As the school year winds down, some of the most absolutely memorable days of the year are upon us. In most cases, that final week of school is a time when all the standards have been taught, you’ve finished most of your report cards, and you’re starting to organize your room for the summer break. It’s also a time when our young learners are starting to get antsy for the year to end and need more time engaged in flexible, social activities.
All these factors make one of those final school days a perfect time to transform a school day into a special learning event called a Reading Summit. This themed school day is dedicated to sharing love for reading, and setting the stage for summer reading.
Activity Inspiration For Your Reading Summit
Over the years, I have tweaked the schedule for our Reading Summit in third grade, and finally found the perfect balance of activities for a day that feels engaging, easy to prep, and relaxed all in one. Here’s a peek at the schedule we’ll using this year so you can modify for your own classroom.
Students walk in to the classroom to find two strips of paper and their water color paints set up with some calm music playing in the background. We love this playlist for our morning routine. Right off the bat, they get to design their very own summer reading bookmarks. Their watercolor creations dry in class that day, get laminated and cut by me after school, and are added to their end-of-year gift to take home on the last day of school.
Prep: bookmark-sized strips of paper, water color paints, water cups, paintbrushes, paper towels
Book Swap and Raffle
Students are invited to bring a book from home that they’re willing to contribute to our book swap. Each student who brings a book gets to take a new book home to read over the summer. They are welcome to swap books multiple times throughout the day before making a final decision on which book they plan to take home.
I also host a book raffle. Throughout the school year, I use my bonus points from Scholastic Book Clubs to gather books I know my students will love. By the end of the year, I collect enough books to match the number of students I have in my class. During the raffle, these books are put on display around the room along with cups where students can place one of their four raffle tickets. After students have had time to browse the books and submit their tickets to the raffle, I announce the winners. It is possible for student to win more than one book. It is also possible some students won’t win a book at all depending on luck. Students are welcome to give a book they’ve won to a friend if they so choose.
Prep: space for book swap books, books for your book raffle, book raffle tickets, a container to place tickets for each book during the raffle
Fresh Air Reading
After a few activities inside the classroom, we head out to the playground for some reading under the summer sun. Students are invited to bring a beach towel or a blanket to make their fresh air reading experience more cozy if they’d like. I encourage students to bring 2-3 books with them to the playground so they have plenty to read for thirty minutes.
Prep: classroom library books for students to read
Buddy Reading Meetup
Our school has a buddy program. Each class is buddied up with another class from a different grade level. Our third graders are partnered with kindergarteners, so our kinder buddies bring their favorite picture book to our classroom and have their third grade buddy read it to them. After reading aloud, the third graders work with their kinder buddies to set summer reading goals.
Prep: schedule time with a buddy class, ask buddies to bring a picture book, summer reading goals sheet
Guest Read Alouds
During our Reading Summit, I invite two guests to read aloud their favorite picture book to our class. Guests may included the principal, our reading specialist, the librarian, a parent, or someone from my family. The students love a read aloud by anyone, but having these extra special people visit on this extra special day boosts their engagement to the max.
Prep: schedule time for your guest readers to visit, ask guests to bring their favorite book
Summer Reading Mini Posters
Students create a mini poster on an 8 ½” x 11” piece of cardstock to advertise the book they think everyone should read this summer. Each poster must include the book title and author, a blurb telling why people should read this book, a large drawing related to the book, and the name of the person making the recommendation. These posters are shared with parents on the last day of school through an email attachment to help inspire summer book shopping and borrowing at the library.
Prep: one 8 ½” x 11” piece of cardstock for each student, markers, crayons, colored pencils, scan completed posters to email parents on the last day of school
The final activity of our Reading Summit is reader’s theatre. Students select the part they are interested in the day before to maximize practice and performance time. The books I pull scripts from each year is Evan Moor’s Third Grade Readers’ Theatre.
We begin with a 45 minute practice session that includes the following activities:
- Students highlight their lines at their desk.
- Students meet in their practice location (predetermined spots inside the classroom or right outside the door) and read through their lines silently until everyone has arrived.
- Students sit in a circle with their group, and read through their script. They help one another with any tricky words as needed.
- Groups stand on their designated practice line and rehearse while focusing on voice projection. This practice line serves as a “stage” and is drawn with sidewalk chalk or made with painter’s tape.
- Students continue to practice multiple times as they focus on smooth transitions between speakers, and facing the audience.
After students have practiced several times, we come inside for the final performances. Students love ending their special reading day with a performance in front of their classmates.
Prep: have students select their parts at least one day prior, copy readers’ theatre scripts for each student, place scripts in file folders to boost organization for each group.
Getting Ready for Your Reading Summit
Are you ready to make the most of those final days of the school year? Just because things are winding down doesn’t mean your students can’t be fully engaged in academic-based content. It’s all about finding fun and social ways to keep them hooked through those final hours of the school year, and a Reading Summit can help you do just that.
If you’re looking to save some time with prepping for your Reading Summit, this resource includes the following:
- An editable or ready-to-print note for families informing them about your special day
- Slides that give students instructions for each of the activities described above
- Printable book raffle tickets
- A sign for your book swap shelf
- Editable or ready-to-print summer reading goals sheets
- Cover sheets for your reader’s theatre script folders
- This resource does not include reader’s theatre scripts, but I have made book recommendations above.
As you prepare for your Reading Summit, please share your ideas and questions in the comments below.