Glow Day was literally the peak of my teacher career. For the seven years I was in the classroom (currently on a hiatus at home with my youngest) I've done Glow Day twice, and it was the most magical day I've ever had. No lie, I had a kid cry and tell me it was the best day of his life. *cue happy teacher tears*
The concept is simple - but can be altered to be as "extra" as you want to. In this blog post, I'm going to run down some of my favorite products, tips, and tricks to help you and your students have the best Glow Day ever.
Let's start with the basics - why would we want to do Glow Day anyways?! In my experience, Glow Day works best for review days... especially to break up the monotony of prepping for state standardized testing. I make an entire day out of it... all subject areas can be modified to "glow."
First and foremost - supplies are key. There's only two things you truly need for an epic experience: black lights and yellow highlighters. That's it. I've linked these and some other amazing extras in my Amazon storefront for easy shopping. I recommend at least 3-4 black lights for a medium/small room otherwise you won't get the true black light effect. Test this a couple weeks in advance and make sure you have enough!
I personally feel like the neon tape for Tic-Tac-Glow and the neon balloons for a really cool decoration effect were worth the money for me. My students also LOVED the glow sticks, and this was a great way to motivate them to work hard because I handed them out to groups that were on task and following expectations.
Next - pick a day and build the anticipation. I hand out Glow Day tickets (found in my fourth grade Glow Day resource) a couple of days beforehand to get them excited. I usually try to do Glow Day on a Monday so I have Sunday to prep and setup (it works better for me to do it that way than stay after school - totally your preference and you can set it up so it requires very little prep and still has maximum cool factor!)
I always go over expectations the day before and tell them it's going to be super cool but is also going to require them to exercise some self-control. I remind them that it's ultimately a fun way for us to review some material. The best part about Glow Day? IT TAKES ONE FLIP OF A SWITCH TO GET THEIR ATTENTION. When you flip the lights on if they get too crazy, the black light glow is gone and you immediately have their attention. It's perfect and they can almost always calm themselves back down quickly to get the lights turned back off.
Now you're probably wondering what the best way to run Glow Day is? I keep fairly close to the same schedule with my subjects. I find an activity for each subject area that works well. It doesn't have to be anything special - the black lights and glow sticks will take care of that. I typically use game stations to make it even more fun: students stay with one small group of kids all day and play the games before taking a turn (answering a question). This works especially good in math. The biggest thing is making sure they know every student answers every question to keep everyone accountable and on task so they are less likely to goof off.
Here's an example of how that might look during game stations:
1. Students A, B, and C have their recording sheets and yellow highlighters to show their work (these glow really well under the black lights!)
2. Student A draws a task card. EVERYONE works to solve it individually, and they check it together, using accountable talk if they have differing answers. After they agree on an answer and it's written on everyone's recording sheets, Student A tosses their ring (or throws their bowling ball, takes their turn in tic-tac-toe, etc).
3. Repeat step 2 with Student B, C, or so on. You could also modify this to fit your class. If you have longer word problems, maybe you have them solve just one problem and then they each get to take a turn before you begin the next one. It's totally up to you! The biggest takeaway is that every student solves every problem so there's no time for horseplay.
Some games that work well for students to take turns while answering questions:
- Tic-Tac-Glow: Use neon reactive tape on the floor and colored glow sticks as markers. I usually set up a few of these stations. You can also just have them use highlighters and paper for this to cut down on the set up time.
- Glow Bowling: Set up a line on the floor using the neon reactive tape so there's a clear starting point.
- Ring Toss: Orange cones and some glow stick bracelets work perfect for this!
- ANY board game: Any game where you need to take turns works well! If you have some extra prep time, painting Jenga pieces with neon paint could be fun! Also, Connect Four makes a really cool glow-in-the-dark board.
Here's some examples of activities I have used in my classroom for each subject:
Math: Task cards, stacking multiplication equations on neon cups to build a tower, a simple worksheet, test prep questions while taking turns at a game, the list goes on! The kids love solving their equations and showing their work with the glowing highlighters.
Reading: Copy passages on white or neon paper and have students read them together and answer questions. Reading with finger flashlights makes it even more fun (and they can be reused for other times - like spooky Halloween reading or Flashlight Friday!) I love to try to incorporate articles that relate to our Glow Day: bioluminescence is wonderful for this!
Writing: Editing paragraphs in highlighter works well. You can also have students practice writing complete sentences, highlighting parts of speech, etc. The possibilities are endless!
Social Studies/Science: Again, nonfiction articles on bioluminescence are amazing for engaging students. It really depends on what unit you are in or what you need to review as it can be hard to incorporate these activities on Glow Day. I promise though, even a simple activity you would do on a normal day will be 10x cooler just because it's Glow Day!
One more thing worth mentioning is that the cool factor of the highlighter glowing underneath the black light is enough for kids to go crazy and doodle on EVERYTHING (even themselves). Keeping baby wipes handy to make them wipe themselves off can discourage this, but make sure to set the expectation beforehand if you don't want them drawing all over themselves. The best tip I have figured out is also to offer a doodle page as morning work that day... it lets them get to enjoy the glowing doodles and get it out of their system before the real learning takes place.
If you are a fourth grade teacher looking for a low prep way to make Glow Day the BEST, check out my resource on TeachersPayTeachers. (Not fourth grade? Stay tuned and make sure you are following me, I'm coming up with an editable packet in the near future!)
I love hearing how it has helped teachers save hours of prep time and how much they loved it in their classrooms. I still have students years later whose parents tell me that they still talk about Glow Day and it will always be a fond memory of mine!
Let me know if you have any more questions and I'd be happy to answer! Pin or share this blog post to help other teachers out who are also curious about making Glow Day the best day of their careers!