Let’s face it. Spring is here, and the students are beginning to think about summer already. Perhaps you are too. This is the time of year when teachers are tired, students are tired, and routines are tired as well.
I try to add some pizzazz to the class this time of year by changing small things and introducing new games and practices. It gives everyone a little jolt of energy and keeps things interesting. Any little thing that’s out of the ordinary can wake up tired minds.
Here are eight ideas that work well in my class.
- Introduce new music. I use Pandora on my classroom computer and type in a station for something we haven’t heard much of, such as jazz, movie soundtracks, or music from another culture.
- Introduce some video drawing lessons. When we need a short, ten minute break, I play a video of one of Mark Kistler’s drawing lessons. His drawing lessons entrance kids up to about age 13. You can find several of his lessons on YouTube. Each one is only a few minutes long, and the students turn out some nice looking pictures while learning art vocabulary.
- Play some new games. One we play is called Slapstick. Two students stand back to back, and a third student gives them each a playing card which they place on their foreheads. The third student says the product of the two cards. The other two students turn and face each other. Looking at the other person’s card, they must guess what card is on their own forehead. For example, if the product is 7, and the first student sees a 1 on the second student’s forehead, he knows his card is a 7.
- Play a poison word game for the entire day. We choose a word such as “please” or “thanks” to be the poison word and we choose a language. All day long, any time a person says the poison word, he or she must say it in the new language. We also choose core content words, such as “electricity” or “revolution” or a word related to our content topic of the day. Everyone has to stay awake to play this game!
- I use a points system for classroom management. If the class gets three points ahead of me, I let them play a game for three minutes. Sometimes I let them have three minutes of free time to sit with a friend. Or we’ll extend recess by three minutes. Conversely, if I get three minutes ahead of them, I have the option of giving them an extra page of homework. Bwahahaha!
- Assign new types of projects. If you choose a computer project, the students will usually be quite excited. Have them do a video book report, or a PowerPoint report on a topic you’re studying. Have them write a song to remember a concept. Turn the mundane routines into something fun with music, kinesthetics, and technology.
- Invite more of your parents to come in and do a presentation or activity with the students. Having a guest visit the classroom is a great way to break out of your regular routine.
- Get a jump start on summer reading. Give your students a sampling of some of the best summer books. Look up a list of good books at your library, and read excerpts out of each one. Or better yet, take a trip to the local library and have the librarian introduce the students to some activities and books for their age group.
Of course, this late in the year, you don’t want to let routine go by the wayside. If you do, your room will turn into Class Chaotic. So keep the regular routine that works for you, and add a few activities here and there to keep everyone interested and happy.
Do you have other ideas to shake things up in the spring?
Enjoy the rest of your school year teaching!