There’s something magical about summer holidays- it’s not simply the rejuvenating sun, the smell of salty air and sea water that most of us daydream about all year long. It’s the sense of time slowing down and everything falling in place. It’s through these moments of peace and relaxation that we become more acute observers of the world around us. When we stop running, we become more aware of all the little details that make life special. And we also manage to catch what I call “everyday glimpses” of inspiration. These moments of Eureka could practically be anything – a class project idea, a brainwave for a field trip, a “now-I-see” moment of self-reflection. Unfortunately, as soon as I start working again I realize that -unless I have jotted some of these ideas down- these moments of summer inspiration slip through my fingers like summer sand.
This summer I’ve decided to keep a better record of these “glimpses” so that I can carry summer in my class and not just in my mind all year round. Here’s what I’m planning to do – I hope it can help you, too! 🙂
Organization Tips before you start
Storing everything you come across online on your bookmarks can be chaotic, so I love using diigo, but any other type of bookmarking tool would be just fine. There’s always Pinterest where you can create your own summer-themed boards or Scoop.it. If you’re more into note-taking, I used Evernote for a while which is quite practical. Finally, a Dropbox file or Googledoc which you can use as an alternative folder could also be great.
- Capturing Awesomeness: Take photos of everything that inspires you – from beautiful sunsets to the brightest red watermelon ever. Apart from a holiday slideshow, you can use your photos as writing prompts, speaking or drama prompts and craft ideas.
- My Summer Canvas -“All about my Summer” T-shirt: Instead of keeping a diary about your summer holidays, grab an old white T-shirt and use it as your canvas throughout summer. Write about your best moments, funniest days and summer favorites. Your T-shirt would make a great Q&A prompt on summer holidays, but you could also use it as a map for a Summer Holidays-themed Treasure Hunt.
- A Jar of Ideas: Have you just read an amazing class idea on Edutopia? Has a fellow teacher suggested something they do with their class? Find an empty plastic jar and use it as a “safe” for your ideas. Write all the different ideas you come across on post-it notes and start filling up your jar. Apart from a daily inspiration for the busy autumn days ahead, you could also bring your jar in class and ask your students to decide on an idea they would like to try out.
- A Summer Kit: Just like all other seasons, we also associate summer with so many different objects and smells. Find an old shoe box and pack it with your empthy san tan lotion, coconut oil, some sea shells and voilà – here’s a “Stranded on an exotic island” kit for your winter lessons.
- Summer-themed playlists are great for a) classroom discussion on holidays, travel plans and summer destinations b) background music to creative writing activities or c) time-travel activities like “time capsules”. For me, the easiest way to create or find summer-themed playlists is through Spotify, so I’m saving all my summer songs there.
- Quotes and Story Starters: Summer songs generally have more uplifting lyrics, so it would be a great idea to keep a record of summer lyrics which you can use as a “Summer Quotes” board idea. Another activity I’m planning to do this year is to use lyrics as story openers. Wouldn’t it be great to have your students write stories starting with this old -time favourite by Bananarama: “Hot summer streets and the pavements are burning. I sit around, trying to smile, but the air is so heavy and dry” or even better Loving Spoonful’s – Summer in the city: “Doesn’t seen to be a shadow in the city. All around me people looking half dead, choking on the sidewalk, it’s hotter than a match head.”
IMPORTANT NOTE: Always check with parents and students themselves for any type of food allergy or dietary need you have to consider before cooking in class!
- Smoothies for Friendship: Recipes for summer smoothies can be great for back-to-school parties or first lessons. Apart from teaching kids about healthy eating and offering the chance for some class cooking, they can also be used as a “Recipe for a great year” activity or “A Friendship” smoothie. This year, I’m thinking of introducing it as an alternative to our class rules by asking my class to prepare the “Super Student” smoothie. I’ve already bookmarked this list, but there are tons of lists you can find out there.
- Smells of summer and spring: I love using herbs when I cook and most summer dishes become great with a touch of herbs. You can use and find herbs all year round, but if you start storing some dry herbs now, you have an instant lesson on senses, particularly vocabulary describing smell and taste.
No matter what you decide to do, don’t forget to relax, recharge your batteries and enjoy your summer to the fullest!