My little students have been showing some responsibility with using materials as well as taking care of them, so I thought I would try something that I know they would find super exciting. A book, a black light, a chameleon, and some fun glow in the dark/black light reactive activities for the win! We started out by reading the story Neon Leon by Jane Clarke. This is such a fun story about a chameleon trying to fit in despite being so bright. The students were fascinated by the black light ("but Mrs. Wood, why is the black light purple?") and how their clothes changed color when they were by the light.
After reading the story, the first thing we did was a little scavenger hunt. I gave each student a chameleon card and asked them to walk around the room holding their chameleon up to different things in the room. Our chameleons blended in to everything! To make the chameleon for students to explore their surroundings with, I found an image of a chameleon on The Noun Project (my go-to for simple images!). I then made a template using Cricut Design Space to cut out the rectangles and chameleons. With a quick lamination and cut, they were ready to go!
After our little scavenger hunt, student made a necklace that had neon beads as well as UV reactive beads. These beads were just like chameleons - they change based on the lighting around them! This was a great fine motor activity for the students and they had something to walk away with to share with their parents at home.
As I am still learning about this group of young students, I am trying to incorporate some free play time at the end of all of our activities. This allows them to use the materials we had as part of our lesson in a way that is meaningful and creative in their own way. This also gives them opportunities to communicate and collaborate together to build new things. For the free play time this week, I wanted to introduce some resources that interact with the black light. The kiddos had a blast!
These blocks are not the traditional wooden SumBlox. I have some and students really like them, but often are frustrated with the number 4 in particular. I looked on Thingiverse and actually found some Stacking Numbers, resized them so they are a bit larger (for the little hands and big thinkers!) and could work interchangeably (for the most part) with the wooden numbers. I love how these numbers help students make visual connections between numbers! These can be downloaded from Thingiverse if you would like to print your own!
Last week I used the Magnet Tiles with this group of students and to say they enjoyed them would be an understatement. I only have a small set of the glow in the dark Magnet Tiles, but know what a hit they are for students (especially under the lights) makes me want to get a few more sets so more students can experience them.
I have seen the amazing wooden Flockmen before and love the open-ended play that they provide. I do not have any of the wooden ones, but found the dimensions on their website, so I 3D printed some. I opted to print them in glow in the dark or neon filament so that they can be used in regular classroom lighting as well as Glow Days. Are they perfect? No. Did the students love them? Yes! These can be downloaded from Thingiverse if you would like to print your own!
Towards the end of February, I was contacted by one of our elementary Reading Specialists asking if I would be willing to help them out with their Reading Month activities. They had decided on a theme of YouTube (as all the kids are OBSESSED with watching all sorts of videos) and called it "Be a YouTube Reading Star!". After meeting and brainstorming some ideas, one of our other elementary Reading Specialists from another building wanted to join in on the theme. The more the merrier! Together we came up with some activities, rewards, and fun things to work into the month. I thought I would share some of the videos and activities below!
Our two elementary schools created their own calendars of events for the month, but each tied back to the YouTube theme. Our K-2 building took some of the popular kinds of videos that kids like to watch and put their own reading spin on it to make some new videos. We had several students at the high school who were eager to help out and be part of the Reading Month activities, that we were able to have them help film our videos. It was great to have them do it, as several of them had younger siblings or cousins at that building, so it was a nice surprise when the teachers showed the videos and the little kids could see big kids they knew.
The YouTube challenges that the K-2 building put their own twist on was the Real vs. Fake Challenge and the Mystery Wheel Challenge. The students LOVED them and were so excited to see how the challenges played out. They also had a slime challenge and brick building day as rewards. The students were so excited to explore reading books that related back to these challenges and earning materials to use for the reward parties.
Our 3-5 building took on some different themes/challenges as they implemented their YouTube theme. They took on Unboxing, Product (Book) Recommendations, Slime, and Glow in the Dark. They also had a calendar of daily activities/events that students could do in their classrooms or at home that related back to the Reading Month theme or simply encouraging reading.
The first reward that was up for grabs was that of a Glow Party. After the first full week, the class in each grade level who collectively logged the most reading minutes earned a STEAM Glow Party. I hosted these parties for the three classes and it was so much fun watching them in a classroom transformation setting with a variety of STEAM activities for them to pick from and explore. Students could chose activities and move at any time during the party. Some students stayed and worked on the same activity for the whole time (the brick building station was a popular one for this!), while others hopped from one to another.
The second reward was that of a slime party. Like the Glow Party, this was awarded to the class in each grade level that had logged the most minutes reading for the week. This was a great way to incorporate some Math as part of STEAM for this activity. Students were each able to make their own batch of slime in which they had to measure out the ingredients, mix them togethers, and problem solve for when it might have been too sticky or too liquidy. They were each able to add two mix-ins to their slime and it was so fun to see their choices when they had freedom to design their slime however they wanted.
The last part of their festivities was doing an unboxing. Each classroom put together a wish list of some books and the Reading Specialist was able to purchase some books from their lists to do a special unboxing. We asked one teacher to do her unboxing where we recorded the whole thing so that we could show other classrooms what they look forward to with their unboxings. We tried to get each teacher doing their unboxings, but sometimes it was hard to coordinate schedules. Either way, the teachers and students thoroughly enjoyed their unboxings and the additions to their classroom libraries!
This was such a fun spin on Reading Month! At the end of the month as we were finishing up recording videos, we were already starting to talk about what we could do next year for Reading Month. We really tapped into something that was meaningful to students and tying their passions into their learning at school!
I would just like to preface this post with the fact that this was not my original idea. I have been fortunate enough to be connected with some AMAZING educators who are happy and willing to share their ideas and a glimpse into some of their classroom activities. I recently read the book, The Wild Card by Hope and Wade King, and it was incredibly inspirational and helped me to think about things at school from a different perspective. We all have the opportunity to "Set the Stage to Engage" and "Be the Wild Card" in whatever way we feel comfortable with and choose to do so in our classrooms. I do not have my own classroom, but rather an amazing opportunity to work with all teachers K-12 in my district to primarily implement technology and STEAM. I feel classroom transformations complement both those areas and provide an awesome avenue for unique learning experiences. (Note: If you have not heard of "classroom transformations," I highly recommend reading The Wild Card or watch Ep 1 of the Set the Stage to Engage series where Wade King describes what a room transformation is and shows an implementation.)
Below I will share a bit of the "Highlight Reel" (is it really a "Highlight Reel" if it is a long post?) from my first Glow Day as well as links to all the resources we used. Sharing is caring, right? :) If you want to skip the overview and jump into the nitty gritty of things, you can click the button below to see all of my individual blog posts about the events of the day.
But first, I would like to give a HUGE shoutout to the amazing educators who inspired me and shared what they have done for their own Glow Games!
For this day, I worked with our 7th grade ELA and Social Studies teachers (rockstars!). They initially contacted me about doing something fun at the end of the year that could possibly be done as competition. After some thought and throwing some ideas around, I proposed the idea of a Glow Day with them. They were excited and ready to start planning. I had the resources, they had the content - a perfect pair!
I have worked with these teachers before and when we do things, we don't just kind of do them, we REALLY do them! For example, a couple of years ago we created a Breakout EDU game (well, actually two) that completed the book they were reading in ELA (The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond) with what they were learning about in Social Studies (types of governments). We designed the games so that they complemented each other and students had two days to participate in two different games for an engaging end to a thematic unit.
Anyways, I digress...so the teachers started putting together review questions from material they had covered throughout the year and I started putting together the resources. We invited people in the building, administration, and others to drop by and see how their students were wrapping up the school year.
Above is the invite we sent out - I am including a link below to a template if you would like to use something similar in your own classroom.
As our glow day took place the day after Memorial Day, we were unable to put signs up in the classroom the day before encouraging students to wear neon or white. I created a sign that the teachers could put up in their rooms on Thursday and Friday before though, and hoped the students would remember over the long weekend! I spoke with one of the teachers after she posted the sign first hour and she said the signs had created quite the buzz and the kids were wondering why they should wear neon or white, talking about what they could wear that day, and if they could color themselves with highlighter. Mission accomplished!
I created flyers for the different days of the week and one for "tomorrow" in case anyone would like to use them in their classrooms. Simply click on the button below!
The day began for the students by being greeted at the door not only with their reminder sign for what to wear for the day, but also a fun door sign. I was looking to build the anticipation even more before entering the room. The students had never had a glow day before so I am sure they had no idea what to expect when they walked into their ELA and Social Studies rooms.
We decided to have one classroom hold the content games and one classroom hold the STEAM activities. So when the students had their regular ELA class period, they would play the Glow Games and when they had their regular Social Studies class period, they would play the Glow STEAM activities. Use the links below to check out my blog posts about the Glow Games we played as well as the Glow STEAM activities.
Glow Games/Glow STEAM Gallery
Last, but not least, I took my first adventure in actually designing my first "thing" to be 3D printed - a Glow Games coin! I printed 5 of the coins for the top five finishers of the day. I thought it might be a nice to have something to walk away with at the end of the day and would be cool to share at home. I created a Google Sheet that we shared among the ELA teacher, Social Studies teacher, and myself so that we could track the students throughout the day and in different classrooms. The Google Sheet had a worksheet for ELA, one for Social Studies, and then one for the Totals for both. We had the students use a handout to track their progress during the hour and then they turned it in to the teacher at the end of the hour. We wanted the focus to be on the games and activities and not having them worry about inputting their scores.
If you have access to a 3D printer and would like to 3D print your own Glow Games coins, I added the print file to Thingiverse - click the button below to head over there!
Glow STEAM in Action
At the end of the hour, we asked students to clean up their stations and reset the classroom for the next class. Some classes were able to do this quickly and we invited them to use a highlighter to write what they loved about the day. You can tell some students were completely worn out from the fun (and heat!), but they had some great things to share.
I gave my resources a glow rating with a green, yellow, or red star.
I recently learned about these and I was not disappointed! They are an awesome building resource and the glow in the dark Qubits are AWESOME under the black light. The bright colored ones are awesome on their own, but do glow under the black light.
The Brain Flakes did okay under the blacklight, with the yellows, oranges, and greens doing the best. I was a little disappointed the white didn't really glow, but could be used if four colors are needed.
LEGOs (Classic Colors)
I really didn't anticipate the LEGOs glowing much, and what I saw was about what I pictured. Out of all the colors, the oranges did the best.
Much like the Brain Flakes, I thought the Creation Cubes would perform a little better. Out of all the colors, the oranges glowed the best.
I had two different kinds of bingo chips/counters to try out - one was solid plastic and the other was transparent. Of the colors I had for the solid plastic, the white was the winner and the purple (showed up pink) and yellow a close second. The neon pink transparent ones were great though!
I found these at my local novelty store, but they can also be ordered online. They had a light glow when viewed while they were laying down, but had a great glow when the light was directly facing them. I think if I were to purchase more of these, I would buy just the glow in the dark kind.
I found these buckets at my local Dollar Tree store. They were fun and glitterly and thought they had potential for some glow in the dark fun. I was a bit disappointed in most of them, but the green glowed fantastically!
These are similar to KEVA planks, but a different brand. The plain wood ones are unfinished and the colored ones have a bit of a smooth finish. They were not as fun as I had hoped as the green and yellow are actually pretty bright.
I did not anticipate the colors to be as bright as these were! I was so happy as Straw Builders are guaranteed engagement with students. They will be a great addition to a Glow Day!
I love Squigz and I have some of the mini and regular sized ones. The orange and red ones stood out the most out of all of the colors. If I were to use these, I would definitely go for the glow in the dark ones.
These are in primary colors, but did not expect them to react as they did. The orange, yellow, and red ones definitely popped out!
In my container of Plus Plus pieces, I have a mix of primary colors and neon colors. Without a doubt, all the neon colors stood out and could definitely be used for a Glow Day!
Wooden Shape Blocks
As with my wooden planks, I didn't expect much from these. Fun building resources but not so fun on the glow factor.
Wooden Pattern Blocks
Much like the wooden planks and wooden shapes, these wooden pattern blocks also did not provide much of a glow factor.
These are from my random collection of pipe cleaners. The yellow, white, and orange ones definitely stood out. I was surprised to see that the green did not really glow.
Another no-glow in the wooden resource department. I think if I were to use any wooden resources as part of a glow day, I would spray paint them with glow or neon paint or use neon tape on them.
Much like the pipe cleaners, there were certain colors that stood out more than others. The white, yellow, and pink were the winning glow colors.
Recycled Milk Gallons (Transparent)
These Strawbee connector pieces were punched from recycled milk gallons. I believe this is a case of, "where did they go?". Yes, they are there. No, they did not glow. At all.
I also picked these neon pom poms up from my local Dollar Tree store. The yellows and oranges provided some great glow, but the others were not as spectacular.
This handful of beads was from my bag of mixed pony beads. I had some regular colors as well as glow in the dark ones. Clearly the glow in the dark pony beads were the winners here.
Playground & Treehouse Set
These are from Learning Resources and are great building tools. I was a little disappointed that they didn't glow (other than the purple) as they are a great addition to my Learning Landscapes EDU project.
As I anticipated (with pretty much anything white), these dice were great under blacklight!
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