Five Best School Buddy Activities November 19 2010

[caption id="attachment_7093" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Sixth grade and Kindergarten buddies finish a turkey project together."][/caption]

School Buddies are a valuable part of a larger school community. This kind of system helps kids of all ages master concepts, teach and review skills, increase confidence and improve social interaction.

Generally, Buddies need to have an age difference of a couple of years at least in order to reap the most academic and social benefits. The best place to start a system of School Buddies is to find a teacher a couple of grades away from your with whom you can partner.

What To Do First

Once you've paired up with another class of students, it's time to pair up your kids. Generally, it's best to partner girls with girls and boys with boys. Sometimes there aren't enough students for each person to be individually partnered - in that case, two younger Buddies are placed with a responsible older student. Meet with your Buddy teacher to match the kids up according to academic needs, behavior, and personalities.

Once the kids are matched, it's time for that very important first meeting!

Get To Know You

When Buddies meet for the first time, it's necessary to give them an activity where they can get to know each other. If you have favorite beginning of the year activities that you usually do to get to know the kids in your classroom, grab a few of those to use for this Buddy time. One easy activity is to have each Buddy draw a portrait of their partner, writing down their Buddy's name and favorite book, color, food and TV show - these details will give them plenty to talk about!

Read Together

Focusing on reading is a great way to encourage academic support and personal connections in your Buddy program. Each Buddy can take turns reading, sharing favorite books or stories based on what they're learning in your classroom, practicing and reviewing important skills like identifying story elements or practicing words with short vowels.

Regardless of the planned Buddy activity, there's usually time for Buddies to read together, especially those who tend to finish early. A couple of popular resources for both older and younger Buddies are the I Wonder Why series and the We Both Read sets of books.

Play a Math Game

Or play a game for a different part of your curriculum! Games provide a fun way to review concepts and practice skills regardless of subject area. For this time of year, one of these Turkey Games would be an excellent activity for Buddy time!

Once the game has been chosen, it's a good idea to have either the older or younger Buddies understand and practice how to play it before meeting up. This way, one set of Buddies can teach the other how to play without losing any precious time together!

Finish a Project

It's important for Buddies to meet consistently, whether this is once a week or twice a month. This can be challenging when you think about interruptions like assemblies, teacher work days, conferences and other complications that mess with the overall schedule.

So if you or your Buddy teacher are falling behind with a project, consider using Buddy time to finish up. After an extra-long assembly and a slight schedule change, kindergartners were struggling to finish their hands-and-feet turkeys before school got out. The sixth grade Buddy teacher and her kids were flexible enough to use their scheduled Buddy time to help the Kindys out, and the turkeys made it home in time for Thanksgiving!

A Class Party

To put a little extra fun in your Buddy time, host a class party - like the Classroom Apple Party - and have older Buddies help out. This social time, however, doesn't have to be academic in nature. Get together to celebrate before school lets out before a break, or schedule a special time to eat lunch and have recess together one day. Plan on exchanging valentines and holiday greetings. Both sets of Buddies will appreciate this extra fun!

All kids benefit from the effort, attention and consistency put into a Buddy program. Your kids - and their Buddies - will enjoy it!