6 Ways to Make the Last Few Weeks of School Fun and Meaningful

Celebrating Summer and Preparing for a New Year

McGraw-Hill
May 15 · 7 min read

For most districts, the end of the school year is quickly approaching, which can mean many things for teachers and students: extra stress, exhaustion, and a rush to wrap things up — but also the end of testing, the start of excitement, celebration, and some relaxation.

Amidst the chaos of the last few weeks of school, it can be easy to run through the motions of daily class work, subsequently missing the opportunity to make the most of these last precious moments with students. With only a few weeks left to solidify meaningful relationships with your students and enrich their learning before they move on to another grade, here are a few strategies and activities you can use to cherish every remaining moment with your 2018–2019 class:

Provide Plenty of Opportunities for Reflection

As you’re crafting lessons and activities for the last few days of school, try to build in plenty of opportunities for students to reflect on what they’ve learned during the year, in ways that encourage critical thinking, self-reflection, and collaboration. Remind students of the activities they completed throughout the year and the most important content they’ve learned. Frame reflection activities as a celebration, but recognize how reflection can also serve as important review time for students before moving on to the next grade. If your students set individual or class-wide goals at the beginning of the year, be sure to revisit those before the year end.

For more resources and tools to foster student self-reflection from educators and education resource hubs, check out:

Make Time for Games!

The last few days of classroom time should be meaningful — but they should also be enjoyable! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your students at the end of the year. Instead, carve out time for fun and games. Keep a variety of easy-to-play games in your toolbox over the last few weeks to recenter students when they start to disengage, to fill moments of downtime, and simply to give them more time to interact with one another before school lets out — before summer starts and they leave the building, give them some happy memories of the classroom! Here are a few easy classroom games or similar activities to try out with your students:

Get Creative

In addition to reflecting and fun, the end of the year is a great time for self-expression and creativity. Make the most of the last few weeks of school by providing plenty of opportunities for students, no matter what age group you teach, to get creative and express themselves. Get messy with arts and crafts or use creative writing and performance skills to write poetry and put on skits. If you have days of warm spring weather and you’re able to move class outside, incorporate nature into your creative activities. Depending on the activities you choose, creative tasks can even lend themselves to additional moments of meaningful reflection. Here are a few examples of creative activities that could be implemented or adapted for the end of the year:

Communicate with Parents

While this element doesn’t involve time spent with students in the classroom, it’s still important for their success and will serve them in the summer and into the following school year. The end of the school year is a good time to communicate with parents about their students’ growth and achievement over the course of the year, and to prep them for summer learning opportunities. Parents are at the frontline of efforts to prevent learning loss from the summer slide, and it’s important to provide them with resources to continue learning opportunities over the summer as best as they can. Providing them with information about local, free summer learning events can be useful for parents and families who may not otherwise be aware of the resources available to them. Here are some resources to guide your communication with parents about summer learning activities:

From a Teacher: Take a Field Trip!

This next strategy for the end of the year is from a fabulous special education teacher, Karla Banks:

“After state testing is completed, the students are done with school, but we still have a few weeks left along with content to wrap up. To keep my kids engaged, I pair STEM projects with research. This year, our class is taking a “field trip” to the Amazon Rainforest. Since our plane crash-landed in the middle of the forest, we have to figure out how to create a safe, wind/water-resistant shelter, a catapult to protect ourselves from the wild animals, a zip line to move out of the trees quickly, along with several other challenges until we are able to escape from the forest. Along the way, the kids research the different animals that live in the forest to write their own ABC book of animals of the Amazon. They measure out string to see how tall the trees are in the Amazon. They also make a scaled drawing to help them get an idea of just how tall the trees are. We also listen to clips on YouTube of Amazon Rainforest sounds/animals while we are working to help set the stage. The kids love it and they are so engaged, they forget they are still working and learning.”

https://www.oneroomschoolhouse.net/2017/05/rainforest-adventure.html

Read Karla’s contribution to The Art of Teaching Project here:

Celebrate Growth and Achievement

Finally, spend your last few days with students celebrating! Focus on celebrating and showcasing student growth and achievement, socially, emotionally, and academically. The environment at the end of the school year lends itself perfectly to create a space where students can be proud of their work, explicitly recognize growth, and feel a sense of community with other students. In addition to celebrating achievements, some research suggests that even failures should be celebrated, which can be built into the positive self-reflection activities mentioned above. The key to celebrating growth at the end of the year is inclusivity — be sure every student has the opportunity to celebrate themselves by recognizing various types of growth and avoiding alienating any students in public celebrations. For more on celebration, inclusivity, and recognizing student growth, check out:


For more end-of-year motivation, check out this guest blog from an inspiring educator:

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

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Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.