Every year our wonderful 1st grade teachers plan a super fun A-Z (26-day) countdown to the last day of school.
Maybe teachers in your school do this, too! Each day corresponds with a letter and a special activity that begins with that letter. For example, K day is King day and all of the boys in 1st grade are treated like Kings. They make crowns and everything! But then with Q day comes around the girls in 1st grade are Queens for the day... with crowns and everything :)
So my sweet 2nd graders began asking me if we were going to do an A-Z countdown.... like way back in March they asked me this!
I reminded them of how special they felt each day when they were in 1st grade doing all of those fun activities and we talked about how it wouldn't be very fair (or as much fun!) if we did the same thing in 2nd grade. So I promised them we would do something different.
The past 2 years I have done a 10 day countdown and although my kids love it, I wanted to do something a little bigger this year.
So I took to Pinterest and TPT.... and after some searching I decided on CAMP WEEK!
I convinced my 2nd grade teacher teammates to do it with me so our whole grade level would be doing fun things together. And boy am I glad they were willing to join in... this ended up being quite the fun experience with a LOT of prep!
We decided on CampOut Week by Andrea Knight
This is what our circle table looked like on Day 1.
We had writing journals ready (bright green cover), math journals ready (red cover), Camp Helm Memory Bags ready for names and decorating, and mini flashlights awaiting batteries from home.
My students brought:
* one snack item (to be added with everyone else's snack item for a Friendship mix)
* one AA battery for their flashlight (which they got to keep at the end of the week!)
* and a pillow from home to stay at school all week (for reading by the campfire, of course!)
* Letters from home :)
Each day we focused on one school rule--this was my big plan to keep everyone on track those last weeks of school :)
Day One was: Safety Always
We discussed what it looked like at Camp Helm and I showed them their special lanyards that they would be working to earn beads for (see last picture below...).
We then constructed our Campfire--some students made rocks, some made logs, and we all made hand-print flames.
2 weeks prior to Camp Week I sent home a letter explaining all the fun that was to come... and asked parents to write a letter to their student for each day of camp... like letters they might actually receive if they were away at camp for a whole week. Parents wrote their student's name and the day of camp that each letter should be opened. I passed out the mail each day and students took their flashlights and letters around the room to read. I also found a YouTube video of a real crackling campfire to play for them to help set the "mood" :)
I snuck a peak over shoulders to read parts of the letters and can I just tell you that these parents wrote the most creative, sweet, fun, loving letters I have EVER read! I literally teared up daily! They wrote about how much they missed their student--how much their pets missed them--how they couldn't wait to come and pick them up from camp--gave them reminders (brush your teeth...watch out for bears!)--and said "I love you" lots!
After we read our mail then we made Friendship Mix and enjoyed it as our snack.
In the afternoon we answered a camping themed question (ex. Can you set up a tent) from Andrea's pack and then completed a few pages of her math journal activities.
We ended the day reflecting and writing in their camp journal. This became quite the review of important literacy skills we learned throughout the year! They reminded each other to start with a main idea, use transitional words, add interesting words and details, and to remember capitals and periods!
Everyone had a chance to share their journal writing around the campfire.
At the end of Day One everyone got their first bead (pink) except for one little guy who really struggled to keep all chair legs on the ground at all times... don't worry! He was very concerned that he didn't earn his Safety Bead and worked extra hard to earn it on Day 2!
The rest of the week was pretty similar each day with campfire reading, mail from home, Friendship Mix, Math Journals, Writing Journals, lanyards... and FUN!
On the last day we made s'mores with marshmallow fluff. Have you ever used that stuff before??? It goes from fluff to runny, sticky, goodness in a snap!
Field Day happened to land on Day 2--extra fun at Camp Helm, let me tell you!
Our end of the year community hiking field trip landed on Day 4 (slightly planned). We hiked around the trails of our school's neighborhood in search of producers, consumers, and decomposers. Each student carried a special notebook with them to draw examples of each as they spotted them!
When we got back to school we made a 2nd grade mural to show all of the organisms in our community. It turned out so super AMAZING!
Overall, Camp Week was AMAZING! Teachers were stopping by all week wishing they were at Camp Helm wondering what was on the agenda for today.
Best of all, my students LOVED it! They told me over and over that this was the best week of school ever! Many even told me that they wanted to stay at Camp Helm overnight! :) Sweet, huh?
I loved Camp Helm! I would do it again in a heart beat! But... during Camp Helm week I found out that next year I am moving up to 3rd grade!! I am super excited (and really nervous!) but that also means I can't do Camp Helm again....hmmmmmmm.... what should I do next year??