Educators understand the importance of having a classroom routine and the many benefits that come with it. One addition to your weekly routine that we highly recommend implementing is Fun Friday!
But what is Fun Friday?
For those new to this party, Fun Friday means taking some time on the titular day to celebrate your students’ achievements and classroom’s progress and recognize all of those accomplishments with some fun activities! Some teachers do the same activity every week, some do a new activity and some even make each Friday a full-on fun-fest by implementing a special Fun Friday activity into every segment of their lesson plan.
Whether you decide to go all out or just pick a few activities that match with your students’ age range and interests, give Fun Friday a try!
Here are some ideas to get you started.
The Friday Awards
Use those progress notes you’re keeping on each of your students and take some time to recognize their accomplishments in the Friday Awards! What are the Friday Awards? That’s the award show you host every Fun Friday in your classroom, complete with award certificates and lots of applause!
You’ll want to brainstorm award titles in advance (for extra fun, make a personalized award certificate for each winner). Ideas for awards include…
- the Ray of Sunshine award
- the Mathlete award
- the Empathizer award
- the Word Wizard award
- the Emotions Master award
Each Friday, you’ll choose any number of students (we recommend 5-10) and award them a title in congratulations for something specific they did to earn the title.
You can go all out with an awards show logo, theme song, certificates or trophies and winner speeches or keep it more lowkey by simply announcing the winners for each category and applauding their efforts.
Make free-play time do double-duty by breaking out the board games. Classics like Candyland, Sorry, Connect 4, Checkers and Yahtzee combine age-appropriate academic skills practice and social skills development in a way that feels like free-play all the way!
Custom BINGO cards are easy to make online for free, and they can be used to review any topic your class needs a refresher on. Use this Fun Friday activity as a way to close out a lesson you’ve been spending the week on or as a way to hint at a lesson you’ll be working on next week—like a sneak peek for what’s happening next!
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Share and Tell
Growing minds love sharing their thoughts and feelings with others, especially when it comes to big thoughts and feelings about their favorite things. Rather than asking students to bring their favorite possessions to school, ask them a question and go around the room giving each student a chance to speak. Some examples include…
- What’s your favorite thing about Friday?
- What’s something you did this week that you’re proud of?
- What’s your favorite thing you did this week?
Set up a Jeopardy board or a Kahoot game using flash-card-style information about a subject your classroom needs more practice on. Whether it’s a particularly challenging lesson or a core competencies subject that benefits from more repetition, taking the time to gamify it is a fun way to study. Make a habit of helping your students prepare for exams this way, and you won’t have to wait long before they start asking for this kind of pop quiz!
People enjoy when others read to them, and even adults report feeling increased feelings of calm after listening to a story being read aloud. Beyond the mental health benefits, classrooms that make a habit of reading aloud while students read along from their own copies tend to have improved literacy rates. You can read a book that’s part of your English curriculum, a longer book that you break up over the whole year or one of your favorite picture books!
Consider working with parents or other volunteers to bring in new readers and potentially new stories to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in your classroom.
If you want a reading activity that doubles as quiet time, let your students choose their own adventure for read alone time. They might decide to read about dinosaurs in your classroom’s Calm Down Corner, or they might want to study the solar system while lounging on the floor. For an even more cozy and calm option, hand out miniature flashlights, turn off the overhead lights and get lost in a good book!
Screentime gets a bad rap sometimes. The trick to effective screentime is to make sure it’s mindful and relevant.
You can watch half an hour of a movie every week to watch a full movie in three to four weeks, or you can watch an episode of kid-tested and teacher-approved educational programming like The Magic School Bus, Reading Rainbow or any other show made available for classroom viewing from media companies like PBS Kids or National Geographic. Turn off the overhead lights, hand out a healthy snack and settle in for movie night on Fun Friday!
New Food Tasting
Many young kids are interested in trying new foods, even ones that adults might shy away from. The most popular options for this are foods that are similar to ones your students are already familiar with but slightly different. Examples include…
- Australian sour black licorice
- Japanese rice crackers or mochi
- British tea biscuits
- exotic fruits like starfruit, moon drop grapes or heirloom apples
Using individual directed drawing sheets or following along with a directed drawing video helps students practice following instructions to create a basic drawing and then express their inner artist by adding their own details and favorite colors to create a unique masterpiece.
These drawing activities can be used to bolster other lessons—such as drawing sea creatures when you’re working through a science block about the ocean—or they can be used to lead into a reading, writing or phonics activity.
The polar opposite of directed drawing, free drawing involves laying out the butcher paper, handing out drawing implements and letting students get as creative as they want to be.
Make a Classbook
If you’re looking for a way to work with your students on a long-term project that has a tangible reward at the end, sign up for a FREE classbook publishing kit. Look over the timeline for the activity, decide on a topic or theme with your class and help your students create the writing and illustrations that will be published in a real physical book for your classroom!
Many of our Fun Friday activities can be adapted so that you can include them in a classbook, and Fun Friday free time is the perfect time to edit, improve and finalize your students’ inclusions.
Switch Things Up!
This one’s exactly what it sounds like. Do everything the same but slightly different. Instead of having students sit at their desks for quiet reading time, allow them to sit under or on top of their desks if they want to. When you’re playing walk-around-the-room to get the morning wiggles out and do some gentle stretching, ask students to walk around the room backwards. If there’s a little change you can make so that something ordinary feels brand new, try it out!
Fun Friday is the perfect day for a large science demonstration (where students observe and record their findings), a group science experiment or any other science activities that are difficult to integrate into lesson plans because of the sheer amount of time required to make them happen.
For large scale activities that take up a lot of teacher time to prepare and implement, consider buddying up with another teacher who teaches your same grade level to collaborate on one activity shared between your two classes!
Everybody loves getting extra recess, so it’s a natural fit for Fun Friday! Play Red Rover, Tag or Duck Duck Goose, use sidewalk chalk to write affirming messages along the schoolyard, play with hula hoops or toss around a beach ball or three! If you want the outing to be more academic, use the beach balls or hula hoops to drill students on times tables or spelling words.
If your school has nature nearby, go for a walk! This is an opportunity for your students to identify plants and animals outside, find different types of rocks or simply lay in the grass with the sun on their faces. Combine a nature walk with mindfulness and you get walking meditation, where every step is mindful, deliberate and felt with the whole body—when you’re practicing walking meditation, it can take more than ten minutes to walk less than ten feet!
A more chaotic mode of mindfulness can be had by turning on some tunes and letting your class work out all their wiggles! Dancing freestyle improves balance, coordination and overall cardiovascular health and fitness. You can increase the difficulty by finding dance challenge videos for your class to learn and perform together. Also, try asking your students to show off their best moves and show off some of your own!
An area of learning that’s easy to overlook, daily life skills aren’t always addressed effectively at home. You can’t go wrong with some additional practice when the chance presents itself. Take some time when you can to check where your students are with tasks like tying their shoes, zipping their jackets and washing their hands correctly. You can also practice more advanced skills, like how to wrap a gift or count change.
Shiny and Sorted
Helping students learn to keep their immediate area generally tidy and organized is ten minutes every week that will go on to subtly improve their lives and make for better interactions with family and friends—not to mention future roommates, work colleagues and anyone else they end up sharing space with.
Set a timer for ten to fifteen minutes and have students take everything out of their desks. Once they can see everything they’ve collected over the week, it’s time for them to organize by sorting each item into one of three piles: “trash and recycling,” “go home” and “stay at school.”
Before putting the “stay at school” items back into their desks, have them wipe off their desk and chair with a cleaning wipe. Those who finish early can help anyone who asks or work quietly until time is up.
Any way you choose to spend the rest of the day, you can’t go wrong by ending it with five to fifteen minutes of guided mindfulness time. Use a meditation track or a yoga routine to help students reflect on the past week, release any negativity they’ve been holding on to and recenter to get ready for the weekend.
Ending each week on a Fun Friday is a valuable addition to your classroom routine! Not only are you celebrating the end of another week and the beginning of the weekend, you’re also establishing an attitude of celebration and teaching your students to take time to acknowledge the good things in life, even when that good thing is something as simple as a Friday!