The Summer count-down is on, but the school year is not over yet! So, why not end the year with some great activities to get through those last few days of school? Great end-of-year activities should spice up the schedule, wrap things up, and yet squeeze in a few last moments of student learning and practice before you send students on their ways to Summer and the next grade.

  1. Welcome next year's class with a letter from this year's students. Students can include anything they think incoming students might want to know. Provide ideas such as: what kind of teacher you are, interesting activities they can look forward to, and what they will study throughout the year. Depending on the allotted time and students' abilities, this activity can be done individually, in small groups, or as a whole class. Save the letters to share on the first day of school with your new class.
  2. Create class yearbooks. This can be as simple or extensive as you wish to make it. For a quick-and-easy assembly, fold 3–5 pieces of paper in half and staple them together. Provide one book per student. For a more elaborate book, write or type each student's name at the top of a piece of paper. Copy the papers so there is a set of each page for each student. Three-hole punch the papers and assemble them into a three-prong folder. Provide time for students to sign each other's books, write each other notes, and to exchange phone numbers and addresses. Encourage students to contact each other throughout the Summer for playdates.
  3. Generate Summer reading excitement by having students create book advertisements. Have students think about a book they think the other students in the class would enjoy reading. Have students work individually or in small groups to create an advertisement for the book. There can be great range in the materials used to create the advertisement. It can be a poster, video clip, skit/commercial, or anything else students can think of. Provide a time for students to share their advertisements with the class. Consider including advertisements for a few books you would like to recommend, too. Be sure to provide paper and pencils for the students viewing the advertisements so they can take notes on books they want to include on their Summer reading lists.
  4. Plan a special day towards the end of the year. At my school, the first grade teacher's plan a luau. We say "aloha" (good-bye) to the school year and "aloha" (hello) to Summer. Activities include five stations students visit throughout a morning including: chilling out on beach blankets and beach chairs reading books about the beach, making an ocean-themed snack to eat, creating a beach art project, P.E-related activities such as bowling by knocking down water bottles with a coconut and hula hooping, and finally, writing about they would do at the beach. Another school I know has "camp," which includes a nature hike around school, campfire songs, and tasty snacks such as s'mores. Create a special day that works for you and your school. Join forces with other teachers at your grade level so the job is not so big for any one of you. Enlist parents to donate items and help run the stations. The beauty of a special day like this is that students look forward to it for weeks—making time fly!
  5. Anticipate the last day with an end-of-year countdown. Determine how many days out you want the count to begin. Create a countdown system. A paper chain with one link for each day left is fun. So are balloons (one for each day remaining) that have been blown up and taped around the whiteboard or a bulletin board. Remove one paper chain or pop a balloon each day of school until you arrive at the last day. Spice this activity up by associating a fun event for each day you count down. The events can be written on the paper chains or pieces of paper that have been placed inside each balloon before blowing it up. Special activities can be free, such as an extra recess or going to read books to students in the kindergarten class. Include a few yummy treat days, such as popsicle day or chew-gum-in-class day. Sidewalk chalk or bubbles days are just plain fun!

Summer is the dangling carrot! You are almost there. Finish strong. Finish fun. It will make those last few days more enjoyable for the students and for you, too!