I’ve seen Magnatiles at toy stores and a few of the children’s museums I’ve visited. From what I could tell, they seemed like a great manipulative for building. So, I finally ordered some last year.
A week after I received my set, I happened to be helping out in a Kinder classroom, and realized with a bit of disappointment that Magnatiles seemed to be a standard supply for 5 and 6 year-olds. I worried that my investment would be met with disdain by my older students.
Sure enough, when I pulled out the set, the first thing a student said was, “We used to play with those in Kindergarten!”
But it wasn’t said critically; instead the third grader sounded nostalgic and wistful for the times when building with Magnatiles was an acceptable part of the curriculum.
Since then, my gifted students and Maker Club students have awed me with some of their Magnatile creations. Sometimes I set what seem to be impossible parameters, yet the students still find a way to make my jaw drop.
Lesson learned by me – never think that toys that encourage imagination are too “young” for my students!
For more Makerspace Essentials, check out this post!
“I don’t know why they even make the kids go to school during the last 2 weeks. The textbooks have been picked up, grades turned in, and all the teachers do is show movies.” Okay, first of all – NOT TRUE! Okay, maybe some of it is sometimes true. Possibly.
But think about it. Let’s say school ended in March instead of June. Wouldn’t we still have the same problems? As far as I can see, the only solutions are:
A.) Make the end date of school a surprise every year by having a groundhog predict it with his shadow:
“Hooray! He saw his shadow. That means six more weeks until we can ask him to come out again and repeat this process.”
“Oh darn! He didn’t see his shadow! That means today is your last day of school!”
2.) Schedule all standardized for the last 2 days of school. Because, let’s face it, that’s the only thing that gives school meaning. Otherwise, it’s just about learning for the sake of learning.
Granted, neither of those solutions would be very popular. So, I think we have to go with Door #3 and make the last two weeks as meaningful as possible – maybe even more meaningful. What can we do to make ourselves, as teachers, feel less like babysitters?
Give our students some physical activity by teaching them how to pack up a classroom. Give our students some physical activity with GoNoodle or Deskercises.
Assign them to draw whatever they want, which usually results in Minecraft, Pokemon, or My Little Pony posters they all want to gift you with. Assign them to draw something that challenges them to think, like a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. picture or a Sketch Note that summarizes their year.
Speaking of boxes, you probably need to pack some – so get those young, energetic kids to load them up for you. Speaking of boxes, you can always have the students bring in their own, and design games to play the last day of school (on which they will be sure to bring those games home). Even better, put all the stuff you don’t need anymore into a pile and challenge them to make something new using only those supplies (with the understanding that their new invention will definitely go home with them on the last day).
I think I’ve suggested enough ideas to last one or two days. How about we crowdsource activities for the other 7 or 8 days? Put your favorite end-of-year lessons in the comments below!
I need to add more writing to my curriculum and I am going to definitely use it more with these S.C.A.M.P.E.R. activities. Usually, I just have the students do an illustration as a fun warm-up activity, but I like her idea to add a little more “depth” to their drawings.
The one I chose to do this week was from my Spring S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Packet, which you can find on my TPT site. I asked my 1st grade GT students to imagine that a mother bird’s eggs has hatched but the last one is a huge surprise. What is it?
There were a couple of Easter Bunnies, but then there were two that were opposite extremes of each other. One student drew a baby hippopotamus, and another student drew a tiny little fly! I asked them to identify what other S.C.A.M.P.E.R. piece they used to come up with these ideas, and they correctly named the “Magnify/Minimize” one. And then there was the very cute, upside-down, walking baby cactus. Talk about imagination!
I’m still trying to digest all that I learned in a 2 day whirlwind at the Texas Computer Education Association Conference in Austin this week. One of my last sessions was presented by the inimitable Leslie Fisher, who never ceases to make me laugh. She started the session with this video, and I thought it would make a good Phun Phriday video for everyone! Of course, my mind never stops thinking about education possibilities. Even though it’s a parody, I thought of using it for a S.C.A.M.P.E.R. lesson for some of upper elementary students. The parody takes the “M” in the acronym (which stands for “Magnify” or “Minimize”) to a new level. What other crazy parodies could your students imagine with the rest of S.C.A.M.P.E.R.?
Let’s face it. This week is hard. No one – including you – is feeling very focused on academics right now. To save everyone’s sanity, and to put smiles on all of the faces in the room, try some of these creative ideas:
If your students participated in an Hour of Code last week by doing the Hopscotch tutorial on the iPad, use this extension suggested by @kd0602 – design a Holiday Scene. It’s similar to the idea of making a holiday card in Scratch. However, since Hopscotch offers less commands to use, a bit more creative problem solving is required (such as using the text object to make the letter “o” stand in for eyes and a nose on a snowman).
Thank goodness for people like Laura Moore (@LearnMoreStuff). She collected a ton of December-themed tech activities, and bundled them all up in a Listly she embedded in this post. With 3 more weeks until Winter Break, she realizes that we all need some ideas to get us through this crazy month.
I’m pretty sure Laura’s list will keep you busy. But, just in case you still have some huge gaps in your lesson plans, here are some past posts that I’ve done with a Winter theme:
Many of us in the States have only a week and a half left before the Thanksgiving holidays. Here are a few resources that might be fun to sprinkle into the curriculum as everyone starts running for the light at the end of the tunnel. All of them are free except for my shameless plug at the end :)