This post originally appeared on the blog Lights, Camera, Teach.
It’s May and most of us are winding down our school year before summer vacation. We want our last few weeks of school to be fun and meaningful, but we are tired — and new ideas can take a lot of energy that we don’t have right now. I’m here to share with you a couple of meaningful activities that you can do with your classroom that are not difficult to implement.
1. Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Did you know that May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? There are many easy ways to acknowledge these wonderful cultures, and this is the perfect month to introduce them to your class.
Background: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a celebration of the culture of Asian-Pacific Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. It originated as a congressional bill in 1978 and by 1992, it was expanded from a week to a month-long celebration. The month of May was chosen to pay tribute to the first Japanese immigrants to the United States on May 7, 1843, and also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese Immigrants.
Here are some helpful books that you can read in class (from www.readingrockets.org):
By: Allen Say
Say narrates the saga of his grandfather who travels to the United States in the early 20th century as a young man, marries, and returns to Japan. Watercolor portraits of people and places help depict the contrast of cultures and parallel the lives of grandfather and grandson.
The Name Jar
By: Yangsook Choi
Being the new kid in school is hard enough, but what about when nobody can pronounce your name? Having just moved from Korea, Unhei is anxious if American kids will like her.
Tuko and the Birds: A Tale From The Phillipines
By: Shirley Climo
Illustrated by: Francisco Mora
On the Philippine island of Luzon, birds sing the people of Maynilad to sleep at night. That is, until Tuko the haughty gecko prevents the birds from doing their job. Repetition and onomatopoeic animal sounds make this a lively, memorable folktale to share aloud. Tagalog is sprinkled throughout and is included in a glossary.
By: Ai-Ling Louie
Based on an ancient Chinese story (which pre-dates European versions), a girl overcomes her wicked stepmother to marry the prince. Illustrations by Caldecott medalist Ed Young bring this variation of the classic tale to life.
Ruby Lu, Brave and True (Book #1)
By: Lenore Look
Ruby Lu is an 8-year-old Chinese-American girl who’s adventurous, enthusiastic, imaginative, and playful. The author integrates the Chinese culture into the book and offers the opportunity for young readers to experience and learn the life of Ruby Lu, who identifies as a Chinese-American. Another great feature of this book is the glossary with explanations of some Chinese words. This is the first chapter book in a series.
Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (Book #1)
By: Lenore Look
Illustrated by: LeUyen Pham
Alvin Ho is a Chinese-American second grader who’s quiet and afraid of lots of things. He keeps to himself unless in the security of his own home. At home, he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.
Activities to do:
1. Have fun with origami! Teach students the origin of origami and as they try their hand at making cranes and swans.
2. Practice eating with chopsticks. Play games picking up noodles, gummy bears, etc. Make it fun!
3. Learn about notable Asian Americans who made a difference in our world.
2. Work on Open House Projects
I love working on open house projects during this time! By this time of the year, we’ve been getting ready for state testing and district assessments so my kiddos need a break! Working on projects is a nice way to give their brains a rest as well as not rushing to finish everything last minute. Here are some of my favorite things that we’ve done in class.
I used this resource here:
3. Have kids work on End-of-the-Year Memory Books
I seriously love the end of the year memory books from both sides: as a mom and a teacher. As a mother, I love looking at my kiddos’ school year memories and reflecting on how much they have grown. As a teacher, I loved watching my students work together on these books and laugh. They draw, reflect, and have fun! The memory book that I use also has an autograph page where kids can sign their names and add any messages to that student (remember BFF and K.I.T,??).
I used this resource here:
4. Prepare the end-of-the-year class gifts
I love giving useful gifts to my kiddos for the summer. In the past, I have given summer sand buckets, books with bookmarkers, candy, you name it. A couple of years ago, I came up with the idea of creating road trip/ travel kits for my kiddos. My own kids tried them out on our 2-week long road trip and LOVED them! It kept them busy and entertained, and more importantly, off of media for HOURS! The best thing is that it is cost effective. Just purchase the resource and make the copies for your kiddos in the classroom. You don’t need to put it in a folder for them. Just clip it all together, tie a bow on it, and VOILA! I blogged about the road trip kit here.
I used this resource here:
Make a Last Day of School sign for your students and take a picture with the student holding it. Then send it home with the kiddos for their parents to enjoy. Try and find editable signs that have the fonts already embedded so that all you have to do is enter the text without having to download any fonts.
You can also make a Class Memories sign and take a class picture. Whichever sign you choose, you can send it home with your students as a great keepsake for the year!
5. Enlist kids to help get supplies ready for your next year’s class
Kids LOVE to help. I had the girls in my classroom coming up to me toward the end of the year asking me if I needed any help. After I began putting them to work, the boys caught on and wanted to join in on preparing for next year’s class. I had them fill the pencil boxes and supplies for next year. Then I stored them in my cupboard all ready for the next class. After summer, I opened up my cupboards to get ready for the upcoming school year and my heart skipped a beat because all the student boxes were DONE! It was awesome!
Hope this helps you get through May. The end is near! Enjoy the last couple of weeks with your kiddos!
Angela Linzay is a Southern California teacher. She taught in the classroom for 14 years before stepping out to homeschool her 3 children – ages 8, 12, and 14. She loves to create meaningful and engaging resources for students and teachers. Angela has been a master teacher at her school, helping guide and support new teachers with classroom management and effective ways to teach curriculum. She has a passion for teaching content using songs, rhymes, and chants. She believes that moving your body combined with silly/fun chants are a winning combination in creating a fun learning environment. Visit her on Facebook or Instagram. Or stop by her blog or TpT store.