On Friday, we had Staff Development...yes, a day and a half before the school year is out, and the Friday before a three day weekend. :)

Let me preface this with the fact that we are far from traditional on our 
professional development days.

To start our day, we did a little warm up with Sid the Sloth from Ice Age.
Such and fun and easy one to do with your kiddos if you haven't already checked it out.

We Built This City
Our first real task of the day was to build a city. But of course, there were rules.
There were 200 sheets of paper (which we saved to use with our classes).
      • You could fold the paper, but you couldn't tear it.
      • You could not use anything else (tape, scissors, etc.).
      • Each city had to have two roads that connected with another city.
      • It was timed, but I can't remember how long we had (maybe 20 minutes?).
      • One person in the group had to be the recorder and tell WHY we included each building.
Here is our creation. I think we did a pretty good job.
We had all of the utility buildings (water, power, gas), a campsite, a dump, homes, schools, and of course, a Target and Starbucks! 
The best part was the collaboration and the laughter that happened while getting the job done.

Save the World
Our second task was to take a box of junk...and I mean junk...and create a contraption or device that would save the world. 

The rules for this project were:
      • You couldn't add anything else, but you could use tools (scissors, rulers, markers, and thankfully they gave us tape).
      • This invention had to have a positive impact on the future.
      • You had to try to use everything in the box.
      • We had 40 minutes to complete our task.
      • We had to work in areas away from everyone else.
So, I do not want to brag, and while the other creations were quite clever, ours truly was the best. 
Are you ready for it?
It's a time traveling utility belt! 
You can see some of the "junk" that was included in the box (which we also used) a flag, straws, file folders, pencils, cut pool noodles, string, paper plates, a stuffed fish, a water bottle, a duck necklace, masking tape, and two blue spheres. There were also cotton balls which we applied to the back so she could have a soft landing. Each group had similar items. 
And obviously this led to A LOT of laughter and collaboration.

On a side note, this amazing lady is my sweet friend Liz. She is relocating and won't be back next year. Liz, you have no idea how much your grade level is going to miss you! 
Here are two other creations that were presented.

This is a positive vibe catcher. It even had a scrolling screen in the front that turned sad thoughts happy. I thought that was pretty clever.

Oh gosh! Now that I look at this one, I'm not 100% sure that this is the food changer, but I think it is. I definitely have end-of-the-year teacher brain.
Anyway, one group created an invention that made healthy food taste good an unhealthy food taste bad. Can you imagine how skinny we would all be? LOL

Not only are we armed with some great ideas for the last day of school, but we also had a ton of fun and got to do some...dare I say it...team building activities.

This all took place in the morning. The rest of the day was filled with lunch at Panera and long range planning, which was fun, but not quite as fun as this!
Hi everyone! Well, are you still in school or have you started your summer break?
We are on the final countdown at our school!!

If you've already celebrated your volunteers this year, feel free to tuck these ideas away for next year.

So we know schools work on a very limited budget, but we also know the tremendous effort that our volunteers put in, and that they deserved to be recognized.

Every year for as long as I can remember, I have been in charge of our 
Volunteer Appreciation Celebration.

Now, I'm a theme girl...always have been, always will be!

We have done so many themes: garden, superheroes, Hollywood, Hawaiian...you name it, we've probably done it!

This year's theme...apples and chalkboards. It worked really well with our budget, too, and most of the items will be reusable for back to school or Teacher Appreciation week next year.

So, first we printed out these apple shaped invitations. My sweet son helped me cut them out. I tied them with baker's twine that I got at the Target Dollar Spot.

This year we tried a new way of keeping track of who actually showed up to the celebration and it was genius. (I'll give my principal credit for that for sure, since it was all her brilliant idea!)
I had everyone email the names of the volunteers, and what they had done to help our school. I made a master list with all of the names and the blurb that each teacher had sent. Then we made a sign-in sheet. As the volunteers signed in, I highlighted them on the master list. My principal just had to go down the list and read all of the names.

For the centerpieces, I grabbed mason jars from Amazon and just used double stick tape to wrap ribbon around the neck of each jar. We raided the supply cabinet and filled the mason jars with rulers and pencils. Super easy and super cheap.

If you mull things over long enough in the aisle of Joann's a fabulous manager may come along and offer you a discount if you say it's for your school. That's how we ended up with the chalkboard. Times like this though, I need my friend Stacey from Funky Fresh Firsties around to apply her amazing chalkboard artistic skills. Our volunteers had to settle for my slightly pitiful attempt.
For other decorations, I grabbed red lanterns from the Target Dollar Spot and following an idea I found on Pinterest, turned the lanterns into apples using construction paper for the stems and leaves. My amazing friend Carina came to my rescue when the lanterns kept tipping over, with a black "chalkboard" base made out of construction paper, and added writing with a white chalk pen.

For gifts we ordered small mason jars and filled them with caramel sauce, added an apple on top, put them in a bag and tied them up with a little note that I printed that read, "Thank you for being SWEET to the CORE!".

My amazing grade level helped get all of these ready...even when suffering from end-of-the-year exhaustion. THEY DEFINITELY ROCK!

Apple gifts as far as the eye can see!

Now, we have some above and beyond volunteers that were given an additional award. Our assistant principal's husband happens to own a trophy shop which helped save us money, but these adorable apples were only $10...not too bad...depending on the number of volunteers you have.

We grabbed all of the food and drinks from Costco. 
Apple pic, of course, brownie bites, and cookies. We just had water to drink,
 because normally it is so hot here in Las Vegas.

My principal prepared a PowerPoint with several quotes about volunteers. My class, along with my friend Carina's class, and some members of the choir were led by our fantastic music teacher in a super cute song about volunteers.

That's it!
Super simple!
Pretty inexpensive!
Raise your hand if you are counting down the days until summer. Oh, I see you...and I'm with you!
But so are the kids, right?

We always talk about that summer slide and not wanting students to lose their skills during those long weeks of summer break, right? The teachers in the next grade that your kiddos will be going to are hoping the same thing, too.

I'd like to introduce you to some fun-filled, low prep, high engagement, learning-based activities for your kiddos to work on over the summer.


Did you catch those key words, low prep, fun-filled,  learning-based AND  
high engagement? YEP! You read that right!

Basically, all you need to do is copy the 8 pages included (and if you copy them front to back it's only 4, right?), grab a notebook (or copy the one included), and Voila! an action packed summer!

Your students will each get an explanation sheet highlighting all of the activities as well as 6 ten step activities that will take them through the whole summer.

Through this product, your students will learn how to
  • plan and prepare a family dinner
  • plan and execute a family backyard campout
  • host a boat floating contest
  • create a fun water park
  • present a picture zoo
  • create a time machine (and learn about historical figures) 
I tried out the Plan and Prepare a Family Dinner activity with my kiddos and check out two of my kiddos and their delicious creations.

 Pasta and sauce with garlic bread and popsicles for dessert!

Baked mac and cheese with salmon (and fresh flowers!)

LOVED that my kiddos got so into it AND that both of their moms reported that these two girls are looking forward to helping in the kitchen more in the future.

My students are not actually supposed to prepare their dinners until this weekend, so I cannot wait to hear how the rest of them do!

To grab this fun product that your students are sure not to toss in the trash or leave in their backpack all summer, click on any of the pictures to take you to the unit, or search 

OR you can try this cooking dinner FREEBIE by clicking here.
Back to Top