No matter what grade you teach, I think it’s safe to say that the end of the school year can feel more than a little chaotic for everyone! There is so much to get done, organize and plan for, plus our kiddos are usually a little more rambunctious than usual. Over the years I have collected a few essential tips and tricks that helped me survive this crazy time. Come along as I share some of my favorite ways to calm the chaos and have a wonderful end of the school year!
Animal Research Projects
Projects and activities that use a combination of many skills are great to include this time of year. They help to keep the learning going while applying skills at a deeper level. They also provide opportunities to focus on some fun, new topics.
In years past, I had students work on animal research projects as an end-of-the-year closing activity. I would pair students into groups and assign an animal to each group. I would then provide books for students to use in their research and allow them to dig in! National Geographic Readers are great for firsties since they are easy to read and full of colorful pictures.
Before students begin collecting information, be sure to take a moment to list a few items they should look for in their research to include in their report. Students can create colorful posters that detail what their assigned animals ate, their habitats, and other fun facts. Once students finish their posters, have them present their reports to the class!
Practice Graphing At The End Of the Year
Another fun group activity is creating a classroom graph. You can use all kinds of topics for this. You can even get a little silly and ask some questions your students would not expect.
In the past, we have graphed our favorite colors, foods, and holidays! I also like to change it up with things like favorite superhero, food you dislike, and cutest animal. It can be a fun way to get to know your students a little more!
After you collect your data as a class, use the data to create one or more graphs. It’s a great way to expose your students to different types of graphs. Then work on analyzing the data by comparing how each category performed and which was most popular.
If you would like to try graphing as a group in your class, be sure to grab the freebie for graphing your favorite colors! It comes with a variety of activities to help students collect and analyze data in a fun way.
Plan A FUN DAY FOR THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR
You and your students have worked very hard all year long and deserve some fun days as you wrap up the year! While it takes a little bit of planning, making time for some “just for fun” days in your final weeks of school is such a great way to foster that sense of community and celebrate your students. Many schools already have planned field trips and field days. In addition to those I like to plan an additional fun day, and Bubble Day is always a favorite.
End Of The Year Bubble Day
I loved to host a “Bubble Day” with my students at the end of the school year. This is such a great party plan because the materials required are inexpensive and primary students always LOVE bubbles. That’s a win-win in my book!
Using a “beach theme” for bubble day is especially fun because you can also include some sand and water table activities as well. To prepare, run by your local dollar store and pick up a variety of items to use. Some things I always got are:
- Bubbles & Lots of Bubble Wands
- Bins & Tubs (if you don’t already have any lying around)
- Plastic Sand Toys
- Sponges & Water Toys
- Dish Soap
- Vegetable Oil & Flour (to make “moon sand”)
- Fun Accessories like plastic sunglasses and beach balls
Bubble Day Set-Up & Activities
Once you have all your materials, you can start prepping! On the day of the party, prep a few tubs of “Moon Sand”. Simply mix 8 cups of flour with 1 cup of oil. You can use vegetable oil or baby oil for this, both will work. After mixing, you will be left with a sand-like substance that will keep its shape when molded. It will be similar to “Kinetic Sand”, but MUCH cheaper. You can also add food coloring to this if you would like- it’s totally up to you!
I like to add the sand toys to the “moon sand” tubs and then make a few different bubble stations and water tables. Feel free to get creative with these, there are SO many items you can use in water tables from basic kitchen tools, to play food, toys, and even your classroom manipulatives!
At the end of the school year, I purposely include the classroom manipulatives in a bin with soapy water so that my students can help clean the toys during our party. Set up one bin with soapy water and sponges and one bin with clean water for rinsing. Students can work in an assembly line to clean the toys, rinse them, and then lay them out on a beach towel to dry. This is a fun activity that also doubles to get your classroom closed down for next year!
Have Students Help Close Down The Classroom
While we are on the topic of shutting down your classroom, I thought I would share a few more tips for making this daunting task a little less overwhelming! I always made sure to involve students in this process, but it does require a bit of strategic planning for it to feel helpful!
Once you are mostly done with big class projects, ask students to help with various cleaning tasks. I have found that many of these tasks are very helpful during that last week of school. You can do a little each day or have one big classroom clean-up day- whatever works best for your schedule and students. Some things that I asked students to help with include:
- Checking toy and manipulative boxes to make sure items aren’t mixed up
- Checking puzzles to make sure all the pieces are there
- Organizing bookshelves by theme or category
- Dusting furniture and shelves
- Pack up student artwork and displays
- Clean out desks and files
Typically, I will assign students to work on these things in groups while I work on tasks specific to my to-do list. I find that setting a timer for 20 minutes is a good amount of time for students to work independently on these cleaning projects without needing a ton of assistance from me.
Also, make sure to have a plan for what students will do if they finish their task before the timer goes off! Helping a friend finish their task or sorting books in the classroom library are always great options.
Make A SUMMER REVIEW PACKET
Another fun idea is to have students each make their own summer review packet. You can corral all of your extra worksheets together and let students build a packet.
I always had lots of printables leftover in my homework stash, early finisher bins, and writing center.
Stack the worksheets in groups by subject and let students take 1 from each pile and then staple their packet together.
You can even add a reading log for the summer if you would like!
Add an extra level of fun by telling students they can turn their packet in to you on the first day of school the following year for a special treat!
Tips For Teacher Sanity Through The End Of The Year
And finally, don’t forget about YOU! Teaching in the primary classroom isn’t for the faint of heart and this is especially true as you near the end of the school year! It can feel chaotic, overwhelming, and just plain crazy at times! This is why I highly recommend taking some time to think about you and how to make sure and keep that added stress in check! Here are some of my favorite teacher sanity tips.
Don’t take on too much
I know that in this Pinterest-worthy world there can be a lot of pressure to do it ALL and do it perfectly. But just remember, that’s not real life. While planning a fun party day with your students is a great idea, you don’t need to jump on board with every idea you see and completely overload your plate. Primary students are often over the moon for simple, fun, creative and cheap party ideas. Stick with the basics!
Use a last-day countdown
This one may seem small and maybe even a little silly, but sometimes when the days feel extra crazy, just seeing that countdown ’till summer is enough to help you make it through!
Keep a list of what works
I wish I had started this sooner! There is no better advice than that of your own from years past! Keep notes on the way that you close down your classroom, organize for the following year, and party ideas that worked (and flopped) to make next year easier! It’s the best gift to yourself to look back on what you did prior and not have to reinvent the wheel every single year.
Make The End Of The School Year Fun!
I hope you enjoyed hearing all of my favorite tips and tricks for navigating the end of the school year! I know it can be a super hectic time, but don’t forget to have fun too! Soon it will all be over and your kiddos will be on their way to the next grade! Enjoy the fun days, laugh at the silly moments, and remember you don’t have to do it all. Stick with the simple stuff, that you know your students will love and won’t leave you feeling totally exhausted. Enjoy the final weeks and happy teaching!
Save These Ideas For Later
Don’t forget to save these ideas on your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you will be all set to tackle the end of the school year in your classroom!