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Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation
Mario Day!
9 Apr, 2018. 6 Comments. A Day In First Grade, First Grade, Kindergarten, STEM. Posted By: Kristen Smith

Mario Day

Hello friends! On Friday we had SUCH a fun day! The first grade teacher and I had asked our principal if it would be alright to “transform” our campus into “Mario World” for a day of rigorous academic fun. Luckily for us, she enthusiastically said YES and we were able to pull off an absolutely fantastic day for our kindergarten and first grade students.

To begin, we decided that we wanted to have three activities for our students to complete. We decided on Mario Kart, an “underground” level, and collecting gold coins. We wanted to be able to have both groups of students go through each area and be challenged on their academic levels so we came up with activities that could be differentiated. The ultimate goal of the day was to earn 1,000 gold coins to defeat Bowser.

We set up a rotation so our students could travel to the three different levels at different times collecting gold coins. For Mario Kart, we set up posters in the gym with the numbers 1-20 on them. We each filled out about 300 cards of problems for our students to complete at this challenge.

Cards for Mario Kart

The cards above show some examples of problems my kindergarteners were given for this challenge.

To begin the level, I paired up my students and gave each group a baggie full of 18 cards and a scooter. Their job was to work together to solve their problems and then post them on the correct posters. To get to the poster, they would have to push their friend/ ride on their Mario Kart (scooter).

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

For each correct problem, we earned coins towards defeating Bowser.

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

For 35 minutes my young mathematicians worked hard to solve their equations! They were determined to get as many gold coins as possible!

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

They used manipulatives to solve and check their work. In the gym, I placed life size ten frames and a number line. They were able to use all of their resources to solve their problems.

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

They had a BLAST doing this!

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

The next challenge was our underground level. After school the night before our Mario Day, I asked for a few parents to come in to help me transform the classroom. To make the room look like it was “underground,” we blacked out the room with black butcher paper. Then I added a few child sized tents and tunnels that I own and added two black lights to really make the room glow.

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

At this level, students were given a packet of math problems and a highlighter. In the tents were ping pong balls with the numbers 1-20 written on them. Each student was put on a team of 5 and then took turns going in the tents to find an answer to one of the equations they completed.  I told the students that their job was to try to complete as many problems as they were waiting for their turn to go in the tent.

They worked hard to solve as many problems as they could!

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

When they went in the tent, they looked for the sum or difference of the last problem they solved. If they would not find it, they would call out to their team, “can you tell me another number I need to find?” and hunt for that ping pong ball.

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

It was so great to watch the kids work collaboratively and to try their best.

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

At the end of this “level” they earned over 120 gold coins!

Our last station was our gold coin sight word challenge. For this, we hung up sight word gold coins all over our courtyard. To make them, we simply wrote the words using Sharpies on plastic gold plates.

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

To play, each child had brought in a water gun and they raced around the courtyard looking for specific sight words. Once they found them, they squirted them with water.

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

As you can imagine, this was A HUGE HIT!!!

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

It was such a hit that we were scheduled to be outside for 30 minutes but ended up at this level for 45 minutes! (We had extra time so it worked out perfectly!)

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

The kids LOVED every minute!

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

If you would like to see what this day looked like in action, I made a quick video to show you what it looked like as it was happening!

In order to make this event a success, a month before it was happening, I emailed my parents asking them if they would be willing to contribute ping pong balls, 2 black lights, and the gold plates. I also enlisted their help to set it up. They were so happy to help contribute to this fun day!

In the end, we defeated Bowser and my students were BEYOND excited! :)

Mario Day- a day of rigorous academics hidden in a classroom transformation

It truly was a magical day.

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6 Comments
  1. What a magical day!!!! I know soooooo much work went into preparing for this and I’m sure your children will remember it forever. So much learning, teamwork and cooperation was happening. I LOVE it!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good Morning!

    I just read your Mario Day post!

    How cool?

    Would you mind sharing a bit more about the “day”?

    I would love to pass this idea on to my kindergarten and 1st grade teachers.

    Did the students actually get “coins”?

    How did the site word activity go? Meaning how was it played. I know they were squirting the site word plates, but did I miss what they did to find the site word to squirt? How did they get coins by shooting the site words?

    I would love to see your lesson plan on the day?

    Did you pair kindergartners and 1st graders together?

    Would you be willing to share?

    • Hi Susan! The students did not get actual coins, I drew that white board with Bowser on it and we wrote down the points each grade earned in the coin circles I drew on it. For the sight words, at first I gave every child a list of sight words to find but that didn’t work. I quickly collected the (now soaking wet) pieces of paper, and told the students what words to find. We did that for about 10 minutes which the kids loved but then I just said, find any word that you can read, read it loud and proud, and then spray it. I should have put the sight word lists in protective sleeves so that they could get wet. Next year I’ll know to do that! However, it was fun, the kids read the words, and had a blast. We wrote down about 100 sight word plates and I was keeping a mental tally of how many words the kids were reading. (Each word sprayed: one point) Each child read about 30-40 words during that round.

      I didn’t have lesson plans for that day. We ran it like field day. We created a rotation so that we would be at the stations at different times.

      We did not pair the students together. We each traveled to the different events separately.

      I hope that helps! :) We had A BLAST!!!!

  3. This has to be the best thing I’ve ever seen! Putting together something kids can really relate to, all while doing academics is totally awesome. You teachers rock for this!

6 Comments

  • What a magical day!!!! I know soooooo much work went into preparing for this and I’m sure your children will remember it forever. So much learning, teamwork and cooperation was happening. I LOVE it!!!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Good Morning!

    I just read your Mario Day post!

    How cool?

    Would you mind sharing a bit more about the “day”?

    I would love to pass this idea on to my kindergarten and 1st grade teachers.

    Did the students actually get “coins”?

    How did the site word activity go? Meaning how was it played. I know they were squirting the site word plates, but did I miss what they did to find the site word to squirt? How did they get coins by shooting the site words?

    I would love to see your lesson plan on the day?

    Did you pair kindergartners and 1st graders together?

    Would you be willing to share?

    • Hi Susan! The students did not get actual coins, I drew that white board with Bowser on it and we wrote down the points each grade earned in the coin circles I drew on it. For the sight words, at first I gave every child a list of sight words to find but that didn’t work. I quickly collected the (now soaking wet) pieces of paper, and told the students what words to find. We did that for about 10 minutes which the kids loved but then I just said, find any word that you can read, read it loud and proud, and then spray it. I should have put the sight word lists in protective sleeves so that they could get wet. Next year I’ll know to do that! However, it was fun, the kids read the words, and had a blast. We wrote down about 100 sight word plates and I was keeping a mental tally of how many words the kids were reading. (Each word sprayed: one point) Each child read about 30-40 words during that round.

      I didn’t have lesson plans for that day. We ran it like field day. We created a rotation so that we would be at the stations at different times.

      We did not pair the students together. We each traveled to the different events separately.

      I hope that helps! :) We had A BLAST!!!!

  • This has to be the best thing I’ve ever seen! Putting together something kids can really relate to, all while doing academics is totally awesome. You teachers rock for this!

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