How do you celebrate the end of the school year? Are you always collecting new ideas?
I’ve tried many different end-of-year ideas over the last 20+ years, and today I’m sharing some of my favorite and most successful ones!
END OF YEAR MEMORY SHIRTS
Students bring an older t-shirt to take part in this activity (I usually grab a few extras at the dollar store for students who forget). Slide some cardboard inside the shirts and ask students to write their name using Sharpie or fabric crayon in the middle. Then, students pass their shirts to the right so their peers can write their name or draw a small picture somewhere on the shirt. When students eventually get their shirt back, it will be covered with all of their friends’ names! This is a great end of year keepsake.
This same technique can also be done with other items such as fabric bags, cloth wall hangings, inflatable beach balls, or pillow cases. Such a fun activity!
BALLOON POP COUNTDOWN
Write a special activity on several post-it notes. Roll the note into a tight cylinder so that the sticky end seals it closed and slip the cylinder into a balloon. Fill the balloon with air and pin it to the wall.
Each morning, students choose which balloon to pop and read the activity that is hiding inside. This is very exciting – students love to anticipate what the special event might be!
Some ideas: pajama day, “music while we work”, extra play time, movie day
CLASS MEMORY QUILTS
Each student gets one piece of colored paper to draw and write about their favorite memory or ideas from the school year. Once completed, pieces are glued together in a grid to make a class quilt. We hang the quilt on the wall or in the hallway to show it off. We also take a photo of the quilt and email it to parents so students can keep it or even print it out for their own copy!
END OF YEAR VIDEO
I used to make an end of year video and burn 23 CD copies. Now, most of my students don’t have CD players, so I’ve switched to posting the video online. It can be uploaded to a private Youtube or SafeShare channel, or on a password-protected teacher blog page (student privacy is a primary concern). Then, just send the link and password to parents through email, and they can watch fun events from the year!
What kind of video? I’ve made simple photo collages with music in the background. I’ve also recorded and compiled short clips of students talking about what they want to be when they grow up (I used iMovie to compile the clips but any movie editing software will do)
The best part about hosting the video online is that they can share the link with grandparents and family friends easily!
TEACH THE TEACHER
This is a NO-PREP activity for the teacher, but still educational and interactive for students! Students get to choose any topic that they are an expert in: a sport, musical instrument, Pokemon, a hobby, or even current events. They will put together a presentation to “teach the teacher”. This means they will present information to you and the class in any format they choose. The format could be a poster, a speech, a slideshow, drawings, or even just taking questions from the group.
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
If possible, spend lots of time outside with various activities. For example, we have a water balloon fight and relays each year on the main field. Usually, several classes participate and usually everyone wants to drench the teachers! Or, go on a scavenger hunt around the field, playground or forest. You can also keep it simple and just take books outside so students can find a quiet place to read in the sunshine.
If you can’t go outside, then stay in and create some fun Memory Books! We use workbooks to reflect on the past year: our funny memories, what we learned, best field trips, letters to our future selves, plans for the summer, teacher report cards, and other fun things. It takes most of the last week or two to complete this book with different topics each day.
GROWTH MINDSET CERTIFICATES
We always work hard to create a Growth Mindset classroom through the year. We have Growth Mindset posters, Growth Mindset Journals, and even Growth Mindset STEM activities. So when it comes to their end of year certificates, it makes sense for us to make them Growth Mindset-themed.
We celebrate students for their accomplishments in problem solving, accepting challenges, being educational risk takers, and being patient. We also celebrate character traits such as being kind, including others, and being a positive role model.
You can see the set we use each year below; it’s editable so I can add my own titles and personal messages!
You can try some of the Memory Book pages for free! Just click the blue button below!
Do you have some end-of-year activities to share with other teachers?
What are your favorites?
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