Filling Up The Last Few Hours…

If one of the perks of teaching is the holidays, then one of the worst parts is definitely the drawn-out week before the holidays! Kids are out sick, there’s 101 extra-curricular things going on, end-of-term tests are over and nobody feels like doing much work, including the teachers!

There’s only so many movies you can play before the kids get bored of those too, so here are some other ideas to keep the kids occupied and engaged before the break.

Board Games

End of term is the perfect time to break out the games of Monopoly, Connect4, Don’t Buzz the Wire…all the old classics! Some might see these as just time wasting, but I think it’s important to expose the kids to entertainment beyond the iPad or TV screen. There’s no point in giving out about them ‘always staring at a screen’ if you never make an effort to interest them in anything else!

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Table Quiz

Who doesn’t love a good table quiz? Mix together some random trivia, sports questions, pop culture and of course, material you’ve covered in class, and you’ve got an entertaining 45 minutes lined up. You can download a simple 5-question template answer sheet here, and also a list of 50 questions that you might include at a fifth/sixth class level.

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Card Games

Teaching the kids to play old card games is a surprisingly rewarding experience. I feel like a very old 24 year old writing this, but I got a real sense of nostalgia teaching my kids how to play games like ‘Go Fish’ and ‘Cheat’ (otherwise known as ‘Bullsh*t!). I played a lot of tennis in my teens, and there was a large group of us that used to play these card games on the train journey to Carlow or Waterford during the summers. Here are two simple games that you can teach:

Cheat

Groups of 5+ work best. Deal out all  of the cards. The first person puts a card faces down in the middle, and names it. (e.g. I’m putting down a 7). You can put down two, three, or four 7’s if you have them. The next person must put down a card one above or one below the last person (in this case either a 6 or an 8).

If they don’t have a 6 or an 8 to put down, they cheat/lie and put down another card (face down, remember) pretending it’s a 6 or an 8, and hope that nobody calls their bluff. If someone calls ‘cheat’, the last card is turned over. If the person did cheat, they take up all of the cards that have gathered in the centre. If they were telling the truth, then the person who called ‘cheat’ takes all the cards. The winner is the first person to get rid of all their cards. Trust me, your kids will love this game! If it sounds complicated, watch the video below from 10:00 (but be warned, it contains strong language!)

 

Spoons

Another super-fun card game that will keep your kids entertained for hours! You will need one spoon (or similar object) for each player. Players sit in a circle and the spoons go in middle. Deal four cards to each player and leave the rest of the cards to the right-hand side of the dealer. The dealer picks up one card from the deck, and examines it. He/she chooses one of their cards (either the one they just picked, or a different card) to pass to the next person. This process repeats until the last person gets a card, at which point they add it to a ‘Trash’ pile, rather than pass it back to the dealer.

When somebody gets four of the same card, (e.g. four Queens, four 8’s, etc.), they grab a spoon from the centre of the table. As soon as the other players see this, they grab a spoon too. The person who doesn’t get a spoon loses, and the game starts over again. See a hilarious example below!

Movie Suggestions

If you do go for a movie (and believe me, I still will be!), here are some of my recommendations for fifth/sixth class.

  • Ballerina **
  • Benji (for dog lovers) **
  • Breadwinner
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (based on Jeff Kinney’s series)
  • Gangsta Granny (based on David Walliams book) **
  • Inside Out
  • Matilda (based on Roald Dahl’s book) **
  • School of Rock
  • Wonder (based on RJ Palacio’s book) **

(** = available on Netflix Kids)

Physical Geography: Interactive Map Resources

Teaching the rivers, mountains and counties of Ireland has to be one of the dullest lessons of the year. It’s difficult to get kids from Dublin to care about which one is Longford and which is Leitrim, and I’d imagine it’s the same across the country (or world, for that matter!).

Thankfully, I came across these amazing online resources this year, which completely livened up the lessons. You can do them on the interactive whiteboard, and turn it into a competition for the best time, which livens up any classroom.

Seterra has the counties of Ireland, as well as the major physical geography for nearly all of the rest of the World. The record in my class so far is 44 seconds for a perfect score!

Ireland101 covers the lakes, rivers, mountains, islands and counties of Ireland.

Click the images below to go to the above-mentioned sites and test your knowledge!

 

 

Acids and Bases

Here’s a really simple Science lesson that you can put together in an evening for a couple of euro – handy for those nights that you’re scrambling for something to do!

Materials:

  • 5 containers and 5 copper (1c, 2c or 5c) coins per group.
  • Tomato Ketchup
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Bottle of Coke
  • Water

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Procedure:

  1. Explain that the children will be investigating the best coin cleaner.
  2. Have each group predict which one they think will work best.
  3. Decide how to conduct a fair test – (same amount of each substance used, same amount of time, coins in similar condition before test).
  4. Leave coins to sit for twenty/thirty minutes (you could teach a quick lesson on acids/bases and the pH scale here).
  5. Examine coins and note best cleaner (it should be the tomato sauce as it is the best acidic, which counteracts the base, copper oxide, on the coins).

This is such a simple little experiment, but the kids loving sticking their hands in a bowl of ketchup or Coke, and you can explicitly teach the scientific method through hypothesising, designing a fair test, and writing down the materials and procedure as above!

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Computer Time (Senior Classes)

Computer time with senior classes can be a tough time slot to fill. The kids have used all the programmes already, they think they know more than you, and they don’t want to do anything that involves ‘learning’. *** face palms *** If they’re working on a project, you can get them to research that, but in my experience so far, there are plenty of weeks when you’re left wondering what you’re supposed to do with them for the next hour!

I ran an after school digital media class last year, and had to dig deep into the Internet to find activities and resources to keep them engaged and entertained. Below are some of the websites I’ve found that work best.

Canva

Canva is a fantastic free site that provides ready-made templates for birthday cards, posters, invitations, and even social media profiles. Kids can take the templates and personalise them, giving them the chance to work as graphic designers for a few weeks! Here’s a sample that I threw together to introduce the website to the kids in my after-school class:

Biteable

Biteable is a website that lets you take pre-made animated videos, and edit them in whatever way you want. You can add in footage, and change the text, colours, and music. It’s completely free, and will keep a group busy for 3-4 weeks. Unfortunately, you need an expensive upgrade to download the videos, but here’s an example from YouTube:

Kahoot

This interactive-quiz site is gaining in popularity amongst teachers, but have you considered getting students to make their own quizzes? Create an account for your classroom, and assign topics for the kids to become experts on. Have them put together their quiz and try it out on the rest of the class. They’ll be begging you to choose theirs!

WordMint

WordMint is a handy site that you can use to have kids invent their own crosswords and wordsearches, which they will love getting their friends to complete. It requires a one-off payment of €5.50, but then it’s yours for life!

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Mangahigh

Mangahigh is a great maths website which covers all areas, although it’s based on an English curriculum. You can sign up for a thirty-day trial, and get four weeks of computers without paying. If you find it really useful, you could always suggest to the principal that the school invest in the full programme.

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Code.org

Code.org is a great way to introduce your kids to coding. It takes a little bit of time to get set up, but once you create an account for the kids, it will keep them busy for weeks as they make their way through the various challenges and tasks.

Scratch

Similar to Code.org, involves kids using code to programme their own games and stories. Not as user-friendly as Code.org, but great for more advanced kids who have a little bit of experience under their belts.

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iPiccy

iPiccy is an online photo editor that you can use to teach your future Insta-models everything from cropping and filters to exposure and saturation. You can use the photos provided or have them bring in their own photos on a memory stick to work with. There’s an option to make collages too, and if you have access to a colour-printer in your school, it could make for a really nice lesson or two!

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Office Tutorials

As much fun as editing videos and designing posters can be, kids really really really need to master Word and the basic internal geography of a computer. I’m amazed by how many of my kids spend several hours a day staring at a screen, and yet can’t copy and paste an image online, or find a file after they’ve saved it. Office have a whole range of video tutorials online – this can work best if you put two kids working together, so they can follow the tutorial on one computer, and carry out the tasks on the other.

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Similar to the the Office tutorials, I’ve yet to meet a kid who can actually type correctly. Considering typing has already replaced handwriting in nearly all areas of life, I think it’s worth including this at the start or end of your lessons, or focusing on it for a six to eight week term. As someone who taught themselves to type, it’s a pain in the face to get there, but so worth it when you master it!

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