Here’s another bunch of socially distanced learning activities that you can use in a primary classroom. You can see the first 8 ideas in this previous post! These are activities I used with my student when we went back to in-class teaching, but still had to maintain social distancing rules. These are chosen for simplicity, lack of prep needed, and student engagement!
Socially Distanced TARGET GAMES
I was talking to a student recently who told me about how her family loved going to the local fairgrounds each year to play all the games. It was a good reminded about how fun target games are! To make my own socially distanced games, I wrote numbers up to ten on some colorful index cards, and spread them around an open space in the room (or outside).
Next, I made some bean bags for each student using very small ziplock bags filled with a bit of rice or sand. I was careful to reinforce with duct tape so they would be strong and not burst open when landing on the ground.
Here’s how we played: One student tossed bean bags on the cards with numbers, and called the numbers out to the class. Everyone wrote down the numbers to add together using their own addition strategies (pictures, number line, etc.). We then solved the equation together on the board showing various strategies resulted in the same answer.
Later, we did a similar game with spelling words. One student tossed a beanbag onto sight word cards. He or she read the letters of the word out loud so other students could write them down, and everyone tried to figure out what the word was. After a bit of time, I wrote the word on the board and everyone checked their spelling and fixed up mistakes.
Socially Distanced DIRECTED DRAWING VIDEOS
Whether working socially distanced in class or teaching virtually, directed drawing is always a big hit with students. While teaching virtually, we relied on directed drawing VIDEOS because I could send a link to students. Back in class, I still used them – I just pressed PLAY and students draw along!
After drawing, we always used the pictures as writing prompts; we wrote stories about our pictures, or described the steps we took to create our pictures. At the end of each lesson we had an amazing collection of drawings and writing! Give it a try – it’s free! (Click below to see them.)
Socially Distanced JUMP UP MATH
This game can be played outside with students spread apart in a line or circle, or inside at student socially distanced desks. The idea is to collectively count to ten (or higher) with each students sequentially taking a turn saying the next number. The twist: students jump up in the air when they call out their number!
For a simple counting to ten game, students take turns calling out the next number in the sequence while they jump in the air. After the tenth student calls out “ten”, he or she sits down, and the next student in the line or circle starts at 1. Continue going around the whole group until only one student is left standing.
You may notice that students get much faster at this task after a few rounds, so there’s lots of jumping! To vary the game, we chose a different task or movement. We counted higher, skip counted by 10, 5 and 2, chanted the alphabet, or spelled words over and over. It’s more challenging than you might think, and my students were completely focused!
This is one my student’s all time favorite games every year. One student hides his or her eyes, while another student stands six feet behind and says “Howdy Partner!” in a funny, disguised voice.
As the rest of the class watches, and the person hiding their eyes tries to guess who is talking, before you prompt them to turn around to see who it was. This game is always a bit more tricky at the beginning of the year, but as the year goes on students learn to recognize each others’ voices. It’s been a huge hit in my class for over 25 years!
PLAYGROUND PLACE VALUE
This math game requires an outside area with rocks, pebbles, or wood chips. Students take a big handful of pebbles to an area close by and makes groups of tens and ones. Count up all the groups and find the totalm then switch spots with a friend to check their total, too. Alternately, give students a specific number and they have to gather that many pebbles in groups of tens and ones. I could walk around from a distance and see how accurate students were for some informal assessment. If there’s a pavement area, students can also arrange pebbles to spell out words or numbers.
FREEZE DANCE COUNTING
All you need for this activity is a music source. In class, students stand six feet apart, or outside they can spread out on a field. When the music plays, students dance in their own area. As soon as the music stops, they have to freeze and hold the position while everyone counts to 30 together. Students who can’t hold the position for the whole time can sit out the next round if you choose – or not! Other variations we’ve tried are to count even higher, skip count by 5’s to 100 or sing the alphabet.
Before playing this game, brainstorm together a list of animals and the sounds they make. Write each animal name on a piece of paper that can be easily seen by everyone in the room.
Students sit at their desks with paper and pencil. One child is chosen to be the zookeeper, who stands at the front of the room with eyes covered. The teacher silently chooses another student to make an animal sounds three times. For example, they might moo like a cow.
When done, the zookeeper uncovers his or her eyes and guesses who made the sound. Whether right or wrong, everyone writes down the name of the animal on their clipboard. If playing outside, students can be in a socially distanced circle around the zookeeper.
I hope you can use some of these ideas to keep things fun in and out of your classroom!
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