Celebrate Your Year! 10 Awesome Ideas For The End-Of-School


     If your school hasn't dismissed for the summer yet, it will soon! This is the time of year that teachers are thinking of ways to wrap-up, commemorate, and celebrate the school year. There are a ton of great ideas out there. I'd like to share 10 of the best ideas that I have personally used with my students over the years. I've grouped them according to cost: No-Cost, Low-Cost, and Blow Out. See what works for your students!

No-Cost

1. Warm Fuzzies/Compliments: I've seen many versions of this, but I began using this particular format 25 years ago. I always call them "Warm Fuzzies", but there are other names, such as "The Compliments Project". All can be very poignant and emotional. Have every student write their name at the top of a sheet of binder paper and leave it out on their desk. Explain how you want students to rotate around the room so that everyone visits every desk. Each student writes a sincere compliment on each student's paper. Make rules that work for your class, but my parameters were to write a full sentence or two, not to make any comments about someone's looks (No "You're pretty!" comments), and to make it as personal as possible. After students have been around the room, each student has a full sheet of sweet comments from their classmates. You'll be amazed at how they treasure these. Years ago, we'd also make a yarn pom-pom - a Warm Fuzzy to match the warm, fuzzy feelings we received - but, that's optional.
2. Read-In: This day will live in students' memories! Instruct students to bring to school sleeping bags, beach towels, mats, or anything to stretch out on...and books! Push back the desks, find a comfy spot, and READ! You can tweak your day by allowing students to wear pjs and bring stuffed animals, allowing extra snacks, giving breaks, or even making it a half-day event.
3. Book Swap: Spring is a great decluttering time and parents have often brought me books for my classroom library that their children have outgrown. Turn this into a swap event. Notify parents and students that you'll display any books that they'd like to donate and allow students to pick up whatever suits them. Everyone wins! Of course, the decluttering parents also get more books coming back into the house, but they're free books their kids haven't read, so...no complaints so far! Consider how you'll work the choosing part - decide who goes first, give students a specific number of books they may choose, and decide how people can trade later.
4. Autograph Books: Teachers have used this memory-maker for years. You can make your own version or find an online product that you like. Give students time to sign each other's books.
5. Game Day: Dedicate a day to playing games! By the end of the school year, my students had played a good number of games in my classroom. We focused on content-type games, but we also used commercial ones. Decide how you want students to partner up and switch from station to station, then pull out the games, and let everyone play.
End of Year
6. Pay It Forward: Consider hosting a classroom "Pay It Forward" day. Talk to your students about how great your school is: the wonderful, hardworking teachers, your administrators, custodians, cafeteria staff - the whole school family! Generate a list of things that you could do to help, support, or otherwise celebrate being part of such a great team. Students could help teachers of younger students with end-of-year activities, do some of the dirtier chores like counting and storing books, help move desks, clean library shelves,...the list is endless. Of course, you can always end the day back in your classroom with a special snack.

Low-Cost

7. Ice-Cream Party: This age-old celebration is always a winner! Ask your parents, PTA, or other volunteers to donate or subsidize it. Germophobe Note: I learned to keep a box of very inexpensive, cafeteria-type gloves for all food related activities. Teach students to use gloves when they serve themselves food. Additional Note: Showing a movie is a great addition to this celebration!
8. Craft: This is a great time to create a craft or craftivity for Father's Day, especially if you're not in school then. Otherwise, consider a craft that might take more time than usual and results in a permanent keepsake. Consider decorating flowerpots, jewelry, or a frameable display.
9. Class Awards: Whether you make them more serius Class Awards or just fun Silly Superlatives, students love to be recognized! Consider creating a set just for your students, separate from the school-wide awards based on grades. There are many sets online or you can make your own.
End of Year

Blow Out

10. Fun Day: Each year, our PTA hosts a 5th grade celebration as we send out students on to the middle school. It's a really fun all-day event, often including a bouncy house, water games, pizza and ice cream. This can be quite expensive and the PTA budgets for it each year. If you don't have those funds, consider asking for donations and scale your celebration accordingly.

     What do you do to celebrate the end of your school year? I'd love to hear from you!
Pat McFadyen
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