner wrote: "I created a basic newspaper template and then had my students write mini-articles on what the fifth graders can expect when they come to sixth grade next year. Students wrote a brief bio on about the teacher and then articles about tips to surviving sixth grade, favorite memories, sixth grade camp, etc. We then passed them along to the fifth graders so they could read them and get an idea for what sixth grade is about. This was a really fun activity!"

End of the Year Bulletin Board
Have each student hold a dry erase board with what they want to be when they grow up.  Then, turn it into a bulletin board with their graduation year.  What a GREAT send off for an entire grade level-- especially 5th graders! (Source unknown)

End of the Year Hand Self Portrait
I love incorporating art into the classroom, and the end of the year is truly the perfect time to do that. This activity has students create a "Hand Self-Portrait." They can make the hand's patterns and symbols reflect who they are, and on the outside they can write about their school year.  (Source unknown)

The Ultimate Paper Airplane Competition
So, I will openly admit that I completely stalk The Thinker Builder.  He has amazing ideas, and this one is no exception.  I can't WAIT to do this activity this year.  I know the kids are going to flip out over it!

End of the Year Math Project
When I started creating math projects, I realized how engaged my students were with every new one that I pulled out.  That meant I needed one for the end of the year! I created this End of the Year Party Planner to review all of the math skills we had worked on but also to let their creative juices flow.  I always love seeing the games they come up with, how they lay out their field for the party, and more. 

Road Trip Math Review Project
This year, I had three weeks at the end of the year after I had finished all of our math standards.  I decided to pull out my Road Trip math project which I originally created to review skills at the beginning of the year.  It has been PERFECT for the last few weeks of school.  It reviews so many math skills, and I've been so impressed at the critical thinking my kids have shown.  Since it's road trip themed, my students have really been getting in the summer mood, too!

End of the Year Memory Wheel
These  memory wheels could be used for so many different purposes, but I totally dig the idea of using it to showcase memories from the school year.

Mystery Person
How fun is this?  The teacher comes up with a clue for each person in the class and then everyone has to guess who it is.  I made a free editable template to easily create your clues.  Even more fun? Have your kids come up with a clue about themselves or others!  Free template HERE.

3 Words End of the Year Reflection
I blogged about this idea years ago, and it remains one of my favorite end of the school year traditions.  We do this as an entire school and then make a big end of the year slideshow to watch as an entire school.  So sweet. 

STEM Sports Challenges
Our science kits are headed back to our district science center, so these STEM Sports challenges are PERFECT for the end of the year.  I plan to do these challenges the entire last week of school. 

End of the Year Book Party
Oh, how I wish we were allowed to have all this food at our school! I would love to have each kid choose a book and bring a treat that goes with the book.  What a FUN addition to our usual end of the year read-a-thin!

Countdown on the Last Day of School
This one has made its way around Pinterest and the Blogosphere for years now, and I adore it every time I see it.  Your kids would love it, too!  Use all of the ideas from this post, and put one in for every time on the balloon.  Your day will fly by!

End of the Year Activities Using the iPad
What a great collection of ideas for using the iPad at the end of the year!  She has included so many wonderful ideas.

End of the Year Turtle Compliments
Each child gets a paper plate to put on their back (their turtle shell).  They walk quietly around the room giving each other compliments on their turtle shells.  <3

Field Trip to the Next Grade
I know my students would be so excited about taking a field trip to their next grade, and they would be equally excited to host kids coming to 4th grade next year!  SUCH a brilliant idea.

Claymation Projects
If you have iPads in your room and a little bit of time, you absolutely MUST do this claymation project.  Seriously.  How cool is this!?

End of the Year ABC Memory Book
We always make an ABC book for one of our novels, so this would be a fun activity, too!  They can create a memory book based on their school year.  She includes a free template and lots of other great end of the year ideas in this post, too!

End of the Year Memories Task Cards
I made these three years ago to use as our morning work during the last two weeks of school.  Each day, students picked a new task card to use to create a memory project for the school year.  Some cards took kids just one day to complete whereas others spent a good chunk of time on their task.  I always love the variety of displays I get out of these memory task cards!

Keeping Students Engaged Until the End!
Kelsey has some awesome ideas for keeping students engaged right until the very end.  Since we just finished our study of fossils, I know they would love this!

Book Tasting Party
Described as book speed dating, this activity could truly be used any time of year, but the end of the year-- after all the books kids have read-- would be the perfect time to host this book tasting party!

End of the Year Math Glyph
Steph from Teaching in Room 6 is one of my favorites-- she has the most brilliant and engaging ideas for EVERYTHING and this end of the year math activity is no exception! 

End of the Year Portfolios
If you do portfolios, you HAVE to see this blog post.  They are some of the most gorgeous portfolios I have ever seen!

End of the Year Awards
And finally... my VERY favorite end of the year activity happens in the last few minutes of the last day of school. End of the Year Awards! I start thinking about who will get what awards toward the middle of April and always have such a fun time choosing the perfect one.  As a result of having SO many different personalities over the years, my End of the Year Awards have grown into a HUGE bundle of more than 80 editable awards!  I truly can't wait to hand these out.



Thursday, April 7, 2016

Measurement and Geometry Unit

Here in Colorado, we have two more months of school before summer break, and as of last week, we have taught ALL of our math standards!  Yay!  Now it's on to some collaborative projects, STEM activities, and enrichment while we review all of the concepts we worked on this year.  Before we begin those super fun activities, though, we had to finish up our geometry and measurement unit, and I'm here to share some of the activities we did!


For ALL of our geometry concepts, we compiled our notes into a big Geometry Waterfall booklet.  We do A LOT of interactive note-booking throughout the year, so I wanted to change it up a bit for this unit, and they really enjoyed it!  Here is a peek inside our waterfall booklets.


We started with area and perimeter.  The notes they took were really basic since they remembered many of these skills from third grade.  Here is another blog post I wrote about PERIMETER AND AREA with a ton of other ideas and activities that we did in the past and did again this go around! 



Then, we worked on line study.  This is one of my favorite parts because of the line study activity we do every year.  Kids love it SO much!  Here is a look at the very basic page in our booklet...


Now the fun begins!  My kids make their own hands-on line study packets for practicing.  You can read more about that in old blog posts HERE and HERE.




Next it was on to Angles!  


This looks like SO MUCH when it is all put together.  However, we did this over the course of two or three days and walked through each step.  It would have been far too overwhelming to do all at once, so I don't recommend it. :)   I have blogged about ANGLES and the activities we do HERE and HERE.

Next, it was on to Classifying Polygons.  We really didn't spend too much time on this after we made our waterfall booklets.  We played a few games during math workshop, and they caught on very quickly!


Finally, we worked for a day or two on symmetry.  Again, they were familiar with the concept, so we took it a bit further with our discussion.



They created shapes using pattern blocks and mirrors to check for symmetry.  If you've never taught symmetry this way, I HIGHLY recommend it!


When we were done with these concepts (which took about three weeks in total, between whole group instruction and math workshop rotations), it was on to measurement! On the first day of instruction, we reviewed the difference between Customary and Metric measurement, which was actually a big struggle for a lot of my kids.  We also reviewed relative size using an anchor chart I found on Pinterest!  If you are the original creator of this chart, please let me know!


The next day, we briefly introduced converting measures, which again, was fairly foreign to most of them.  It was SO nice that day (and we were in the middle of state testing), so we took it outside.  I created a quick little sheet that gave them specific things to measure on our playground.  Then, they had to convert into feet, inches, yards, etc. as well as centimeters and meters.  It was just the break we needed!


You can download a copy of the SUPER BASIC recording sheet HERE.

The next day, we combined all of our geometry and measurement skills with these real world task cards.  My students loved them so much that they started taking and drawing their own pictures and writing questions! I love to see students take action like that.

You can find these Geometry and Measurement Picture Task Cards HERE.

One more connection we made to the real world was with our Geometry Circle Map.  Students found examples in the real world and we put them into a circle map.  I keep forgetting to take a picture of ours, but here's one from a few years ago...


Once we were done with measurement, it was time to review ALL of the learning we had done for the past month.  This was undeniably the highlight of the unit!  I combined all of the concepts we had worked on and made a quiz style review game using task cards.  Set up was easy because I already had the task cards made for each topic from math workshop.  You can read more about how we play the game with fractions HERE (there is also a link to download the point cards and a recording sheet).  This time, though, I made it a little bit simpler and just had teams get FULL points if they were the first done and got it correct, and then the rest of the kids got half points if they got it correct. That way there is still incentive to finish it and do well!


When a card was chosen, I would project it up on the document camera while groups read and solved it together.
When we were done with the game, my kids BEGGED me to put new cards in it and play again!


You can purchase the task cards I used for the review game (and throughout my ENTIRE unit) in a Bundle HERE or separately if you only need a few sets! :)  Happy teaching.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Teaching Quotation Marks and Dialogue

We've been busy working on narratives in writing (post about that coming soon!), so it seemed like the perfect time to also throw in some instruction on using dialogue in writing and rules for using quotation marks.  We didn't have much time to practice, and the vast majority of the practice we did was done while we were writing our narratives, but I did want to share a few activities we used along the way!

First, we made an anchor chart together discussing ways to use dialogue so that they could change it up a bit.  Then, we made an anchor chart about the basic rules for using quotation marks.  After this, I had them look through a page in their current novel and pick out each of the dialogue rules we had discussed. 


Now, this was one of those activities I thought of mid-lesson that turned out to be perfect. We have a class set of 10 iPads, so I had the students get into groups of 3 and record themselves having a brief 15-20 second conversation with each other (topic was their choice, but if I had planned ahead, I might have given them topics). Then, they had to transcribe their little conversations into a dialogue. They thought it was the coolest thing ever, and it was a super quick but super effective way to work on their types of dialogue and quotation mark rules! 


The last activity we did included a set of quotation mark task cards!  They are multiple choice task cards, so they can be used as a quick Scoot activity.  However, I wanted them to take the task a bit further and keep on practicing their skills.  Each partner group got a task card.  They selected which one was punctuated correctly.  Then, they had to come up with a line of dialogue that could go BEFORE and a line of dialogue that could come AFTER the sentence on the card.  This was GREAT practice because they had to correctly punctuate three separate sentences or sections of dialogue and be creative at the same time.  These were super fun to read and grade, too!

You can find the Quotation Mark Task Cards HERE!


While they worked on these activities, I had them use a quick little checklist to make sure they were following dialogue rules.  You can download the list HERE.


Do you have any fun dialogue activities to share? I'd love to hear about them!