The Final Countdown! Activities for the Last Days of School

About Lori H Rice

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade for the past 19 years. Her students read books that are held together by tape, and because of budget cuts her school does not have a full-time librarian, art teacher, technology teacher or music teacher. As a result, she says, “our schedules are limited and cannot be arranged for what is best for students.”

EndOfSchoolMay always comes in with a gust and flies by.  I scramble to reflect on the year, cram in last-minute curriculum, organize parents and lunches for field trips & play day, wrap my head around the data that must be collected, input data into spreadsheets, finalize grades & collect back work to finalize grades, make thank you gifts or cards for my room parents, complete my classroom inventory, and all the while I am teaching.  Along with the crazy end of the year shuffle also comes spring weather, the start of baseball practices, later evenings, and students who are just as excited about summer as I am.  This creates a challenge for teachers.  How do you find meaningful activities to keep students engaged until the end of the year?

Digital Yearbook

Have students brainstorm a list of the topics, projects, units and activities that you have done throughout the year in class.  It is helpful to organize these by month.  If your students keep a daily agenda or you have a classroom blog or calendar those are good reminders and helpful guides.  Next, select one or two items from the list and write paragraphs telling them.  This is a good time to remind students about word choice and sentence fluency. When the paragraphs are completed, have students type these into PowerPoint.  You can have each student create their own version or you can compile them into a class project. Add classroom photos from the year.  These can be pulled from your blog or added from your classroom resource.  Finally, email these to families so students have a digital yearbook of their classroom experiences.  These are also great for last day presentations.

Future Self

Talk about the topics and big ideas you covered during the year.  Have students think about what they want to do when they grow up.  Challenge them to think of something you learned this year that sparks a career interest.  Next, have students to brainstorm a list of possibilities and then select one career from the list they think they may want to do when they grow up. Ask students to answer these questions about their future career:

  1. What can you do this summer that is related to your career?
  2. What tools will you use in your career?
  3. What schooling will you need for your career?
  4. Who do you know that has this career now?
  5. What did you learn this year that will help you with this career?

Use a cube template or cut 4X4 squares of construction paper for students to tape together.  Each student will need 6 squares to organize into a cube net.  On each square write or draw pictures to answer the questions from above leaving one square for their name and career choice.  Tape or glue these together when they are complete.  If you have an old empty frame, have each student write their future career on a strip of paper.  Tape it to the edge of the frame and take a picture of each student holding the frame so their face appears in the middle.

Playground Math

This one is open-ended.  Take chalk outside and have students work math problems on the cement or playground.  Practice math facts and create number lines.  Place decimals, fractions, and whole numbers along the lines.  Give them anything they can do inside on a piece of notebook paper–just do it outside!

Relay Race

Think about tasks or steps you can break down.  Take students outside and divide them into groups.  Set a whiteboard and maker station for each group.  Give the group a challenge.  They must complete all of the work on the board one member at a time.  For example, provide a multiple step story problem for each group to read together.  The first person must run down and complete the first part of the problem.  They then return and another member runs down to complete the second part.  They continue until they have an answer and label.  For language, give students a topic and they must write a group story or poem.  The first person runs down and write the first sentence or line.  The second person runs down to complete the second and so on.  Teaching science, give them a diagram challenge.  Each player must draw or label part of a diagram.  Anything that can be broken into steps or parts can be used for a relay race.

The end of the year is always a delicate balance between having fun, reflecting on the year, and keeping things under control while continuing to learn.  Next week we will have our last week of school.  I plan to keep my kids busy thinking and learning with these activities.  What are you going to do?

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About the Author:

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade for the past 19 years. Her students read books that are held together by tape, and because of budget cuts her school does not have a full-time librarian, art teacher, technology teacher or music teacher. As a result, she says, “our schedules are limited and cannot be arranged for what is best for students.”

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  1. […] great resources to pick some up for cheap) so we can take spelling test or complete work outside.  For more ideas check out this article.  Setting up some simple expectations, like any good classroom management, will allow you to open […]

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