Last week I put on a Word Wall Ball for our military homeschool group and it was… AWESOME! Okay, I know that is totally braggy but I’m just really happy with how well it went and how much fun we all had.
So what is a Word Wall Ball you ask? Well, my sister gave me the idea from something she observed in a kindergarten class. The idea was that kids would have their list of sight words on their word wall when they have learned all of them they earn a ticket to the Word Wall Ball. Really we just celebrated everyone’s accomplishments in reading, whether it was learning sight words or starting to read for the first time or finishing a grade level.
We held it at the community center on base and everyone brought a potluck dish to share for lunch. I said for the kids to dress fancy for them–whatever would make them feel special–and boy did they dress up. I had helium filled balloons floating around with strings long enough for the kiddos to catch them and then other balloons on the ground for kids to bounce around (if you know me IRL you know what a big deal this was for me because I HATE balloons). When they entered I had royal music playing (alright, it was just the march from Sleeping Beauty) and as soon as the kids came in and saw the balloons and everything they started screaming and bouncing around and dancing.
In addition to the balloons and dancing, we also did a cake walk. If you haven’t done a cake walk, you are seriously missing out. Think happy musical chairs with cupcake prizes. We had sight words cards for our spaces. When the music plays the kids walk around the circle. When the music stops, we call out a word and the child standing on that space gets a cupcake and leaves the circle. Add in a new kiddo and begin again. We just played until everyone got a cupcake. (Okay in a real cake walk it would be cakes and then you would start with a whole new group, but I really like it this way.)
I also had out scratch out for the kids to do. Such an easy craft–just set out the supplies–but such a big hit.
And we had a photo booth! I think I love the pictures even more than the kids loved taking them. 🙂
I found my props online; then just cut them out and added shish kabob skewers. I recommend using an exacto knife for the eye holes and other fine details. And before sure to glue the skewers with the pointy end against the paper piece so no one gets hurt. So many are for weddings or adult parties but I found good ones for the kiddos at Accent the Party (a great list) and Creative Juice.
But the best part of all for everyone was recognizing the children’s accomplishments. On the walls I had a book for each kiddo celebrating their achievements in reading. I had the parents write me with what they wanted to celebrate and then I just copied and pasted them onto the book stencil. At the end of the party we gathered the children around to acknowledge each of their accomplishments. After announcing the child’s name, I would read their “book” to the group and we all cheered.
I am uploading the book template as a powerpoint file so that you can make adjustments and add your text. I am also adding it as a pdf in case you can not open the powerpoint.
In homeschooling kids can miss out on public recognition of their achievements. While we shouldn’t do things just for the applause, it certainly is nice to be celebrated. I think all the parents were surprised at just how much it meant to our children to recognize them in front of the group. You would have thought they won the lottery when I called a name. We will definitely be doing this again in the future.
That night the girls told me how proud they were of themselves. Looking at those smiles, I know that the greatest part for them was getting recognized for their hard work. And one of the greatest parts for me… Mia ran up, gave me a giant hug, and said “Thank you Mama!”
P.S. We used the plain scratch art paper that I actually cut in half sheets and it worked just great. The kiddos loved creating their own designs. But if you are looking for something a little more fancy or structured, there really are all kinds of great options.