An Anabaptist Resource for Teaching and Learning
The first time I heard about them at Teachers Week about ten years ago, I had lots of excuses for not having February Fun Days. It was just for the younger grades; it was too much trouble; it was a little silly, etc. They were good reasons.
That same school year, the first and second grade teacher in the school where we taught did February Fun Days with her students. At first, I just shrugged it off. Then I was a little intrigued. Then, on Popcorn Day, the whole school smelled wonderful. The first and second graders were enjoying their popcorn, and the rest of us had decided that maybe February Fun Days weren’t so silly after all. One of the older high school gentlemen begged me to plan them for the next year, so we did. And we were all very happy that we did.
February is just a hard month. The holidays are over, the newness of the snow and or colder weather isn’t there like it is in January, and the days in February are long and dreary. February Fun Days are an answer to all of those obstacles. I often feel like if we can make it through February well, with the students having good attitudes through the roughest month, then the rest of the school year goes better. After having them for one year, your students will probably really look forward to February.
While these were an incredible amount of fun, we always did our lessons as usual and expected our students to still focus and make good grades. It is helpful to state this ahead of time (and maybe threaten to stop the Fun Days if students aren’t focusing) so that students know what to expect. Many of the activities were done at lunch, recess, and/or first thing in the morning before school started.
There are just a few decisions that need to be made before you start.
Note: We teachers always brought enough of whatever it was (popcorn, hats, etc.) so that every student could participate without having to bring anything. This helps those students who aren’t so organized, and it keeps the parents happier as they don’t have to do anything. But, we also told the students that they were welcome to bring whatever they wanted (with permission) as long as it went along with the theme for the day and wouldn’t distract from our lessons. We also had a rule that if they were to bring something (such as chocolate or cookies to share), that they had to bring one for every student in the class. February Fun Days are a time for sharing, team-building, and encouraging esprit de corps—not a time for cliques and sharing only with one’s favorite friends.
Here are a few of our favorite February Fun Days that worked well for grades 3-12. Other teachers have had some great ideas for the younger grades like Teddy Bear Day.
Kite Day We’ve even made our own kites and flown them at lunch and recess.
Paper Airplane Day Students researched aerodynamics and designs, and we had a contest at recess to see whose paper airplane could fly the furthest.
No Desk Day This was a favorite. We let them bring pillows and blankets.
Draw the Schedule Out of a Hat Day Students took turns pulling a piece of paper out of a hat. Whatever they drew was the class we would have next.
Move Your Desk Wherever You Want to Day We expected them to stay quiet, which they did. This one was always a favorite as well.
Backwards Day We wore clothes backwards, did the schedule backwards, and sometimes even walked backwards.
No Electricity or Candle Day Turn off all the lights (but leave the heat on!) and let each student have an unscented candle on his desk. I always brought extra candles, candle holders, and small paper plates so that wax didn’t get everywhere. If anything such as a school paper caught on fire, that student lost their candle for the day. This is a great one if your students are trustworthy. Use with caution.
Chocolate and Cookie Day
Funny Sock Day
Switch Classrooms Day
Funny Shoe Day
There are many more possibilities, and every year we try to add some new ones. I encourage you to try February Fun Days if you haven’t yet. If you keep order (as you should anyway), you and your students will really enjoy the dreary month of February!
CONTRIBUTOR: Deana Swanson
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