End of the Year Countdown- FREEBIE!

How many days of school do you have left??? We have 10! Woo-hoo! To keep track, I'm instituting a fun count down with my students. It's super easy and quick to organize!

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom FUN Countdown to the Last Day of School FREEBIE!

All you need are some balloons and pen & paper to get started!

Here are the steps:

1. Brainstorm a list of special activities or treats that you are willing to share with your kids. With all the end-of-year paperwork, I wanted to keep mine low-prep! Write the dates for your countdown and the corresponding activity. Click HERE for a freebie including a date sheet and list of ideas! (As you will see, some ideas include snacks and a little pre-planning for supplies, but not too much!)

2. Write each surprise on a slip of paper, and then cut them apart.

3. Fold and roll up the strips, and then stuff each one inside a balloon.

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom FUN Countdown to the Last Day of School FREEBIE!

4. Blow the balloon up and write the countdown number on it. Do this for all of your days.

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom FUN Countdown to the Last Day of School FREEBIE!

5. Post all balloons in a central location, like where you gather for morning meeting.

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom FUN Countdown to the Last Day of School FREEBIE!

OK, now you're ready! My kids were super excited to see the balloons when they entered class this morning. "What's that??!!!??" A surprise!

At morning meeting, I explained that we would celebrate the end of our precious time together with a special activity or treat each day, and that all of them were secretly written on a note inside each balloon!

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom FUN Countdown to the Last Day of School FREEBIE!

The line leader (a.k.a. daily V.I.P.) got to decide how to get to that secret note- I suggested stomping on the balloon, but that didn't work so well!

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom FUN Countdown to the Last Day of School FREEBIE!

So, we went with the old-fashioned "pin pop"! Once the note was revealed, the heroic line leader announced that it was "Read Outside Day!" Hooray! We're starting small, people- saving the good stuff (i.e. Popsicle Day) for the REAL end!

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom FUN Countdown to the Last Day of School FREEBIE!
Look at that SMILE! :)
And there you have it! We had fun reading outside and the kids are eager to see how the rest of our days will go! SUCCESS!

How do you celebrate the end of the school year in your classroom?


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Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate - Visible Thinking in Grade 1


Hi there! Have you tried Visible Thinking routines with your students? They can seem a little bit challenging with primary kids, but with some scaffolding they are a fantastic way to encourage discussion and critical thinking. I modified the Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate routine with my first graders- here's how...
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

First of all, here is a snapshot of the routine:
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate
Source

Generate

Our new unit is about well-being, the concept of health and happiness. To generate ideas and tap into students' prior knowledge, I asked them to list and draw what they do to be healthy; this was their pre-assessment. Students had a lot of schema for healthy habits in a bodily sense, but not so much regarding mindfulness or emotional health, which is not surprising for their age. This realization will help them better notice what they have learned at the end of the unit.
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

Sort

In order to make the sorting go a bit more smoothly, I recorded the most common responses listed on students' pre-assessments on small note cards. I also added a little picture to support my struggling readers. These are simple ways you can accommodate your early learners- they do NOT need to bogged down by writing. After all, this is a thinking activity, not a writing one.

Here's where I changed the routine a bit: instead of sorting by evaluating the ideas according to importance, I focused the sort to be more categorical because I wanted to lead my students into discovering the three components that define our concept of well-being- mind, body, emotions.
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

I gave each student a card and asked them to think about how they were similar to other cards. Then, they each pinned their card according to where they thought it connected and I prompted them to explain by asking, "What makes you say that?"
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

Connect

Once all of the cards were posted, I encouraged students to notice the groupings that had emerged. We labeled each group with a connection that they thought was shared.

Finally, I drew their attention to the fact that the groups represented the 3 components of well-being. I drew a pie-like symbol at the top to represent how all three parts make up a person's well-being as a whole. (We have just finished fractions, so this made a lot of sense!)
Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

Elaborate

This will come next! As students learn new things, I will ask them to add to our concept map. This will include new ideas, new connections and hopefully, conclusions.

So there you have it. This routine is a lot more telling in a small group or with partners as it allows more of each child's thinking to emerge, but I was happy with the process we shared. It's a start and I will use this strategy again.

Creating a Thoughtful Classroom: Generate, Sort, Connect, Elaborate

Do you use visible thinking routines in your class?

Thanks for stopping by!


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