As the school year draws to a close, it’s important to plan end-of-year activities that help bring closure to your time together. Talk with your students about what made this year special, recall the good memories, and reflect on all you’ve learned. After all, you’ve all put in a lot of work to get to this point. Have fun with these end-of-year activities and assignments, and let the countdown begin!
Here’s a sweet way to celebrate the end of the year! Make paper ice cream sundaes with a different memory on each scoop. You can have kids draw these themselves or buy a printable version at the link below.
Learn more: True Life I’m a Teacher
Flip is one of our favorite classroom tools, especially when it comes to end-of-year activities. Post topics like “What did you learn this year?” or “Share your favorite memory from the past year.” Kids post their video responses and check out other students’ contributions too.
Give each student a piece of the puzzle and let them get creative! Suggest a theme such as best memory or most important thing I learned or I’ll never forget, etc. Students can write on their puzzle pieces. Once the puzzle is done, you can take a picture and make sure every student gets a copy.
Learn more: Top Teaching Tasks
Songs are like smells—just hearing one can bring back all kinds of memories. Ask students (as a class or individually) to compile a list of songs that relate to the past school year and have them write about why each tune has a place on the list. Celebrate the last day of school by listening to songs from the playlist as you reflect on the year gone by. And while you’re at it, check out 75 Awesome Songs for Your End-of-the-Year Playlist.
Learn more: Reading and Writing Haven
Give each student a brown paper bag, then ask them to decorate the front and add some reflections about the year on the other three panels. Then, each student adds 10 items from the year to their bag, with notes about why each is important. Finish up by having each kid lay out their items on their desk. Have a gallery walk around the room for everyone to see one another’s selections.
Learn more: Runde’s Room
Commencement speeches aren’t only for graduations! Finish out the year by reading or watching other great commencements speeches (the web is full of them). Then challenge students to write—and deliver, if you like—their own speeches for the year they’ve just finished.
Learn more: 2 Peas and a Dog
What a great way to look back over what kids have learned! For each letter of the alphabet, have them write and illustrate something they learned or did throughout the year. Hit the link below to get a free printable template for this project. Learning virtually? Have students create a Google Slideshow instead.
Learn more: Teaching With Jennifer Findley
This is a skill every kid should learn—writing and sending thank-you notes. So why not incorporate it into your lineup of end-of-year activities? Have kids write a note to someone who made their school year special, then seal them in envelopes, address them, and deliver them by hand or mail. And while you’re at it, why not write a thank-you note to your own class?
Learn more: Cult of Pedagogy
Ask your students to sum up their favorite school-year memory (Science fair? Field Day? Creative class presentations?) in one snapshot. Younger kids can draw pictures of the event, while older kids are likely to have a photo on their phone they’d be willing to share. Assemble them on a bulletin board—real-world or digital—with a few words from each student about what made that moment so special.
Learn more: Little Soaring Eagles
Instead of counting down the days until the end, count up the days from the year behind you! Get students counting by having them use a calendar to figure out how many Mondays you’ve had this year, how many Fridays, how many P.E. days, and how many Jell-O-in-the-cafeteria days. Then work together to make a bar graph and hang it on the wall.
Learn more: Teaching Made Practical
Take a break and let the students lead the class for a change. If you’re reviewing material for finals or an end-of-year test, have each student (or a group) lead the review session on a particular topic. You can also have your students create their own lesson on a topic they’re passionate about. Or have kids in one grade make and present lessons on what students in the grade below them can expect to learn the following year. There are a lot of options here, and all of them give you time to take a breather!
Have your students help tape a piece of lined paper to one another’s backs. Have each student get out a felt-tipped marker (not a Sharpie—it may bleed through). Set a timer and put on some favorite music. Let the students mix around the room and write a positive message on each student’s paper. For example, The best thing about you is …, What I appreciate most about you is …, I remember …, etc. After a set amount of time, have students stop, remove their papers from their backs, and enjoy reading the words of love from their classmates. (For a socially distanced spin, create a Google Slide or Padlet template for each student instead.)
So fun! These DIY memory coasters are easy to make and give kids an end-of-year souvenir to take home. Get the free printable templates and complete instructions here.
Little ones especially have a hard time with the end of a school year. Next year lots of things will be different, and that can be a sad and even scary thought for some. Read-alouds are simple but powerful end-of-year activities. Check out these 11 End-of-Year Books To Bring Your Class Closure, like The Egg by M.P. Robertson, to spark conversations about what kids have learned and what lies ahead.
Here’s an end-of-year assignment that includes both art and writing. Have kids draw a portrait of themselves, then use the template at the link below to cut out and decorate an enormous pair of sunglasses. On the glasses, have them write about their summer plans (or the plans they’d like to have).
Learn more: Third Grade Love
Students get a chance to practice public speaking in a very meaningful way with this end-of-year activity. Get a few liters of ginger ale and plastic champagne flutes from a party store, arrange your students in a circle, and have everyone say something—maybe a goal for the next school year, well-wishes for their peers, a favorite memory. After everyone has spoken, lift your glasses with a cheer and celebrate to end the school year.
This project has taken the world by storm. In six words, can you capture the essence of your school year? Kids can spend a little or a lot of time on this one, refining their words and even illustrating them. Collect them all into a slideshow (anonymous, if kids prefer) to share on the last day.
Learn more: Six Words Memoir Project
Take your class to visit the classrooms they’ll be in next year. Arrange to spend some time with the teachers, talk to the students, and hear more about what they’ll be learning. This is a good way to allay fears many kids have about moving on from a classroom where they’ve been comfortable. (You can do this as a Zoom tour and meet-and-greet too.)
Learn more: Inspire Me ASAP
In this fun end-of-year activity that’s perfect for social studies, have your students design a “Great Seal” for their school. First, break them into groups to talk about what makes your school special and memorable for them. Then, have each kid (or group) create their own “seal” based on the ones used by states and cities. This project is especially meaningful for kids about to move on to another school like junior high.
Learn more: Create Teach Share
Time magazine can’t have all the fun! Help your students compile of list of the “People of the Year” for your class. Include people important to your classroom (the custodian, the principal, everyone’s favorite “lunch lady”) along with classroom visitors and speakers from the year. Add in some people from current events and pop culture (the current president, a favorite musician) and even folks they studied throughout the year (Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart). Try to take or draw portraits of each, and assign each student to write a brief bio of one of the people included.
Who better to advise next year’s class on what they’ll need to succeed than the kids who’ve just finished doing it? They can write letters on their own or work together to create a master list of what it takes to make it in the next grade.
Learn more: Diary of a Public School Teacher
Ask your students to create a wall-worthy piece of art that reflects something they learned in science. Did you study plants? Maybe a watercolor of flowers. Or if you studied space, a cosmic-inspired number. Send their work home to help them remember, or collect them to create a bulletin board that will inspire next year’s class about what they’ll be learning.
Encourage kids to share the writing they’ve done in (and out of) class with an open mic event. Set up a stage complete with microphone and stool—get great tips for this at the link below—then bring kids up to tell a story or recite a poem. Overcome stage fright with a cool casual vibe and plenty of snacks. Invite friends and family to attend or watch virtually via Zoom.
Learn more: Teaching … the Art of Possibility
Write several story titles like “The Great Summer Adventure,” “How My Teacher Lost Her Mind,” or “My Teacher, My Hero” at the top of blank pages. Then, have each student start a story and, after five minutes, pass the story to a neighbor who will continue writing. (Do this digitally on Google Docs if you’re not able to share supplies from person to person.) Continue writing round-robin style until you have several stories to read aloud to the class.
You can do this one as a group or individually. Create a basic newspaper template and have the class fill in the front page news. Recap the year, offer advice, illustrate favorite memories, and more. Then, pass these on to the grade below to give them an idea of what lies ahead.
Learn more: Teaching With a Mountain View
Break your students into groups and have them create (and perform) musical numbers commemorating the year. They can write new words to existing tunes, choreograph a lip-sync performance to an inspiring or memorable song, or even come up with something entirely new. Invite parents or other classes to a final-day performance, in person or online.
Have each student write (or draw) a reflection on the best book they read during the year. Then, save their reflections and post them on a bulletin board or Padlet so that next year’s students can glean reading ideas.
Source: Kerri Pierce/Pinterest
Looking for game-based end-of-year activities? Play charades! Have each student write out one memorable moment from the school year on a slip of paper. Collect all the slips in a bag, hat, etc. Divide kids into teams and have them come up one team at a time, choose a slip, and act out the memory for the group. No need to keep score—the goal is just to relive all the happy memories from the year.
Choose a wall in your school or classroom and encourage kids to sign their names and date with a quote or other memory. Use permanent markers or small paintbrushes. Each year, photograph the wall and then paint over it to start anew. If you have enough space, these walls can last longer and only be painted over every so many years, creating much more enduring memories. No wall room? Try a bulletin board or large sheet of paper instead.
Learn more: The Literacy Leader
Take a day or a week to pass on important things you want your kids to know as they move on in life without you. Share poems, songs, TED talks, quotes, books, and tips that you think will help them along their way. Don’t forget to include simple life lessons (registering and preparing to vote, protecting yourself online, how to behave on an elevator) that school usually doesn’t teach you. Learn more about this end-of-year activity here.
Capture each student’s fingerprint as a tree leaf. Label them with their names, then hang them in your room from year to year so kids can see who’s come before them.
Source: Martin Koprowski/Pinterest
Throughout the year, have students save their best work in a folder or box. Then, at the end of the year, each student chooses their favorite items to display in a portfolio like a binder or display board. Invite parents and friends to come to view everyone’s achievements.
Time capsules are classic end-of-year activities. Students will have so much fun assembling time capsules to be opened someday in the future. These can be as simple as a plastic water bottle filled with written memories or a shoebox stuffed with items to represent what they did and learned over the school year.
Learn more: Mrs. Richardson’s Class
Classroom walls can start to look empty at the end of the year as you take things down to prepare for summer. Temporarily fill in the space with a long strip of butcher paper, then have kids create a timeline of the year. Break it down by month, then ask kids what they remember. Prompt their memories by having them look over their work (what a fun way to review!), and don’t forget to include events, speakers, and holiday celebrations.
Learn more: Minds in Bloom
Sometimes you just need a quick activity that doesn’t take a lot of prep, and that’s where this free printable comes in. Personalize it by taking and printing a photo of each student, or have them draw their own portrait in the space provided.
Learn more: Squarehead Teachers
Build in time to celebrate the end of the year with some fun outdoor activities. Rotate teams for each activity so your students get a chance to mingle with all of their classmates. Here are 25 Clever Outdoor Games to choose from.
This is a fun end-of-year activity that could be presented to parents, a younger class, your whole school, or just for your own class. Students can perform skits, dramatic readings, act out a story, showcase a talent, or read a favorite piece from a book they read.
Learn more: Minds in Bloom
You use them for novel studies, so why not create an ABC book for highlights of the school year? For each letter, students come up with one memorable event or lesson, write a few sentences, and draw a picture. Think of it as a literacy lesson/memory book activity.
Learn more: Teaching With a Mountain View
One of our favorite end-of-year activities is a book museum walk. Students choose one of their favorite books and create a poster, diorama, trifold, or even dress up as a character. They can work on their projects at home or at school, and their project should provide a sneak peek or trailer of the book. When the students are ready to present, invite another class or grade level in to view the “museum.”
Learn more: Teaching With Jennifer Findley
End-of-year activities can help wrap up subject matters, like geography. For this fun assignment, have your students research different symbols that represent something unique about your state. Each symbol they discover will become an app for their homemade iPad. Have them draw the symbols on the outside of each app, and then write a brief summary about the symbols on the inside.
Learn more: Create Teach Share
Traditionally, one of the classic school end-of-year activities was field trips. But sometimes budgets don’t cooperate, so why not take it virtual? They’re fun and easy, and no permission slips, chaperones, or packed lunches are needed! Check out our favorite 40 Amazing Educational Virtual Field Trips.
From dress-up days and community-building activities to outreach and volunteer projects, Spirit Week activities are a great way to end the year on a high note. Check out our massive list of School Spirit Week Ideas.
Have each student start a story and then leave it on their desk. At your signal, have students rotate to the next desk, and give them a minute to read the story and then add to the story. Keep rotating, giving students the chance to add to as many stories as you have time for. Let students know when you’re on your last rotation so they can wrap the story up.
Mark your time together by making fun tie-dyed bandannas or decorating T-shirts with everyone’s signature or handprint. Or try making friendship bracelets or necklaces. Every time your students wear one of these items, they’ll fondly remember your year together.
Photo booths are a great way to start the school year, but they’re also terrific for the last days of the year. Help kids capture memories with their friends before they part for the summer.
Learn more: Teach Create Motivate
Kids are already dreaming of how they’ll fill the summer hours, so this last-minute math activity will be pure fun! Give kids a budget (say, $2,500) and then send them off to research whether their dream trip can be accomplished. Make sure they include airfare or gas money, lodgings, food, spending money, and all the incidentals that add up when you travel.
Expand your readers’ palates with a book tasting and set them up for summer reading. A book tasting gives students the opportunity to sample some juicy reads in a short period of time and come away with a wish list of titles.
Learn more: Teaching With a Mountain View
Provide kids with lots of options, then have them compile their own bucket lists for the summer days ahead. In addition to fun items, encourage them to add ways to help others or learn something new too.
Learn more: Reasons to Skip the Housework
Make it all the way to the finish line with good vibes. Check out these 23 random acts of kindness challenges for elementary students.
Learn more: Teaching Expertise
Challenge your kiddos to show who knows you best. Record your students’ answers on chart paper with markers or use Google Slides. It’s amazing how much kids pick up on our likes and dislikes!
Learn more: @kinderandcactus
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