Saturday, May 30, 2015

Weekend Warriors: Favorite EOY Activities

Welcome to this very special MAY edition of Weekend Warriors!  I am so stoked to be joining this amazing group of teacher bloggers to share one of my most favorite times of the year with you!

 I've realized that as a first grade teacher in her 13th year of teaching first grade, there was NO WAY I could choose just one EOY activity to share with you....  I have too many that I cherish so grab that cup of Joe and settle in because I have a ton to share with you today!
First up: This snazzy Countdown to Summer Chain created by the lovely Megan Wheeler!
End of the Year Countdown Chain
 I start the chain the first day of May and the kids have had quite the reaction to it.....You would expect a certain level of anticipation and excitement building up with each new chain that is added....but this year, my kids are looking pretty darn sad as the chain gets longer.  My heart is breaking as I begin to hear moans and sighs saying, "Oh no....not yet!" or "Mrs. D, can you come in over the summer so we can stay in school with you!"  Talk about tugging on your heart strings!!!!
My next EOY Favorite was shared last year by a truly fabulous blogging buddy and it is a keeper!  The very vivacious Haley O'Connor has this OUTSTANDING EOY pack FILLED to the brim with fabulous activities. In mid-May, I run a class set of her Summer Practice Packet to send home with each of the kids.
 See those lovely piles and piles of papers?
Any time we have delay days, snow days, or times where activities did not get completed, I simply add them to my "Summer Pile" in my work room.  I never throw them away.  
During the last full week of school, the kids take out the folders we have used for various reasons throughout the year, and those folders now have a NEW PURPOSE!  We call them our
 Those piles of papers are sorted into 4 Folders:
Reading Folder
Math Folder
Writing Folder
Phonics Folder
I type a very simple instruction list to the parents so they know what each folder is about and then the kids take them home with pride and eagerness to hopefully continue their learning over the summer months.
The purple folders have a very special purpose in our classroom all year!  Each student has used this purple folder to keep track of their Sight Word Mastery using my "Wild About Sight Words" Program.
Click on any image for more details! 
I had a very special volunteer that came in every week this year to check students word lists.
With each new level passed, students moved up and earned brag tags to show off their skills on a reading ribbon displayed in the hallway.

 We used the same incentive for Accelerated Reader too!
 Now, that we have reached the end of the year, it is time to send this special folder home.
 First, we had a big celebration for students to show their growth from the beginning of the year until now.  Talk about excitement!  Giving the kiddos a chance to reflect and look back at where they started was definitely an eye-opener to say the least!  These kids were feeling very proud by the end of the day!
 Inside the folder is the student's growth chart,
 and the new levels to practice over the summer months.
 Students also get to take home the remaining brag tags.
 As they pass each new level, they can continue to add brag tags to their ribbon.
The kids  thought this was so exciting and couldn't wait to take their Sight Words Folders home to share with mom and dad!
 Another EOY favorite that I just found is this sweet little writing pack by Miss Decarbo.  Just click on the image below for more details.
 I am having my kids do 2 pages every morning for morning work and they just LOVE it!
This page is my favorite!  It's called the Rockin' Reader and meshed perfectly with my Critter Cafe strategy learning!

 Beanie Baby Reading Strategy Posters for the Common Core C

Daily Read alouds are so special....Especially at the end of the year.  Finding books that really drive home all that learning that has taken place throughout the year is what I try to pack in as much as possible in those remaining days.  A true favorite is "Dear Mr. Blueberry" by Simon James.
 I have found some very fun and engaging follow-up activities to do with the story-
But my favorite is making a writing connection from teacher to student and student to teacher. 
 This is the point where I invite my now almost second graders to write a letter to me....and tell me what they loved about first grade.

 This is often the part where I begin sobbing uncontrollably...
What do I do with all the special trinkets and letters I have accumulated from the students each year?  I put everything in a Binder that I can then make a snazzy cover for and display proudly in my office.  
Oh, and speaking of favorite read alouds....
I attended one of Lester Laminak's seminars several years ago and boy did he WOW me with his take on adding fabulous vocabulary to stories and read alouds.  I purchased this gem-
 which comes with a CD of Lester reading aloud my favorite summertime book called "Saturday and Teacakes".  
In first grade it was a challenge to pluck out the Genre of Memoirs until finding this treasure....  It makes the connection so clear and easy for our littles!
 I also had a very sweet connection to the story because it reminds me of all the summers I spent with my grandparents...... baking summer favorites like Grandma's Teacakes!
 On the last day of school I have a very special ritual that includes reading aloud this time-honored favorite-
 Followed by a Glamorous Awards Ceremony where I get to hand out and recognize each and every special first grader in my class!
Then I pass out my farewell letter to the kids and again, the waterworks are hard to control......
 I also invite each student up to pick up a special summer treat!
2 Favorite books from Scholastic and a really fun book mark!
Then my room mother is coming in to set up a Drive-In Movie themed pizza party and movie treat for the kids!
It's going to be a memorable last day...
Here's to making every moment count in the eyes (and hearts) of our little ones!


  1. Welcome to Weekend Warriors, Julie!! I absolutely love your Summer Practice folder idea! Brilliant! I'm also loving your Wild About Sight Words program. How exciting for your students-I'll bet they are so motivated to learn their words!

    Primarily Speaking

  2. So many great ideas, so little time!!! Thanks Julie for sharing your heart and soul.

  3. Wow Julie! This is an amazing post full of so many WONDERFUL ideas! Of course, you already know how much I love all of your incentives and the displays! Like you, I always send home my extra papers but never thought to create a folder for them. Thanks for the swell idea! :)
    Have a great end to your year my friend!

    Creative Lesson Cafe


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