The year is wrapping up quickly so I thought I’d post my favorite fun things to do on the last day of school!
As the school year winds down, it is sometimes difficult to keep teaching to the last minute when you already have exhausted all of your resources a few weeks before school is over! It is also a challenge to keep students engaged in the lessons especially when their minds are already wandering to thoughts of their next summer trip.
But there’s no reason that the remaining days of school can’t be exciting as well as meaningful and memorable. This is the time to recognize students accomplishments, reminisce fond memories and measure how much each individual has grown – including you, the teacher!
Here are some ideas old and new for how to end the year right and with bang!
1. The Year In Review
Students reflect on the past year by making a newspaper called The Year In Review. 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.
2. Last Day of School Charades
Ask students to write down on a slip of paper their favorite or their most memorable moment that happened in the past school year. You can also add your own.
Collect all the papers in a bowl or a box and ask a volunteer to come up to choose a slip. Depending on the situation, the volunteer can decide if he needs to call on more students to act out the memory for the class. The goal is to reminisce memories and have a good laugh so no need to keep scores.
3. Collect Autographs
There are two ways how you can have an autograph party for you students as a remembrance of the moments they had shared with each other:
During the last day of school, my students wear/bring a plain white shirt and they use different colored permanent markers or pens to autograph on it. You can use old test papers or posters to put inside the fabric to make sure the markers don’t bleed through the other side.
Beach Ball Autograph
I alternate each year between t-shirts and beach ball. Beach ball is a fun and different way to collect autographs in class. Beach balls are relatively inexpensive especially if you order them wholesale from a novelty store not to mention if you happen to teach in Asia (I’m lucky, I know!).
Let students blow the beach balls up and then get autographs from each other by tossing the balls around! They will surely love this activity and cherish their memories.
4. Open the Class Time Capsule
I love to kick off the new school year by creating a class time capsule. The end of school year is exactly the time to unseal them and let my students discover which predictions and goals they had made actually came true!
It is amazing how things change in less than a year especially with their height, weight or even penmanship. It is always a delight for me to see their varied reactions.
If you want to make a class time capsule for the coming year, you may check out this post.
5. A Pat on the Back
Ask students to help tape an A4 paper on one another’s back. Put on some great music (oh I love to play melodramatic ones for this activity!) and let the students mingle and walk around the room.
The goal is to have them write a positive comment or a compliment on each other’s back. For example: Thank you for being… I remember when… The best thing about you is… It is important to emphasize to the kids not to write any negative remarks as to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
When the time is over, they can remove the papers from their backs and enjoy reading what was written by their classmates.
This self-esteem booster is by far one of my favorite activities to do to let students say goodbye to each other! Students just seem happier after this activity. Isn’t a nice way to end the school year?!
6. 5-4-3-2-1 Go!
I named this activity this way because I ask my students to write down the following on a piece of paper:
5 difficult vocabulary words they have learned in class and what they mean
4 things they love about the textbook
3 classroom activities or projects they enjoyed the most and why
2 things they want to say to their classmates
1 thing they want to tell their teacher
After a specified time, I call on some students to read before the class what they have written.
7. Tokens of Friendship
After spending an entire school year together, classmates become good friends if not best of friends. One great way for students to make memorable gifts for their classmates is by making personalized friendship bracelets using cheap cords and alphabet beads. Another option is a simple breezy friendship bracelet made with two very simple knots which has also become a fad in my classroom.
Furthermore, you can ask your students to write a poem to be given to their friends or teachers. If you have more advanced students, you can let them compose a song instead. Songs can be very memorable and enjoyable for students, especially those with good singing voices who love to sing along! They can record the songs or better yet perform in front of their peers, teachers or the entire school.
8. How to Survive Teacher Mel’s English Class
At the end of every year, I let my class write letters to next year’s incoming class about me and my classroom. We call it “How to Survive Teacher Mel’s English Class” which could either be serious or funny, but they should be informative. My advanced students work in groups and create a handbook containing helpful tips, information and advice for the incoming groups.
The following year, I have the new students read them on the first day of school and we talk about what the letters or the handbooks said about my class, and how that makes them feel. It is a great way to set classroom rules and expectations.
9. Write a Self-introduction for the New Teacher
My favorite part of the job is getting to know my students because I believe that understanding students is essential to teaching. During my first year of teaching, a colleague of mine was so kind to show me my students previous works including some information about them. Because of that, I was able to know more about their interests and what motivated them to learn English.
Now, I try to do the same for the incoming teachers of my classes. At the end of the year, I have the students write letters introducing themselves to their next teachers. Even students at the beginning stages of learning English can share information about their families, hobbies, interests and experiences. This way, their future teachers can start the new school year knowing a little something about them.
10. Conduct a Class Awarding Ceremony
Giving certificates and prizes should be done all year round, but the end of the year also calls for a special kind of awarding ceremony! I love to find something unique about my students and make up some fun awards for that unique quality. You can be creative and add silly awards to add laughter.
You can make the awards on your computer so that each one is personalized and a bit different from the others. There are also many free certificate generators online that you can use such as Certificate4Teachers, Certificate Magic, and many more!
To get students more involved, you can let them come up with their own categories and vote for one student for each category. Announce the winner at the last day!
11. Gather Feedback from Students
I gather feedback from my students twice: once right after the first semester ends and another at the end of the school year. I use simple survey form that gives them the opportunity to offer feedback on my teaching. Sometimes it is hard to face the honest truth but I try to be objective and use student responses to reflect on my teaching style and practices .
12. End of the Year Raffle
Students help me clear out the classroom to prepare it for the next year by taking down posters and packing things up. To make it more exciting, I tell them that we will have a raffle if they finish the task quickly. I raffle off the things in my classroom that can serve as souvenir items to remind them of our class such as the cards we received from different schools abroad on Christmas!
13. Pop a Balloon Countdown
If you are like me who still has more two weeks of teaching time even after the final test, you can introduce these fun things to do on the last day of school in a more exciting way using pop-a-balloon countdown!
Write each of your chosen end-of-year activities on a strip of paper, roll them up and slip each rolled paper into a balloon before you blow it up. Hang the balloons from the board or from strings attached to the ceiling. Every time your students come to your class, you can ask them to vote on which balloon to pop for that day and complete the surprise activity hidden inside!