Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Books and Book Activities for the End of the School Year

Is your school year winding down? Maybe it's still so far off that you can't let yourself think about the end of the school year (well, maybe just a little bit of dreaming about summer plans, and summer - no plans!!) There are so many wonderful read aloud books to share with and inspire your students at this time of year that you just might want to start gathering up your pile of books now!

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Image from Last Day Blues

Here are a few of my favorite read aloud books for the end of the year... plus some easy ideas for adding to the learning!

If you started off your year with First Day Jitters by Julie Dannenberg (maybe you even made Jitter Juice!), your students will be excited about the companion book, Last Day Blues .

  • Do a bit of knee-to-knee partner talk to build connections before you read: What might make someone feel blue on the last day of school?  
  • After you read, how about a reprise of Jitter Juice, just for fun?  Check here for the recipe and ideas on Pinterest!
  • Time to write! This book-based prompt can be adapted to just about any grade level, and is a good way to promote a positive mindset in any of your students who are dreading the last day. "I'm going to miss ________, but I can't wait for _____________!"

Are your last weeks in school filled with schedules that are splintered with concerts, field days, and special events? A collection of poems is a great way to get some read aloud time in even on the busiest days! Try this one, Lemonade Sun and Other Summer Poems, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Each poem can stand alone as a sweet taste of summer-to-come.

  • Before you start reading, brainstorm and chart a list of topics you'd expect to find in a book of summer poems.  For the littlest learners, this is a great opportunity for some shared writing! Assign a Class Chartmaster to check off the topics as you come to them in the book. 
  • Are there topics left on your chart after you've read the last poem? Those are your writing prompts for your students' poetry! Consider having students choose whether to work alone or with a partner. A Poetry Coffeehouse (Lemonade House?) is a fun way for the poets to present their work to the class! Keep it low key - just turn down the classroom lights and play some jazz quietly in the background. Every teacher wants SIMPLE at this time of year!

Here's another great choice for the last days!

I'll bet there's more than one student in your class who'll relate to this book! When It's the Last Day of School by Maribeth Boelts is told by a boy who struggles with behavior but really wants to "get it right". He's determined that he's going to get the gold star for good behavior on the last day of school, even if it means not talking during Silent Reading or cutting ahead in line to sharpen a pencil.

  • Talk with your class about behaviors that they've worked hard to improve this year. You might even share some of your own struggles. (Mine might have included stacking piles of papers on my desk, or carrying things home to be graded and toting them back to school ungraded, again.)  
  • Relate the improved behaviors to the character traits you've been working on throughout the year. How have honesty, perseverance, and integrity helped your students control inappropriate or impulsive behaviors? Help them make the connections!

If you're looking for a way to recognize and reward your students' character growth AND to encourage reading, you might like this set of bookmarks and award certificates from my TpT store.

Update, 5/2020:  To make things a bit easier for you during remote teaching, I've created the same awards in a full page format, fancied up with bright borders and with a few words changed here and there to give a nod to the uniqueness of teaching in these times. You can get them as part of the set above, or if these individual jpegs are all you need, click here to purchase them separately here.

Happy Teaching!

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