This article was written by Dave Webb - a teacher with 29 years experience. He is the author of ten books for young people, a memoir of his teaching experiences, and a book for parents and teachers entitled, Read, Understand, Enjoy: Getting Kids to LOVE Books. Find his books and more on his website.
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The last week of school is a special time of year that everyone looks forward to -- teachers and students alike. Standardized testing is over, lesson plan guidelines become less restrictive, and excitement is in the air as summer approaches. Many schools have whole-school celebrations, but there are plenty of ways for you and your kiddoes to have a special party in your own classroom that can be fun as well as bring you closer together one last time.
1. Have a dance, right in the classroom.
I have a file of killer party tunes on my laptop appropriate for all ages. I just click “play all” and let it roll for 70 minutes straight. On the interactive white board I project a disco ball for extra fun with the lights off. The kids kick off their shoes and dance the Macarena, the Chicken Dance, the Cha Cha Slide, and lots more. For many, it’s the most enjoyable and amazing day they’ll have in elementary school, mostly because they get to enjoy it with their classmates and no one else (except maybe their teacher on a couple of the songs).
2. Conduct a scavenger hunt throughout the school.
A few years ago I made up a scavenger hunt based on things that were in the hallways of our school. I wrote up 20 questions and had the students roam around with clipboards and pencils trying to answer each one. It was fun seeing how many they got right when we all met back in the classroom.
3. Play minute-to-win-it party games.
You can find lots of examples of these all over the Internet. One that I like to play, especially on our class party day, is Cookie Face. The kids put a cookie on their foreheads and when you say “go” each has to get it into his mouth without using his hands. I do three rounds of this game, and the great thing is, the kids get to eat the cookies at the end. (Note: Try to use smaller-sized cookies if you can, especially with younger students. Also, chocolate-coated cookies work better than say, chocolate chip, because they will slide more easily and get less crumbs in your kids’ eyes.)
4. Let them play Twister.
This game keeps my fifth-grade students busy for a long time. They love it. Someone gets to be the spinner. Others get to watch the awkward poses the game can get its participants into. You’ll hear lots of laughter, and maybe even a few hilarious things said as the game progresses. I put on music when they play, too.
5. Play “Name That Tune.”
Pick some age-appropriate songs and play the first few notes of them. See who can guess each song title first.
6. Try an old-fashioned game of Frisbee Toss.
On a nice day you can play this game on the playground. Bring some chalk and draw a starting line. Use a meter or yard stick to help you measure distance if you like, or just use the chalk to mark where each one lands. The toss that goes the farthest wins. Prizes are up to you.
7. Buy some doughnuts, get some string and play the Donuts on a String game.
Tie several strings to a branch or swing set and put doughnuts at the bottom of each. Let the kids see who can be first to bite through the whole thing. Blindfolds are optional, but make for a more challenging game. Doughnuts with lots of icing can make things even more amusing.
8. Have a paper airplane contest.
The first part of this activity is to actually make the planes. I have two books in my classroom that give all kinds of cool designs. The kids sit and make the airplanes and decorate them if they wish. Most know that the less junk that’s on them, the better they’re likely to fly. It’s the aerodynamics that is the key.
Next comes the fun part -- flying the planes, and seeing whose can go the farthest. Play this one like the Frisbee game. The upside is it can be played in the classroom even if it’s raining out.