My Favorite Way To Sneak Fun Into The Day by A Word On Third

Finding time to collaborate with other teachers and build a school community that reaches outside of the walls of your classroom is not easy--especially with the demands teachers have on their plates these days! So often, teachers tell me things like, "I used to do (insert fun thing here), but I don't have time for that anymore." I sometimes noticed myself falling into that pattern too, and I would feel so disappointed each time.

I've vowed not to let the fun stuff go, and I wanted to share how one colleague and I fit in the fun without causing chaos in our routine. Hopefully it can help you too! Here is my favorite suggestion for fitting in some fun stuff without making life in the classroom too crazy...

Have your students meet with a buddy class!!

In our school, third grade classes are paired with a first grade class. Those classes are called "buddy classes." The third graders act as mentors (or "buddies") to the first graders. Do you have a buddy class? If so, great! If not, I recommend getting one. It injects TONS of fun into the day. Here are some easy ways to fit buddy time into your schedule each week or two:

  • Hold a Morning Meeting with both classes. Have students sit in a giant circle next to their buddy for your greeting, sharing, activity, and message. You can have buddies partner share, or each class might elect a class spokesperson to read a few sentences about what is going on in their classroom. Plan it quickly the day before--that can be a great reflection, and you can fit in a short shared writing or interactive writing session with that too if you feel pressed for time! 
  • Have buddies read. Older students can practice coaching and modeling fluent reading, and younger students can practice reading fluently. Everyone gets a chance to grow their conversational skills!
  • Work on a math lab together. Believe it or not, my third graders could benefit from working with the first graders. They definitely all understand first grade content, but change your lens--do your third graders use tools the way they should? Do they need to practice their accountable math talk skills? If so, giving them a chance to practice that with easier content can help them to transfer it to harder content later.
  • Do a science experiment that's for fun, but include a more general objective in your lesson plans (like, "Students will be able to record observations by creating detailed drawings and using descriptive language."). 

Sometimes you just need to give yourself a good kick in the butt to go do that fun stuff. The Common Core has a TON of standards--surely you can find one and write an objective that fits with something in there! The standards about speaking and listening are GREAT for that! So whether you teach the little guys or the big guys, go get yourself a buddy class!

Here are some awesome resources I've used with my buddy teacher (or found but hope to use one day) that you can try with your buddy class:

We have used some idea's on this blogger's list -- we made our own buddy books! We didn't buy hers because we wanted the kids to have more space to write in our books, but her books are adorable.

We made these snowmen with our buddies this winter!! It's a great activity to get kids thinking about comparing and contrasting. Use this and carry it over into literature. Our early finishers actually started comparing books they read together. 

This activity took a little while to prep, but it was easier with two teachers! My buddy teacher printed all of the pictures, and I prepped the snowmen. Our snowmen only had a head and a body--no bottom! Hey, it was still cute, and it was easier to get it done. I cut out some black and brown squares of paper and let my third graders help their first grade buddies with cutting out arms and hats.

I know I've shared about my love for this resource before. If you want to do stuff like this AND you want to have a buddy class, but you feel like you have to choose... why?? DO THIS WITH YOUR BUDDY CLASS! Two birds, one stone. Depending on the age of each child and the amount of support you have in the room (between teachers, instructional assistants, and strong mentor students), maybe you can try this with first grade.

STEM challenges like this are popping up all over Pinterest. Do a STEM challenge with your buddies! Just like I mentioned with the growth mindset resource above... two birds, one stone.

Do you have a buddy class? What do you like to do with your buddy class? If not, what grade do you teach? Could you snag a buddy class for yourself? Comment below!!