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Field Days, Talent Shows, and Class Picnics - Oh My! or How to Learn and Have Fun During the Last Weeks of School

Written by Emily Rozmus on Friday, 19 May 2017. Posted in Posts

The classroom is packed up, with bare walls and stacked-up textbooks. Students are eager to help clean and sort, preparing for the end of the school year. The teacher frantically finds activities to keep the class busy, and when all else fails, turns to a movie, the lights turned off, the room cooler without a fluorescent glare. Tomorrow is Field Day, and the temperature is sure to be high. The next day is the class picnic, and after that, the doors close for good on the 2016-17 school year. 

Sound familiar? Many teachers will recognize this scenario, and feel a twinge of anxiety over those last few days of school, largely unstructured and definitely exhausting. But what if you could avoid the end of the year madness, and keep learning? What if the students could even have fun while they learned? Available at no cost, INFOhio's Camp INFOhio and IWonder Genius Hour could be just what you need to keep kids learning until the last day of school! Don't put away those Chrome carts yet! Keep the computers up and running! Today's post will highlight what using one day of Camp INFOhio could look like; check back tomorrow for how to implement IWonder Genius Hour.

Camp INFOhio - Five days of STEAM 

STEAM is science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. These five disciplines lend themselves well to hands-on, student-centered, and student-led learning. Perfect for students in fourth or fifth grade, Camp INFOhio has five days of STEAM activities planned out in sessions, much like a summer day camp. Each day, the students will engage in learning more about topics from each of the disciplines by reading, creating, and experimenting. There are even fun ideas for snack time and lunch! Students can work in groups, and move to stations for each of the STEAM activities. Here is an example of how Day 2 of Camp INFOhio might look in the classroom:

First Station: 

In this activity, ask student groups to read the article together as a group, stopping to discuss or question the content as needed. One person can take notes if necessary. Once they have completed the article, the final question can become a writing activity. Students can write what they would do if they met a velociraptor. The goal is to survive - what are the skills or steps needed? Students can cite the text for evidence to support their written plan. Working as a group, the student outcome will be a bulleted list of Best Practices to Survive a Velociraptor Encounter.

Second Station:

As a group, students will access the activity available on World Book Kids. Note: since the code key is small, it is a good idea to let the students know they can adjust the zoom on the device they are using for a clearer image. Following the directions, the students will find the code for their name. When they are finished, they can write their name code number on a sheet of paper and add some personal details such as favorite foods or movies and character traits to the paper. These can be displayed in the classroom, and using sticky notes, other classmates can see if they can "crack the code" to find out which paper belongs to which student.

Third Station:

As a group, the students read the article about roller coasters. This is a long article, and it might be a good idea to ask students to focus on just one section, such as The Nature of the Beast or The First Ride. Students should discuss and share questions about the text, and one students can take notes. Once they have read about the construction and the experience of the roller coaster, the group can create their own roller coaster using information from the article. Provide a piece of poster paper and have the group draw, name, and label the parts of their very own roller coaster. Bonus points (or better yet, candy rewards) for using a quote from the article!

Fourth Station:

The art activity for day two asks students to paint. I know what you are thinking: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" Never fear, the Activities site on World Book Kids has plenty of other art activities for students that you can easily switch out for the painting. (Smocks, paint, last days of school - No Way!) Try Class Map, Color Puzzle, or Shape Pictures instead. Each of these hands-on tasks can be completed using paper, pencil, markers, scissors, or crayons. 

Fifth Station:

The final station is all about math, but in this case kids can do it the Egyptian way. The activity in World Book Kids asks the student to write numbers using the Egyptian numerals. Let them practice writing the numbers listed on the activity, but give them a couple of white boards with addition problems done in Egyptian numerals. Ask them to solve these, and then have them discuss and then write their thoughts and reaction to doing math with different numbers. Was it harder or easier? Did they get used to the new numbers, or did they need to look at the code? How did their thinking change from doing math with our numbers to doing math with Egyptian numbers?

The best way to use Camp INFOhio in your classroom in the last weeks of school is the way that best fits your needs and the needs of your students. Be flexible and mix and match activities. Remember, the goal is to keep kids engaged, learning, and interested. If prep is too difficult for one activity mentioned in the plan, then find a different one that will meet the goal and help you stay calm, cool (especially if there is no central air in your building), and collected!

About the Author

Emily Rozmus

Emily Rozmus

Emily Rozmus has been an Integration Librarian for INFOhio since December 2013. Before this, she was the district librarian and high school English teacher for Mechanicsburg Exempted Village Schools. In her 20 years there, she worked on teams to implement curriculum, develop district growth plans, integrate technology, create instruction for information literacy, and foster teacher development. At INFOhio, she focuses on helping educators use INFOhio resources to improve early literacy. Her work has resulted in instructional "bags" for Ohio teachers, early literacy webinars, partnerships with like-minded agencies, and numerous statewide presentations to teachers, administrators, and educational leaders in Ohio. In her free time, she reads, enjoys time with her husband and three teenaged children, and plans for her next big adventure in life.

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