At my school we call them learning buddies but you might know them as reading buddies or big buddies/little buddies. Whatever you call them, some times it’s hard to think of activities to do with them. I often found myself planning things on the fly so I decided to compile a list of activities that could be done with our buddies. Some require more planning than others or prep time before the buddies get together, and some are low prep activities.
1. Read! So this is an obvious one but I do create a chart with the students before hand about what this will look like. I like to have the buddies take turns reading. This gives the older buddies a chance to develop their fluency skills and then they can support the little buddies with decoding and comprehension.
2. Trace your buddy on butcher paper! I have done this many times with students. I usually have the buddies trace each other and then instead of painting their own silhouette, they do their buddy’s. Check out the Artful Parent for ideas on how to do this:
3. Big buddies become the teacher! They can tutor their buddy in something they are having difficulty with.
4. The first time my buddies meet we always do some get to know you activities. It’s a great activity for the beginning of the year and can even be used in the classroom without buddies for students to get to know each other. Since I struggle with leaving things to the last minute I created a buddy booklet that I could reuse each year. This way I have it ready and I’m not struggling to find something. You can check this booklet out in my shop by clicking here or on the images below:
5. Work together on a design challenge. You can come up with a design challenge for students to solve, or better yet, they can come up with a problem on their own that they want to solve. For example, at my school we were getting new playground equipment. The challenge I presented was that they needed to design a prototype for the equipment that would meet the needs of all students at our school including our Developmental Education classroom that had children in wheel chairs. I had them bring in materials (egg cartons, cardboard, yarn, etc.) and then just gave them time to design and build.
6. Reader’s Theater! My students LOVE doing reader’s theatre with their learning buddies. In the past I have had the older buddies write the scripts during class time and then they direct the “plays” with their little buddies being the actors. I have also found reader’s theater plays for them to use. This site has a few good ones! They can act it out or even use the Puppets app on a tablet.
7. Start a Collaborative Writing Project – Go through the whole writing process together from brainstorming topic ideas right through to publishing. Then they can trade stories with other groups of buddies or even read them aloud from the author’s chair.
8. Big buddies can be a technology tutor! They can help little buddies to practice typing skills, learn how to use new apps, sign in to Google Drive accounts etc.
9. Go for a walk around the community. On their walk they can take pictures of important things in the community. When they return they can make a collage and write about the things they saw and why they were important.
10. Interview their buddy! They can come up with interview questions to ask each other. Then they can use a pretend or real microphone and record the interview with an ipad, video recorder etc. as if they were doing a new broadcast. This activities encompasses so many skills!
11. Work on art projects together. Little buddies can try an art task that might have been too difficult without one on one support.
12. Write an acrostic poem together, turn it into a poster to display around the school. We did these based on character traits that we brainstormed ahead of time (Kindness, empathy, etc.). We also presented them at our school assembly. They can pass the poems around to other partners for shared reading.
13. Create a Co-operative game, write the instructions and then play with groups of buddies. It could be a new version of tag, a spin on dodgeball etc.
14. Build a snowman! If it snows where you are, they could work on a building a snow man together and then go back and write the procedure for how to do it. Or big buddies could write the procedure out and see if their instructions were easy enough for their little buddy to follow.
15. Create a board game! This is another one my students LOVE! They need to write the instructions for it, design the game board and game pieces and then they get to play with their buddies. They can swap games with other groups. You can take it one step further and have them create an advertisement for it too.
16. Complete reading comprehension graphic organizers. They can read with their buddy and then big buddies can help the little ones complete a reading comprehension graphic organizer.
17. Practice sight words. There is never enough classroom time for this. So buddy time is a great time to get out the flash cards or words on a ring.
18. Practice Math Facts. Similar to practicing sight words, they can use math fact flash cards.
19. Record their buddy reading to them! This activity gives big buddies fluency practice and provides material for a listen to reading station later on.
20. Play sight word games ! There are a TON on Pinterest. Click here to browse for ideas.
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I hope you got some great ideas to use during your buddy time!