The last day of school often presents a challenge for teachers. With summer looming large, students often have short attention spans and more energy. Finding fun last day of school activities can help keep your students engaged until the moment that the final bell rings.
Year In Review
Since the kids won't be seeing their friends for a while, there are many fun activities that lend themselves well to yearly wrap up.
Memory and Autograph Books
While children enjoy the summer break, many have very little opportunity to see their classmates who are not close friends. Have children fill out a memory book on the last day of school, and then have all of their classmates write in an autograph section of the book. Create the memory books ahead of time, using construction paper covers with pages in the middle asking questions about the school year for kids to answer in their books. Make the questions age appropriate, and leave plenty of space for the kids to write their answers and include pictures. Some questions you might ask include:
- What is your favorite memory of this year?
- What is the most interesting thing you learned this year?
- What was the funniest thing that happened in class this year?
- Which field trip did you like best?
- List the things you learned this year.
- Draw a picture of how you looked at the beginning of the year and how you look now.
- What are the names of the new friends you made this year?
- What did you learn this year that surprised you?
- What are your plans for the summer?
Body Outline Autograph Sheets
As an alternative to an autograph books, you can have each student lie on a large sheet of paper while a partner outlines him with a marker. Give the students some time to decorate their outlines, writing their names on top of the paper. Now give all of the students a marker and have them visit each of their classmates' papers, writing something positive about the person and then signing the paper with their name.
Yearbook Signing Party
If your school delivers yearbooks close to the end of the academic year, then hold a yearbook signing party. Students can sign yearbooks and enjoy some finger foods.
Purchase or have kids bring plain t-shirts to school on the last day. These shirts can be in traditional colors, or they might be in neon or bolder shades. Instruct kids to dip their hands in paint and press their hands on their t-shirts, or allow them to paint their designs. After the paint has dried, students can take turns autographing their classmates' t-shirts with fabric pens.
Come up with categories such as "Most talkative," or "Silliest," and then have kids nominate classmates and vote on who best fits each category.
Children typically have stacks of artwork and completed assignments saved from the entire school year. Pull out the art supplies, and let kids create a scrapbook of all their artwork, writing assignments, etc. They'll enjoy cutting, pasting, and decorating their scrapbooks to create a unique keepsake of the year.
Planning for Next Year
It may be natural for students to be apprehensive about what school will be like next year. These end of school activities can help.
Letters to Next Years' Students
While your students are surely excited about summer, they may also be looking forward to moving on to the next grade level. What better way to capitalize on this sense of pride than having them write letters to the students who will be coming to fill their empty desks? Ask them to write letters to your future students talking about their favorite things they learned in your classroom, and sharing with the younger kids what they can expect for the coming year.
Questions and Answers
Team up with a teacher from an older grade and a teacher from a younger grade, and host two question and answer "symposia." With the older students, allow your kids to ask them questions about what they can expect next year. Similarly, have the younger students ask your students about what they have to look forward to next year.
Learning can be fun, even on the last day of school. Try these educational activities for a fun end to the year.
Older kids can gain some public speaking experience and have a little bit of fun at the same time. Place several topics you've covered during the year on folded papers in a basket or bowl. Have each student draw a topic right before his turn, and then give a short talk about the subject.
Have a Treasure Hunt
Hide items around the classroom, and write clues that the children have to decipher in order to find the items. Have the children work in teams to find the treasures.
Throughout the year, you probably play educational games with your students, including board games and whole-class games with flash cards and spelling. At the beginning of the day, establish a schedule for the game day with your students that incorporates time to work in small groups on board games, as well as playing full class games. Be sure to schedule time for outdoor games, as well.
Why not let kids spend the afternoon reading their favorite books, magazines, etc.? If your classroom doesn't have enough books to go around, then schedule library time. In addition, consider holding book talks, or ask students to create book covers of their favorite books. You can also have the students create a reading journal for the summer where they can keep track of all the great books they read; go to the library and encourage them to make their first entry in the journal be a list of books they would like to read this summer.
Fun and Games
Of course, the kids may just want to cut loose on the last day of school, and who can blame them? Try these just for fun activities.
Take younger students outdoors to run off some of their energy. Have a mini field day where children run races and relays.
Pin the Mustache on the Teacher
Let your students have a little bit of fun at your expense. Produce a large photograph of you, and then make paper mustaches. Blindfold each student, spin him in circles, and give him the opportunity to pin the mustache on the paper target.
Have a Paper Airplane Contest
Have students design paper airplanes. Take the planes either outside or to the gym and see whose plane flies the farthest.
Have Balloon Rocket Races
Set up your classroom as a rocket racing arena. You will need:
- Drinking straws
- Long pieces of string that stretch across the classroom
- Push pins
To set up the races, have students work in pairs to:
- Stretch a string from one end of the classroom to the other, securing each end with push pins.
- Have one student blow up the pair's balloon and hold the end shut so air doesn't escape, while the other tapes a drinking straw across the length of the balloon.
- While one student continues to hold the balloon shut, have the other student put the string through the straw, and reattach it to the wall with a push pin.
- When you say "go" have the racing students let go of the ends of their balloons, and see whose gets the farthest across the room.
Crazy Dress Day
Announce that the last day of school will be Crazy Dress Day, and tell kids to come dressed in their craziest outfits. (A word of caution - older kids may take this to the extreme, so remind them that they must still adhere to the school's dress code: no cleavage, no swears, shorts or dresses must meet the dress code length, etc.)
Let kids turn their favorite books, plays, or short stories into a skit in which they act out the parts. Invite the parents for a fun last performance of the school year.
Instruct kids to write commercials for common objects found in their classroom. They can work in groups and then present their commercials to their classmates.
Paper Ball Battle
You'll need to limit this activity to only a few minutes, and you'll probably want to do this right at the end of the day. However, kids love paper ball battles, especially if they won't get in trouble for participating. For an added element of fun and symbolic end to the academic year, let kids rip out used pages in their workbooks for their paper balls.
Team up with Other Teachers
Get together with other teachers in your grade. Have each teacher come up with one or two activities, and then rotate the children through the participating classrooms to do all of the various activities.
Enjoying the Last Day
While the last day of school can be a challenge in terms of keeping everyone safe and focused, there's no reason you can't really enjoy it with your students. Come up with a few really good activities from the list above, and with a little bit of planning, you'll get everyone's summer vacation off to a great start.