No field day. No yearbook-signing day. No dunk-your-principal-in-the-water-tank day.
The countless silly rituals that students and school staff look forward to in the last days of the school year have been iced out by the coronavirus too. But principals and teachers have dreamt up creative alternatives to give students some fun and close out the 2019-20 academic year on an uplifting note.
One principal, Lea Anne Thomas, told Education Week how she and her teaching team at China Grove Elementary School in China Grove, N.C., pulled off two days of fun virtual activities for staff and students to do together on Zoom. (Today is students’ last day of school.)
Here are 10 activities they offered:
1. Pancake and waffles (Whip up breakfast together.)
2. Shaving cream shenanigans (Shaving cream + food coloring and other common household items = lots of fun.)
3. Desserts in a mug (Easy-to-make sweets in the microwave.)
4. 1-minute fitness challenge (Students can compete with teachers in a quick, silly workout.)
5. Scavenger hunt (Call out names of common items and give students 1 minute to hunt for them in their houses.)
6. Virtual field trip to the zoo
7. Pictionary (Divide students into two teams to guess their teachers’ drawings.)
8. Lego challenge (Challenge students to design and build creations in 15 minutes.)
9. Dance party (Cue music and dance!)
10. Pizza making (Create dough from scratch with just two ingredients: flour and Greek yogurt.)
Pulling this off does take some planning ahead, Principal Thomas said. Descriptions of the activities were shared ahead of time with parents and students could sign up for the sessions they wanted to participate in.
“The idea was that our staff had lots of neat talents and ideas they could share with our students,” Thomas said in an email. “We wanted our students to have an opportunity to do fun things during the last few days of school.”
These pro tips from her are essential for making virtual fun activities safe and successful:
- Make sure sessions are planned out and well-timed. Kids lose interest in about 15 minutes if it is not a very active session.
- Keep student safety and privacy in mind at all times. We did not take pictures or videos of our students in the sessions and we made sure we did not send out links to the general public.
- Make sure you have two adults in each session.
- Run a Zoom tutorial with staff and practice setting up meetings so all participants are muted and one person is the co-host and works on allowing entry to the Zoom while the other person leads the activity.
Image courtesy of Lea Anne Thomas
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.