Hold Kids’ Attention with Vacation Stations

Hats off to teachers…it’s time for Mid-Week Focus to shine some light on end-of-school term activities.

Weekdays just ahead of the end of a school term can seem like they last forever, especially for K – 5 teachers and students who are counting the hours until vacation.

What's under and in the magic hat? End-of-term tricks to hold kids' attention!

What’s under and in the magic hat? End-of-term tricks to hold kids’ attention!

In this environment it can be difficult to hold kid’s attention. Find a problem-solver under the Magic Hat today…Set up Vacation Stations!

The name – Vacation Stations – may sound like all play and no work.  Not so. It’s learning and fun, fun, fun, in an indoor sun.  Who says learning can’t be fun; any smart K – 5 teacher knows that education and entertainment both begin with the letter “e” for a reason.

Depending on how much you want to do, turning your classroom into Vacation Stations will take a little extra time (and maybe money). Mid-Week Focus offers ideas that you can scale up or down .

Check out these creative options:

Form Beach Readers’ Island – Bring in a beach umbrella and some beach towels.  Hang a cardboard cut-out sun above the umbrella and make a sign that reads “Beach Readers’ Island.”   Post it in your Reading Center or on a table in one corner of the classroom.  When you announce that it’s Vacation Station Time, invite students to choose a book and towel and find a spot to read for a while.  You may need to set a time limit on Beach Readers’ Island and have kids take turns there.  Afterall, it’s not good to be in the sun too long anyway!  Give this activity some extra science curriculum punch by selecting books that relate to the beach.  For example, fifth graders may study beach erosion while they stretch out on Beach Readers’ Island.

Prepare Poetry Paradise – Set out paper and pencils on a table labeled “Poetry Paradise” and make this center part of Vacation Station Time in your classroom.  Offer a title like “Summer Song” for students to use for personal wordplay.  Following is a short poem I wrote with this title:

Summer Song

Carolina days grow longer,

Birds sing the season’s song.

New wings have taken flight.

Listen, summer is knocking

At Nature’s blossoming door,

Picnics promise to delight!

Find other nooks in your classroom to set up other vacation stations, like…

Make Math Mountain – Some kids prefer higher altitude forested vacation destinations.  Stack different size cardboard boxes on top of a table with the largest box at the bottom and the smallest at the top.  Cover the boxes with a large piece of green fabric to create the effect of a mountain.  Place cards with math problems printed on them at the different “mountain” levels with the simplest math problems at the base and the hardest problems on top of the top box.  Encourage students to climb the mountain of math skills.

"Let's count (and eat) the cookies in Cookie Counting Center."

“Let’s count (and eat) the cookies in Cookie Counting Center.”

Cook Up a Cookie Counting Center – The expression, “Let’s Eat!” gets everybody’s attention! Kids will flock to a Vacation Station Cookie Counting Center when you promise that after the counting the cookie munching can begin.

Line up a Foreign Language Luau – Hawaii here we come.  If you have access to a party store that stocks multi-colored leis, they are usually inexpensive to buy.  Leis can also be made by hand using colored tissue paper, weaving pieces together.  Place an open gift box full of leis on a table next to another open gift box of vocabulary cards in two languages such as English and Spanish.  Challenge students to pick a card in one language and find the corresponding word or phrase card in the second language.  Let students win a lei for a prize every time they get five correct matches.  You may need to rotate kids in and out of this activity just as you may need to do on Beach Readers’ Island, Poetry Paradise and Math Mountain.

You Choose Day at Discovery Cafe – Invite students to dive into Discovery Place by setting up a table covered with items, like small rocks and leaves, that kids can use with supplies like recycled cardboard, scissors and crayons to create their own mini science museums.

Ready, Set, Scavenger HuntScavenger Hunts don’t need to just be outdoor fun. Set a time limit for an in-classroom Scavenger Hunt. Leave copies of a short “find” list on a table with a sign that reads Scavenger Hunt Central. Kids that want to participate can search for items on the list during your designated Vacation Station Time. Offer small prizes to students that scavenge best.

You may design other Vacation Stations that feature different areas of your curriculum and the season of your upcoming school vacation.  K – 5 students are sure to enjoy this break from a regular day, especially as real vacation time approaches.

Please send comments about your favorite classroom centers and “vacation stations.” Check back on Monday for a new Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers.

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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