Are you ready for the end of school?
Exciting? Sure… just sometimes too exciting! Keeping students engaged and still learning until the last few days can seem like a herculean task — especially if you’re finished with standardized testing.
What can you do to keep your students engaged, fun, and different ways to end the school year? Here are some great ideas to end the year strong!
1. Making Memories
Angela from Fun in 5th Grade keeps her students engaged by having them create memory books.
“This emoji memory book is great for the end of the year,” Angela says. “It’s easy to pull out and work on in between the many activities going on. Students will enjoy completing and then coloring them. They make the perfect keepsake to remember the year!”
2. End of the Year Fiesta
About this time of year, you may be tempted to start ripping down your classroom decorations and bulletin boards. Before you do, read my friend Jacqueline’s post on her blog, The Little Ladybug Shop. She arguing the value of keeping your bulletin boards up until the end of the year as it will actually help with classroom management!
“Having bulletin boards and displayed student work is so essential!” Jacqueline says, “Parents will love seeing their child’s work out! I love showing off fun work that also looks great in my classroom!”
3. Incorporate “Brain Breaks”
Even though your students (and you!) might be dreaming of summer, you can keep your students moving and thinking by using fun activities.
To do this, Paula from Dazzle on a Dime likes to use Brain Breaks as a way to keep students involved right up to the last day. She has her students play the game “whip around.” Paula says, “Brain breaks get students up and moving around while still fully engaged in the learning process, and they are simple to use!”
4. Create a Reading Resource for Next Year
If your students participated in reading challenges, 30 books program, or some other dynamic program that got your kiddos reading, why not capture that energy by having students create reading suggestions for next year’s class?
This can be as simple as students adding to a list that you can hang near your bookshelves next year, or you can have students create a legacy resource book. Students create reviews and awards for their favorite books.
This is a fantastic resource for students next year when they ask, “What should I read next?”
5. Classroom Awards
Even if you have school-wide awards, your students will LOVE having classroom awards. They are so personal — and there’s nothing better than showing your students that you really got to know them this year!
My friend Cassi uses end of the year awards with hysterical memes. “I love to give each child the chance to be recognized for his or her special accomplishments or character traits in a hilarious way,” she says. “I’m sure they will remember these awards forever. The memes make them super fun!”
6. Game Day
Do you have a stash of board games in your classroom closet? The end of the year is a perfect time for games. Get out that bingo game and have a bingo tournament day.
No games? Allow your students to bring in their favorite board game for the day. Rather than having more games than available players, have students schedule what game they’re bringing in and who they’ll be playing with.
If you have more than one day, host a scrabble tournament. You’ll probably need a day to teach students the rules and a few basic strategies, but this is a great activity for the end of the school year! If you make this an annual event, students from prior years can return to help new players.
There are so many other fun games you can play with your class — they can be small group or whole class.
7. Go Beyond Watching Movies
Sure it’s great for students to watch movies at the end of the year…but students will quickly get bored if this is more than a one-time event.
Use movies as an opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned this year! Character analysis, plot development, types of conflict, theme, dialogue, and summarizing skills can all be applied to movie characters and scenes. You can even use book discussion questions to get students digging into a movie.
Your students have worked hard all year! Taking a moment for self-assessment gives them a sense of accomplishment as well as feedback for you. You can use this free student (and teacher!) self assessment tool.
Allowing students to provide you with feedback lets them know that they are heard. It also gives you a bit of perspective on your students point of view of the activities you planned and implemented this year.
9. What Haven’t You Done?
Take a second (you still have a few of those, right?! At the end of the year, they can be rare!!) and think about what you wanted to do at the start of the year. Is there anything you wanted to try but didn’t?
The end of the school year is the perfect time to do a trial run of something you just didn’t get around to. Book talks? Journals? Creative writing? Poetry writing? Mini research projects? This is the perfect time to try and idea you just didn’t get to. It will feel fresh and exciting to your students.
10. Get Crafty
Students love the opportunity to create — whether it’s coloring or constructing.
Since the year end usually includes an abundance of partially used notebooks, an great project is to have students create an upcycled notebook. Super easy and fun — and the sky is the limit for student creativity! Challenge students to USE their new notebooks over the summer to record their thoughts, activities, or the books they read.
Students can also create class memory collages, favorite book cover posters (great for your library next fall!), or custom bookmarks for each other.
No matter what you plan for the end of the year, you can keep students active with meaningful work…all the way up to the last day of school!
Have a great idea to share? Let us know in the comments!