We had a modified schedule today for the all-school science fair, and as a result I ended up with a mixed group of students for about 45 minutes at the end of the day. It had been a stressful few weeks for them-- working diligently on their science fair projects, preparing for the presentation piece, and then actually displaying their board and going through the judging process. We had some academic activities planned for the last part of the day, but it was clear that such structure wasn't really appropriate, at least not for my group, and so I abandoned the Challenge-24 practice in favor of vintage cartoons, independent reading, and games.
It's not often that I get a chance to actually play with the kids, but today I could. I always forget what an effective way to build relationships it is to simply sit down at a table and play a couple of hands of Uno or a game of Bananagrams. Kids invariably love it when an adult takes the time to play with them, and it's really fun, too.