Article, Quizzes

Winning Ideas for Activities to Get Students Ready to Learn

Teachers responded with ideas for getting students ready to learn this month. Here are several excellent suggestions that may help you in your classroom. Each of these entries in our Winning Ideas Monthly Contest won $50 in the Scholastic products.

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5

 Start with the News

From Paul Yoakam

I pick out a few articles in the newspaper that the students will have interest in. Sometimes they are serious, sometimes they are sports, or sometimes they are comical. I ask for their background knowledge and allow them to share.

Every week we then have a "fun quiz" which contains questions from the paper or local events. I also include questions about the history of our town, who the mayor is, High School principal, etc.

I give out three prizes for each question (Jolly Ranchers), if more than 3 people get the answer we then pick a number to determine the winners. This helps to prevent sharing answers.

I have found that doing this encourages students to pay attention to local, national, and world news.


Write on a Topic

From Kelly Jones

I teach 3rd grade and try to start each lesson with a small motivational activity. One of my favorite activities is having students write what they already know about a topic and then they add to it, or change it, after the lesson. I tape three or four large pieces of bulletin board paper or chart paper on the wall outside of my classroom. I write a heading on each piece of paper with what I'd like the students to do at each station. Students are then grouped and given a marker (I like to give each small group the same color marker to identify the writing by group). Students enjoy "writing on the wall" and working in groups to show what they know. After the lesson, I give students a chance to return to the topics and add or change based on what they learned today.

I love this idea because it is fun for students and very quick, easy, and inexpensive to set up. I hope you try it out with your students!


Read a Book, Write a Journal

From Dreanna Dallas 

I teach 5th graders. To help my students focus on learning, we bought a class set of books from Scholastic purchased by the students. Each student reads it at his or her own pace. On the board is a daily reflective journal writing assignment, based on the book, to which the students must respond. There are also vocabulary words, guided comprehension questions, and mini-quizzes, that the students complete at their own pace. All the while, their homework is placed on the corner of their desks and I am able to get attendance and lunch count completed within a couple of minutes.


Start with a Routine Assignment

From Anna Marie Johnson 

Every morning my students have a morning math sheet at their desks waiting for them. They also have their morning jobs posted in the room. (Use the bathroom, sharpen two pencils, and start your morning math.) By keeping the morning jobs and format of that math page the same every day, they get into a routine that they can complete without me-leaving me free to deal with the daily flurry of notes, lunch money, lost homework, and forgotten backpacks that my second-graders usually throw at me!


Greetings with a Do Now Sheet

From Cynthia Harmon 

To begin each class, I greet them at door with a "Do Now" sheet. The content of that sheet depends on the unit of study. By greeting the class at the door, I set a calm, positive tone. With the sheet in hand, they sit right down to work. I teach 5th - 8th. grades.


  • Subjects:
    Reading, Math, Journal Writing, Teacher Tips and Strategies

Winning Ideas

Your best classroom tips and techniques equal a chance to win Scholastic products and a simple way to swap solutions with teachers across the country.