TGIF isn't just for adults. Kids experience the same relief that Friday has arrived that adults in the working world experience. After a long week of learning, they are ready for a break from the regular classroom routine. Designing activities that are entertaining and engaging, while still providing educational value, provides kids with that well-deserved break while adhering to the curriculum.
Incorporating music into Friday's schedule is a favorite activity with kids. Programs that promote learning via rhymes set to music are a lively way to start the day. There are a variety of products available ranging from learning the parts of speech to math and science facts and days of the week. Consider starting every class with a lively tune on Friday. This only takes a minute or two and gets kids involved in the classwork. Browse through the Schoolhouse Rock collection for music to reinforce academic skills.
Using art to demonstrate the skills they have learned throughout the week provides kids with the opportunity to get involved with learning. Consider collages or crafts that incorporate your week's theme. Young children enjoy coloring or cutting and pasting, while older children can produce impressive water colors or dynamic posters to illustrate what they have learned.
To switch things up a bit, play challenging games that promote thinking skills. These don't need to be related to the weekly concepts to be valuable. Try list-writing by giving kids a topic, such as "Things that are orange" or "Things that squeak," and allow them to brainstorm. You may be surprised by the clever responses they produce.
Other games like Guesstures or Pictionary challenge kids to express themselves in new ways. These games work well for upper elementary and middle school students. To build interpersonal and team-building skills, break kids into groups that are required to work together.
Pair your class with a younger class and have an afternoon of shared reading. Older children get the opportunity to read to younger children, while young children get to show off their budding reading skills. For extra excitement, choose a theme for the day and provide many books on the topic for kids to choose from. Add a few props for acting out the stories and enjoy an afternoon of good old-fashioned reading.
Put on a Play
Kids love to perform. Putting on a play for another classroom, or in front of the entire school, makes Friday a special occasion. Premade plays that can be read aloud, called Reader's Theater scripts, can be used for an impromptu play without a lot of preparation. Give older kids a few minutes to practice reading their lines and then let them perform. Although they can practice all week, reading the script to others for an afternoon can be amusing.
Consider allowing older children to "act out" favorite fairy tales or nursery rhymes for younger kids. Most are familiar with the stories and are quite capable of performing them without a lot of practice. Expect some ad-libbed lines, and join in with the laughter.
Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.