I often find that the most useful and engaging activities in my classroom are also the most simple!
A few days ago, I saw a great idea on Instagram from Brittney Briggs aka Miss5th. She does an end of the year countdown with balloons. Each student’s name is inside a balloon, and the day that the balloon is popped, that student is the VIP. I absolutely LOVED this idea (as with all of her ideas!! – go check her out!), and I hinted at it last Thursday when talking to my students. Of course, as all my inspirations and fun ideas do, it got railroaded by the 75 other things I was trying to do. Then, Friday rolls around and I still don’t have balloons. No problem – I just tell my students we’re starting fresh on Monday with our VIP student countdown. Monday morning rolls around and…you guessed it, I frantically realize right before my students arrive that I STILL don’t have balloons! As much as I love doing fun ideas like this, it can also be overwhelming and lead to disappointment when it doesn’t turn out as beautifully as what I envisioned. But never fear – I am the queen of backup plans and making boring things seem fun. 🙂
I had an extra bag of about 10 Tootsie Pops and I had some white labels. Five minutes later, I had student names wrapped around the Tootsie Pop sticks. Of course, with only 10 pops, I had to write “Buy more lollipops!” on my shopping list and then I had to hide the list of names that weren’t on lollipops yet. (Don’t worry – I stopped after school today and got the rest of the lollipops!) Delicately dropping the Tootsie Pops into the beautifully created hand-woven basket that I made just for this occasion (okay fine, I dropped them unceremoniously into a brown paper lunch bag that I haphazardly wrote “Summer Countdown! on), I was ready for the kids to get back from specials and for the first VIP student to be drawn.
When they got back to the room, I excitedly shared what would be happening. Each day, a new VIP would be chosen. This VIP would get three privileges. 1. Sitting in my inflatable hammock for the day, 2. Sitting in the wheeled teacher chair, and 3. Deciding when we do RTS time that day. You should have heard the excitement in the room! They were SO excited about the fact that they could choose ANY time of day to be our “Read to Self” time. They asked, “Wait, can we really do it in the middle of math??” I explained that I have 15 minutes set aside each day for RTS anyway, so wherever they choose to have it, we can just adjust everything accordingly. There’s nothing I need to do to prepare for this at all, and the kids are loving it!
I almost feel like I’m tricking them when they share my excitement for small things like this, but then I remember that I’m really helping them have a happier future by learning to enjoy the little things. 🙂