Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two End of the School Year Activities: BioDomes and the US Map

I am always looking for end of the school year activities. Each time I develop end of the year activities I struggle to find ways to make the content relevant to my students. As summer is approaching they are antsy and really looking to get out of the classroom and back into their pools or simply outside. Many of my end of the year activities are related to the outdoors.

As the end of the school year draws closer I like finding ways to involve the students in activities that take them outside of the classroom and get access those kinesthetic intelligences we so often neglect. 

Activity One: The US Map

Many of our schools have large parking lots or play areas where there is simply blacktop. Why not use that space as a canvas and get our students learning in the process. Of course you would want to clear this with your school administrator but painting a map of the United States (large scale - think 20 feet long) on the parking lot is a great activity for your students. Involve them in the planning and execution of the activity.

Once created, the map is a great way to get the students engaged in Social Studies learning and accessing mapping skills. I have used it to identify states, explore battles during the Civil War, or discuss the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Activity Two: BioDomes

Put into a nutshell I have the students collect 2-Liter soda bottles. We wash them out, remove the labels and cut the tops off. I then go into the woods (we have a cross country trail) and have the students collect soil, plants and bugs to go into their BioDomes. They create the BioDomes by putting the two bottoms of the soda bottles together like a pill and the soil, plants and bugs are inside. They make a great window decoration (make sure its not too hot) and when done right the bugs can survive for a while. I usually have the students leave the bugs out since I think it is a little cruel to leave them captive (they always die) in the classroom. The plants do well though and the moisture in the soil cycles through.

This is a great lesson on water cycles, and interdependence in the natural world. 

Enjoy those two end of the year activities. Hopefully you will find a way to keep yourself and your students cool and learning as the year winds down! Enjoy!