If you’re fortunate enough to work in a school that offers a scheduled advisory period, consider yourself lucky.
While it might initially seem overwhelming to think about and plan for, I promise that there are so many valuable and authentic activities you can implement that will be mutually beneficial for you and your students!
I’m going to help you make the most of your middle school advisory period with enriching activities and ideas both you and your middle schoolers can enjoy and benefit from year-round. And the best part is that you can bookmark this page to refer to whenever you need a little advisory inspiration. Let’s jump in!
Engaging Activities for Middle School Advisory and Homeroom
Intervention and Enrichment
Many schools choose to focus some of their advisory period or homeroom time on activities that supplement, reinforce, or extend the learning. Form a plan with your teaching team to identify and prioritize needs, then develop a roadmap to address them. To spark ideas, consider how your students might benefit from:
- Independent reading
- Digital citizenship activities
- Personal finances (writing checks, creating a budget, etc.)
- Checking & monitoring grades
- CNN Student News
- Ted Talks
- PBL (Project-Based Learning)
- Life skill lessons (email etiquette, tying a tie, addressing an envelope, etc.)
- Genius Hour/Passion Projects
Although it’s easy to get hyper-focused on the intervention side of the coin, remember that your middle schoolers can be building valuable skills through enrichment activities as well. Many students are also more motivated when they see the real-life applications of what they’re learning.
Regularly incorporating character-building activities in your middle school advisory period can yield benefits all day and year long, especially when paired with opportunities for reflection and discussion. If your school struggles to make its PBIS system work, consider how beneficial it might be to embed social-emotional minilessons into your homeroom. Powerful activities include:
- Class meetings
- Motivational speeches
- Random acts of kindness
- Get to know your personality (strengths and weaknesses)
- Complete a career survey
- Gratitude journals
- Create task lists and order items by priority
- Write thank you letters
Many of these ideas are also excellent ways to help students stay organized, which in turn reduces stress and anxiety. They can help them learn more about themselves, become more responsible, and encourage self-reflection.
Homework/Study Hall Time
A key benefit of having a middle school advisory period is that it can allow students extra time to complete assignments, ask for extra help, or prepare for an upcoming exam. It can also be a good time to connect with any students attending classes remotely. Students appreciate advisory activities like:
- Homework time
- Study hall
- Virtual or in-person study groups
- Test Prep
- Plus 5 Club: recognize students who have increased their average in a subject by 5 points in one grading period
- Class extensions
While preparing for exams aren’t exactly thrilling, you can make it fun by playing review games like Jeopardy and Crumple and Shoot, which gets everyone actively engaged (and laughing).
Mental Health and Self-Care
Prioritizing teen mental and emotional health is more essential today than ever before, especially given the high number of students struggling with these issues. According to a recent article from NPR, “schools across the country are overwhelmed with K-12 students struggling with mental health problems.”
Making space for students to unplug from their hectic lives and focus on self-care can be incredibly beneficial for both you and your students. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
- Words of affirmation
- Zen coloring
- Time management
In addition to these activities, simply taking time to check in with your students and talk with them about their lives can do wonders. Given the isolating nature of problems like anxiety and depression, simply letting your students know that you see them and notice when they’re having an “off day” can be incredibly validating for them.
Activities for your advisory or homeroom time don’t have to be all business and no play. These are middle schoolers we’re talking about, after all! Set aside a portion of your schedule each week for a bit of fun, and watch how it transforms your relationships with your students and overall classroom culture. Plus, many of these activities stretch students’ brains in atypical ways, which has positive effects!
- Brain Games
- Extreme dot-to-dots
- Would You Rather
- Card Games
- Board Games (Bananagrams, Scrabble, Boggle, Jenga, etc.)
- Advisory vs. Advisory Challenges
- Two Lies and a Truth
- Human Knot
These are just a few ideas for how you can incorporate fun into your advisory period, and sometimes the most simple activities are the most fun!
Community Service Projects
According to the United Way, students who engage in community service projects experience increased empathy, higher self-esteem and show more generosity than those who don’t. At the beginning of the year, help your students brainstorm ways they’d like to make a difference in their community. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make handmade cards for nursing home residents
- Clothing drive
- Fundraising projects
- Valentines for Veterans
- Coin drive to benefit local charities
- Canned/boxed food drive
- Blanket drive
- Winter coat/hats/mittens donations
- Project from www.dosomething.org
You don’t want to overwhelm yourself or your students with the responsibilities of too many community service projects, so it’s best to choose one per quarter or semester. Make a list of local nonprofits, charities, and other projects that require the most assistance and start there.
Figuring out how to make the most of your middle school advisory period can be challenging at times, especially with the demands and expectations that are already heaped on your teaching plate.
However, someone once told me to prioritize culture over content. When you focus on building solid relationships with your students, everything else will fall into place.