Every group of students you teach over the years will leave a special place in your heart. The names and faces might fade a little or get mixed up as the years pile up, but there are always some groups, names and faces that will stick with you. We try to make the end of each year special for our students. For some, the end of the year is a joyous occasion, but for others, it’s sad and summer break is not always wonderful for them. Here are some of the ways we end the school year in special ways to create lasting memories.
Write About Your School Year
Writing is done so regularly in our classroom, that we continue to write every day, right up to the very last day of school. To learn more about how we get our students writing, you might want to read the post Challenge Your Students with Writing Activities Every Day.
We mix up writing a bit with fun templates and interesting questions that are specific to the end of the year. Although, we’ve used lots of these activities at the beginning of the year, too. You can find these End of the Year Activities in our store. It includes games and other fun activities to help wrap up your school year. You can try one of the activities for free as well.
Some of the writing activities include making comic strips, writing letters to future students and making keepsakes. We’ve added digital versions for some of the activities when it’s possible.
Do Some General Writing
As mentioned before, our students write every single day. Each day we post a prompt that contains three different prompts. Students choose one to write about. One year, students asked for a set of prompts that we could do during the last month of school. So we wrote a set of End of the Year Writing Prompts. For fun, we also wrote a set of Summer Writing Prompts. The best part of these writing prompts is that they are quick and can be done with paper or digitally.
During the writing, consider putting on some concentration music or soft sound effects like the beach or a forest. There are lots of options on YouTube. Use the Chrome Extension AdBlock. to prevent the ads from popping up and scaring the poop out of everyone while they’re deep in thought. That advice may be based on real-life events. 🙂
Do Some Puzzles
Our students love doing logic puzzles. In fact, we love them too, so we’ve written sets for nearly every holiday. Our End of the Year Logic Puzzles can be used on paper or Google Slides, so they make a good activity once you start putting things away at the end of the year. They also come in a bundle with all the other holiday sets we’ve written.
Play a Game
We created this really simple game one year for our student teacher, but it was so much fun, that we’ve used it again and again.
Basically, it’s a game to see how well your students know you. It comes with a survey that you, the teacher, fills out. Your students fill out the same survey about you and you match your answers to see if they know you.
Pack, Clean and Sort
Our students always help us clean up the classroom at the end of the year. We have a whole list of things we do in this post The End is of the School Year is Coming!
As students clean up their supplies, we always send any unused supplies home. We have a set of permission forms to ask parents and guardians to keep the used supplies in our class bin (where students who need to borrow can borrow). You can find the Reusing Supplies Forms in our Resource Library or we can send you a copy when you join our email list.
As you’re sending work, projects and books home with students, sometimes there are examples of work that you’d like to keep to show future students and exemplars. If you want to keep the work from students, we have a set of Keeping Great Work Permission Forms in our Resource Library. We can send a copy when you join our mailing list. You can also take a photo to use as an example, but it’s always a good idea to get permission for that, too.
Host Some Theme Days
Create your own classroom countdown or count up. Brainstorm different dress-up days for the last week of school with your students. We have a huge list of ideas in our post Build Community With Theme Days for School. These theme days could be school-wide or just for your classroom.
Have students interview each other on video or voice recording about their school year. They can create a list of questions and even create a set for the interviews. We asked families to send in a flash drive so students could take their interviews home.
Some years we have done the interviews at the beginning of the year. They are so much fun to watch during the last week. Students change SO much and they look so young when we look back at the beginning of the year.
Surprise Your Students With a Change in Routine
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to end the school year. While gifts are nice, your students will remember the time you spend with them much longer than a trinket.
One way we surprise our students is by changing up our schedule unexpectedly. For our students that struggle with changes, we prepare them in advance by letting them know there will be a surprise. Sometimes we’ll let them in on the surprise but explain that we want to surprise the rest of the class. In the past, they’ve been able to keep the secret.
One surprise is just going outside to play. The weather is always so much nicer at the end of the year, so going to the playground is a big deal for our students. Since we have so many students in our school, students in grades four and up cannot use the playground during recess and lunch breaks because it’s reserved for the younger students. These kids LOVE to play on the playground and we play different games like Grounders. For more outdoor games, we love the site Push2Play.
Sometimes we’ll take our lunches outside and have a picnic. If we have any students that usually go home for lunch, we’ll tell them about the picnic the day before so they have the option to join in. Occasionally, we’ll bring a box of cold treats to make it more special.
Sometimes we’ll go outside and sit in the shade to read books. If we’re still reading a class novel, we’ll spend a little time reading to students to get the book done before we end the school year.
Take Art Outside
Our school has a large cement tarmac around the school. Sometimes we’ll use sidewalk chalk to decorate the area for younger students. We’ll draw games or other decorations.
Some years, we’ve made sidewalk paint and painted areas of the sidewalk with positive messages. The sidewalk paint is one part water, one part cornstarch and then food colouring to the desired colour. We use the paintbrushes that are destined to be tossed out because they’re in bad shape. Painting the ground will ruin your brushes, so be sure to use old ones that you don’t mind damaging. We keep a small collection of bad brushes for activities like this.
Ninja Note: The sidewalk paint does wash away, but it can stain because of the food colouring. Make sure you paint in areas that get rain and don’t paint porous surfaces like wood.
Put on some music and have some fun dancing. It doesn’t have to be coordinated, in fact, the sillier the better. There are hundreds of dance videos on YouTube. During the last week, we’ll have “dance breaks” where we start dancing with no warning and then end it and just go back to normal and pretend nothing happened.
Take Photos and Make a Slide Show
We love to take photos of students all year long, but we try to take a few special photos during the last weeks of school to remember all the fun. It’s so easy to put the pictures into a slide show. There are tonnes of different programs that can make slide shows.
Make it a class project. Put the photos in a Google Drive folder and share the folder with your students. They can use their Chromebooks to take photos to add to the folder, or they can use Google Slides to make their own slide shows.
We have a conversation about photo sharing. Our students are not allowed to share photos outside of the classroom on any device. It’s a policy with our school board. But, sometimes we’ll ask the permission of parents to share specific photos so everyone in the class can have a copy of the slide show.
This Year is Special Because it was with These Kids
Each group of students is unique. We keep a journal for each year because we like to keep track of the fun stories or ideas that come from each group. We have a very simple Teacher Gratitude Journal in our Resource Library or we can send you a copy when you join our email list.
We keep a scrapbook at home. Each year we add the class photo and staff photo from the school year. Along the side, we list the names of the students and what grades we were teaching. If you do this too, consider taking in the scrapbook pages and have your students write a little note or their name on the page. It’s a really nice keepsake and it’s fun to look at back at the pictures as they stack up (especially if your haircut changes often).
What special things do you do to end the school year? How do you make it special? Tell us about them in the comments below.