Center Kids’ Attention with Vacation Stations

Set up a Vacation Station that features Poetry Paradise.

Set up a Vacation Station that features Poetry Paradise.

Hi and welcome back to Attentionology for K – 5 Teachers!

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.

In this environment it can be difficult to hold students’ focus on where you need it to be.

Center kids’ attention with 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; K – 5 teachers know that education and entertainment both begin with the letter “e” for a reason.

Check out these creative options for setting up Vacation Stations:

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” or “Fall Festival” for students to use for personal wordplay.

Encourage kids to use words and phrases that describe the season ahead in their part of the world.

Share a short poem that I wrote about summer in the eastern region of the US.

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!

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.

If there is a big demand for this Vacation Station, play along with this imaginative activity by telling the class, “We’ll have to set time limits in Beach Readers’ Island because it’s not good to be in the sun too long.”

Give this activity some extra science curriculum punch by selecting books to leave in this center that relate to the beach.  For example, fifth graders may study beach erosion while they stretch out on Beach Readers’ Island.

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

Make Math Mountain – Some kids prefer higher altitude vacation destinations.

"Great Vacation Station! Let's count the cookies in the Cookie Counting Center."

“Great Vacation Station! Let’s count the cookies in the Cookie Counting Center.”

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.

Using language creatively, like calling a station “Math Mountain,” helps center kids’ attention on learning important skills.

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.

Set the table for something special in a Vacation Station that looks like a cafe.

Set the table for something special in a Vacation Station that looks like a cafe.

You Choose Day at Discovery Cafe – Invite students to dive into Discovery Place by setting up a table..

Something special is about to be served!

Spread out items like recycled paper plates and plastic tools, cardboard, small rocks and leaves that kids can use with supplies like scissors and crayons to create their own mini science museums.

Ready, Set, Scavenger Hunt – Scavenger 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 who want to participate can search for items on the list during your designated Vacation Station Time.

Offer small prizes to students that scavenge best.

Other Vacation Stations – You may design other Vacation Stations that center kids’ attention and feature different areas of your curriculum.

Opt for centers based on 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.”

Talk with you again soon,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Young students are getting noisy while you’re trying to teach.

Solution: Hold up "Listen Star," a toy magic wand that you’ve designated to be a cue for quiet. Tell the class, "When you see our friend, 'Listen Star' dance across the classroom sky, that’s your signal to HUSH for a moment."

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