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18 End-Of-School Year Activities to Kick Off Summer Break

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Photo of Jeanne Sager
Updated | 8 min read

The big tests are done, and you’re still compiling those end of the school year grades — but there is an end in sight. What time is it? It’s end-of-year activities time!

Whether your students are only attending school for half days now or their time is being split between the classroom and all those assemblies and ceremonies that go on in the last weeks and days of school, there’s still a lot of time to keep your students engaged and thinking. With that in mind, we’ve got some tools for your teacher toolkit that can help you strike just the right note at the end of the school year!

End of Year Activities for Elementary

The teachers on the Teach Starter team put their heads together, and we’ve split these suggestions into two parts.

On the one hand, you’ve got activities that are all about celebrating the end of the school year and the summer break that’s about to happen — activities that are focused on fondly remembering the weeks and months you’ve spent together as a class and revisiting some of the learning accomplishments.

On the other hand, our teacher team knows that this is the time of year when students want to get up and move, and we’ve put together options that will get them out of their seats … and thinking!

Build a Bridge Challenge

STEM activities are what we like to call hands-on and minds-on for students, and they’re perfect for those last few days of school not only to engage your students but to help use up some of those classroom supplies that are left over … especially if you’re going to have to move from room to room over the summer!

Challenge your students to build a bridge with a variety of items in the classroom that you set out for them. Don’t forget to throw in some of those items you’re trying to use up (craft sticks? leftover paper straws? pipe cleaners? paper clips?).

The bridge should cover the gap between two level surfaces — ideally two desks, but you may want to add the challenge of determining the surfaces to up the challenge for older students — and groups will be judged on the strength of their bridge when you (the judge!) begin to load it down with weight.

Make Memories That Stick!

Take a journey down memory lane to celebrate the end of the school year with your students — the skills gained, the goals achieved, the friends made, and so much more. A perfect way for encourage self-reflection, it’s also a nice way to celebrate the wins from this school year, both the big ones and the small ones!

Print the free memory cactus template now

memory template end of school year activity

PomPom Drop Challenge

There’s one more STEM challenge that we love at the end of the year — creating a Rube Goldberg-type machine! This simple activity works well when there are only a few days of school left because the materials are largely recyclable and can be dropped right into your classroom recycling bin, so no one has to cart home something big and heavy.

The goal for students is to create a drop for pompoms that ensures they’ll land in a cup at the bottom. To make it happen, they’ll get toilet paper rolls (or paper towel rolls), tape, a cup, and a pompom (of course). Who can create the most complicated course for their pompom and still make it into the cup?

Try these STEM challenges for more end of year activities that are “hands-on” and “minds-on”!

Write a Class Comic

Your students have gotten to know you so well over the past school year. Who better to help next year’s class of students?

As a whole class or in groups, students can brainstorm and write a comic for the students who will be in your class next year. What advice, tips, and hints would they give them on how to survive and do well in your class? What were the hardest parts? What did they enjoy?

Teach Starter Teacher Tip: Use Comic Strip Templates to assist your students with the writing process.

comic strip template

Play Summer Would You Rather

Would you rather go swimming or hiking? Would you rather eat a sno-cone or an ice pop? Decisions, decisions!

Give your students a needed brain break for the end of the year with a fun summer-themed game of Would You Rather, encouraging them to walk to a specific wall in the classroom to answer the questions.

You can also use these tasks cards to encourage students to practice writing — there’s even a Google Slides version to share with remote students.

Summer Ice Cream Science Experiment

File this under some cool science students will love: Make your very own ice cream right in the classroom. All it takes is a little muscle and some simple ingredients!

Make sure you check on your students’ allergies first. We’ve outlined a simple vanilla dairy version below, but we will give some hints and tips for alternatives at the bottom!

Word of caution: This ice cream is deliciously rich and creamy! Make sure your students eat it in moderation to avoid getting a stomachache.

 

Materials:

  • one small jelly jar per student (make sure you use a straight-sided jelly jar as those with rounded shoulders should not go in the freezer!)
  • paper towel
  • a freezer
  • measuring spoons

Approximate ingredients per jar (based on a 12 ounce glass jelly jar) :

  • half a jar of thickened cream
  • 1 tbs of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients into the jar and tightly close the lid.
  2. Shake the jar for approximately 5 minutes, or until you can no longer hear the cream shaking (your students may need to take a bit longer depending on their muscle endurance!).
  3. Once the cream is nice and thick, wrap the jar in a wet piece of paper towel and freeze for at least one hour.

You will need to sit it out of the freezer for about 10 minutes to let it soften a little. But remember, it doesn’t have any stabilizers in it so it will melt fast!

For a dairy-free alternative, try using coconut cream in place of dairy cream. Alternatively, you can use mashed overripe banana for a delicious healthy option, just leave out the shaking!

Alternative Flavors:

We made a chocolate-mint version by adding half a teaspoon of peppermint essence to the cream and added some chocolate chips after shaking! You can also make a delicious chocolate ice cream by simply adding a tablespoon of cocoa into the mix.

After the ice cream, dig into an ice cream sundae that won’t leave you wiping down the desks — each “scoop” is just a helping of memories from the year that was.

Make Last Day of School Crowns

When their cubbies are emptied, and you’ve sent home all their work from the year, what else is there to do as a last day of school activity but make something special to crown it all? Get the printable last day of school crown!

last day of school crown

Cup Challenge

Another great STEM challenge to add to your end of year activities list takes the traditional cup tower challenge and adds a major twist.

As usual, students work in a small group to build a pyramid with 10 small cups. Once they’re done, they then need to add a small figurine — such as a LEGO minifig or action figure — on the top of the tower. Seems easy?

Ah, but they must do this without touching the cups or figurine with their hands. All you will provide to make it happen is craft sticks, string, and a rubber band.

Sit back, and watch the problem-solving begin!

Teach Starter Teacher Tip: Sign up for a free account, and you can use our Random Name Picker tool to make breaking students into groups quicky and easy!

Create “My Summer” Self-Portraits

Unleash the artist within with this fun self-portrait activity to get students (even more) excited about summer break. For this end of the year activity, you can either print out an image of each of your students or ask them to draw a self-portrait themselves.

We used the glasses that are available as part of the Funky Easter Bunny Craft Template. Print off the desired page, and let your students get to work drawing their ideal summer activity!

Summer Post Card Writing

Your students learned a lot about writing this school year, so put it to work with the Summer Foldable Postcard activity. Each student can write a postcard to one of next year’s students. A fun alternative to this activity is to practice those summer memories with a postcard at the start of school next year!

Create Summer Bucket Lists

For Primary Students

Who says bucket lists are just for grown-ups? This cute bucket and spade activity is one you can use to create a wall display of all the things your students are looking forward to in the upcoming summer break.

summer bucket list for elementary students

Instruct your students to color in the fun Summer Bucket List Template, then fill in the blanks with all their summer faves. Cut out each bucket and spade and fold the tabs back. Then, you’re ready to attach the tabs to your classroom wall to make a 3-D display. It’s bucketloads of fun! Why not use some felt or tissue paper to fill in each bucket with ‘sand’?

For the older kids

You didn’t think we’d forget your fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, did you? They can make their own bucket list too! Print the Summer Bucket List flip book in black and white or color, staple it together, and hand over to your upper-elementary students to write out a list of summer break plans.

Summer Word Search

Finally, you can’t go past a classic summer vocabulary word search to entertain the little tired minds in your classroom at the end of the year. Make a simple word search with some summer vocabulary and our Create Your Own Word Search Widget. If your students get through this activity, why not ask them to create their own word search using some vibrant summer vocabulary of their own!

Reflect on the Year

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the year that was, and the end of this historic school year is certainly no different. Encourage your pre-k and kindergarten students to sit down and draw pictures to let their parents know what they learned this year.

Download dozens of end of year activities and teaching resources created and curated by the expert teachers at Teach Starter!

 

Banner image via shutterstock/Andrew Angelov

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