The end of the school year is such an exciting time for both students and teachers. Everyone is anxious for the beginning of summer vacation and perhaps big last day of school celebrations. It can be quite challenging to keep students’ focused. In this post I’m sharing some favorite end of the year activities that will keep your students engaged and keep you going until the end.
Favorite Activities for Each Subject
For each day during the last week or weeks of school have students list their favorite activities for a subject area and then only use those activities that day. For example, on Monday have them list their favorite reading activities or games from the year. Then only use those activities in reading that day and allow students to participate in their favorites. Not only does this activity increase student engagement by giving them choice, but it gives you insight into what activities resonated with students and should be used again next year.
Class Memory Games
Remember When? Game – This game tests young children’s memory of class events while seeing if they can tell the difference between real events and fictitious ones. Before beginning the game, give each student paper cards similar to the ones below:
To play, ask students either a real or fictitious question about the school year beginning each question with the words “Remember when…”. Students then hold up the correct card. For example, “Remember when we tasted different types of apples?” – students would hold up the yes card. “Remember when we flew to Washington, D.C. to see the cherry blossoms?” – students would hold up the no card. After students get the hang of the game, they can take turns asking the questions.
Is That So? Game (version for older students) – This version reviews class memories while testing students’ understanding of the difference between a fact and an opinion. In advance, write different facts and opinions about events from the school year on sentence strips. For example, “We learned how to add to 10.” and “My favorite day was when the fireman visited.”. Then create a T chart with one column labeled Facts and the other Opinions. Have students take turns drawing a sentence strip. Read the sentence, have students discuss with a partner whether they think it is a fact or an opinion, then help the student who drew the sentence place it in the appropriate column of the T chart.
End of the Year Songs
Singing is one of my favorite ways to keep young students engaged! Here are a couple of my favorite songs for the end of the school year:
Farewell Song sung to the tune of “Baa,Baa, Black Sheep”.
This is a fun song that reviews events from the entire school year. You can customize it for your grade level and class events. I use photos from the year as visual clues to help my kinders remember each verse of the song.
You can find additional songs on my End of the School Year Pinterest Board.
Class Letters To and From the Next Grade Level
Coordinate a letter exchange with the teacher or teachers that your students will have next year. This can help ease any anxieties they may have about moving up to the next grade.
Have your students think of questions they have about next school year. Record their questions on chart paper. Then, have them help you write a friendly letter to the students in the next grade level that incorporates their questions. If possible, take students with you to deliver the letter. This gives them a sneak peek of next year’s classroom as well as a chance to meet the teacher.
Once the students in the next grade level respond to your letter, read it to your students to find the answers to their questions.
Individual Student Letters to Next Year’s Class or Lower Grade Level
Another option is to have your students write individual letters to either the class in the grade below them or to next year’s class. If writing to the class in the grade below, coordinate with the teacher and give each of your students a “pen pal” to whom to address their letter. If writing to next year’s class, students can just write a general letter.
Have students write about something they feel the students should know before coming to your grade, something they will learn, something that is really great about your class, etc.
If they wrote to a lower grade, allow them to hand deliver their letters to their “pen pal” if possible. If they wrote to next year’s class, collect the letters and then put them on your incoming students’ desks next year.
End of the Year Bulletin Boards with Writing Prompts & Craftivities
These end of the year bulletin boards not only make adorable decorations for your end of the year celebrations, but they also help students reflect back on the school year. CLICK HERE to read the blog post that has instructions for 9 classroom displays with writing prompts & fun craftivities.
Take the Learning Outside
There’s nothing like fresh air and sunshine to rejuvenate students’ interest in learning! Move your classroom outdoors. Here are some ideas:
- read aloud to students or have students silent read outside
- measure different outdoor objects and record the data
- go on a scavenger hunt
- do an around the room activity outside
- let students paint with water (prior to beginning have them estimate how long they think it will take for the water to disappear or dry)
- practice skip counting by bouncing balls, jumping rope, hopping, etc.
- use magnifying glasses to study an area of the playground and record your observations
- play 4 corners
- use sidewalk chalk to do math problems, draw memories from the school year, practice writing sight words, etc.
Class Book Give-Away
At the end of the year I like to give students the class books and class made projects we have created throughout the year. I have used several different methods of giving the books away throughout the years.
Method 1 – Assign a number to each book. Place a matching set of numbers in a bag. Students draw a number and get to keep the book or project with the same number.
Method 2 – Encourage positive behavior during the last weeks of school by creating a decorated “ticket box”. Each time you see a student exhibiting a positive behavior, give them a “ticket” and have them write their name on it and place it in the box. At the end of the year, count up the number of tickets in the box for each child. The child with the most tickets gets first choice of what book or project they want to keep. Continue in order.
Method 3 – If you don’t have enough books for each child, take apart the books and create a book for each student consisting of only their pages. It gives them a nice keepsake that shows the progress they’ve made throughout the year.
Autograph Books / Yearbooks
Students love collecting autographs from their classmates! Make simple autograph books by having students decorate a cover sheet with their name and the year or grade.
Then have students set an autograph page on their desks. For the next several days, have students visit each desk and sign their names.
Older students can also leave positive comments about each student and/or draw a coordinating picture.
Staple the cover page, autograph pages, and a back page together to form a book.
Another option is to create a yearbook for each student with a cover page, samples of their work from throughout the year, photos, autograph pages, and a letter or poem similar to the one shown below.
End of the Year Student Gifts / Rewards
Show students how much you appreciated having them in your class with memorable gifts. You can choose to give them one at the end of the year, or surprise them with several throughout the last weeks of school.
CLICK HERE to see over 20 ideas for cute, inexpensive student gifts for the end of the year.
This idea was inspired by the TV show Survivor when the final four walk along and pay tribute to each contestant lol. Hang photos from special moments throughout the year along a wall or long hallway (optional: label them with the month of the year). Walk past each photo and remember all the fun times!
End of the Year Books
Here are a few favorite read-alouds for the end of the school year:
Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten
If you have read any of the Miss Bindergarten books with your students, this is a must read!
Last Day Blues (Mrs. Hartwells classroom adventures)
If you read “First Day Jitters” at the beginning of the year then you will want to read this one at the end of the year!
Lizzie and the Last Day of School
This is a great book for all your students that love school and don’t want the year to end.
Last Day, Hooray!
This book deals with all the excitement about the last day of school as well as the end of year clean up duties students have.
When It’s the Last Day Of School
A cute story about James who is bound and determined to be on his best behavior the last day of school so he can get the last gold star sticker of the year.