Another school year is almost over! These ideas to celebrate the end of the year are great ways to send kids off in style. Celebrate the memories and pack up the classroom, because summer is almost here!
Ideas to Celebrate the End of the Year
1. Wrap Up the Year in Style
Idea by Sara, Kindergarten Teacher, Hialeah, FL
To prepare for our end-of-the-year commencement celebration, I shop for fabric ribbon printed with a school motif such as alphabet letters or numbers. One year I even found ribbon printed with rulers! I use this ribbon to wrap each student’s set of workbooks they completed in my class. I fashion the ends of each ribbon with a bow and attach to each set of books a personalized goodbye note I’ve written to that child. The parents love this simple but touching take-home memory gift.
2. Making Memories
Idea by Linda, a 5th/6th Grade Teacher, from Fort Morgan, CO.
Our school loops our 5th and 6th graders, so these students spend a full two years bonding with one another. To commemorate our time together, we have each of our 6th graders make a nine-square quilt from construction paper. We have the kids decorate each square to represent something they remember and cherish from the 5th and 6th grades. We keep the students’ paper quilts until they graduate from high school, at which time we send the quilts over to the high school to be included among their graduation mementos.
3. Easing the Transition to Middle School
This idea was submitted by Nichole, a 5th Grade Teacher, from Youngsville, LA.
As summer approaches, I arrange for my 5th grade students to tour their new middle school. I also assemble a booklet including pages of skills we addressed in 5th grade as well as those they will need to begin 6th grade. I also throw in some fun history pages about the Egyptians and Greek and Roman mythology, since in 6th grade they will learn about world history for the first time. Together, these experiences help pave the way for a great transition to middle school.
4. Alphabet Countdown
Keep the alphabet front and center with this end of the year idea by Julie, a 2nd Grade Teacher, in Farmington, MI.
We plan an end-of-the-year Alphabet Countdown by planning for different activities each day. For example, for letter A we plan an Animal Day during which time kids can bring in stuffed animals to use as Reading Buddies and for letter B we plan a Bring Your Best Book Day, etc. You can even ask your students to suggest theme days, too for you to use as you celebrate the remaining letters.
5. Leave a Legacy
Help students recall the school year with this idea by Danielle, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Brookfield, CT.
At the end of the year, I have my students complete two different activities designed to help them reflect on the past year. First, I have each of my students write a letter to an incoming third grader, offering that new student different ways to “survive” in Room 18.
My class thoroughly enjoys offering up their tips and tricks in order help the newbies make a smooth transition from second to third grade. The week before school starts, I mail these letters to my new, incoming students. It is a warm and welcoming way to ease their first-day jitters.
The second thing I have my students do is compile a “How to Survive Third Grade” bulletin board. My students make posters or use sentence strips to cover my full bulletin board wall with exciting events that will happen in third grade. They also give the new class a set of rules to live by. My students love knowing that, come September when they’ve moved on to fourth grade and are no longer in “Miss D.’s class,” they will have left their legacy.
6. Track Student Growth
Celebrate your students with this idea by Virginia, a 1st Grade Teacher, from Bakersfield, CA.
At the beginning of the school year, I take photos of my students while they stand in front of a growth chart. One week before the last day of school, I repeat the process. I then use the photos to create a customized border for stationery I use to write a letter citing all the ways we grew through learning in first grade. I also include information about how many inches we each grew. I mount copies of the letter onto pieces of construction paper. On the flip side of each paper, I mount copies of our class photo. I then laminate the papers and distribute them during our end-of-the-year party.
7. Letter Writing
Give new students a heads up with this clever idea by Tammy, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Jamestown, IN.
At the end of the year, I have my students write a letter to my next year students. I have them include information such as their favorite activities of third grade, what they learned, and tips on how to be successful in third grade. On Day One of the new school year, I place one letter atop each student’s desk. My new students always appreciate the heads up they get from the seasoned bunch!
8. Silent Auction
Hold a class auction by using this idea from Kelly, a 3rd Grade Teacher, in Lake Forest, CA.
Throughout the school year, my students earn “money” for positive behavior in class and for completing homework. At the end of the year, I hold an auction during which time students can use their money to bid on items. As they bid for prizes, students use skills involving math, problem solving and critical thinking. I set some items aside so that students who did not make a successful bid can opt to buy something before leaving; no one ever leaves empty handed!
9. Keep Tabs on Kindness
Teach children about giving by using this idea by Ann, a 2nd Grade Teacher, in Brunswick, GA.
During the last few months of school, I help my students begin a classroom charity project. We collect pop tabs from aluminum beverage cans and donate them to McDonald’s to support The Ronald McDonald House. We research the charity and then set a goal we want to meet or exceed. It is really neat to see how inspired the students become in their effort to help others. Towards the end of the school year, I send home information on other charities that students might like to support over the summer. This is one lesson I hope that they keep with them always.
10. 26 Day Countdown
Idea by Caitlyn, Kindergarten Teacher, University Place, WA
At the end of the school year, we conduct a “26 Day Countdown” to the last day of school whereby we celebrate one letter/theme for each day. “Y Day” is “Year-end Cleaning Day” and my kindergarteners help ready our room to receive the new students next year.
I assign table groups different tasks such as sorting the pattern blocks into the appropriate bins, etc. On this day, they also get to select and take home any work they might want to keep, such as their journals and any art displayed on the walls. They love preparing our classroom for the next class. As students work to remove their mark on our classroom they gain the closure they need to move forward. Last year, I had many students who struggled with change and this experience empowered them to say goodbye and move on to first grade.
11. Potluck Dinner
Idea by Kim, Pre-K Teacher, Port Orange, FL
For our graduation, we invite all our families to attend a potluck meal at a local park. Each family brings a covered dish and the school provides the meat item. It gives all the families time to mingle with one another and celebrate the special day with their children. Since we have a mixed-age class, we include all the children at graduation. We deck all the children out in caps and gowns. Graduates receive a diploma along with a photo book showcasing all their photos taken during their time in our school.
12. Host Camp
Idea by Melissa, 1st Grade Teacher, Spanish Fork, UT
Each year we plan an end-of-the-year-activity we call “Camp Learned-a-Lot.” Each teacher is responsible for helping students review a topic in reading and in math. We plan fun activities and games to help students review each topic. Then, classes rotate to all of the teachers for the review activities.
For six days, we have students rotate to six different teachers; we conduct reading review in the morning and math review in the afternoon. We plan a lot of camp-themed activities. Last year, students each colored their own bandanna and made foam name tags. We’ve also done foil impression stick keepsake boxes. Classes pair up and we correspond with pen pals across classes. Each day, students write to each other about their “camp” experiences. We learn and sing traditional camp songs and celebrate at the end with an afternoon of water games and ice pops.
13. T-Riffic Send Off
Idea by Christine, Grades K-8 Teacher, Bridgeport, CT
I’m a computer and technology teacher, and for graduation, I have my 8th graders create their own designs in Microsoft Paint. They then print their designs on transfer paper and I iron them onto T-shirts. I distribute the shirts for graduation and provide fabric pens so students can sign each other’s shirts.
14. Oh, The Places They’ll Go
Idea by Adrienne, Kindergarten Teacher, East Helena, MT
For graduation I read Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. It is so appropriate and the parents love to hear it during the celebration. I insert the kids’ names at the end of the book too, which always makes them smile. It’s a great way to send them off into the world of first grade.