The Tuesday 12: 12 Super Fun Play Day Activities Your Students Will Love!

12 play day activities

With the end of the year quickly approaching we are all wrapping up our lessons, getting our last round of reports prepared and then we have the great event of Play Day.  You are spent, but know that many of your students, if not all of them, are anticipating this fun, wild and crazy day. We all want the day to go off without a hitch but that needs planning, lots and lots of planning.  So here goes, we at TeachingRocks!  are here to help.  Today’s Tuesday 12 is a list of games that can be used to make your planning a little easier.  We wish you all the best on your day of fun.

Ping Pong Ball Blow
Set up two track with boards or use chalk to draw a track on pavement.  The width of the tracks could be at most 12” apart.  Decide the length of the track, this is at your discretion.  The task: you have 2 teams that will participate in the relay. Object is to move the ping pong ball using the breath from the straw to push it along the track staying within the guidelines.  Each team member must participate, they each must do the length of the track and back.  If the ball goes outside the guidelines, then the player must start over from beginning.  First team to have all team members complete task win.

M&M Vacuum Race
In this task you will need a table, plates, straws and M&Ms!  Put M&Ms in one plate and each team member needs to transfer 5 of them to the other plate using only a straw as a “vacuum”. First player to do so wins a point for their team.  Each team member takes a turn, team with most points wins.  Ensure the straw opening is smaller than the M&Ms to avoid choking hazards.

Ping Pong Jump Shake
This game is quite comical.  You will need 8 ping pong balls (4 of one colour & 4 of another) and an empty tissue boxes that can be strapped around the waist of the player (cut a slit on either side of the box and string through ribbon long enough for all sizes).  Fill the boxes with 4 ping pong balls each, and strap the box on the players waist but on the back.  When you say go, the players are to jump around and shake to get the balls to come out of the tissue box.  Each player has 30 seconds, and each team gets a point for each ball that is out of the box.  Each new player gets to start with 4 ping pong balls. The team with the most points wins!

Target Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe
If you have the material then create a 9×9 square board, where each box can fit a frisbee.  If not you can use chalk or tape to mark out the grid.  You will also require 10 frisbees (5 of one colour and 5 of another).  This game is the basic game of tic tac toe, but instead of placing their move into the square, players need to attempt to “frisbee throw” it into place.  Each team member throws the frisbee, first team to make three in a row wins! If throws go outside the grid, then that is that players turn.

Chicken Run
Each team assembles in a straight line. The first person in each line is given a rubber chicken. The chicken is then passed to each subsequent person in line using the over the head, under the legs pattern. The last person in each line is to run the who ken back to it’s roost at the front of the line. The first team to finish wins!

Frogs in the Pond
A small inflatable pool is placed in the centre of the two teams and filled with a few inches of water to simulate the pond.  Each team is given 20 frogs (plastic balls of one colour per team) and stands 10 m away from the pond. When the whistle blows, each team takes turns tossing the balls into the pond. The team with the most frogs in the pond wins!

Three-Legged Race
An oldie, but a goodie! Each team partners off it’s members. Each pair ties up a leg to one another and gets ready to race!

Hula Hoop Marathon
For this activity, each team needs a hula hoop.  When the music starts (choose a really fun and upbeat song), one person from each team begins to hula hoop.  The person who makes it the longest wins!

 Pizza Box Race

For this game, start with two teams of 10 students each. Each team needs 10 empty pizza boxes.  Two students from each team will run with the pizza box in their hands, to the finish line and stack them. They will do so one pizza box at a time for the first run and then two at a time, three, than four. The tricky part is (and here comes the collaboration from team members) is to make sure there are four hands on the box(es) at all times. Once students have carried over all 10 boxes to the finish line, the team will quickly choose two team members to bring back all 10 boxes at once, as fast as they can. The fastest team wins!

Parachute game

This is a fun one for all ages. Starting from the little ones and working your way up, changing it up each time with the type of rubber balls, to the size and number. Begin with one small rubber ball and see how long the team can keep it going. Gradually toss one more at a time and see how long they can do it for with each added ball. It really all depends on the team, age and group size. This is a fun game for all ages!

Sponge and Bucket Races

To start this game, you need buckets, sponges and yes indeed, water! If working with two teams, set up two empty buckets one ends and two buckets filled with water on the other end.  Students from each team must line up between a full bucket and an empty bucket. The first person in line is to place their sponge in the water, and pass it over their head to the next person. Each person is to continue to pass it over their heads until the last person in line gets it. The last person in line is to wring it out in the empty bucket, run as fast as they can to the front of the line and repeats the process again. After five minutes, whichever team has the most water in their bucket, wins!

Four Square

You have to play this game on a square, further divided into 4 smaller squares which are to be numbered 1-4. You can create this square using with chalk, tape or removable spray paint, depending on where you plan to create it.   One student is to stand in each of the four squares, with the highest ranked student in number one, lowest in
number four. Student in number 1 is to the bounce the ball among the players, bouncing once in the other
student’s square before that person catches it. countless additional rules to choose from. You can only play with 4 people at a time, abd you can choose when or how to rotate students so that all students have a chance to play. Set them up in teams to create more fun and have two from each team play together!

…And there you have it! A fantastic list of 12 fun activities your students will love not only on play day but any day! Let us know if you have tried any of these or if you do try any of them, what your experience with it is!

Check back with us next week for ‘The Tuesday 12’!

Exciting News! We’re working on a TLLP Project!

We apologize if things have been quiet around here for the last week or so, but we were busy preparing for the “Leadership Skills for Classroom Teachers—TLLP Training Session” last week! It was a phenomenal event!

To give you some background information, the TLLP stands for Teacher Learning and Leadership Program, which is “an annual project-based professional learning opportunity for experienced classroom teachers”  here in Ontario.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, the TLLP “funds proposals from classroom teachers who seek a peer leadership role in curriculum, instructional practice or supporting other teachers. The three goals of the program are to create and support opportunities for teacher professional learning, foster teacher leadership and facilitate the sharing of exemplary practices with others for the broader benefit of Ontario’s students” (source).

Way back in November 2012, we applied for funding through the TLLP.  At first, we were not 100% sure about the direction our proposed project would take, but after a lot of research, discussion, and reflection, we decided on math learning journals, specifically focusing on student problem solving, communication, connections, and reflections (we will discuss more about our project very soon!).  In December, we received wonderful news from our school board that our project was selected and submitted for TLLP consideration.  We were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to find our if our project had been approved! But wait we did, until February 2013 when our project was approved by the TLLP committee!

Fast forward to May 15-17, 2013 when we attended the “Leadership Skills for Classroom Teachers—TLLP Training Session” in downtown Toronto.  It was a busy and intensive 2.5 day training session.  We had to juggle quite a few work and home commitments to ensure that all three of us could be there, but it was well worth it!  From the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, Mike Budd, Peter Lipman, and Rosemary Clark did an excellent job leading the event. Presenters from the Ministry of Education included Paul Anthony, Hanca Chang, and Nick Zacharopoulos, as well as presenters Claudine Laporte (AEFO), Malisa Mezenberg (OECTA), Susan Perry (OECTA), Brenda Sherry, and Peter Skillen.  All the presenters and facilitators were so friendly, approachable, and informative! The Keynote Speakers were Dr. Ann Lieberman, from Stanford University, and Dr. Carol Campbell, from OISE/UT.  Two excellent speakers who were entertaining, motivating, and knowledgeable!

Throughout the 2.5 day training session, we heard about scheduling, project management and budgeting…things I am not crazy about! Yes, I am known for my lists upon lists, but luckily I have two awesome partners—Elita who is great with budgets and Lisa who is super organized!

I really enjoyed the portion “Learning From Experience: What I Know Now that I Wish I Knew Then”. In this section, there were six presentations from last year’s TLLP cohort.  We each attended three of the six presentations and we were able to hear about their projects, difficulties they encountered, successes they celebrated, and lessons they learned along the way.  This was very informative and hearing first-hand accounts from people that were past (and also current) participants was fascinating.

On the last day, we were able to meet with other participants who matched our theme (math) and we had some excellent discussions! We can’t wait to collaborate with these excellent teacher leaders throughout the year!

One thing that we did mention over and over again throughout the 2.5 day session was how motivating and inspiring it was to be in a room packed full of teachers who are looking for new and innovative ways to develop and strengthen their own professional learning and that of their students!

If you are (or were) part of the TLLP community, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

We’ll be sharing our learning journey on this blog throughout the year. Check back often for updates and more information about our project and its implementation! We’ll be adding a TLLP button at the top of our page for easy access to these posts!

Let the journey begin!

Ink Transfer Through Gel Medium: Sharing Student Samples!

I am so thrilled to be able to share the BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING artwork created by my students using the ink transfer onto canvas using a gel medium. We have been working on this project for a couple of weeks and I am so pleased with the final result.  We’ve hung almost all of them in the hallway outside of our classroom (a couple of students are adding the finishing touches to their work) and we’ve received TONS of compliments and praise from both teachers and other students who walk by.

In case you plan to complete this amazing art project with your students, here’s a timeline of how long it took us (for a complete and detailed breakdown of the project, click here):

Lesson 1: Students chose a quote that was meaningful or inspirational to them.  They then designed, reflected, and printed their quotes using Microsoft Publisher.  This took about an hour on average, as some students didn’t have much experience with Publisher.

Lesson 2: Students prepared their canvases by painting them with acrylic paint.  This took about 30 minutes.  We then let them dry for about 30 minutes and then we covered them with the gel medium and placed our quote (ink side down) onto the gel.  The gel needed to dry overnight.

Lesson 3: Students used water to remove and scrub off the paper from the dried gel.  This was very painstaking work and caused quite a bit of frustration with my artists.  A trick we discovered is letting the canvas dry for a bit because the wet paper became transparent; by letting it dry, it turned white again and allowed students to determine where to concentrate their scrubbing efforts. This took a couple of hours and then the canvases needed to be completely dry (overnight) before we touched up the acrylic paint.

Lesson 4: We covered the remaining white paper spots with acrylic paint using a dry brush technique.  Students then wanted to touch up the text using a permanent marker when the paint was dry.  Once the paint and ink were dry, students covered the entire surface with modge podge.  This entire step took about an hour.  The modge podge dried quickly and we then attached yarn to the back for easy hanging.

The entire art project took over a week to complete the process from start to finish.  It did require quite a bit of time and effort, but the final outcome is amazing! I have such talented (and patient) students!

gel transfer canvases


Engaging Students in Mathematics: Free Resources from CSC

Curriculum Services Canada (CSC) “has a passion for, and commitment to, life-long learning. We recognize that people and organizations have unique learning needs and we believe that personal and professional growth is optimal when learning is context-specific, relevant, and highly engaging” (source).  CSC provides excellent, FREE resources for teachers on a variety of subject areas, professional development resources, and webcasts.

We are always on the lookout for resources to help us improve our teaching of mathematics and strategies to help our students become more engaged and enthusiastic about math.  CSC has an EXCELLENT array of resources for teaching math that would be beneficial to your teaching


– videos on sample lessons (lesson planning, the actual lesson, student learning, and teacher debrief)

– print resources on asking effective questions, communication in the mathematics classroom, and Bansho (board writing)

– graphic organizers for teachers to use while viewing/reading the material and then planning their own engaging math lessons

This is just a small sample of some resources available on!


Awesome Art Lesson: Ink Transfer Onto Canvas

canvas ink transfer 2We are currently in the middle of an exciting art lesson. I’ve seen several pins on Pinterest showing the transfer of photographs onto canvas using a gel medium.  I thought that I could use this same concept to transfer text onto canvas as well.

A few things:

  • I painted the canvas since I did not want a plain white background
  • This art project takes several steps and a few lessons to complete (warn your students ahead of time that patience is key!)
  • The gel medium is permanent when dry (so don’t use it on your kitchen table like I did…though I did get 99% of it off)
  • Any image you transfer will become reversed (maybe not important with pictures, but super important with text)
  • When I went to Michael’s (i.e. the place I go to almost every day), there were so many different types of gel medium.  I’m not very knowledgeable about the differences between the various types, but I used this one and it worked well:

glazing mediumSupplies:

  • white paper
  • laser printer (I don’t believe this works on ink jet printers!)
  • Modge Podge
  • acrylic paint and paintbrushes
  • gel medium
  • canvas

On to the process!

Designing and printing the text:

1. I chose a quote that I wanted to display.  I went with 1 Corinthians 2:9.  I used Microsoft Publisher to turn this bible verse into subway art (see Lisa’s post on subway art if you are unsure).  I did this by inserting a new WordArt text for each different font.  I really recommend this process as it gives you a lot of control with respect to size, font, and positioning. Keep the font black.

2. Once the subway art was created, I selected all the WordArt texts and grouped them together to created one selection:

grouping word art3. When the ink transfers onto the canvas, the image will be reversed.  To keep the text correct and legible, I then flipped the image horizontally:

flip quote4. I then printed this on my laser printer.

Painting and ink transfer:

1. I painted the canvas with the acrylic paint.  I went with yellow, pink, bronze, and red. This process was really simple and just required blending the colours together. Here’s my canvas and printout right before I applied the gel medium:

canvas and print out 2. I then used paintbrush to apply a pretty thick coat of gel to the canvas.  Don’t skimp on the gel as you really want the ink to be absorbed well.  Flip your printout ink side down onto the gel. Press firmly and smooth out any wrinkles:

transfer process

3. Step away from the canvas! Don’t be like me and start poking at it (I ended up messing up a couple of letters because I was too curious).  Just let the ink slowly seep into the gel and dry.  I let it dry for about 8 hours.

4. The gel medium is permanent and water-proof, so now you want to use water to remove the white paper from the canvas.  I kept a bowl of water nearby and completely moistened the white paper. I then used my fingers to scrub and scrape the paper completely off the canvas:

wet paper

Prettying it up:

1. I could not get 100% of the white paper off of the canvas and this was really annoying me.  I brought my sample in to show my students and many of them liked the flecks of white throughout as it made it look “old” they said.  It still bothered me.  So, I took out the same acrylic paint I used at the beginning and used a dry brush technique (i.e. very small amounts of paint on the paintbrush, so that the paintbrush stays pretty dry.  This applied pigment onto the white paper flecks, but not enough paint to cover the black text).  This worked very well!

2. Once the paint touch ups were dry, I applied a thick coat of Modge Podge to seal everything and give it a nice sheen (I used the gloss finish):

apply modge podge3. I let it dry and ta-da!

completed canvasAt school, we have created and printed our subway art and painted our canvases.  We will be completing the gel phase next.  Once they are all done, I will share pictures with you all.  I have very talented and artistic students and their work is always beautiful!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Exciting and Educational Resources for Earth Day!

12 earth day resources

Over the next few weeks, The Tuesday 12 will be taking on an environmental twist as we look at various activities focused on the environment. Just click on each link below!

1. Earth Day Canada: A great website that has tons of resources to get you focused on celebrating Earth Day! There are activities for kids, classes, and families, so you can find everything you are looking for in one place.

2. Earth Day Network: An international environmental movement group that provides tons of articles, activities, resources, action plans, and initiatives for everyone worldwide.

3. Think Green: Tons of Earth Day resources for teachers organized by grade level and are cross-curricular.

4. Environmental Protection Agency—“Pick five for the environment”: The EPA has a section of their website devoted to taking environmental initiatives in your life when you “pick five” and become committed to protecting the environment.  The resources are divided up into home, work, school, shopping, the community, and on the road.  Each category then has tons of resources to help you become more green and committed to making a change.   

5. Saskatoon Public Schools: A huge list of teacher resources for Earth Day, including literature, lesson plans, and printouts.

6. TeacherVision: A great collection of lessons, printables, and resources covering every curriculum area. You are able to view seven resources at no cost, but then you must subscribe for full access.

7. TeachersFirst: A very comprehensive collection of classroom resources from a variety of websites like The Nature Conservancy, Disney, WWF, National Film Board of Canada, etc.

8. EducationWorld: I love so many of the ideas on this list! So many resources that would be great in the classroom, like planting seeds/growing plants, various garden activities, math projects, upcycling art, and social justice projects!

9. Kaboose: This website can help you complement your classroom, home, and family initiatives with its range of resources.

10. DLTK’s Crafts for Kids: Not only does this site provide a great breakdown of the history and purpose of Earth Day, but it has links to tons of resources that would be great in the classroom.

11.TES (Climate Change Resources): If you are teaching high school students, tes connect has tons of primary and secondary resources that can be used to learn about climate change.

12. Earth Day Worship Resources: For those who want to look at the religious aspects of Earth Day and being stewards of creations.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!