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When Kids Are Off the Wall...



Hi! Today was NOT our last day of school, but the students certainly acted like it. All those rules and manners have been thrown out the window and their battle cry is: "Awww! Do we have to do that?"

I'm in the library and I teach preK-grade 6.

I'd like to have a Bag of Tricks ready for those off days when the students are unenthusiastic and whiny. Ideas that I can use instead of my regular lesson...ideas that will get them back on track and help me stay composed and sane!

What do you do that's fun and productive when the kiddos are off the wall? What activities soothe or engage them when they're feeling their oats?

Thanks! All ideas are appreciated!


Senior Member
hands on

You have such a wide age span and I'm in middle school, so I don't know if this will help you, but lately I've been having the kids dig through the newspaper.

1. I pulled out the ads and told them they had $200 to spend. That kept them busy and happy. They didn't have to be quiet and they enjoy looking at ads.

2. I went to a hotel and pulled a lot of brochures and maps. I told the kids they had $500 to plan a trip to wherever they wanted to go. I made them figure gas, milege, food, admission price, etc. Some dug through the food ads in the paper AGAIN because they wanted to go on a major road trip and it would be cheaper to pack a lunch. Others opted to go to a major mall in the area and just spend the bulk of the money there. Again, they could work in groups and partners, didn't have to be quiet, and they enjoyed the activity.

3. My last assignment was to comparison shop. Pick out two similiar stores (through newspaper ads) and compare prices on similiar items.

4. I had them look through the classifieds for jobs and cars. Some of the kids in the $200 spending activity chose to look through the classifieds to look for purebred dogs they could buy. (Pitbulls, of course.)

I know none of these things are really library related, but the kids were engaged and enjoyed the assignments. Looking through ads, newspapers, maps and brochures are practical skills, too. There's a variety of skills involved in doing it.

I hope some of this helped. You might also do something with the comics, crossword puzzles, horoscopes, advice columns, etc. I've found the kids do like looking through the newspapers--at least my middle school ones do.


Senior Member
I guess I'm mean

When my kids are like that, I don't want to give them anything fun. I want them to know how boring it really could be. Can you tell I've had one of those days :eek:

When my students are off the wall, anything hands-on becomes a nightmare. Maybe I'm just not good enough yet to direct their energy, but I just can't handle it. We do quiet work (reading, writing, etc.) when that happens.

It wears me out to always plan fun, exciting things and hear, "Do we have to?"


Senior Member
special storytime

I'm sure you already read aloud a lot, but for my kids, when they need something soothing (that's everyday after lunch:o ), I turn out all the lights and we have a special storytime using only my reading lamp. It's so cozy, and the kids L O V E it!!! I know if I let them, they'd sit for many many stories in a row!

Ima Teacher

Senior Member
Several times in the last week I've had to have my kids take five minutes of "head down" silent time just to calm down.

I save their favorite novel (The Outsiders) and their favorite unit (mythology) until the end of the year. They enjoy those, and they pay attention pretty well. There are also lots of movies, and I give them something to do related to that and they seem to enjoy it.

Eli O.

help---after 1:00???

I agree...it's getting really difficult to instruct my 1st and 2nd graders after 1:00. We're an eary school and there special is at 1:55, so we have about 40 minutes after 1:00. I feel like it's just "wasted" time because of all the discipline issues. They just can't calm themselves down to listen at that time. They have lost science time twice this week because of it. Today I tried reading them a story but they just wouldn't be quiet. So i went to my desk and made them sit at their desks for 10 minutes and told them I will not teach them when they can not respect me and listen. I have explained to them that they are losing their instruction time, but they don't seem to care.

Any other ideas???