You made it!
Well, almost, but now is the time to start planning your End of the Year Celebrations! Let us celebrate that amidst all the uncertainty, confusion, and craziness, we did it. We planned, prepped, loved, encouraged, taught, retaught, and reflected day in and day out. We did it virtually, in-person, hybrid, hyflex, asynchronous, through sickness, and in health. (Sounds like a marriage, am I right?) Ready to celebrate with your students? Read on for 13 Easy Projects to Celebrate the End of the School Year. You know I’ve got my favorites, check out #2, #6, #10, and #12.
Project 1 – ETTC End of the Year Memory Book
Why not make an End of the Year Memory Book? Memory books make a great activity and gift to send home at the end of the year. These do take some time, so I recommend starting before the last week of school. You should try to incorporate as much as possible into your writing block.
Maybe you’re finishing the year virtually? We’ve got you covered! Check out our DIGITAL Memory Book for Google Classroom/Slides. The slides cover a variety of topics; subject areas, specials, friends, sayings from their teacher (my fave), favorite books, advice for incoming students, etc. There’s a little something for everyone!
Project 3 – Signature T-Shirts
At the end of my second year teaching kindergarten, I did this with my students. I was able to buy a plain white t-shirt (from Hobby Lobby) for each student. Students could also bring in an old t-shirt for this activity. Lay the shirts out around the room, and each student rotates with a permanent marker to sign each shirt. We signed the backs of every shirt and I wrote our classroom name and school year on the front. The students were OBSESSED with their shirts.
4 – Top 10 List
Can you name your top 10 favorite movies? What about your top 10 favorite foods? They’ve probably changed over the years, right? Well, why not make a Top 10 list of favorite moments from the year. Get some poster board, or another display method, and have your students help you list their top 10 moments from the year. You will love this project because like your favorite foods or movies, this list will change year to year. It’s a fun way for you as a teacher to look back on what stuck with your different groups of students.
Project 5 – Compliments and Kindness
This is one of my favorite end-of-the-year projects. Grab some construction paper and write one child’s name on each piece. Students take turns (during the day or a few days) and write something positive about that student. It could be a favorite memory, positive characteristic, the outfit they wore that the student liked, cool hairstyle, something they did that showed good character, etc. You’ll be AMAZED at what your students come up with. Once everyone has had a chance to write on the papers, laminate if you’d like and present them to the students.
6 – Student of the Day Countdown!
If you asked my students, THIS was their FAVORITE end-of-the-year activity. Each day counting down to the last school day (this number will vary depending on the number of students you have, so plan accordingly), showcase a different student. (Think STAR student or student of the week.) For my class, this included a special seat at my small group table, special school supplies to use, a stack of unread picture books, and STICKY NOTES! They went wild over having their own small stack of sticky notes on their special day! To choose who will be the student of the day you can tape 20 balloons, with kids’ names in them, to the whiteboard. The day before, at dismissal, pop a balloon and reveal the next day’s name. Oh, the joy and excitement!
Project 7 – Candy Bar Awards
Who doesn’t love candy? I don’t think I’ve ever had a student NOT like some form of candy. So why not combine your students’ love of candy with super cute awards! The idea is you take the candy and add a positive phrase with it that would describe the student. For example, the “Lifesaver” award would go to the student who “always helps a friend in need”. You can search Candy Bar Awards on TpT (or click the link above) and find MANY resources to choose from.
8 – Summer Bucket List
What are you planning on doing this summer? Even if it’s lying on the couch and binge-watching Bridgerton on Netflix, that’s something! So why not have fun and create a Summer Bucket List with your class! Either independently, or combined, make a list of things you’d like to accomplish over summer break. Celebrate all of the list ideas, not just the “big ticket” ones. Some students struggle with summer and being away from their routines, so keep that in mind.
9 – S’mores Party
Let’s have s’more fun with a s’mores party! Break out the graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows for this sweet end-of-the-year project! Write about the steps to build a s’more, get creative with the toppings, and even make your own ovens! Go grab our Solar Ovens STEM project and build a solar oven with your students to cook the s’mores! Sounds awesome, right?
Project 10 – Send Thank You Notes
Bring out the tissues for this project. Need a simple, heartwarming idea for the end of the year? Why not have your students write “Thank You” notes to people that helped them throughout the school year. As a class, discuss who helped them succeed; teachers, coaches, parents, librarians, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc. Let the students choose one or two people and write notes to them. They can hand deliver or mail them (grab a book of stamps and some envelopes, your bookkeeper may be able to help here too). I guarantee that a few notes will bring tears to your eyes.
11 – Make a “What You Should Know” List
No one knows you better than your students. They’re with you every day and see you more than they see their own families. So why not have fun with it and have them make a list of what they should know about their new teacher. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on over the 10 months they’re with you. Just check out this list from my class a few years ago. It brought me to tears, and I told myself I will do it every year from here on out!
Project 12 – Poetry Café
What I love about this project is it can be modified to fit different teaching situations. Have the students write a poem or two over a few days/weeks. (Planning is key.) Acrostic poems, color poems, or poems about food are great for younger poets. Once the poems are written, invite parents/guardians in for a “Poetry Café.” Parents/guardians come in and listen to the students as they read their poems. Set the mood with dimmed lights, soft music, and finger “snaps” after each read. I understand that some areas are limiting guests/visitors due to COVID protocols. If you aren’t able to have an in-person event, I’ve got a few solutions. Record it. Yep, record the event and share it on your school’s Facebook (if applicable), share it out via email, or another online method. Virtual Café. Hold the event via Zoom or Google Meet.
#13 Time Capsule
Cool idea, right? Okay, here’s how it works for the classroom. Students bring in a water bottle (smaller option) or shoebox. They fill it with memories from the current school year. Pictures, drawings, written memories, news articles, etc. All of these can be created or gathered as a class in the weeks leading up to the last day of school. On the last day, talk about the different items going in the time capsule and why they are important to that year. (Masks and Germ-x would be top on my list from this year.) Then, close up the time capsule and write an “OPEN ON _____” somewhere on the time capsule. I recommend at least 5 years on the date. What a unique keepsake to look back on the school year.
Whatever project to celebrate the end of the year you choose, make sure to plan it out and HAVE FUN! It’s the end of the year, let’s enjoy celebrating all our students (AND YOU) accomplished over the year!
Written by Heather Wagoner
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