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Instant Ideas for Busy Teachers...

by Barbara Gruber, M.A. & Sue Gruber, M.A.

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This article was printed from Teachers.Net Gazette,
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Springtime Learning Clubs---
Simple Solutions to Spring Fever!

News Flash: Spring Fever Hits Classrooms Across the Country!!!

Every teacher knows it is increasingly difficult to get children to focus on school and learning when "Spring Fever" sets in. As the days tick off toward the end of the year, classroom management and engaging children in learning become more challenging in every classroom. We wish we could tell teachers everywhere that we have a cure for Spring Fever! We can't eliminate Spring Fever---however, we have a perfect way to motivate your roomful of learners when "Spring Fever" sets in! We call this idea Springtime Learning Clubs and it's easy for any teacher to pull off successfully in any K-6 classroom. You'll love it because children are actively engaged in learning and it's so easy to implement. We know how busy teachers are---we promise not to give you more work to do!

The Best Time for Springtime Learning Clubs

Count back three or four weeks from the last day of school and block off a period of one or two weeks for your Springtime Learning Club. We recommend using the second and/or third weeks before school ends and not including the last hectic week of school. Now, choose a theme that will be high-interest for your students.

Ideas for Theme for Springtime Learning Clubs

Wild Animal Club
The Dinosaur Club
(The Dinosaur Club is running in Sue's California Kindergarten classroom right now!)
Save the Rainforest Club
Deep Blue Sea Club
…any other theme your students find exciting and interesting.

Learning Activities for Springtime Learning Clubs

In this Gazette article, we'll use Wild Animal Club for our theme. Take a look at the list of learning activities that go with the Wild Animal Park. These learning activities go with most of the themes listed above. And, there are all sorts of additional learning activities that can be added to the list below.

Reading Activities

Writing Activities

Oral Language

Special Interest Projects

Other High-interest Activities

Management of Springtime Learning Clubs

Projects involved in the Springtime Learning Clubs are created by the students, not by the teacher. You can set the standards for projects, but the kids do just about everything.

Capture attention and pique curiosity when you launch the Club.

Just for fun, write on the chalkboard, "Springtime Learning Club starts in 7 days!" Each day change the number---when children ask what the Springtime Learning Club is tell them you can't announce it until May 12th! Announce the Springtime Learning Club Theme to the class first thing in the morning on the day the Club begins. Kick off the theme by showing a video or read aloud a book with wonderful illustrations!

Get interest going by covering the classroom door with colorful paper labeled "Wild Animal Zone." Have each child draw and cut out a wild animal to paste on the door banner. If you have posters or anything that goes with the wild animal theme, this is the time to display those materials in the classroom. Ask other teachers if they have materials you can borrow that tie in with the theme!

Wild Animal Club Activities Chart---a simple management tool

All you need to manage the Club and keep track of completed activities is a tagboard chart and a class list. Label the chart "Wild Animal Club Activities" and list the activities children can do. Number each activity. Make some of the activities be required by marking them with a * and others can be free choice. Children must complete all required activities before doing choice activities. When children finish activities, they show them to the teacher who checks that activity's number off on a class list. If you have activities on the list that you want to do together as a class, write a T for Teacher before those activities on the chart. If an activity is done with partners, draw 2 faces beside it. If it is done in a group of 5 or more, draw 5 faces beside it. Your chart might look like this:

Wild Animal Club Learning Activities
Activities with a * are required.
You must do all * activities first.
Show each activity to me when you are done.
Ms. Sunshine, Wild Animal Club Manager

  1. * Read a book about wild animals from the Reading Table. Write a report about the book. Report forms are on the Reading Table.
  2. * Read another book about wild animals from the Reading Table. Write a report about the book. Report forms are on the Reading Table.
  3. * Choose one wild animal and create a poster about the animal. Look at the sample poster.
  4. * T Write 2 Haiku poems. Each poem is about a different wild animal.
  5. * Bring one item for sharing that is about a wild animal.
  6. * T Make a commemorative postage stamp about a wild animal.
  7. Create a wild animal habit for one type of animal in a shoebox.
  8. Make a clay model of a wild animal for the table top display.
  9. Make a mural showing wild animals in their habitat.
  10. Create a mobile about wild animals.

We placed a T before activity #4 on the list because we plan to do a class lesson on writing Haiku poetry before students write poems. For activity #6, we want to demonstrate how to make the postage stamps so the projects students create are done carefully and to the standards we have set. For the postage stamps, we demonstrate how to sketch the animal lightly in pencil, then color and label it. Then, we would show how to add numbers to show what the stamp is worth. We might want to pass around some cancelled postage stamps for kids to look at as part of this lesson.

In every classroom there are students who do fast, messy work so they can say, "I'm done!" They love to race through projects for the thrill of being done first. You can bring this to a screeching halt by requiring carefully done work from everyone. We invest time in teaching and modeling how to do an activity and require students to meet our standards.

One other thing to think about, if you have students who are pulled out of class frequently for special lessons, they will have less time to work on the Wild Animal Club. We recommend that you can enter into a private agreement with those children and lower the number of required activities they must do. Then, they don't feel they are missing out on things. In a perfect world, everyone will complete required activities and have time to choose a few of the free choice activities.

It's easy to keep track of which activities students have done. If you have twelve activities on your Learning Activities Chart you can just number across the top of a class list from one to 12. When students finish an activity, they must show it to you before putting it on display in the classroom. If the project is incomplete or not done properly, have students work on it to bring it up to par.

At the end of the Wild Animal Club, save a sample of each project created by students so you have examples to use next year. Keep the Learning Activities Chart to use again next year. Have children place all the books back in the classroom and school libraries. On the last day of school children can take down their projects and take them home.

It's easy to get a Springtime Learning Club going in your classroom!
We hope you find it to be the answer to a time of year when it is difficult to keep the learning going. We think it's a fun way to engage children in high-interest learning activities. We also like the idea of giving children choices after they have completed required activities. Giving children choices is a way of building trust with students and fostering responsibility and independence.

If you like the kinds of ideas we present in this Gazette article, you'll love the online courses we offer for teachers. Every idea is classroom-tested, 100% practical and teacher-friendly. Our motto is "There's a life beyond teaching." When teachers are not consumed by their jobs, they are more energetic and enthused. And, that's win-win for teachers and students---there is a positive correlation between how much children learn and the enthusiasm level of teachers. We help teachers save time and work so they can be positive and energized.

We encourage you to take a look at our online courses for K-6 teachers at http://www.bgrubercourses.com Teachers say our courses are the most practical courses they've ever taken. And, the ideas are so easy to implement. They tell us they are using so many of our activities and teaching strategies. We're delighted to know that teachers not only like our ideas but are putting them in action in classrooms everywhere.

Best wishes ~
Barbara Gruber & Sue Gruber

Barbara Gruber & Sue Gruber
Barbara Gruber Online Courses for K-6 Teachers
Barbara Gruber Courses for Teacher

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