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I want to share an idea that works really well in my fifth-grade classroom. I call it "Hospital Day." It works like this: For a few weeks, my students study the various systems of the human body. Next, the students, broken into small groups of three or four, must prepare a lesson to teach one of the body systems that includes a hands-ons activity, technology, and a follow-quiz. (I randomly assign the systems to groups by pulling a name out of a hat).
Groups are also given medical props and outfits donated by the local hospital-which they can use during the lesson.
I then invite first-through fourth grade classes to the classroom to watch the lessons.
On the day of the event, we cover tables with white paper and hang white sheets to divide the rooms and create the feel of a hospital. I break the visting classrooms into small teams and they rotate around to the various rooms, learning about the different body systems in the process. Visitors spend about six minutes in a room then I play a heart beat rate line over the speakers to signify switching rooms. We also number rooms to help visitors navigate the rooms.
The teachers love it because their students get a good snapshot of the body systems. My students also love playing the role of doctors and patients. This week, after we finished the event, my students told me they loved the project because it was fun and not tiring like a normal school day but rather energizing.
I would like to encourage you to think about incorporating theme days into your schedule. I personally like theme days that are student-directed and student-owned. Besides Hospital Day, other themes could be 80s Night, Italian Dinner, Outer Space, etc. Do you use theme days? Which ones work best for you?