7 Spring Break Strategies for Growing Brains

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by Logan Juve Janicula
Integrated Special Education Program Specialist

Over the next few weeks, students across the country will abandon their desks and leave their pencils and papers behind. Classrooms will transform into ghost towns, and playgrounds will be empty. Why? It’s spring break! While our students may be opting to sleep in and play outside in the sunshine instead of dissecting paragraphs and working through math lessons, it doesn’t mean they can’t continue to grow their brains this week! Here are seven strategies that students and their caregivers can engage in to keep their brains active during this spring break.

On the Road

1. Road Trip: Whether you’re headed to the grocery store or to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, road trips offer a fun opportunity to practice math skills. Test out some of these questions the next
time you’re on the go:

  • How many miles have we travelled so far? How many miles do we have left?stackofbooks
  • If our car gets 20 miles per gallon and there are ten gallons in the tank, how far can we travel before we have to stop again?
  • If gas is $3 per gallon and we need 12 gallons, how much will we spend?

2. Math Wars: Do you have a budding card shark in your family? Take advantage of your next road trip to engage her skills by playing a math card challenge! There are only three rules to remember:

  • Remove face cards from the deck. The Ace represents 1.
  • Evenly deal a deck of cards between two players.
  • Each player places one card face up. The first person to call out the product (or sum/difference) of the two cards wins the hand. The player with the most cards in the end wins!

Outside

3. Phonics Scavenger Hunt: Students in lower grades are learning new sounds and spelling patterns every day. Why not have her practice these sounds in a real-world (and fun!) context? To play, follow these steps:

  • Choose a letter sound or phonics pattern that your student knows. If you need support, ask your student’s teacher for a list of recommendations!
  • Call out the letter sound and ask your student to find as many objects in the room or outdoor area as possible. For example, if the letter sound is /t/, your student might shout out, “Tree!”
  • Make a list of all of the objects your child finds that match the sound given. Read these words together and give your student a high five for her accomplishment!
  • As a bonus, ask your student to illustrate the list after you’ve read it together. There’s nothing like sketching in the sunshine to keep a brain active!

4. Sight Word Games: As students begin to read, there are a number of words that appear frequently and require memorization. These words are called sight words, and they are easy and fun to practice at home. First, ask your Rocketeer’s literacy teacher for a list of sight words your child needs to practice in order to increase her reading fluency. Then, get creative! Check out Education.com’s list of sight word games, and make up some of your own. One example is Sight Word Hunt. To play this game, follow these steps:

  • Write down 10-15 sight words from your Rocketeer’s list on index cards.
  • Copy those same words onto Post-It notes or scraps of paper.
  • Hide the words around the house or outside – in the fridge, on the mirror, on the fence post, in the mailbox. Are you taking a walk? Hide the words along the way, and have your Rocketeer sitewordsfind them on the walk back!
  • After giving your child the index cards, send them on a Sight Word Hunt to find (and read!) the match.
  • On Easter, try turning this game into a sight word egg hunt! Place the sight words inside plastic eggs, hide them around the yard, and have your Rocketeer find and read them for a smart twist on the classic egg hunt.

On Screen


5.
All Star Math: Whether cheering for Warriors on TV or watching the Brewers gear up for the 2016 season, sports games are a perfect time to practice math. Try out some of these questions to promote your child’s math skills:

  • What shape is the field (or court)? How do you know?
  • How many more points does the losing team need to catch up? 
  • How many players have scored points? What’s the average per player?
  • How much time is left in this half (or quarter)? How much time is left in the game?
  • If that player scores five points, how many points will the team have altogether?

6. Log On: Does your Rocketeer want to hang out with Jiji this spring? Now she can! Many of Rocketship’s Online Learning Programs (OLPs) can be accessed from your home computer or tablet. Ask your child’s teacher for more information! If you don’t have access to Rocketship’s OLPs, check out these low-cost apps!

7. Blockbuster Comprehension: Spring break is the perfect time to catch up on the latest blockbuster hits. Whether you’re seeing Zootopia or Kung Fu Panda 3, this can be the perfect season and opportunity to improve your Rocketeer’s reading comprehension skills. By asking questions aligned to standards, students will be building their brain muscles without even realizing it! After the movie, ask:

  • Pretend I’ve never seen the movie before. Tell me what happened!
  • What was the main idea of the movie?
  • popcornWho were the characters in the movie? What was the setting? Was there a problem? What was it, and how did the characters solve it?
  • How did the main character change from the beginning of the movie to the end?
  • What was the moral or lesson of the movie?
  • Which character did you like the most in the movie? Why?
  • How did (Character) handle (Situation)? What would you have done? Why?

Share your spring break plans with us ➟ @RocketshipEd


Logan came to Rocketship in 2013 after spending three years in a neighboring district in east San Jose. She learned about Rocketship’s inspired full inclusion model and knew within her first days as a Rocketeer that she was in the right place to influence change for all students. Logan is most inspired by her students who seem to inherently understand that learning can be messy and difficult, but who are willing to jump in headfirst anyway. Logan lives with her husband and her dog in sunny Santa Cruz and spends her extra time playing on the beaches or hiking underneath the redwood trees in her backyard. Follow Logan on Twitter: @loganjuve

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