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.
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!
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.
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:
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!)
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!
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) **
- 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)