Sunday, June 15, 2014

15 Ways to Use Sidewalk Chalk in Your Classroom

When it’s nice outside, I am always looking for excuses to take my class outside.  A great way to plan an outdoor lesson is to incorporate sidewalk chalk into your lesson.  Here are 15 ways to use sidewalk chalk in your classroom:

1.) Create Your Own Hundreds Chart:  Start students out with the first row of a hundred’s chart and then let students fill in the other numbers.  Once the chart is made, students can jump out number patterns and work on their addition, subtraction and multiplication facts.

2.)  Reading Buddy Squares: Draw squares on the ground, put 2 books in each square.  Have students pair off and read the two books in their box with their partner – back to back or shoulder to shoulder.  When students have finished the books in one box, they can switch to another box.

3.)  Practice Spelling Words:  Chalk can be another great way for students to work on spelling and sight words.  Have them draw their words big enough to walk on them and they can practice their words two ways!

4.)  Vocabulary Hopscotch:  Have your students review their vocabulary with vocabulary hopscotch.  Draw out a standard hopscotch map.  Write a different vocabulary word in each square.  If students land on a word, they have to give the definition of the word in order to stay in the game.

5.)  Drawing Maps:  Students could create maps of their own, or practice sketching out world maps.  At my school, we created a world map with chalk.  Everyone helped color in oceans and label the continents.  Then we used string to add the Equator and Prime Meridian.

6.)  Make and Jump on Number Lines:  So many math concepts can be covered with number lines – adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, decimals, negative numbers etc.  Draw out a number line – have students add whatever numbers fit on the number line.  Then, have students work on equations by actually jumping on the number line.

7.) Jotting Down Unfamiliar Words: Take Sustained Silent Reading outside and give each student a piece of chalk.  Tell them that if they come to a word they don’t know the meaning of, they should jot it down on the sidewalk near them.  At the end of 15 – 20 minutes, write down all of the students’ words on a piece of paper.  Have students look up the words in the dictionary to begin the creation of a “New Words Notebook”.

8.) Draw Geometrical Figures & Properties:  Give students a specific geometry concept to work on – every student could even work on their own topic (from a random grab bag or differentiation by design).  Have students use the sidewalk chalk to draw out their concept.  This works from simple shapes for younger students to acute angles, parallel lines, line segments, radius and diameter, etc. for older students.

9.)  Draw Science Diagrams: Cell diagrams, genetics charts, human body diagrams – anything you can draw on paper can be drawn outside with sidewalk chalk, giving a new, kinesthetic experience to increase memory of the concepts.

10.)  Drawing and Walking Out Timelines:  Give students a real understanding of the amount of time that passed between important events by drawing out your own timelines.  Use one student foot for a set amount of time (10 years, 100 years, 1000 years).  Then add important events from your history lessons.  Finally have students walk “through history” from one event to another.  Great way to point out common misconceptions – like Martin Luther King Jr. being alive during slavery.

11.)  Coordinate Graphing: Sidewalk chalk is a great way to create a coordinate grid that is large enough to walk on.  Students can become the “points” and determine their own coordinate.  Also great for working on reflecting and translating points.

12.) Draw your Character or Setting:  Have students brainstorm ideas for their next story by having them draw out their character or setting outside with sidewalk chalk.  Then take a picture of their drawing and have them keep it handy while they are writing their story.

13.)  Create and Describe a Potion:  Have students create a “potion” by mixing together kitchen ingredients.  Then, have students use sidewalk chalk to write descriptive words (adjectives) and sentences about their potion.

14.)  To the Races!:  Have students race paper airplanes, cars, balls, marbles, anything that rolls or flies.  Students should use sidewalk chalk to mark where each item ends.  Students can then measure the distance traveled by each item.  Great for allowing students to design their own vehicles!

15.) Create a Student Graph:  Have students create the categories for a survey.  Then, create a “Student Pictograph”, using sidewalk chalk as the axis and students as the “symbols”.

How do you use sidewalk chalk in your classroom?