Keep the Learning Alive with End of the Year Projects

As the year winds down it’s hard to hang on. Things are flying at you…assessment days, special dress up days, field days. The kids are twitchy and ready for summer. YOU are ready for summer. It’s like a joyful survival mode. As assessments wind down and much of the very most important curriculum work is done…it feels strange to have nothing of substance to work on. I remember spending those last days feeling somewhat stressed, trying to gather one quick thing we could do for this 30 minute period, another quick thing for when we had 15 minutes…it’s hard to keep routines and any semblance of a sane classroom.

So I created some projects that I would work on with my students that were fun, incorporated reading, writing and math, and could go on for days. They were the kind of tasks that could be started or stopped at any time, students could work on them together and they were highly engaging. My free one if you’d like to give it a try is called Doggy Dilemma.

But my newest one is my favorite since I think a sleepover is near and dear to any child’s heart. In Sleepover Madness they make a guest list, design an invitation, pick a theme, make a schedule of activities, decide on food and more.


It’s a fun way to see kids thinking critically, even up to those last few anxious days of school! It’s a great way to still have high expectations as the school year comes to a close.

Use Conceptual Language During Math Games

I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Sandy Atkins at the Wisconsin Math council conference.  Her session was all about Creating a Language Rich Classroom.

This session blew my mind to think of all of the complexities of language when we are teaching math.  Here is an example of a kindergartener’s thinking.

Dr. Atkins: “What are some time words you know?”

Student: “Seconds!”

Dr. Atkins: “What does seconds mean?”

Student: “You know, when you get more.”

Dr. Atkins: “Can you tell me more?”

Student: “Like when you get more dinner helpings!”

This student had the correct meaning for seconds, but had a mental block in their mind about how it had to do with time! So many math words have double meanings, and if we don’t dig deep we may not even be aware of a misconception.

A very simple way to incorporate conceptual language (and to listen to their vocabulary use) is to encourage student talk while they are playing games in your classroom.  For example, when playing “memory/concentration” you must explain WHY or WHY NOT your two cards are a match.  Check out her awesome FREE games at her website, Creating Ah-Has.