Can you believe it? Another school year is almost over in the northern hemisphere! Another unprecedented year that was no doubt filled with highs, lows, and everything in between. (On the unprecedented note - anyone else keen for a totally precedented year next year?!)
For most teachers, reaching the end of year feels like reaching the end of a marathon - you’re excited, elated, exhausted and you have just enough in the tank to cross the finish line.
So - northern hemis-phrends - how do YOU send off the school year in style? Today I thought I’d share some of the ideas I’ve seen, used and loved. After all, it’s time to celebrate that beautiful class of yours and the fantastic work you’ve done together!
The countdown is ON! Image via @latteloveforteaching.
1. Try a Balloon Countdown
Lately I’ve been tagged a few times in the Balloon Countdown, and it’s such a fun idea! Basically, you stick a bunch of balloons to your whiteboard, number them and each day a student earns the reward of popping one.
Start the summer break with a bang! Image via @abcswithmissb
You can pop them in countdown order (from 10 to 1, for instance) or for a fun twist, you can match the balloon numbers to a list of fun activities and pop them in a random order.
Now I know some people genuinely can’t stand the sound of balloons popping, so you can replace the balloons with envelopes (with the activity ideas inside) and skip the popping aspect altogether.
It’s so gorgeous to see a variety of Balloon Countdowns in classrooms all over the world. (And - I have to say - how beautifully they’re matched to my alphabet and number posters!) Images via @frokensklassrumtips (L) and @mmerobins (R).
2. Give a Little Gift
One affordable, fun and sweet way to commemorate the end of year is with Bubble Wand Student Gifts. You can usually pick Bubble Wands up at Walmart (or Kmart locally) for under a dollar, so it’s a super cheap way to treat the whole class. My labels are editable so you can customise them with the student’s name, and there’s even an option for classes with two teachers.
Dear Miss Hayden, your bubble wand gifts have totally blown me away! @_missjosephine
I typically love to give the wands away on the final day of class, after an afternoon of having fun with bubbles more broadly. And to be specific, I mean giant bubbles! Here’s a fantastic recipe for creating mega bubbles and mega wands - it works a treat.
It’s always a lovely way to get outside, blow off some steam and some generate giggles. And, it means your bubble wand gifts serve as a reminder of the fun they had on their final day.
Simple, sweet and super affordable.
3. Compile Your Memories Into a Slideshow
One of the very last things I do with my students on our final day together is to sit them down on the rug, turn the lights off and play a little slideshow. (And - because it’s a special occasion - I’ll usually hand out some sweet treats too.)
Slideshows are an end of year staple, but you know me - I can’t help but jujz it up a little with my Google Slides.
I’ll fill the slideshow with plenty of photos, a few little video clips and any lovely observations about their growth and achievements. I always take great care in choosing songs for the soundtrack - I start with songs they’ve loved throughout the year (even the cheesy educational ones!) and end on a more poignant note. There’s nothing nicer than filling their little cups with nostalgia as they head out your door for the last time.
Ah the memories!
Here are some examples of the kinds of slides you can use from my Google Slides. While you could absolutely just cycle through photos, there’s something special about sharing your insights too. Plus, bonus points if you send it to the parents, so they’ can see how awesome their child’s teacher was! ;)
Make sure you send your slideshows to the parents so they can see their kids’ amazing teacher!
4. Lead a Guided Affirmation Session
A guided affirmation session can help the students understand all of the things they learned and achieved throughout the year, and act as a lovely confidence booster.
Start by compiling a list of things that the group achieved as a whole - for instance, learning about the solar system. Then, gather around your affirmation station and have your students repeat ‘I can’ or ‘I am’ statements. For example, ‘I can name all of the planets in the solar system!’
I’ll never tire of seeing my Affirmation Stations in your beautiful classrooms! These two are via the lovely @homesweet.classroom and @myteacherlibrarianlife.
Then, one by one, ask the students to repeat a specific character-based affirmation, based on your observation of them. Things like ‘I am calm when things are tough’ or ‘I am a great friend to those who feel lonely’ or ‘I can talk to the whole class with confidence.’
Your students will be amazed by everything the’ve learned and achieved, and it sets a lovely tone to end on.
My newest Boho Plants Affirmation Station design.
5. Create a Time Capsule
Our students change so much year to year, so I love compiling a few items and preserving them as a time capsule.
I start with a writing activity, prompting students to write themselves a letter answering personal reflective questions, like - what am I proud of? What do I want to work on? How would my friends and family describe me? What is my favourite game to play, and show to watch?
Over the year our kiddos can get quite attached to their name on the door display, so I love to pop it in their time capsules. These gorgeous door displays are via @lifeandloveoflearning @teach_with_coffee right.
Then, I’ll gather some simple things into a large envelope; their student goals, their door display name labels, some photos and work examples. And finally, I include a letter from myself using my ‘Meet the Teacher’ template explaining the time capsule. I list a few timely facts (like world issues of the day) and the classes’ favourite activities and seal it all up. I pop it in a box, and label it with the year they completed it, and the year they’ll graduate primary school.
The Meet the Teacher template makes an easy way to structure your letter in the time capsule.
Then, when they’re ready to graduate years later, I’ll pass their envelopes to their current teachers. I find that doing the time capsule exercise and distribution on the same day means I never forget, and it’s super simple.
Two other options for your time capsule - the students’ goals and classroom jobs. Both function as a lovely little reminder of the year that was!
6. Have Some Good Ol’ Fashion Fun
Finally, BFFs - my biggest hot tip for the end of the year is to include plenty of good old fashioned fun. Embrace the activities that have no educational value, forget your curriculum for a moment and just enjoy the last little bits of each other's company.
My advice? Each afternoon, grab your kiddos, go outside and go hard on the party games. I’m talking all the classics - three legged races, egg and spoon races, eating donuts on a string with no hands, pass the parcel - all of the classics. Use this fun time as a reward incentive for those last days where their behavior can be a little… feral.
And don’t feel guilt about it - it’s okay to enjoy the end of the year. Because if I know one thing BFF, it’s that you’ve earned it!
Here’s to you, BFF!