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Young Student Ready To StudyWe have 20 school days left. 20. The weather is warming up, the kids are counting down and the ‘end-of-the-year-itis’ has hit like the plague. Ugh.

Every unit I plan for the last six weeks of school is hands-on. I simply cannot handle a classroom full of fidgety, wiggly, non-focused kids for several days in a row. Therefore, I don’t let them get that way.

One of the daily activities that I plan is with our spelling and vocabulary words. I have a multi-level classroom and which is ability based, so not everyone is on their chronological grade level when it comes to curriculum. Right now most of my second graders have almost completed the third grade-spelling curriculum and most of my first graders have done the same with the second grade curriculum. In order to keep my sanity and make sure everyone is working off of the proper list, I have labeled the lists according to random die cuts that I have a classroom set of. Weird, I know, but hey, it works. And I do have a method to my madness.

So this year my spelling lists follow ‘Owls’, ‘Pencils’, ‘Apples’ and ‘Bears.’   I happened to have new packages of these that I got on clearance a couple of years ago. I try to use up what I have so that my out-of-pocket expense is less than a monthly car payment. Anyway, I’ve had my ‘owl’, ‘pencil’, ‘apple’ and ‘bear’ groups all year. This keeps everyone straight on which list they are working off of. And at the end of the year it makes complete sense.

Toward the end of the year I laminate these die cuts and use a dry-erase marker to write the groups’ spelling words on, then I hide them around our room. During free time the kids go on a spelling word hunt, looking for the die cuts that match their spelling group. At the end of the day the kids bring their die cuts to me, read the words they have found, give me definitions for any vocabulary words and then we mark how many each child has found. When everyone is gone at the end of the day, I hide the words again for the next day’s hunt. At the end of the week we see who has found the most words and they get a trip to my treasure box. My kids love this game! And since I’ve laminated the die cuts all I have to do is wipe them off and start over with the next week’s list.

I have found this helps so much with wiggly kids, especially those who don’t use free time wisely. This also helps with word recognition and definitions during a time when minds are not always focused and studying is not always being done at home due to ball games and nice weather. I use this activity to supplement everything else that we have been doing with our spelling all year long, except the kids get to be a bit more active in a non-directed way.

How do you help kids stay focused on learning toward the end of the school year?

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior....

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