Daily Thematic Lessons Keep Kids Engaged
The last weeks of school can be a challenge for everyone, but elementary students have an especially hard time focusing once the weather warms up and it starts to feel like summer. I've had great success capturing the attention of restless year-end learners with daily thematic lessons. They liven things up and ensure your students are still learning even when most of the regular curriculum has been completed.
Alphabet Day (PreK-K)
It's important to reinforce basic skills before students head out for summer, so if you teach young ones, spend a day simply focused on the ABCs and letter sounds. There are many fantastic resources online to save teachers prep time in such a busy season. Games like I have Who Has ABC from Kindergarten Squad or The Alphabet Game from Elementary Lesson Plans are sure to hook learners from the get go. If your students need to get their wiggles out take them on an Alphabet Scavenger Hunt or give this Human Letter activity a try. You can even engage kinesthetic learners with awesome sensory activities like Pipe Cleaners Letters or Wiki Stik ABCs.
Game Day (1-5)
Students of all ages love to play games, so capitalize on that and choose a slew of review games to fill your day. You might revisit favorite games you've played throughout the year or introduce new games to reinforce important concepts for the upcoming grade. Some of my favorite low prep printable games include math fact games from Math Salamanders and word sort games from The Camping Teacher. I also like making custom bingo boards to review vocabulary from units throughout the year. For a special treat, you can even allow students to bring in their own favorite board games and spend time playing with one another. While board games may not be straightforwardly educational, they teach fantastic social skills and encourage independent problem solving and strategizing skills.
Puzzle Day (3-5)
Puzzle day is best for older students that have the attention span to persevere through mental challenges. Puzzles are stretching, but so rewarding and fantastic for brain development. Set up your classroom in stations and allow students to move freely between them or assign groups to each area for a specified time. Some stations can simply be age appropriate boxed puzzles or favorite puzzles students have brought from home. At a few stations, provide math puzzles like these Magic Hexagons or Tangram Puzzles. At other stations, provide puzzles that focus on words like these Printable Kids Crosswords. You can even generate your own word search puzzles (class names is always an end of year favorite of mine) here! For added fun, set up a technology puzzle station and allow kids to solve puzzles on Math is Fun or Kids Crosswords Online.
Students are sure to love the change of pace these thematic days provide and are always eager to get involved. Days like these are an excellent way to capture end of year attention and capitalize on your final moments to teach this year's group of students.