More Stories from Wayside School:
One of my favorite books to use for read aloud either at the beginning of the year or the end of the year is Sideways Stories from Wayside School. You could use it with any grade from 2nd – 5th and the students still enjoy it. The chapters are short and each chapter focuses on a different character. It is a book you can put down and come back to awhile later. The students always laugh and enjoy the characters. As a closing activity to the book, I had my students create their own characters. They then had to go around and interview at least 3 other students about the characters they created. Each student then sat down and wrote a story about their character and incorporated the characters of the students they interviewed in their stories. We then put everyone’s stories together (each student’s story being a chapter) and made our own class book of more stories from Wayside School. I then copied it and gave everyone a copy of the “class book” as a keepsake at the end of the school year.Now, the first time I did this activity I had my students vote on the name of the school and the teacher. They then all had to incorporate that school name and teacher in their story. My little GT student suggested we name the school “Surviving Elementary,” which all the students liked but most did not really get the wit behind it.
The second year I did this activity I just decided that the stories would be about Wayside School, and I created a new 5th grade teacher named Mr. Bubbles. Everyone had to use Mr. Bubbles in their story, and I wrote a separate chapter about Mr. Bubbles.Live and learn:
When I did this activity last year, I knew I wanted to make a class book. Ideally, I would have taken it to Kinko’s and had them copy it and bind it for me. I knew I could not afford 55 copies of the class books (since I had two classes). So I gradually copied them at school and put them together in folders myself. I gave it to the students at the end of the school year (even though we wrote the stories at the beginning of the school year). Compiling all the copies was a nightmare.If I did this activity again, I would send home a note to parents that I wanted to make a class book at Kinko’s and what the cost per book was. Students who wanted a copy could bring the few dollars and I would order them a copy. I would make sure to have a couple copies of the class book to keep in my classroom library. (I saw an idea like this on either Beth Newingham’s website or one of her Scholastic articles where she creates class poetry anthologies throughout the year and keeps a copy in the classroom library.) I love this idea because I think students enjoy seeing their own writing as well as that of fellow students. There are also websites out there where you can publish your student’s writing. (That would just take a lot more forethought.) Kinko’s would be easy to do and workable even last minute.
You can purchase the Wayside School Writing Activities at my TpT store. There are pages to plan the character, interview other characters, write a rough draft, checklists (for editing, revising, and publishing), and paper for final drafts (for older and younger students), and a writing rubric I created based on 100 grading breakdown as an alternative to the 4, 3, 2, 1 rubrics.
As an entry to a poetry unit I did a couple years ago, we wrote class mottos. You also could do this as a fun end of the year activity. I had each student write a class motto and then we voted on the best one. Now, at the time I was at a private school and a really small classes. If I had 20 plus students, I would put them in groups and then just vote out of 4-5 mottos. We then made class t-shirts with our mottos and signed the t-shirts. We all wore our t-shirts the last day of school. I know you can t-shirts printed pretty cheap, but I just had students all bring a solid color t-shirt and I brought fabric markers. The kids enjoyed personalizing it.
A couple handouts you could use with your class if you want to make class motto t-shirts: