## End of the year activities: Paper Chain Countdown To Vacation

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1-2-3 Blast Off Into Summer With Me!

I discovered rather quickly that my Y5's, K's and even my 1st graders, had no real concept of time.  After all, the calendar involves many new vocabulary words that most of them were not familiar with.

When introducing a new month I'd ask them what the name was.  For October they'd often say "It's pumpkin month."

Likewise, their passage of time was limited.  Their focus was mainly on the present, or something special that was going to happen and they were completely clueless of how many days were in a month or left before that special day arrived.

Consequently, I was inundated with daily questions of "How many days before.....?"  With that in mind, I designed some countdown activities that alleviated the problem.   Are you tired of being asked: "How many days 'til summer vacation?" or..."How many more days of school do we have left?"

A quick, easy and fun way to solve that problem and get some math skills in, is by hanging up this cute countdown paper chain.

Make the chains into a specific color pattern (ABAB or ABCABC, were the ones I used most)  and review patterns and colors. Have students say the color words in English and Spanish.  Review the days of the week to see what weekday their last day will be.

You can also cover a variety of number skills as well. Count in English and Spanish; blast off from 20 to 0 or 10 to 0 when you have 20/10 links left; skip count by 2's and 3's; review greater and less than; count how many chains are left and then count from that number or ask students some addition and subtraction questions like, "What's 1 or 10 more; 1 or 10 less."

Wow! There are so many things you can do with a paper chain!  If you think of more please leave a comment below.

You can simply make one for your class and suspend it from the ceiling close to your calendar, making this part of your calendar routine, or have each child make one to take home and keep track of the days there too.

Click on the link to view/download the Summer Countdown Paper Chain  If you like this idea and want to plan ahead and incorporate it next year, as one of your daily routines, click on the link for the How Many Days Left In The Month packet.

As you can see, this is a quick, easy and fun way to cover all sorts of concepts in a few minutes, and was especially helpful when students were looking forward to something special like a fieldtrip, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's day or 100 Day celebration.

I used Velcro dots to change the picture on the blackboard hanger each month.  i.e. The apple was for September; I had a pumpkin for October etc.

To make extra special days standout, I put stickers on the various paper links.  Before counting, I'd have students glance at the chain and guess-timate how many days they thought we had left that month.

To build vocabulary, I'd also ask them if our chain was getting longer or shorter and if the chain was bigger yesterday or today.  You can throw in some measurement by guess-timating how long they think the chain is and then use a yardstick to measure it.  Click on the link to view/download the How Many Days Left In The Month packet.

Finally, another "keeping track of the days" option, is the Monthly Special Date Wheels.  The packet includes a generic schoolhouse you can use all year, or a special one for each month.

You can change the event that students are looking forward to, by turning the wheel.  Students can also see the numbers.

Thank you for visiting.  I hope you have fun counting down the days.   The last month of school always went by really fast for me.

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"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Emerson