Fast and Easy Tips for Glow Day on a Budget

Have you been hearing all the buzz about having a Glow in the Dark Day or Neon Day as a special end of year classroom activity....but aren't quite sure you have the time or budget to really pull it off? 

Well, as an #endofyeartired teacher who's known as a bargain shopper...I'm here to help you prep for a classroom transformation your 1st graders will never forget! 

*Note this post contains Amazon Affiliate links to make your shopping even easier.

The Logistics

My grade level hosts a different themed day the last 10 days of school, and while it is SO MUCH FUN, it is also exhausting! Here are some things I've learned after hosting a few Glow Days that make this day so much easier and manageable. 

On Glow Day or Neon Day we ask all students to wear white or bright colored clothing, and of course we join them! A craft store can be a great place to get a neon shirt for just a few dollars. Side note, our pink and white clothing glowed much brighter than the orange or green. We also stock up on glow sticks for them to wear just for fun.

We decided to set up in our hallway so we could all fit in one space and not have to worry about covering up the wall of windows in our classrooms. We used black bulletin board paper to cover up the windows so the light wouldn't shine in, but you could also tape up thick black garbage bags or fold a Dollar Tree black tablecloth in half to darken the space.

We bought a few different types of blacklight bulbs, invisible ink pens, and blacklight flashlights. We then borrowed lamps from teachers around the school to spread out in the hallway and just swapped out the bulbs for the day. The flashlights and pens worked great when kids were a little too far from the lamps and allowed us to spread out a bit more. Plus, the kids loved them so much I actually kept using them regularly to spice up word work stations going forward!

glow day materials

I tried to reuse as many materials that I could find around the classroom to cut down on my shopping list like neon index cards, colored paper, neon pencils, bright pipe cleaners and Wikki Stix, and of course highlighters. I did buy neon tape and fingerpaint to use with a few activities. 

We then spent the day rotating through a bunch of activities with a mix of reading, writing, math, and some just for fun while each teacher monitored a part of the hallway. The kids loved mingling with the other classes and all had a blast!


I am a believer that there are always ways to sneak in some fun while learning, so hosting a special themed day is no different for me! 

Highlight & Record Spelling Patterns

Highlight and Record pages are always a class favorite because my kids are obsessed with using markers and highlighters. Add a blacklight and the fun doubles! We just printed (on white paper) a variety of spelling patterns that we knew our kids were working on decoding and had students search for the targeted sound, circle it in highlighter, and record at the bottom of the page. Then they practiced reading the sentences with their partner for fluency. 

Wikki Stix Sight Words

We wrote a few different words on a piece of paper, stuck it to the wall, and had kids use wikki stix to build each letter in the word. This could be modified for kids to practice letters, their names, or any sight words. I laminated some paper with giant lines to use as mats, and again, actually kept reusing them the next year during stations. 

Sticky Note Reading

I found these really neat transparent neon sticky notes that come in different sizes. As one of the activities, students can look through books to find whatever you want and mark it with the sticky note. You can have kids search for examples of characters, setting, cause & effect, punctuation, spelling patterns, anything! 

Invisible Ink Stories

Nothing is more magical than watching invisible ink suddenly appear! We used these fun little invisible ink pens to have students write a story. They come with a built in mini blacklight that they can shine on their work to watch it appear when they were done. 

Napkin Book Writing

If you've been here awhile you know that I am obsessed with turning regular decorative napkins into mini books. I found cute paint splatter napkins at Hobby Lobby and stapled blank paper inside. At the end of rotations my kids wrote about their favorite Neon Glow Day activity and why they loved it.

Blacklight Reading

I set out a basket of books, floor cushions, and mini blacklight flashlights for kids to read with. They liked being able to read the books in the dark with their friends and this was a great backup station to help with managing multiple classes at once. 


Number Line Sequencing

I can't believe how simple this one was to make and how it actually became one of the favorite glow in the dark activities! When I do this again I will actually set up a few different lines to help with crowd control :) 

I cut neon sticky notes in half and wrote numbers 1-50 on them with a black marker. Modify to use any numbers that your kids are ready for. I laid a line of neon tape on the hallway floor and just put the numbers in a little box. Students took the number cards out and sequenced them on the number line. They actually worked really well together to put all of the cards in the correct order! 

Greater Than Less Than

Here's another neon index card glow day center for the win! Simply cut neon pipe cleaners into small pieces and fold into the shape of a greater than and less than sign. I wrote sets of numbers on the cards with a space in the middle for students to put the < or > depending on the inequality. To add accountability, our kids traveled from station to station with a piece of blank paper, a clipboard, and a neon pencil to record their answers.


We also used the leftover pipe cleaners to make shapes. I put a bunch of pipe cleaners in a box and had students compose any 2D shapes they remembered from our geometry unit. Some students really got into it and even tried building 3D shapes!

Addition and Subtraction

I tried to go three for three with the neon index cards but this one honestly wasn't quite as exciting in comparison and will need to be reworked for the next Glow Day transformation. I tried to create a matching centers with equations on some cards and answers on others. After they solved the problem using addition or subtraction, they were supposed to find the card with the match. It certainly did it's job as a station but I know I can do better!

Just For Fun

Let's be's the end of the year and now that testing is over we just need a little extra excitement! We created a few activities that had no other purpose than being fun, and that's okay!

Paper Chain Decoration

We went a little old school with our decorations and created a paper chain with leftover neon paper. The kids helped cut strips of paper and attach them together. We hung the giant paper chain down the hallway to make it look nice.


We used our schools die-cut machine to cut out a bunch of Xs and Os on neon paper and then laminated them for durability. We created tic-tac-toe boards on the hallway floor using leftover neon tape from our number lines. The kids loved playing with a partner!

Neon Finger Painting

Since we all know painting can be a risk...I moved this station into my classroom so we had a bit more light and space and just called a few kids in at a time. I found super cute paint splatter table cloths in the party section at Hobby Lobby and covered my table before unleashing my kiddos! I allowed for free painting but of course you could have them create whatever you wanted. Teacher tip- make sure you have a bunch of baby wipes ready to go as they finish their work for their messy hands! Once they were done painting they got to bring their work through the hallway to watch it glow before setting it in their own classrooms to dry. So fun!

Highlighter Self Portraits

Pass out a few highlighters and blacklight flashlights and call this station complete! My kids used plain white paper to draw a self portrait as almost 2nd graders and they turned out so cute. They loved seeing the highlighter glow in the dark and showing their work to classmates.

Ready for a Glow Day Transformation?

If you're in a hurry you can head on over to my Amazon Storefront where I have a shopping list full of our necessities and favorite tools for making a Glow Day or Neon Transformation a success! I hope you have a fabulous time and realize how many materials you already have at your fingertips. Once you see how much fun your kids have while learning, I'm convinced you'll want to incorporate some of these tools and activities into your regular lesson plans! 

No comments

Post a Comment