By Teachnet Contributor, Jeffrey R. Yazwa, Conley Elementary School, Chandler, AZ
In my room, we have individual, group and whole class behavior guidelines and expectations. One of the class favorites for group behavior is the Space Race. During the 3rd quarter, we study the solar system. As one of the class bulletin boards we have a large solar system poster (with all 9 planets and the Sun represented). I tell the class that we’ll be participating in the Space Race. They are seated in groups of 5. They get to work collaboratively and come up with a team name (Ex: The Fantastic 5). I give them 5-15 minutes to create a team emblem and post it (with a thumb tack) on the bulletin board where the Sun is located. I then explain that each team, over the next few weeks, will race towards Pluto. Whichever team makes it to Pluto first (according to their behavior, teamwork, and sportsmanship) will win a fabulous prize. Whenever I catch teams working diligently, cooperating or working out a problem, I reward them with advancement of a planet. So when The Fantastic 5 is doing something right, I would move their emblem to Mercury, then Venus and so on.
It is important for the children to realize that they are a part of a family, a team. They have to be able to get along with others and function no only individually but as a team. The Space Race is a great way to chart group behavior. It also has many perks – The winning team that reaches Pluto first wins a homemade sauce & Spaghetti Luncheon in the classroom with their teacher!
About Pluto… Of course, this lesson idea was submitted before the news about Pluto. It’s still a great idea and can be easily modified to suit a variety of units.