Need engaging, fun, and rigorous end of school year activities?
I’ve teamed up with these awesome teachers to share our best lessons that will help you all the way through the last day of school!
The end of the school year can be stressful — how can you keep your students engaged when they know there are only a few weeks left before they (and YOU!) have a glorious break?
Here are ideas to make the end of the year fun for all!
Have a Scavenger Hunt
At the end of the school year, one of the best things to do is…
get your students moving!
It’s easy to do:
- Create a list of items you want students to find — they can be in or out of the classroom.
- Provide students with the list.
- Set a time limit.
The time limit is important to keep the game exciting, and you’ll want to create your own answer key so you’ll be able to check students’ answers quickly.
Here’s a ready to use one for you:
Try this fun, ELA inspired scavenger hunt.
You provide the list, and your students can work in any order to find the items. Allow them to work with a partner and set the clock.
This version has both print and digital options — so it’ll work with any class format.
Design a Food Truck Book Project
What a fun alternative to a traditional book report.
Students will design a food truck inspired by a character from a book they’ve read. They won’t even realize they’re using text evidence and descriptive writing skills.
You can find the Food Truck Book Project here.
End of year advice
Jacqueline from The Little Ladybug Shop loves giving students the opportunity to reflect and share.
She says, “I love having students create brochures for next year’s class. This activity encourages students to reflect on their school year by giving tips and advice to future students. Students take pride by being the expert and sharing their adventures with the teacher and the grade level.
“Teachers love having these brochures at the beginning of the school year for the new incoming students to read!”
Camp S’More Writing
Caitlin and Jessica from EB Academics suggest hosting “Camp S’More Writing” as an end of the year activity to keep your students engaged.
Caitlin says, “Today, we’re letting you in on the absolute best activity to do in the final days of the school year. We’ve created a surefire way to get our students excited about coming to class, eager to work, and challenged with rigorous learning opportunities up until that final day, and it’s ALL related to reading and writing. Yes, you read that right!”
Find out more about their camp in this post:
Engaging End of the Year Classroom Transformation Activities
Michele Luck from Michele Luck’s Social Studies says,
“Teaching in springtime doesn’t have to be sitting in the classroom watching the clock tick by to the end of the year. I love the sun and the warmer temps, so I found ways to justify teaching outside every opportunity I could find from April until the last day of school. This post includes my ideas that can help you take in Vitamin D as you teach!”
Create a summer bucket list
This is a great activity for both students and teachers!
I love giving my students a chance to think (and dream!) about what their summer will be like. This activity goes well with goal setting and planning for summer reading.
I like to start with a brainstorming session and then narrow down the list.
Letters of recommendation made easy
If you receive requests for letters of recommendation from students, Monica from How to Win Scholarships has some tips to make this process easier.
“For upper-level teachers, writing letters of recommendation for scholarships and college applications can be time-consuming and frustrating,” Monica says, “especially if you don’t know many personal details about a student. “
Monica recommends this tip: “To help your students make the process easier for you, have them read and utilize these 6 hardcore hacks for a great letter of recommendation.”
Preventing summer slide
Sharon from Classroom in the Middle says, “My summer Practice Packet is one that I would use for review over the summer break – nothing too strenuous, but enough for students to stay in practice with their reading and writing skills.
“The reading part of the packet includes six one-page lessons plus a novel-response activity for use with any novel. The writing part includes ten lessons that each include a skills review and a short writing activity. It should be just enough to fend off the dreaded summer slide and let you and your students get on with the fun parts of summer!”
Engaging students with music
Melissa from Reading and Writing Haven says, “If there’s one thing that never fails to engage students, it’s music.”
Teaching with music has brain benefits. Plus, it often gets students out of their seats and moving!
Melissa has these tips:
“At the end of the year, try tying music to writing standards to practice reflection.
“So often, we talk about themes in literature, but students should recognize certain time periods in our lives have themes as well. Try this playlist of my school year writing activity with middle or high school students to initiate reflective conversations and to examine students’ growth as writers. For the ultimate music experience, listen to popular tunes as students brainstorm, write, and discuss.
“The best part? Students love the assignment, it provides a fun and accessible way to incorporate writing, and grading is quick.”
You can snag her lesson plan for this activity here!
Give a gift!
Lisa from Mrs. Spangler in the Middle says, “The last two days of school are when I like to reflect & celebrate with my students.
“These emoji bookmarks not only give the students a way to be creative and get a “gift” from me but since they are bookmarks, I am hoping that they also encourage the students to read over the summer!”
Plan a vacation – PBL
Marcy from Marcy’s Mayhem has her students plan for their summer vacation with her project based learning lesson.
“Learning to budget money is important for students to understand,” she says. “Teach your class about budgeting by planning a vacation with this real-life scenario math project.
“You can begin the project by handing your students a check for the amount they may spend on their vacation. Then students will brainstorm a list of places they would like to go. Then they will pick a location, and write about why they want to visit. Student’s will need to use computers to research flight costs, car rental, lodging, entertainment nearby, and restaurants they will eat.
“The class will present their vacation at the end of the project. Included are rubrics for the teacher to grade their project easily. The students will even rate their group members for participation.”
Coloring brain break
Lauralee from Language Arts Classroom offers her students the opportunity for students to take a break from year-end stress with this creative activity.
“As students close out the year, send them off thinking positively about grammar,” Lauralee suggests. “Students enjoy coloring, and coloring provides brain-breaks during a difficult time of the school year. This is perfect for stations or fast-finishers, review with students common grammar concepts while coloring.”
You can find Lauralee’s grammar coloring pages here.
Host the Olympics
David Rickert from David Rickert shares this idea that can be adapted for any grade level.
“At the end of the year I need something to keep the seniors engaged. I usually don’t want to watch a movie. I came up with these goofy Olympic events to create a multi-day challenge that gets them through the end of the year.”
Just taking a look at the photos in this post will give you tons of ideas for how you can adjust this for your grade level and students!
You can read more about how he does this in this post.
Use task cards
Tammy Manor from Juggling ELA likes using task cards with independent reading at the end of the year.
“All school year students have been reading texts that were assigned to them,” she says. “For their last reading assignment, allow students to select something to read that they’re interested in.”
Tammy recommends that you take students to the library or they use books from your classroom.
Once students choose their book, they can use these task cards with any fiction book, non-fiction book or poem. Students will write responses to the prompts on the task cards. The writing prompts can be used with any book. There are 140 task cards for a total of 67 pages. You can have students use the cards individually or in a group. There is also a rubric that will make grading easier.
A bundle of freebies
Kim, from OCBeachTeacher , has a free resource that offers a wide array of activities that can be used for high school or (with some adjustments) middle school students.
Kim says that these activities will, “Keep high school students focused.”
Her free resource includes a formative assessment, alumni interview, and real-world discussion activity.
“Use the self-reflective survey to get students thinking critically about their futures,” Kim recommends. “Additionally, this encourages students to write and discuss situations requiring problem-solving. The prompts can be used as bell ringers or task cards, or for learning stations and cooperative learning. These activities are perfect for engaging students and teachers with ‘senior slump’ during the last days of the school year.”
Creative writing with blackout poetry
I love blackout poetry for so many reasons! All students can feel creative and successful with this activity — plus, your students will love the opportunity to illustrate their poems in novel ways (no pun intended…really!).
You can find step-by-step instructions for blackout poetry here. And you can find a Pinterest board full of inspiration here!
I show you how to teach blackout poetry in the video below.
Want more ideas:
>> Host a scrabble tournament. Students play with a partner. This helps reinforce confidence as students play. Read more about setting up a tournament here.
>> Create life-sized characters from one of the novels you’ve read. Have students brainstorm lists of characters you’ve read about. Write them on slips of paper for student groups to choose. Then give each group a big ol’ piece of butcher paper, markers, and a copy of the book. Ask students to choose quotes about the character to write around the life-sized drawing.
>> Play charades. Once you’ve generated a list of characters, use them for a game of charades. Or, ask students to create questions for a trivia game.
>> Host “Shark Tank” I love this show. Not only for the innovative ideas, but also how people “sell” their innovations.
Have your students invent something and then sell it to the class. Can they convince classmates to “bite”? If you’re feeling ambitious, you can provide students with random amounts of investment money. And…success/failure cards. Were their investments worthwhile or not?
>> Make Bloom Balls — which are an absolute hoot! You can download a free pattern and directions here. These can be used as alternatives to book reports, but you can also use them for a mini research project or passion project.
The best part?
None of these activities require heavy lifting or grading.
By keeping things simple and student driven, you’ll take the pressure off planning and let your students have some fun applying what they’ve learned this year.
Don’t forget to celebrate what your students have accomplished this year!
If they’ve participated in a reading challenge, completed awesome writing tasks, written poetry, or just made it through a challenging year — plan a celebration.
It can be a Scrabble Tournament or other game day, or an outdoor picnic. Anything your students would like to celebrate their accomplishments.
I hope you’re feeling inspired by these great ideas to help navigate the end of school.
Kinda makes you wish there were more than just a few weeks left in the school year, doesn’t it?