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Teaching Strategies: Countdown to Summer

Janelle Cox

Students are not the only ones counting down the days until summer vacation -- teachers are too. The traditional way to count down (for pretty much anything) is to cross off the days on a calendar until the day of the event. Younger children generally make a paperchain and rip a link off every day until the final day.

But instead of marking down the days on a calendar or ripping of a link on a chain, try some unique teaching strategies like an ABC countdown.

The “ABC Countdown” is among the popular teaching strategies in elementary schools because the students get to do something new and exciting each day for 26 days before they leave for summer vacation. The way it works is that each day is assigned a letter, and then you choose a theme for the day based on that letter. For example, “A Day” could be “Art Day” or “Apple Day.” The students would do a special art lesson in the classroom, or if you chose “Apple Day” the students’ theme for the day would be about apples. They would incorporate apples into every subject and aspect of their day. On “B Day,” students can have “Baking Day” or “Buddy Day.” On “C Day” it can be “Career Day” or “Computer Day,” and so on. You can brainstorm a list of different teaching strategies and choose the ones that you think would be the most fun or have your students vote on them.

The countdown continues until you get to the letter “Z” for “Z Day.” This is when students get to “Zoom Home.” Children tend to get restless at the end of the school year, especially during the last few weeks of school. The “ABC Countdown” gives students something to look forward to each day. If you have fewer than 26 days until your students leave for summer vacation, don’t fret, you can still do the ABC countdown, but instead of using the alphabet, you can just spell out the word “Summer Vacation” or even just “Summer.”

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It is recommended that you send a flyer a home detailing the theme for each day. This way, if students need to bring in something or wear something, then the parents will know ahead of time. Here are a few ideas for the letters A-Z. Use these ideas for your ABC countdown or use them as a little inspiration for you to create your own.

A – “Art Day” or “Apple Day” - students will create a special art project or they will have an apple theme.

B – “Baking Day” or “Buddy Day” – students will bake a special treat, or they will buddy up with a friend for the day to rad and do their work.

C - “Career Day” or “Computer Day” – students will choose a career and dress the part, or they will use the computers to do all of their work for the day.

D – “Donut Day” or “Dairy Day” – students will eat donuts or learn all about dairy and eat the foods that are dairy.

E – “Earth Day or “Experiment Day” – students will learn about mother earth or they will conduct experiments.

F – “Favorite Day” or “Field Day”– students will bring in their favorite book, artifact, toy, picture, etc., or they will have a fun field day on the school grounds.

G – “Game Day” or “Gym Day” - students will play educational-related games all day or go the gym for some fun, active free time.

H – “Hat Day” or “Homework Free Day” – students will wear a hat today or they will have no homework.

I – “Intelligent Day” or Impromptu Speaking Day” – students will put their cognitive skills to the test to figure out tricky puzzles or they will take turns giving a speech to the class.

J – “Joke Day” or “Jell-O Day” – students will tell their favorite joke or they will make Jell-O and eat it.

K – “Kindness Day” or “Kite Day” – students will write letters of kindness or fly a kite.

L – “Lollipop Day” or “Language Day” – students will eat lollipops or they will learn a new language (sign language).

M – “Map Day” or “Math Day” – students will learn about and use maps to complete a scavenger hunt or they will spend the whole day doing fun math games.

N – “Notebook Day” or “No Homework Day” – students spend the day writing and reading from the notebooks (journals) or they have no homework that day.

O – “Obstacle Day” or “Open Day” – students compete in an obstacle course or leave the day open to do as the students please.

P – “Paint Day” or “Picnic Day” – students will become a painter for the day or they will bring their lunch and have a picnic.

Q – “Question Day” or “Quiet Day” – students can create a list of questions to ask the teacher or they can have a quiet day to see who the quietest person in the class is. The person who stays the quietest all day wins a prize.

R – “Recess Day” or “Reading Day” – students have a very long recess or they must read their favorite book to a friend.

S – “Student Day” or “Summer Birthday Day” – students can choose what and how they will learn for the day or you can celebrate student summer birthdays.

T – “Teacher Day” or “Twin Day” – students take turns taking over being the teacher or they dress like their friend for the day.

U – “Umbrella Day” or “Uplifting Day” – Students will decorate an umbrella or they will try and uplift someone by writing kind compliments in a letter.

V – “Video Day”– students will watch a movie or two on this day.

W – “Water Balloon Day”– students will have a water balloon toss.

 X – “X-Change Autographs Day” – students will exchange autographs with their classmates and look through their yearbook.

Y – “Year Comes to an End Day” – students will clean out their desks and gather their belongings.

Z – “Zoom Home Day” – students will zoom all the way home on this day and of course celebrate with a fun party.

How do you count down the last days until summer vacation? Do you have any fun ideas that you would like to share? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.