Let’s face it. At the end of the year, your students have high energy and are super excited that school is about to end. And honestly, who can blame them. You are likely ready for the break yourself. So how can you keep these children focused, motivated, and engaged without losing your sanity and without them bouncing off the walls? Check out these 20 different end of the year activities to help!
While you may not want to do all of these activities in one school year, you can pick and choose ones to try. You can also pin this post to return to next year. Some activities may work well with one group and not so well with the next. It’s always about trial and error. Don’t be afraid to put your own little twist on these end of the year activities too!
#1 – End of the Year Countdown
Students love to see how many more days they have left until summer break. Having an end of the year countdown is a great way to help them focus on how many more days they still need to learn. It should (but may not!) keep them from asking you how many more days until break! Your countdown can be something as simple as a number on the board that is changed each day to a paper chain or something even fancier. I’ve also seen teachers attach activities to countdowns. Check out this link with countdown ideas.
#2 – “Adventure of the Day”
As you approach the last few days of school, it’s completely okay to step outside of the routine. In fact, moving away from routine is a fresh way to grab your students’ attention. Consider heading outside to learn or having an “Adventure of the Day” activity. These could be activities such as:
- sitting on your desk for 30 minutes
- switch seats with a friend
- sit on the floor
- have popsicle time
- wear a hat
- sitting outside in the shade
- have an extra recess
- have extra reading time
Just write a few ideas down and draw them from a hat. Let the students know the day before what the next day’s adventure will be. This advance notice helps them prepare and it’s a motivator to not lose the next day’s adventure.
#3 – Create a Number Book
It’s likely you have heard of the ABC book that students make at the end of the year with all the activities they have done throughout the year for each letter. The number book is similar, but instead of letters, it’s well, with numbers. Give prompts with each number such as the ones in the infographic below. You can find the countdown number book in my TpT Store by clicking here.
#4 – Fingerprint Art
Out of all the end of the year activities, this one is one of the best. Students love art. Students love “autographs.” Combine them together and you have this activity! Have students create an image on a piece of paper such as a tree. Then grab some ink pads and have each student ink up one finger. Then have them move around the room and place their “fingerprint autograph” on each person’s paper. After they have left their fingerprint, they should write/sign their name next to it. Continue “scooting” around the room until every student has completed everyone’s art. (Depending on your class, you may wish to have students pass around the art instead of them moving around.)
#5 – Have a Yarn Toss
In a yarn toss activity, the teacher begins by holding a ball of yarn and sharing something. In this case, it would a memory of the school year or something learned. Then the ball is tossed to a student sitting in the circle while the teacher holds on to a string. The student who now has the yarn ball will share, hold on to part of the yarn, and toss it to a student who has not had it yet. This continues until all students have had the yarn. When finished, you end up with a “web” of yarn. While many teachers have used this activity before for other content, I like to use it to share our memories and things we have learned throughout the year. When done, I like to point out that we have become connected just like we have with the yarn. Then I talk about how if we were to toss the yarn ball again, we would probably get a different result. The point is that they may never be connected again in the exact same way as this school year so they should take the time to reflect on this school year and appreciate what they learned and how they grew.
#6 – Book Brackets
At the end of the year is a great time to think about all of the books your students have really enjoyed. Have students create a list of their favorite books and then create a set of competing brackets. (Similar to what you would have in March Reading Month with March Madness basketball). If you have time, consider rereading some of the books to vote each competing book to the number one slot!
#7 – Graphing
Along with determining students’ favorite books from the year, you can find out their other favorite events during the school year and create graphs. This can be done on your whiteboard using post-it notes. Have students write their name on the post-it notes and places it on the whiteboard in the proper location based on their favorites. This engaging activity is a great way to review data analysis, a content skill that is often taught at the end of the year.
#8 – An “Unordinary” Awards Ceremony
Nearly every teacher hands out awards at the end of the year as part of their end of the year activities. They are usually the typically “best listener,” “good friend” type awards. There is definitely nothing wrong with those kinds of awards, but why not switch it up a little with the Unordinary type? What am I talking about? Why not provide awards that will make your students laugh? For example, give the award “Most likely to not be abducted by an alien” or “Most likely to fly to mars.” Giving students the unexpected will be delightful! Check out these End of the Year Silly Awards!
#9 – Give a Sneak Peek
Kids always love when they think they are in on a secret. Tell students that you are going to share a secret with them but they have to keep it on the down low. You are going to give them a sneak peek into what next year is going to look like. Then give them a small little packet of next year’s work. Don’t go too hard with the content, as you wouldn’t want to make them panic and decide they need to stay in their current grade forever. If it’s easy enough, you can send them off on their own to complete independently. Otherwise, consider giving a small mini-lesson. When finished, empower them by expressing how ready they are for the next grade!
#10 – Sneak in Some Small Chunks of Review
Not ready to look at next year yet? Some of your students may be barely hanging on to the current year and I totally get that! Instead, consider reviewing the current year in small chunks. With the students being high energy, you aren’t going to get large periods of focus. Consider reviewing with review calendars, review packets, or review games.
#11 – Let’s Do a Project!
I love working on projects with my students, but they tend to take up a lot of time during the school year and I feel pressured to rush through it to finish other curricula. When students are closing in on the end of the year, they have the looming deadline of school ending which makes them feel rushed, not me. If you aren’t sure which project to have your students work on, consider a choice board. Students love when they are given choices!
I like to vary what projects I do from year to year. What we work on will depend on what my students still need to focus on. Sometimes my students need to work on their writing skills, so we will complete a state research project. Other times we will complete a project-based learning project such as designing a house or creating an ecosystem in science.
#12 – Memories…
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper end of the year activity if we didn’t do something to remember the year in paper form. Memory books, such as my snapshots of the year memory booklet, can be made with a paper bag or construction paper. You could also have your students create their own memory books or foldables using end of the school year writing prompts or reflections. You could also have them create an end of the year accordion, such as the one below.
#13 – Chalk Talk
Speaking of using writing prompts or reflections, you could place one on a piece of chart paper and hang it around the room. After hanging several different prompts, reflections, or sentence starters around the room on chart paper, have students move around with their own markers and respond. If you’d rather, you can keep a different chart paper at each group of students and have them move from group to group.
#14 – Theme Days
Students love theme days. You can choose to multiple theme days or just one. It’s completely up to you. One year I brought in a few mini pop-up tents and set them up in my classroom. We pushed all the desks off to the side and hung out in tents all day. (We did not zip the tent doors closed.) We had a pretend fire made out of butcher paper and everything. Get creative. You can find all kinds of resources related to various themes such as beach day, camping adventures, and so much more on Teachers Pay Teachers.
#15 – End of the Year Bingo
Provide students with a bingo board that explores students’ summer plans. This is an engaging activity that gets students up and moving around the room and talking to other students. It also gives you an idea of whether a summer packet or reading program is likely to be completed over the summer. You can grab a FREE End of the Year Bingo sheet at the end of this post.
#16 – Encouragement Notes
I’m huge on self-esteem and lifting students up. Especially right now when it seems bullying is at its highest. Why not have students write encouragement notes to one another for next year. You can assign each student another person in class (to ensure each person receives a note) or let them pick. You could also have them draw names from a hat. You could also write an encouragement note to each student yourself. Students love reading these and they are incredibly helpful when the next school year starts and students are feeling nervous.
#17 – End of the Year Writing and Reflections
To continue practicing their writing skills, have students reflect and write about the school year. Each day you could post a sentence starter on a bulletin board or write it on your whiteboard for students to complete. Another option is to place cards in a center or provide them with end of the year writing prompts on a sheet such as the ones shown below. Having students think back on the year is helpful and beneficial to them.
#18 – Welcome Brochure
Most teachers like to have an advice letter of some sort for students who are coming in the following year. Instead of having your students write it in letter form, why not have them create a brochure. Each panel could be something regarding what to expect. For instance, students could include information about the teacher, things they’ll learn, things they’ll do, your top rules/pet peeves, advice, what to expect, how to be successful, etc. Then when the school year begins, you can set the brochures out during open house or meet the teacher night.
#19 – Graduation Letters – A Time Capsule of Encouragement & Love
Have students write themselves a letter for the day they graduate high school. Place the letter in an envelope, seal it and write on the outside “Do not purge. Please give it to the student on graduation day.” Then place the letter in the student’s administrative file. This file follows the student from school to school. If you desire, you can place your own letter inside the envelope too before sealing it. If you’re able, consider having teachers from other grade levels add a short encouragement note inside each year too. On graduation day, this will be a huge moment for this student!
#20 – Book Commercial
I always want my students to become avid readers. One way that I do this is by having my students at the end of the year create book commercials. Students choose one book they have read (and loved!) and want to recommend it for next year’s incoming class. They then create a 2-minute video and “advertise” it. We discuss not giving away everything and how to make it enticing. This is similar to my book trailer idea, but the students are on the video themselves.
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There you have it! My twenty end of the year activities to help you end the school year right! I could probably list several more, but these are to help you get started!
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