Wondering what end of school year activities will keep your students engaged?
As the end of the school year approaches, both you and your students are probably feeling excited for summer vacation and ready for a breather…but maybe even a little sad.
What you probably need are some last week of school ideas to provide engaging, fun, and rigorous work for your class.
You can you keep your students engaged even when they know there are only a few weeks left before they (and YOU!) have a glorious break.
I’ve teamed up with these awesome teachers to share our best last week of school activities with you. They’ll help get you all the way through the last day of school!
Here are ideas to make the end of the year fun for all!
Just for Fun End of Year Activities
Sometimes games and activities are what you need to finish the year.
Here are some end of the school year fun activities for middle schoolers.
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.
Scavenger hunts are fun activities for elementary students and older students as well.
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!”
Coloring brain break
Lauralee from Language Arts Classroom offers her students this end of the school year opportunity 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.
End of the School Year Projects
If you have enough time for one more project, do it!
Keeping students engaged in fun, rigorous projects will make sure they’re working right up to the last day of class.
Check out these:
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.
Teach a fun short story
Your students won’t want to stop talking about Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day.”
And it’s the perfect story for an end of the year activity when students are looking forward to summer.
In true Bradbury form, the story includes sci fi, interesting problems, and strong characters that make bad decisions.
Sure to evoke excellent discussion that will stay with students!
You can find the complete print and digital lessons for “All Summer in a Day” right here.
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.
Camp S’More Writing
Caitlin and Jessica from EB Academics suggest hosting “Camp S’More Writing” as an end of the year school 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
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!
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.”
Use task cards
Tammy Manor from Juggling ELA likes using task cards with independent reading as one of her end of the school year activities.
“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.
Reflection and Prep for Next Year’s Class
It’s always great to get your students’ feedback on the past school year.
This can be so helpful in making plans for next year — and understanding what did and didn’t work.
This is always fun for 8th grade end of year activities since in many schools they will be changing buildings. They love to give feedback, but also look back on what they’ve accomplished this year.
Use Year End Reflection Prompts
The end of the year is the ideal time to stop and consider what great and hard work students did this year.
Often students won’t realize how much they have accomplished and how they have grown.
If you’ve used portfolios, writing folders, or reading logs, be sure to allow students to look through them. They really have accomplished a lot this year!
You can use just a simple survey, or these ready-to-use end of the year journal prompts.
Not only will your students have the opportunity for self-reflection, you’ll gain a better understanding of what they learned and how you can improve projects and assignments in upcoming years.
You can find ready to use journal prompts right here.
End of year advice to next year’s class
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!”
Reflecting on what lies ahead
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.”
Preventing Summer Slide
Before sending your students off to weeks away from school, consider how you can challenge and encourage them to continue working on their skills.
A simple reading challenge or set of journal writing tasks can be helpful in keeping their skills sharp.
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.
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!”
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!”
Want more end of the school year activities?
>> Host a scrabble tournament. Students play with a partner. This helps reinforce confidence as students play. Read more about setting up a tournament here. This can be a fun school tradition if multiple grades get in on the fun.
>> 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?
>> Try one of these seven fun writing tasks. Pass back stories are really fun!
>> 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 of these activities?
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 last few weeks of school — before everyone heads off for summer fun.
Kinda makes you wish there were more than just a few weeks left in the school year, doesn’t it?