In most schools around the country, sixth graders are either the "seniors" of elementary school and spend their time touting that status or the "freshman" of middle school, trying to be cool. Either way sixth graders, distracted with social pursuits can be a hard bunch to teach. Activities where the children feel like they're having fun and interacting with their peers is the best way to spark their interest and get them excited about learning.
The first few days of sixth grade can be nerve-wrecking for the students, getting acquainted with their classes and new classmates. One fun activity that will loosen the students up is by making all the students take one of their shoes off and putting it in a pile or a large box. Tell students to close their eyes, pick up a shoe, and then walk around to find the owner of the shoe and introduce themselves and exchange interesting facts about themselves with the shoe owner. When everyone's shoes have been returned, tell the students to say the person's name whose shoe they had and state the interesting fact. Have them also say the name of the student who returned their shoe and an interesting fact.
Bring in sweet potato, apple, cherry or any other kind of pies that are easy to slice in round pie pans. Arrange the class into groups of various numbers. For example, depending on your class size, have a group of three, a group of four, and a group of five students. Give each group a pie and a knife to slice. Have each group slice their pies in equal amounts for everyone in their group. Discuss the different size pieces of the pies, such as why the group with three people will each have more pie than the others. Add and subtract students to each group and have the groups reslice their pie to accommodate their new amount. Go around to each group and remove pie slices and have the students tell you how much pie is left. Afterwards re-slice all pies so that every child gets an even piece.
During a language arts unit on poetry, plan a poetry session by setting up the classroom to look like a cafe. Lower the lights, place a microphone at the front of the class, have soft jazz music playing in the background and allow the kids to express themselves freely through poetry. Allow kids that want to rap their poem to do so. You can make it competitive, but it takes the pressure off the kids if the kids don't feel pressure to make their poems perfect.
Draw the jeopardy board on the board or interactive whiteboard with categories for math, science, geography and history. Underneath each category, write 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50, which represent the amount of points and difficulty of each question. Start the class off with the first question for 10 points. Tell the teams to confer and write their answer on individual whiteboards and stand up. Whichever team has the answer correct first wins the points and gets to pick the next category, just like the game show. At the end of the game, give the students a tough, final jeopardy question, and let them strategize with their teammates on what they should wager to win the game.
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