Set up Vacation Stations!

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

In the Northern Hemisphere summer is drawing nearer as the days grow longer.  Weekdays just ahead of the June 21 Solstice can seem to last forever, especially for K – 5 teachers and students who are counting the hours until summer vacation.

In this environment it can be difficult to hold children’s attention in school. This may be the perfect time to surprise them with activities that take them where they wish they already were.  Set up Vacation Stations!

The name sounds like this special event may be 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.

True, turning your classroom into Vacation Stations will take a bit of extra time (and maybe money) but I have some ideas that you can scale up or down depending on how much you want to do.

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! 

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.

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

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe 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: Students continue to use lackluster verbs in their writing.

Solution: Show toy cars and pretend to make them zip across a page, telling the class that good writing includes action words (verbs) that have "zip." Ask the class for examples of "zippy" verbs like zoom, race, flash, rush, etc.

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