As thoughts turn to summer vacation it can be difficult to keep students’ minds (and ours!) on school work. As a result, we’re faced with a classroom of summer-crazed students to keep under control! So exciting, but also one of the most stressful day of the year for teacher. While showing a movie or giving your class opportunities to sign yearbooks kill time, activities will make your students reflect on their school year, teach collaboration and so much more. Perhaps most importantly, it will leave your students with fun, positive memories of their experience in your classroom that they will take with them when they go.
With this in mind here are just a few activities that I have done through the years to help get through those last few days. (Full disclaimer, I have borrowed some of the ideas from other teacher over the years and made slight adjustment to them to meet my class needs. Hey but isn’t that what teacher do, we share. So please use and make changes as needed)
“The year in Review” (writing, collaboration,Art, reflection) Students reflect on the past year by making a newspaper called The Year In Review. Working in small team they create a miniature paper. Topics for articles can include interesting things that happened in the classroom or school. They highlight the highs and even the lows allowing them to relive all their favorite memories throughout the year. They can include different sections such Top 10 lists, Spotlights, Testimonials, Editorial about the past year, or even an Entertainment section with crossword puzzles containing selected vocabularies they have learned from your class, etc. At the end they can share their paper with each other to create one big class paper.
“Thank you notes” (Writing, Life Skills, gratitude ) Provide students with stationary paper and envelops and have them write thank-you notes to school staff members. For best results, show them a few examples of thoughtfully written notes ahead of time. For those non-English speaking or special needs they could draw a picture to that person to share how thankful they are for them.
“The compliment” (Build self esteem, self awareness) In this activity students take turns being in the “hot seat” while their classmates write compliments on the board behind them. Once all student have had a chance to write their complement the student in the hot seat is able to read what is said about them. Since I work in a middle school I encourage student to sit in front and take a picture so that they can look back on these positive thing that are said by their peers. This activity takes about 5 to 10 minutes per student, which means it would be something you could squeeze into the end of a class period, you should only get it started if you know you’ll eventually have time to put every student in the hot seat.
“Four Corners” (movement, debating ) You read some sort of statement to the class. I always start out with ” should student be able to wear anything to school” Designate a corner for agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree and disagree. Students must physically walk to the side of the room that best represents their opinion. Then have students take turns explaining why they are standing in that spot. Think about questions that are important to students when setting up your questions as well as questions that will allow for a very thoughtful debate. Make sure to set up ground rules before you start.
“Mindfulness” (calm down, art) Put on some background music, open a few bags of chips, and break out the coloring pages or coloring books crayons, markers and colored pencils. This is an easy, relaxing activity that sets a nice atmosphere for socializing, rather than having students on their devices or zoned out in front of a screen. If you don’t want to spend money on actual coloring books, you can find plenty of free printable coloring pages online, like this set of 50 beautiful coloring printables. I allow my students to lay wherever they would like during this time. I turn the lights down low and for about 30 minutes we are just quietly refocusing. This is a great activity to do right after lunch.
Board Games or Card Games (strategies, collaborations) Board games and card games are a thing of the past but so many kids enjoy doing them and have fun. They are simple to set up and it a great way to take up and hour of the time as well.
Over, Under, Around and Through (Collaborations, listening, movement) In this game you will need 2 short ropes. Student are put in groups of 3 and scatters around the classroom. In each group 2 member of the group face one another and hold hand with piece of cloth. The third member or “runner” of the group stand to one side facing his or her partner. The games begins with the teacher call out a sequence of movement based on the commands over. under. Around. through. Only those command are use in the game but use in different order. The idea is for the runner to complete the sequence before the you call a new sequence. Make sure that each student has a chance to be the runner.
Meet me in the Middle or Last man standing (as one of my former student called it) ( collaboration, movement, listening) Student are paired with a partner. Partner stand on opposite sides of the classroom facing each other. Teacher call out an activity to do. Student walk to the center and meet their partner and dot eh activity. After completing the activity student tun and walk back to their original places. Every time you will add one additional activity. For example: 1st time- say your name, 2nd time- say your name and give a high five, 3rd time- say your name, give high five, count to 5. Etc. If a student messes up their team sit down and you go till you have the last team standing.
I have so many more, that I would love to tell you about but then I would be here all day. I try each year to change it up and do different things so that it is new for each year so my list keep growing. The last day of school with your student should be fun and all about them. For many of these kids this could be the last time with the group of kids. Have fun, relax and just enjoy the day.
Please feel free to share some of your great ideas