Alleah Maree

Homeschool Ideas

6 Engaging Summer Activities for Students

Summer, Reading Activities, Math Activities, Homeschool IdeasAlleah RostoharComment

Hey, teacher friend! Can you believe that summer is almost here?! AHHH! It’s crazy to me how quickly the year went by, but here we are, at the edge of another summer. Well done, you teacher of tiny humans, you! You’re AMAZING and have done so much for your students this year. Your well-deserved break is just around the corner!

As the year wraps up, teachers start to think about what kinds of activities to send home with students to encourage learning and keep their brains active over the summer months. Many parents love having something simple to use avoid their kids losing ANY of their hard-earned knowledge. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just effective. So, here are 6 ideas for engaging activities to send home with your learners over the break.

1. Summer Daily Activities Calendar

Sending kids home with calendar-like worksheets full of fun review assignments is a super sneaky way to keep them using their brains and learning without them even realizing it. This kind of activity can be super effective because it combines the element of choice (“pick any activity you want for today!”) with reviewing critical skills in a risk-free way. These activities are usually quick and will take kids just a few minutes each day to complete.

Click HERE to download my free EDITABLE summer daily activities calendar! You can use my pre-made version with activities for early elementary learners or add in your own text to change the activities to be on level with what your students need to practice. :)

2. Summer Sensory Bins

If you teach younger students, like preschool and kindergarten, sending home ideas and resources for sensory bins is a great way to encourage parents to play and learn alongside their littles over the summer. These summer sensory bins for little learners from The Stay at Home Teacher, Kaitlyn, are not only super engaging, but are also very simple to set up and use over and over again. Change out the kind of materials your kids are manipulating for a whole new experience as they learn some new literacy and math skills! Here’s a free peek into what kinds of activities are included in her products!

Click HERE to read more details about how Kaitlyn uses sensory bins with her little learner!

3. Summer Reading Challenges and Programs

Reading is one of the simplest and best ways to keep students learning, in my opinion. Encouraging that love of reading in any way possible is a win for all teachers and parents. :) You can send home information about free summer reading programs from places like Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books. Some of these programs offer free printables and other fun incentives to kids for reading throughout the summer, like, PIZZA, for example!

Here is a simple, free reading challenge resource from Briana that you can send home with your students to keep them reading, learning, and growing. Encouraging reading can be a simple gift you gives your kids with the right resources and a tiny bit of planning.

4. Summer Review Packets

So, this one might seem obvious to some, but I’m honestly a lover of a good old fashioned “summer packet”! I know worksheets are not every student’s jam, but if you can find some printables that mix learning with some more enjoyable elements, like coloring, cutting, gluing, etc., worksheets can be engaging activities to let your kiddos review their skills and keep them fresh in their minds for the following school year.

These are some of my favorite summer worksheets to make into packets for young learners!

FAVORITE #1

FAVORITE #2

FAVORITE #3

5. Summer Task Cards

Sending students home with task cards sounds weird. When I first considered this, I thought, “I am NOT printing, cutting, and laminating SETS of task cards to send home to each and every student in my class.” But, I sat with the thought for a minute and came up with a few simple options to make this work.

OPTION 1: Use a small part of one of your last days of school to let your students cut out their OWN sets of task cards. Print them out, pass them out, and give every kiddo a ziplock bag. Then, let your kids spend time chatting quietly or watch a Bill Nye video while they prep their own summer activity!

OPTION 2: Print out the task cards you want to send home in packet form, slap some simple instructions on the top for parents and students to figure out what the heck to do with these cards, and send them off!

Summer Math Task Cards

Summer STEM Task Cards

Summer Writing Task Cards

6. Summer Crafts

CRAFTS!! If we can make all this summer “review work” FUN for students, I totally believe they’re MUCH more likely to do it and not be bummed about it. So, another option is to send home a few ideas for crafts that students can work on over the break.

These math crafts from Jana at We Heart Teaching are all the great things…cute, educational, editable, simple, amazing. They get a HUGE thumbs up from me. All you would need to do is make sure they include the skills you want your kids to practice, print them out as a packet for each student, and send them home with a short instructions page. DONE. Low prep, high engagement, happy summer! Haha.

You could also create a list of other fun ideas that involve a craft with an academic component to send home with your students. Include ideas like, “Choose a video from Art For Kids Hub and write a story about your drawing.” Or, “Read your favorite book or chapter from a book. Recreate a setting from the story using items from your house (with parents’ permission, please!).” These kinds of ideas give students the freedom to make choices, but are still nudging them toward practicing academic skills they need to keep fresh.

Even simple writing crafts like these are a quick, simple way to make writing work engaging! Just print and send!


Well, there you have it…6 engaging activities to encourage your students to keep learning all summer long.

Do you usually send home something learning-related with your students each year? If so, what are your favorite activities? If not, I hope you found something inspiring here to try this year!


Happy teaching and happy summer, friends! Enjoy your break!

AM1.png
 

25 Free Activities for the End of the Year

Summer, End of the Year, Elementary Freebies, Homeschool Ideas, Classroom FunAlleah RostoharComment

Hey friend!

The end of the school year is coming up FAST, y’all! You’re so close to crossing that finish line and wrapping up another awesome year with your sweet kids. This was always the time of year when my lesson plans started to drag a bit and got more difficult to focus on and be creative with. Always wanting to keep activities educational and engaging, I also really wanted to plan lots of fun so my students would leave my room with all kinds of happy memories of our year together.

So, to make your planning process for the next few weeks just the TINIEST bit easier, I collected a bunch of AMAZING end-of-the-year activities that are completely FREE! These freebies are all from other work-at-home-mamas and epic classroom teachers who I just ADORE, so please click any of the freebie titles or store names to check out all the goodness they’ve created. Alright, here we go!

newbeginning.jpg
eoy1.jpg

1. Hip Hip Hooray End of the Year Award {Freebie} from Literacy with the Littles

This freebie from Rachael is the CUTEST way to celebrate your sweet students moving onto the next grade. It’s time to celebrate those hard workers you’ve spent your whole year molding and teaching and caring for!

2. Memory Book Covers (Editable) from A is for Apples

Everyone loves a good memory book at the end of the year! Elyse has the cutest covers for your students to decorate for any end of the year memory book you decide to make.

3. End of the Year Activities Summer Review from The Joyful Journey

This little freebie is full of no-prep summer review pages, including counting worksheets and a scrambled sentence worksheet.

4. End of the Year FREEBIES: Puzzles, Games, and Worksheets from Alleah Maree

This end of the year freebie is from me and includes fun activities for your little learners, like basic math and ABC order puzzles, math and literacy worksheets, and a few summer writing crafts too!

5. Summer Reading Challenge | Summer Reading Bingo from Briana Beverly

Briana offers this great summer reading BINGO board for you! It’s a great way to help your students reading all summer long.

eoy2.jpg

6. Print and Go Summer Activities Freebie from Coffee Beans and Children's Dreams

Grab this ink-friendly way to give families a bunch of fun activities to work on this summer! This pamphlet includes a bunch of activities to help kiddos keep learning and growing through the summer months.

7. End of Year Memory Book *Free* from Raise the Bar Reading

This end of the year memory book from Cassandra is great for any grade level! It’s packed with a bunch of fun, engaging activities help your students remember all the great things about their year with you and their classmates.

8. Free End of the Year Science from Endeavors in Education

This free activity from Jennifer is a hands-on way to teach your students about solubility, color mixing, and molecule movement. You’ll need just a few materials to complete this activity and all instructions are included! This is a great way to keep your students learning and engaged in these last weeks.

9. FREE End of the Year Teacher Report Card from Joy in the Journey

Oh goodness, this super cute booklet from Jessica gives your students the opportunity to give YOU some grades for the year! See what your kiddos have to say about all the ways you were AMAZING and maybe even some ways you could grow…if you date. ;)
10. End of the Year Checklist FREE from KJH

We could ALL use this one, I’m sure! This checklist is the perfect way keep your end-of-year classroom clean-up feel manageable. Use it to help you keep track of all you need to organize, sort, and clean in all the little nooks and crannies before summer break!

eoy3.jpg

11. EDITABLE Graduation and Excellence in Subject & Character Certificates FREEBIE from The Kinder Life

These certificates from Amy are EDITABLE, y’all! All you have to do is download, type in names and dates, print, and you’re ready for any and all end of the year ceremonies! This is such a simple, cute way to press the “easy button” at this crazy time of year.

12. FREE END OF YEAR ACTIVITY | Last Week of School Writing Activity from Tarheel State Teacher

This activity from Tammy is a really personal, thoughtful way to end the year with your students! It includes instructions for how to complete this cute little bag activity, as well as writing templates and graphic organizers. Such a unique, fun activity for upper elementary students!

13. Sweet Year Gift Tags- End of the Year FREEBIE from Elementary at HEART

Diana’s gift tags would be a “sweet” addition to any end of the year gifts you’re planning to give! There are a few different color options included and are super simple to prep.

14. Summer Fun Count and Clip Number Cards from The Therapy Mama

Jennifer from The Therapy Mama has these cute count and clip cards for your little learners! They’re great for reinforcing students’ counting and fine motor skills! Just print, laminate, and clip away!

15. End of Year gift tags FREEBIE! from The Primary Post

Hayley Lewallen has the cutest little tags for gifts you’re giving at the end of the year. Add them to any little gift, especially one from the Target Dollar Spot, for an added personal touch!

eoy4.jpg

16. End of the Year Memory Book FREE from Special Treat Friday

This little memory book from Heather is a fun activity for your students to remember the good times from the past school year! This freebie includes 4 sheets to create to a memory book, but she also has a paid version with more pages and ideas.

17. End of the Year-Summer Slide Flip Book for Parents from Two Little Birds

Jen has this awesome, two-sided flip book in her store all about informing parents about what “Summer Slide” is, along with some ideas and resources to avoid it. It includes a book list, writing prompts, and some fun educational app suggestions too!

18. End of Year Writing and Math FREE from Think Grow Giggle

This freebie includes a writing and math activity from Jeanine! The writing activity would be a GREAT bulletin board for the end of the year and the math activity gives your kiddos opportunities for critical thinking and cooperative learning.

19. End of Year Letter to Next Year's Students from New Hampshire Belle

These adorable templates are perfect for your students to write helpful, encouraging letters to your future students! They’re a fun activity for your current students and a great ice breaker to read to the students in your class next year.

20. FREE Letter to a Future Student Mad Libs: An End of the Year Activity! from Exceptional ELA

Stacey mixes up the “letter to a future student” idea by adding a Mad Libs activity to it! Similar to Mad Libs, students fill out the parts of speech with some hilarious words and the add them to their letter. Reading these letters aloud makes for a great activity with some good laughs!

eoy5.jpg

21. Summer Wine Gift Tags- Free from Teaching in Stripes

This one is just for YOU, teacher! These summer-themed wine tags from Lauren are perfect to add to a wine-themed gift for yourself, a friend, or one of your hard-working coworkers.

22. End of the Year Letters to {Future} Students! from Teaching with Crayons and Curls

Chandra uses this “Letter to Future Students” activity to have her students think about why the students coming to your class next year will absolutely love it! She includes a template for every grade level and each one includes two versions, pages for illustrations, and a bubble map.

23. A Day in the Life of a 3rd Grader: Moving Up Day Presentation from Always A Lesson

Gretchen has this great presentation for you to show your students who will be third graders next year! It’s a great way to show upcoming third graders some expectations for behavior and academics. 

24. End of Year Report Card FREEBIE from Cait's Cool School

Let your students tell you how they think you did this year with this teacher report card from Caitlin! This freebie includes two report cards versions, one blank and one full of ideas for you to use. I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors!

25. End of the Year Compliment Book Activity + Free Printable from Kiddos and Crayons

This freebie from Jordan gives your kiddos writing practice AND a keepsake from their current grade! Simply staple some papers between construction paper and have students decorate the front page of their booklet. Then, their classmates can write compliments, notes, or even draw pictures for their friends! Such a cute, simple way to remember a great year.


endpic.jpg

I hope you found one or two (or ten!) freebies to make the end of the year with your students even sweeter, more simple, and really fun. Thank you for everything you do for your students, their families, YOUR families, yourself….you are incredible and a total superhero. :) I admire you and love what you do.

Happy end of the year! Enjoy all the moments. :)

AM1.png

3 Reasons to Use Morning Work AND Morning Tubs

Back to School, Homeschool Ideas, Classroom Fun, Kindergarten, Reading Activities, Math Activities, Morning WorkAlleah RostoharComment

Morning Work vs. Morning Tubs. I feel like there’s a constant back and forth over which option is “better” for little learners. But, I truly believe there is space and time in the classroom for BOTH of these awesome activities! So, here are my 3 reasons for using both morning work AND morning tubs with kindergarteners.

**Disclaimer: When I say I “use both morning work AND morning tubs”, I DO mean interchangeably. I do not usually use both morning work and morning tubs in the same day. :) That would be a whole lotta time to warm up for the day! Ha! I usually set my morning activities on a 3-1 schedule: 3 weeks of paper/pencil, standards-based morning work and 1 week of morning tubs. Once in awhile, if students are super antsy and I can tell they need a break from using their brains so constantly, I’ll surprise them and bust out some morning tubs on a Friday. But, normally, we do 3 weeks of morning work, one week of morning tubs. I find this give them enough structure without being too monotonous.

REASON 1: SKILL PRACTICE

Morning work and morning tubs both provide students with many opportunities to practice a variety of skills. By incorporating both these activities into your daily routine, you’re giving your new learners a chance to practice academic skills like reading, writing, math concepts, and phonics, as well as motor skills, like manipulating and balancing objects, holding and using a pencil or marker, and steadily piecing something together or making something fit. Each of these skills is essential to molding our students into well-rounded, intelligent, coordinated little humans. :)

MORNING WORK: QUALITY morning work that provides students with standards-based activities for them to practice their skills in gives them the opportunity to practice their academic skills in either math, literacy, or both WHILE they hone their fine motor skills by holding a pencil, coloring inside the lines, or tracing. I personally LOVE the academic part of morning work because I’m a pusher. I always want my kids to be thinking, practicing, finding a new way to look at a problem. So, by providing my students with an opportunity to work on these skills in a risk-free environment, I’m giving them the perfect opportunity to take risks and try out their new-skill muscles. We quickly grade our morning work together on the projector, both to allow students to show off their skills and for them to notice the areas they need to keep practicing. I look over them to see who is strong in what areas and who is challenged in what areas and they are sent home. No grade, no pressure…just practice.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs also provide students with opportunities to practice many different skills, though these skills usually require more physical involvement than the morning work does. Morning tubs usually require students to have more dexterity with their hands and be able to manipulate the objects in the tubs. These kinds of activities are equally important for little learners to practice. They need to know how to squish play dough into the shape they want it to be in, how to balance a few blocks on top of each other, how to make that marker create the squiggle or drawing that they want it to…these are the foundations of important life skills that they’ll need to use later in life! And then there is the creativity aspect of morning tubs. Kids will come up with the most inventive, fun, creative ways to use objects if you allow them the time, space, and supplies to do so. Of course, please be sure to come up with and post expectations for behavior while using morning tubs. No one wants a counting bear to the head or rubber bands flying off the geoboards on purpose (except for maybe the little one DOING it, haha!). But, once you’ve established expectations, encourage their creativity as much as possible! What can they create with those pattern blocks? What game will they make up to play with the cards? Do they know how to share politely? These are all equally important skills as letter formation and number identification and require the same amount of direction, encouragement, and practice as the academic skills do. Morning tubs are a safe, effective way to practice these important social and creative skills.

REASON 2: VARIETY

I am a HUGE fan of routine and being sure that my students know what to expect as often as possible. I believe that people tend to feel less anxious and more calm when they have an idea of what to expect next and kindergarteners are no different. However, that being said, I think mixing up the routine in a structured way allows students to have the safety net of routine, but also learn to be adaptable to change in their world. So, by still having a “Morning Warm Up Time” like always, but changing up the activity to something equally (if not more) enjoyable than the normal activity, students can learn to adapt to change in a super gentle, safe way.

MORNING WORK: Morning work is such a great anchor for my students’ days! They know that they come in, unpack their things, turn in their homework folder, and grab their morning work. There is quiet music on, twinkle lights dancing above them, and every day feels like a “normal day” when they first come into our classroom (I mean, USUALLY…and other days, there’s a fire drill and I forget to take attendance and Joey throws up in the hallway…but, that’s another post altogether. HAHA.). So, using morning work that has a nice variety of activities and skills is crucial to keeping students’ attention, brushing up on as many standards as possible, and keeping it fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend choosing morning work that has a lot of “fun” involved…whether that is coloring, matching, tracing, drawing, whatever it might be, pick one that has a lot of engaging qualities so your students feel excited to see what’s next.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs are SUPER simple to use when adding in variety to your normal routine. Simply change one, two, or ALL of the activities in your tubs and you have instant engagement! The only thing I would suggest is to not change out the activities TOO often. I’ve found that sometimes, students can become overstimulated by constantly changing options or activities. In turn, they can sometimes find it hard to focus on and be content with an activity for an extended amount of time. So, change out those activities to keep them engaged and learning, but don’t do it so often that they need a new activity every time they sit down. :) Just a little tip I’ve learned by doing it the “wrong way” myself. Ha!

REASON 3: STRUCTURE

Oh em goodness. STRUCTURE. Any other teachers out there who are too type-A to just “let go” and “embrace the chaos” in their classrooms? OH, yeah….me neither. ;) Haha. No, for real, I’m just a tad bit controlling and really struggle to feel peaceful and confident when there is constant chaos that I am somehow supposed to be in charge of. SO, morning work and morning tubs give us the structure (and lots of peace of mind for me) because I know what to expect, they know what to expect, and my littles are engaged and learning in some way or another. On normal days, this combination keeps the chaos at bay.

MORNING WORK: Morning work provides students with such an routined, mostly-predictable structure for their days. My students know how to get their morning work, they know what they need to complete it, and they know to do the best they can and ask questions if they get stuck. We’ve also learned to start cleaning up when we hear the timer, what to bring to the carpet area to check out our work, and what to do with our morning work when it’s all completed and checked. They complete this routine EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. Whether I’m there to teach, a sub is coming in, or we have a fire drill first thing in the morning, we always ALWAYS make time for our morning warm up routine. I feel that it sets up the structure for the rest of the day and allows my kids to come into our room confident about what will be expected of them. So, morning routine creates structure and having a semi-predictable activity ready, like consistent morning work, adds to that structure.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs can contribute to the same kind of structure, but with a little more free choice built in. When first starting morning tubs, I do a LOT of explicit teaching about how to use them and how to NOT use them before allowing my kids to work with them. I approach morning tubs a little bit like I do work stations: 1. Set expectations. 2. Model like CRAZY. 3. Watch them practice. 4. Let ‘em loose! :) There is a lot of step 1, step 2, step 3, back to step 1, try step 3 again, remember step 2, try step 4, YIKES, go back to step 2. HAHA! That’s just the nature of teaching. They WILL learn how to work with their morning tubs independently, it just might take a lot of modeling and practicing at the beginning. However, if you take the time at the beginning to clearly set up these expectations for how students use morning tubs and how they behave during this time, morning tubs can provide a GREAT structured learning time through exploration and creativity.

Using both morning work AND morning tubs in my classroom has worked out really well for my students in the past. Do you use one or the other or both?? Drop a comment below! I’d love to hear how y’all get your little ones brains working too! :)

Happy teaching!

P.S. The morning work I use is here in my TPT store, all bundled up for the entire year! The morning tub cards are HERE and are editable! Some of the activities I put into morning tubs include pattern blocks, geoboards, counting bears, play dough with mats, math and literacy puzzles, unifix cubes, magnetic letters, dry erase boards and markers, blocks, tangrams, and cards, . I usually get out 5 activities for the week and each table gets one tub each day. The next day, the schedule shifts down just one activity and they get to do the next tub on the list. This way, every student gets every tub one time during the week. The next month, I’ll switch out most of the activities for new ones to keep it fresh and fun.