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Working Summer Camp? Or Summer School? How to Get Started!

Are you going to be working with groups this summer? 
Perhaps you're working at summer camp...
or summer school...
or volunteering at the library summer program...
or helping out at a summer day care?


Working Summer Camp? Or Summer School? How to Get Started! Whether you're a camp counselor, summer day care leader, or summer school teacher, here are some fun ideas to get you started this summer! This blog post includes a Team Building Freebie!

No matter what type of summer work you're doing, getting started is possibly the most challenging part of the program!

You may have a variety of children. You might have a variety of ages. You might have some children who know each other. You might have a lot of children who don't know each other. You might have very young children, or you might have pre-teens, teens, or older!

No matter who you've got, before the real learning begins, it's important to help children feel comfortable with each other.

Whatever you do, don't put them on the spot or ask them to talk to someone they don't know right away. Some children love that, others can "handle it," but others will clam up and get nervous about the next activity they do with you. 

What we really want is to get them interacting without having to talk... at first! We might even do something that will get them giggling! 

Here are a few games that will get them interacting, possibly giggling, without traumatizing them! (With links to directions!)


Once they get comfortable with one another, it's time to try some games where they'll have to talk to one another:

Still looking for more? 


If you're looking for more games, try the full set: 60 Team Building Games and Activities.

If you are teaching summer school, here are some fun summer themed activities that focus on reading and math activities for second and third grade: Summer School Activities


Working Summer Camp? Or Summer School? How to Get Started! Whether you're a camp counselor, summer day care leader, or summer school teacher, here are some fun ideas to get you started this summer! This blog post includes a Team Building Freebie!

Do You Ever End Up Smarter After Watching Jeopardy?

Have you ever watched Jeopardy

I do love watching, even though I rarely know any of the answers. (Unless they have a musical theatre category, then I usually get them all!)
 
Did you ever end up smarter after watching Jeopardy? Many times children can learn just by trying to answer the questions provided. Here are some fun digital tools to help them enjoy learning by trying!
 
Who Wants to be a Millionaire is another fun trivia show to watch. Once in a while I'll know an answer, but I could never get past the first level without Google!

My students have always loved these Brain Quest sets for the same reason. Sometimes they know the answer, but even if they don't, they enjoy them, and learn from them! (Each image is a link to my Amazon affiliate.)


             

What do these all have in common?  After you've watched the shows, or read the Brain Quest sets, you end up knowing more than before! 

This is pretty much the reasoning behind a study strategy known as Retrieval Practice. Retrieval practice includes "practice tests" as a method of seeing what a student can remember, or retrieve from his memory. This strategy helps them know what they still need to study. Check out this link if you want to know more about this strategy: Learn How to Study Using Retrieval Practice. Here's another link about Retrieval Practice and other valued learning strategies. Four Research-Based Strategies Every Teacher Should Be Learning

Remembering what was questioned on game shows or trivia cards isn't quite the same as studying what was already taught, but seriously: if you try to think of an answer, then hear the answer, you are more likely to remember it, aren't you?

Since there is so much knowledge out there that the children just absorb when they're exposed to it, why not expose them to more knowledge?

I've created some BOOM Learning digital task cards that are perfect for learning from trying to figure out an answer!  Here are a couple:
 


Canada, USA, or Both? is perfect for July, since Canada Day and Independence Day (USA) are celebrated at the beginning of the month. If you don't teach summer school, That's ok. It's fun to learn about these 2 North American countries any time of year!
 

Landforms Boom Bundle
is a great supplement to any work on Geography. I like to expose the children to this before I actually start working on landforms.  Since the children can  use the BOOM Learning Digital Task Cards over and over, they love to challenge themselves to get more correct each time! They become familiar with the vocabulary as well as the different geographic features of each landform as they practice. Plus, the teacher can easily go into the records to see how well they are getting to know their landforms!

Here are a few more sets of BOOM cards that are "self learning:"

Not familiar with BOOM Learning digital task cards?  Here's more information, plus a freebie: Have You Heard about BOOM Digital Task Cards?


Did you ever end up smarter after watching Jeopardy? Many times children can learn just by trying to answer the questions provided. Here are some fun digital tools to help them enjoy learning by trying!

Did you ever end up smarter after watching Jeopardy? Many times children can learn just by trying to answer the questions provided. Here are some fun digital tools to help them enjoy learning by trying!


Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!

Here in the northern hemisphere, we are enjoying the spring weather!

Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.


We still have to teach. but we might as well teach while enjoying the beautiful weather and getting those kiddos outside! Here are some of my ideas!

Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.

This one is pretty obvious! They have to read every day.  Why not bring it outside? If you want to go all out, have them bring in towels to sit or lie on while reading. Other options: partner reading, or teacher read alouds!

I do find sometimes a little bribery motivation is necessary. "If you don't stay focused on your books, we will have to bring them back inside."

Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.

There are loads of engineering projects that can be done outside!  Children can use sand, grass, rocks or sticks to create all sorts of things! Here are a few ideas:

1. Create a sundial.
2. Make a tall rock tower.
3. Make a shadow creature.
4. Take tubs of water outside and maybe a few classroom materials to create "boats" that float!

This is only the beginning. If you search "Outdoor S.T.E.M." on Pinterest or google it, I'll bet you find a TON of ideas!

Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.

You'll need some sidewalk chalk for this. 


Have equal teams, and a list of math facts or math problems they can solve. 


One team member at a time takes the chalk, runs to the other end of the defined area, write the problem with the correct answer, and run back. (It's a good idea to have another adult at the other end to check their math!) 

When they get back, the next person gets the chalk and a new problem.


I suggest making the running area on grass or "soft top," and the writing area on the hard top.

They'll be so busy having fun and burning off steam, they won't even know they're practicing important facts!


Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.

Sketching is an important science skill!


Scientists need to notice details, and look for differences!


Direct students to pick a specific spot to sketch. (One with some sort of vegetation is best!)  A week later, they can go back to the same spot. As they re-sketch, hopefully they will notice differences.

Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.
3 Seasons of our class tree!
Notice the winter tree was photographed from inside the screened window!

I've had my groups choose a "class tree" in the fall, and we will often go out to sketch the tree. As the year progresses, they re-sketch, and definitely notice differences!
One little secret, I've been very good at convincing the children to choose the tree right outside our class window. That way, they can sketch from inside in the winter! (No one wants to sit in snow and sketch!)


Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.

Just like reading, story writing can be brought outdoors easily! They can continue stories they were working on, make up a story about what they see, or write nature poetry. Again, reminding the children this is a privilege helps them stay focused!


If you're interested in a little outdoor Science or Social Studies with reading and writing skills thrown in, check out this: Science and Social Studies for Summer

Most of these activities are designed for the outdoors, and you definitely don't have to wait for summer!

Five Ways to Get Them Learning OUTSIDE!  There's something special about being outside, and it's a great place to practice important skills.

Looking for ways to make it until Summer?

I know most of you are getting mighty close to the end of the school year. I want to make your life a bit easier!

 
Looking for ways to make it until Summer? Here are some suggestions, including some fantastic bargains!


This resource is perfect for those last few days when the weather is summer-like and the students are struggling to hold it together!
 
Looking for ways to make it until Summer? Here are some suggestions, including an exclusive freebie and some fantastic bargains!
 
 Science and Social Studies Activities for the Summer.

 Plus, I've bundled this new resource with 9 others for a year round set of Science and Social Studies fun integrated into reading and writing activities!

Looking for ways to make it until Summer? Here are some suggestions, including an exclusive freebie and some fantastic bargains!

You can find this bundled resource here. You'll notice there's a HUGE discount!
 
Plus, here's a fun freebie to help the kiddos celebrate the books they've read this year: 
 
 
Looking for ways to make it until Summer? Here are some suggestions, including some fantastic bargains!

Or, if you're interested in a fuller version of this activity see here:
Celebrate Reading and Books Board Game

Here's a link to Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School.
(Each step has a freebie!)
 
Looking for ways to make it until Summer? Here are some suggestions, including some fantastic bargains!
 
 Here's to a happy last few weeks of school!
Looking for ways to make it until Summer? Here are some suggestions, including an exclusive freebie and some fantastic bargains!

Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School - Part 7: Enjoy them

You may not be getting much sleep, trying to fit in all those end-of-the-year expectations, but hang in there, there's a light at the end of the tunnel!

Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School - Part 7: Enjoy them! This post includes a Reader's theater freebie about kindness!

For the past 6 days, I've been sharing ideas to have a Happy Last Day of School. 


You can read about Step One here:  Read Your Favorite Book
 
You can read about Step Two here: Leave Out a Few Favorite Games.

You can read about the third strategy here: Keep Out a Few Decks of Playing Cards.


You can read about Step Four here: Keep Out a Handful of Whiteboards, Markers, and Erasers.

Read Step Five here: Make Sure They Have Something to Read!

Read about Step Six here: Find One-On-One Time With Each Student.

Now, here is Step Seven!
Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School - Part 7: Enjoy them! This post includes a Reader's theater freebie about kindness!

That's really what it's all about, isn't it?

Push away all the thoughts of what still needs to be done such as packing, test scores, end of the year meetings, end of the year record keeping, and all the rest.  

Take the time to enjoy the kids. 

I'll admit, I've never had a "last day" where I didn't get choked up saying goodbye to the children. (And I've been teaching forever!) 

They are the ones that matter after all the craziness of everything else!

It's really all about the kids. 
Remember that. 
Enjoy them!

As Ellen would say, be kind to one another. Here's my last freebie from the seven days: Starring Kindness
 
Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School - Part 7: Enjoy them! This post includes a Reader's theater freebie about kindness!
 

Which is your favorite of the Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School?

Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School - Part 7: Enjoy them! This post includes a Reader's theater freebie about kindness!

Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School - Part 6: Meet with each child

Hopefully, you're getting report cards done and getting packed up with minimal stress, since that last day is coming soon.

Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School Part 5: Find one-on-one time with every child. This post suggests how to organize the last day, and has a literacy center organization freebie!

It's all crazy, I know, but the kids make it all worth it, and that last day should be all about them!

You can read about Step One here:  Read Your Favorite Book
 
You can read about Step Two here: Leave Out a Few Favorite Games.

You can read about the third strategy here: Keep Out a Few Decks of Playing Cards.


Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School Part 5: Find one-on-one time with every child. This post suggests how to organize the last day, and has a literacy center organization freebie!

I know, that's not easy when there are a whole bunch of them, and they all want attention! But there are ways to do it! 

I like to use as much routine as I can on that last day.  Although I don't do any Guided Reading groups during the last few days, I organize my day the same way.

This blog post tells how I organize my groups during Guided Reading time:
 

Although some of the options just don't work on the last day of school, I do use my literacy center cards to help organize things. You can find those as a freebie here: Literacy Center Cards Freebie.
 
Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School Part 5: Find one-on-one time with every child. This post suggests how to organize the last day, and has a literacy center organization freebie!
 
I might set up a few stations to go with the things I've kept out for the kiddos: (The freebie doesn't have cards for all these, but you can use the blank cards.)

Independent Reading 
Whiteboards
Games
Playing Cards
Work With Teacher

At the independent reading station, they can read any picture books I've kept out, or memory books. (See Step 5.)

At the Whiteboards station, they can play hangman or dictate sentences to one another. (See Step 4.)

At the games station, they can play the games I've left out. (See Step 2.)

At the Playing Cards station, they can play Salute, or Twenty-One. (See Step 3.)

What happens at the Work with Teacher Station? This is where you can give them individualized time! I've been known to play Apples to Apples with the children and laugh a lot. It's a great way to spend our last day together!

Another option?  Have no "Work With Teacher" station, and circulate throughout the classroom meeting with the children one at a time. I always make sure I ask questions about summer plans and make sure they know I'll be thinking about them!

This is your last crack at them... make it count!

Here's a link to Step Seven:


Seven Steps to a Happy Last Day of School Part 5: Find one-on-one time with every child. This post suggests how to organize the last day, and has a literacy center organization freebie!
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