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I received so many wonderful ideas for what to do with difficult 5-6th
graders for the last 2 months of schools.  I will break it up into a few
parts so as not to overwhelm LM_NET.

Original post:

I have just finished a major research project with my 5-6th graders in
both of my schools.  I now need some fun ideas to keep the kids interested
through May & June.  Some of them are a tough bunch.  I see the kids once
a week for 40 minutes, most do not check out books.  I've looked on the
archives, but really didn't find anything.  I will probably end the year
with Jeopardy.  They like games, but since they have used the Internet,
encyclopedias, etc. for this project, I would prefer not to repeat that,
same for notetaking.  I've tried reading to them, but most of them get
fidgety quickly.  Anything to really catch them for the last 6-7 weeks of
school would be appreciated.  I only have 6 computers in each library.
Thank  you for your help.

Wendy Lavenda-Carroll
Library Media Specialist
Ridgefield Park, NJ
Grant Elementary School (T&Th) K-6
Lincoln Elementary School (M-W-F) K-6


Oh boy do I hear you.  Last year I tried something different.  I went
online and looked up problem solving ideas, thinkgrams, following
directions.  I used following directions.  It is always something they
need to learn.  They were amazed and enjoyed the 'games' as they called
them.  Hope this helps.

What about splitting them into groups of 5.  Give each group a folk tale
(3 little pigs, little red riding hood) and have the create a script, and
then act it out.  Kids love it and they are reading, writing, and
understanding lit.  If interested, I have a rubric for this.

Try Reader's Theater!~ My new reader's theater book has at least four RT's
that will work well for that age group: Old Cricket, Jingle Dancer,
Mudball, and Violet's Music.

Also, in addition to the RT's, there are standards based curriculum
activities for each book that will keep them engaged for many weeks!

What's more, I know they are gonna LOVE it :~ Let them get into making
some hats or props, if you like, and engage them further.

I did research with my 5th grade students on southern states. The sheet
had only 6 questions and students had to find the answers using Almanacs
and Students then created PowerPoint presentations using
their information. We had a title slide, 6 information slides, and a
bibliography slide. After the students were done, they walked around and
viewed the other state presentations and tried to memorize the information
for each state. I then split students into 4 teams and let them compete in
a Jeopardy game with Quiz Bowl buzzers I borrowed from the AIG teacher.
The students loved it and have repeatedly asked when we can do it again. I
would be willing to email you the info sheet and the Jeopardy game (as
attachments) if you would like them.
~ Thanks to all who responded to my request for paper/pencil activities.
 Several people requested a HIT, so here it is.  I've done some editing to
save space.

 I am going to read them The Night Before Christmas.  I am thinking of 
rereading them a blank paper and having them fill in their own
 words when I say it. (Sort of like a mad libs)....of course there will be no inappropriate words, etc.  I think it will be fun and it
 will keep them under control...then we'll go over it and have a good 
 I did an activity last week with that age and they really enjoyed it, 
stayed in their seats, etc.  I had a worksheet discussing newspapers as
another  source of  nonfiction information in the library (of course I
don't have that with
 me, I'm  at home, our last day was Fri.) and a sample newspaper column
with some questions.  We did that together in class and then moved to the
 activity.  I handed each student an old newspaper.  They were to find a 
short  informative article that they could read and understand,
approximately 5  paragraphs (not a cartoon, not an advertisement, not just
a picture with a
 caption -- yes, I had to be that explicit with the instructions).  I had 
students grouped at tables.  Each table had ONE pair of scissors and ONE 
tape  dispenser to share (out of necessity because I didn't have enough to
go  around,  but it of course also takes them MORE TIME to do the activity
and they  have to  cooperate and share).  They were to cut out the
article, tape it onto a  plain  white piece of paper and write three
questions about the article on the
 front  of the page, then write the answers on the back of the page.  It
was very  interesting to see what kinds of articles some of them chose and
the types  of  questions they formed.  One student chose an article about
an execution in  Texas which facilitated a short discussion on the death
penalty!  Some  students  asked yes/no, true/false questions.  Others
delved deeper in asking  questions
 about their articles.  Later, we are going to exchange papers and see if 
another person reading the article can understand the questions and answer
 them.  I think you get the picture.  Anyway, it really, really, really 
went  over well.  The kids had fun with it, even though they got a little
 and  they're really looking forward to the second half of the exercise. 
Most  of  them want to do it again, too, and we probably will for
refinement  purposes.  I  also plan on doing it with other classes.
 some fun things that I have done are:
 1.  Tana Hoban's book Just Look....have them make a just look book using 
old magazines to cut.
 2.  Matha blah blah by Meddaugh...have them try to make as many words as 
possible out of just the 1st half of the alphabet, and then just the 
 give a bookmark or candy cane or ??? for the person that can make the 
longest  word, etc.
 3.  Shel Silverstien's poem..."a frog , a stick"....etc from Falling up.
 As  you read the poem, put each item on the overhead and project their 
siloutte  (sp?).  Then cover them up, turn the over head off, and ask the
kids to  try  and remember as many things as possible.  have them work in
groups, and
 certainly don't tell them ahead of time that this is what you're going to
 here is an activity I have done that takes up time.  Perhaps even  too
much time, but you can decide.  Let them make a Seek and Find puzzle  with
holiday words that they can then trade to their friends and solve.
 You will need to provide them with a page that has a grid at the top and 
lines for, say 20, words at the bottom.  My grids are often 10 x 10, but 
that takes some time to fill out and solve.  Maybe try cutting it to 8 x 8
 perhaps?  Each child writes a predetermined number of words on the lines
 at the bottom, then begins to place the words in the empty grid.  Decide 
ahead of time if you will allow them to write words backwards and 
diagonally.  When finished with that they fill in any empty grid spaces 
with random letters.  Then they are ready to trade with a friend to try to
 solve the puzzle.  If they run out of class time, they can take home the 
unsolved puzzle to do over break if so inclined.
 How about Library Lingo?  I have made my own bingo cards using library 

 I also do Newbery Bingo and Caldecott Bingo with my older students.  You 
can buy these but you could also make them.  I hold up the actual book so 
they have a visual recognition as I call out the titles.  We play for 
valuable prizes such as stickers and bookmarks.
 Several people mentioned using Puzzlemaker at to create 
 puzzles using holiday words or library-related terms
 Several people recommended the puzzles and activities at
 How about having them write a letter to Santa in a rebus format!
 I've played Tic Tac Toe with my 4th and 5th grade students.   Once I 
filled  in the squares with Dewey Numbers -- basic 100, 200, 300 etc. 
Then I held  up books and they had to decide what Dewey category they
would fit in.
 Last  week I did something similar with genres.  I held up a book and
they had  to decide if it was fantasy, realistic fiction, biography, etc. 
When they  got  three in a row they had to yell, "HO, HO, HO!"
 They are not too old to be read  aloud to - for example a chapter from 
the little house books on Christmas or the unthinkable - a humerous 
Christmas story like HOw Santa Got His Job or if they are very bright - 
even the Gift of the Magi Talking about how people spent Christmas and
 contrast with today is an activity that children enjoy . They are 
surprised about how recent thet   overdone Christmas celebrations.  -
 Silver packages  by Cynthia Rylant is another good read not too old.

Wendy Lavenda-Carroll
Library Media Specialist
Ridgefield Park, NJ
Grant Elementary School (T&Th) K-6
Lincoln Elementary School (M-W-F) K-6

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