Image Map

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hopes and Dreams - A new school year MUST!

One of my favorite beginning of the year activities is having my students declare what their biggest Hopes and Dreams for the school year are. It is also something that we revisit throughout the year, and provides a beautiful sense of closure at the end of the year, too. It sets the stage for rule creation (stay tuned for a post about how I do rule creation in the very near future!) and for goal setting, and is a huge motivator.

Hopes and Dreams is a key Responsive Classroom First Six Weeks of School routine, and it’s recommended to begin the process on the third day of school.

I like to start by reading a classic that is perfect for primary grades, Leo the Late Bloomer. This gives a perfect example of a young tiger who has hopes and dreams of accomplishing things like reading, writing, drawing, and speaking.

After reading, we discuss the book and I make sure to use the terms “hopes” and “dreams” when talking and asking about what Leo wanted to learn. (ie- "What did Leo hope to learn how to do?" "Why was that a dream of his?")

Next, we practice the routine of “Turn and Talk” (it’s still very early in the year, we are practicing new routines left and right!), and students talk to a partner about some hopes and dreams they have for their own learning this year.

Since I taught 2nd grade and will be moving to 1st this year, I usually stop there for the first day because of short attention spans. ;)

On the next day of Hopes and Dreams work, I pull out Leo the Late Bloomer again and have students recall what Leo’s hopes and dreams were with another Turn and Talk. Then we compile a student-generated list of hopes and dreams they have for themselves. This can be a lot of ideas, and can be a long list, but make sure to guide kids to be specific! Specific goals are better than general/broad goals. Example: “I hope to learn how to write numbers to 200.” instead of “I hope to be good at math.”

On the third day of Hopes and Dreams, I re-read the list and do a think-aloud of choosing a Hope and Dream for myself. Then I have students brainstorm their number one goal. I do a lot of guidance during this part one-on-one to make sure they are choosing attainable goals, and that their goals are academic goals. They might have a personal goal of being able to swing across the monkey bars, but that isn't something they will be working on in class with me. Then we begin working on some type of visual representation of our hopes and dreams.

First, we write our hopes in our writing journals, then I type them up. I give them their paper with their typed hope, and then they draw a picture to illustrate it. We put all of the pages together and bind them into a book! The kids LOVE this book. Last year, I saw kids read this book almost every single day throughout the entire year. Make sure you laminate the pages first if you go this route- it needs to hold up to lots of wear and tear!

You don’t have to make a book, of course. I’ve also made cutesy bulletin boards for Hopes and Dreams in the past, I just prefer making a book because the kids can read and interact with it a lot more when they can hold it in their hands. =) It just feels a little more accessible.

We read our published Hopes and Dreams book (our first class book, hooray!) as a read aloud, and begin our work toward accomplishing our goals. =)

This is a fabulous, engaging, and authentic activity to really get students back in the school mindset and prepare them for another year of learning!

**Bonus activity idea!!!**
I mentioned in the opening blurb that this is a great activity for the end of the year as well... let me explain how I use these Hopes and Dreams on the last day of school.

On the last day, we read through our book one last time together as a read aloud, and after reading each page, we talk about how each student has accomplished their hopes and dreams. If a child had a goal that wasn't quite met (which is very rare since I give guidance on choosing appropriate goals in the beginning), I just don't mention that fact, I mention how hard they worked on their goal and how much their brain grew. The class applauds each student after their page has been read and commented on.

Then we dismantle the book, and each student gets to take their page home. Depending on time (we all know how crazy the last day of school can be...) and age of the kids, I would also have students write a short reflection on their hopes and dreams, and how they were able to reach their goals.

Doing this provides a great sense of closure for the kiddos, as revisiting their hopes and dreams brings them full circle from where they started to where they are ending the year.


  1. Thanks for sharing!!! I am going to revise my Hopes & Dreams lesson sequence now! @Youngskinders

  2. I think I need to read Leo the late bloomer!