As the school year is winding down, do your students seem to be more wound up each day? They are excited to begin summer, but you don’t want them to check out on you too soon. Use just a few of these ideas to make those last weeks of school the best weeks of the year – for both you and your students!
Teachers the world over know it’s a tough time. We are all a bit worn out and frazzled (just a bit!). I have always loved this meme, and it is so true!
Adding to the stress are end of year tests! Student are both looking forward to summer break, and at the same time dreading those tests. My daughter is one of them – every day its a roller coaster between “I cant wait for break!” and “I am so nervous about the End of Grade test!”
Take all of those emotions times 25+ kids in the same room doing the same things they have done all year – and you have the recipe for a real hot mess!
I am blessed to be part of a great group of teachers at my school. We recently got together to discuss the end of the year.and to see how we could help our students cope with their extra excitement and anxiety. Together we came up with ideas for adding some sparkle, pizzazz, and fun into those last few weeks.
Some ideas just change things up enough to make the old seem a bit more new. Other ideas may take you out of your comfort zone! But each one is designed to ease some of that end-of-year tension, and hopefully make the last few weeks so fun, your kids (and their teacher!) will be excited to come to school every day until the very end!
24 Ways to Put Some Sparkle, Pizzazz, and Fun in the Last Weeks of School
- Write a personalized note to each student include what about them has inspired you and/or what you believe their “superpower” is. Or write one letter to the whole class and read it aloud, letting each one know why you believe they are special, and/or talk about the fun memories you made throughout the year.
- Hidden Treasure! Each day, give your students a clue about the hidden treasure that your class will find on the last day of school (once they have all the clues!) You can give clues about what the treasure is, about its location, and/or how to get the box open (combination locks?)
- Have a Balloon Pop countdown! Have a string of balloons, one for each day left until summer. Pop a balloon each day to count down to the end of the year! Consider putting a riddle inside each balloon, or an announcement about a fun activity for the day, or the tile of today’s Theme Song! Combine this idea with number 2 and put the clue into the countdown balloons!
- Have groups teach certain components of the class using cartoon pictures, or pretending to be characters on TV shows or movies. How would Harry Potter review math facts? How would Cinderella teach the parts of the flower?
- Take class outside as a new spin on a normal part of the day (during reading time, or for lunch, etc)
- Use sidewalk chalk to review lessons/units in pictures only. This works great for practicing math problems!
- Have an Easter Egg Hunt with questions inside plastic eggs. Put students in teams, each team collects only their color egg and answers the questions in their eggs.
- Create an online photo book that students and parents can access. You can take the photos or allow students to take them! Make it really fun with a photo booth, and/or props, or signs that the students create themselves.
- Memory Wall – lay out a large piece of bulletin board paper and have students write or draw memories from the year. Prepare a list before hand to offer ideas in case they get stuck. “Draw a picture of the field trip we took, or when the guest speaker came, or when we made that project or did that experiment”. If this seems too chaotic, have students draw on their own paper and then arrange the drawings on the wall. Consider saving this as conversation starter for next year’s class – to see what they have to look forward to!
- Schedule opportunities for older students to share cumulative projects or activities with younger classes. Or invite the grade below you to come shadow one of your students for a bit, to see what it will be like next year!
- Celebrate and share with parents some of the wonderful, exciting, and/or incredible things their children have done or are doing. Have them visit your class to show off student work, or have students design a play or select songs to sing to parents.
- Have a game day, competing with another class – inside or outside activities. Each class chooses (or designs) half of the day’s activities.
- Talent Show – Over the last weeks of school, give students time each day to work on a talent show act. Encourage them to work together – sing a song, dance to your favorite music, recite a poem, act out a scene from your favorite movie, tell your favorite jokes! On show day, invite another class to come watch!
- Have a Communication Challenge Day where students have to communicate in different ways throughout the day. For example, for an hour students must talk to each other using only written words (use dry erase markers individual whiteboards or a piece of copy paper inside a page protector) The next hour they have to sing everything they say, and then speak in a whisper, or talk like a baby, etc.
- Each week, or day, choose a different song to play as students come into class and leave. “Celebrate”, “We Are The Champions”, “What A Wonderful World”, “Stand By Me”, “Imagine”, “Don’t Stop Believing”, “”Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, “Hero”, and many, many more.
- Have a STEM day! Collaborate with other teachers, have different challenge in each room and classes rotate through the rooms as the day goes on.
- Bring a Friend to Class! (Stuffed animal, small toy, small pet!). If it is possible, consider allowing students to bring the friend on test day to ease some anxiety.
- Have students paint rocks or small signs with inspiring messages and place them around the school campus or community.
- Backwards Day – do your whole schedule backwards. Start the day by saying ‘goodbye’ to each student as they come in, and end with ‘hello!’ Consider having kids wear their shirts backwards for extra fun!
- Minute to Win It – Take a few minutes at the end of each day, or right after lunch, and play a Minute to Win It game. They are a super fun, low prep way to get some energy out!
- Have a T-Shirt Day where everyone brings a T-shirt and students sign with an adjective or adverb about that student. If cost is an issue, reach out to the community and ask for donations, or for a local business to sponsor the shirts. You will be surprised how willing your community is to help! Often we do not have because we do not ask (specifically, directly, intentionally).
- Everyone getting ready for End of Year Testing? Adopt a class that is testing! Have your students write the other class encouraging notes to read before their test. Maybe your kids can bring snacks or put together an ice cream party to celebrate when their test is over. Maybe that class can return the favor when your students are testing!
- Have Theme Days – design the whole day around a particular theme (beach, pirates, Disney, jungle, underwater, space, bugs, the farm, Christmas!, the color Yellow), have students even dress up or bring in props. Consider having a different theme each Friday until the end of year year, or a different theme each day for the last week of school.
- Try some brand new Tech Tools! Never used Google Forms? Try it now! Never used Flip Grid? Try it now! Never tried Kahoot, Quizizz, Quizlet Live, Padlet, Pear Deck, or DeckToys? Try it now! A bit of ‘new’ will be interesting to your students, and to you. Plus, if you like it, you can spend some time this summer working it into your lessons for next year!