By Teachers, For Teachers
It’s that time of year again -- the end of the school year! As the school year comes to a close, a panic may set in, and you may ask yourself, “Did I do everything that I planned to do this year?” or “Do I have enough time to finish what I started”? Don’t panic, there is always enough time. With summer just around the corner, take your last few weeks of school to plan some fun classroom activities, make end-of-year gifts, have parties and award ceremonies, and prepare parents for summer learning. Here are some of the top end-of-school resources to help you during the final few weeks of the school year.
As the year begins to wind down, students may start to become a little restless, which makes it quite hard to keep students motivated in your lessons. Here are a few effective classroom activities to help make the end of the school year a success.
Team challenges are a great way to motivate students to work together to complete a common goal. You can find a variety of fun classroom activities online, such as creating a tower out of pasta or a water rocket out of a soda bottle on the Sciencenc.com website.
In order for students to participate in “Fun Friday,” they must comply with all of their teachers’ tasks during the week. If they do, then they are able to have an hour or two of fun on Friday. On this day, students are able to bring in any game or outside (appropriate) thing to play with in the classroom.
A fun “Techie” end-of-year project to do with your students is to create a digital classroom newsletter. Start by brainstorming all of the special moments and events that students have partaken in during the school year. Then select students to serve as the editor, writers, photographers, etc. After each student has her part, have the editors put the newspaper together and put it online for all to see.
The end of the school year means it’s time to start thinking about a gift to give to your students. As you know, it can get costly, so here are a few low-cost or no-cost gift ideas.
A fun (and free) end of school gift is to make your students a memory book. All you have to do is photocopy pictures from throughout the school year and create a book for each student in the class. Then when you hand out the books, you can have students sign one another’s copy like they would a yearbook.
A nice gift idea that will encourage your students’ imaginations as well as utilize their writing skills is a summer journal. The great thing about this gift idea is that you don’t even have to purchase it: You can make your own right out of cardstock paper and a staple gun. You can even add a few summer writing prompts to help get students started.
Another way that you can send your students off for the summer is to write them each a personalized letter. This personalized letter can detail how much of an impact the student has made on you as well as their classmates throughout the school year. It can also show how great it was to have them as part of your life. For an added touch, you can attach a pencil and eraser.
A great way to commemorate the end of the school year is to have students create a classroom yearbook. This fun project is essentially like a scrapbook, where each student is responsible for a page. Here are a few suggestions and tips on how to guide your students through this project.
First, you’ll need art supplies, a digital camera or a smartphone, 12 x 12 colored and white paper, photographs, and scrapbook adhesive to hold the book together.
To begin, give each student a piece of 12 x 12 paper (preferably a different color) and challenge each student to create her own page. Each student is responsible to create a front and a back page. The front must include their name and a photo of themselves. Next, give students access to art supplies and scrapbook paper so that they can create borders for the picture or other elements for their page. Once they’ve completed their page, then you can bind it together with the rest of the pages and photocopy the yearbook so each student has a copy.
A popular tradition in many elementary schools is to have an end-of-year award ceremony. This is a ceremony to recognize student achievement that was made above and beyond a student’s report card. Here are a few ideas on how to help you recognize your students’ achievements.
The most popular awards are the ones that highlight a student’s academic performance. All you have to do to figure out who deserves which award, is to look at the students’ grades. While you may choose winners such as the “Super reader” and “Magnificent mathematician” by looking at their test scores and how many books they read, you can also select some other awards a little more subjectively.
Honoring a student based on their character is another way a student can receive an award. You can award a student for their trustworthiness, citizenship, responsibility, kindness, loyalty, etc. Many schools follow the “Character counts” program, which recognizes students based on the five pillars of kindness, honesty, responsibility, integrity, and respect. However, you can add as many traits for the awards as wish.
Summer learning is important, and one of the best ways to ensure that your students don’t get that dreaded summer brain drain (a loss of 2-3 months of skills) is to inform parents of low-cost summer learning programs. Here are a few suggestions.
You don’t have to belong to a church or even have the same beliefs for students to go to vacation bible school. Many churches offer FREE summer programs that are open to the community. Usually they have a kid-friendly theme, and each day there are activities that correlate with that theme. It’s a fun, free way for children to keep their learning going, while meeting new friends at the same time.
The local park district usually offers free or low-cost summer learning activities and programs during the summer months. Some local cities offer free arts and crafts, or games, while others offer low-cost babysitting, where children can play sports and go on local field trips for a small fee.
How do you wrap up the school year? Do you have any classroom activities, student gift ideas or awards that you’d like to share with us? Please feel free to leave our ideas and suggestions in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master’s of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.