How do you celebrate the end of the school year? Are you always collecting new ideas?
I’ve tried many different ideas over the last 20+ years, and today I’m sharing some of my favorite and most successful ideas.
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 Sharpies or Fabric Crayons 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 get their shirt back, it will be covered with all their friends’ names. This is a great end of year keepsake! This same technique could also be done with other things, such as fabric bags, cloth wall hangings, inflatable beach balls, or pillow cases. Such a fun bunch of ideas!
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 or 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 channel, or on a password protected teacher blog page. 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 this process 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 in any format the choose to you and the class. It 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’ve worked 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 use Growth Mindset-themed certificates.
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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