The big tests are done, and you’re still compiling those end-of-the-school-year grades — but there is an end in sight. It’s the last day of school 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!
Explore some of our teacher team’s favorite end-of-year activities and things to do on the last day of school!
Last Day of School Activities for Elementary
Write and Pass
Write a series of prompts on different pieces of paper (or print out ready-made prompts), and have the students write a sentence before passing it to the next person. When the story has made the complete rounds of the classroom, you can read it out loud or award that honor to the student who completed the last sentence.
Write Letters to Favorite School Staff
Brighten the day of your school librarian, custodians and other members of the school staff by challenging your students to write thank you letters to their favorite member of the school staff on the last day before summer break begins. When the students have completed their letters, distribute them to your colleagues (or just slip them in their inter-office mailbox) to give each person some feel-good vibes to end out the school year.
This is a great way to subtly remind kids that there are so many valuable members of your school staff!
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 a free memory cactus template now!
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:”
- Build a Pirate Ship (upper elementary instructions)
- Build a Pirate Ship (primary grades instructions)
- Recreate Famous Landmarks
- Build a Theme Park
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.
- one small mason 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
- Add all the ingredients into the jar and tightly close the lid.
- 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!).
- 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, you can use coconut cream in place of dairy cream. Alternatively, you can use mashed overripe banana for a delicious healthy option. Just leave out the shaking!
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.
Write Letters to Next Year’s Class
Put this year’s students in charge of welcoming next year’s students to the classroom with letters about being in your classroom! This year’s class can share memories, explain what your students will learn, and explain anything that’s specific to your instruction. You could even use these letters for a simple back-to-school bulletin board in the fall.
Head Off on a Virtual Field Trip
Project a video on your whiteboard that takes your class on an adventure to a national park, a zoo or any of the thousands of virtual field trips that classes can take these days. After the “trip,” do a turn and talk, and write or draw about each one.
Bring on the Drama
Sharpen those speaking and listening skills one last time before summer break begins. Read a short play with your students, and have them act out the different parts.
Need a play to read? Try a readers theater script!
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!
Create “My Summer” Selfies
Unleash the artist within with this fun self-portrait activity to get students (even more) excited about summer break. For this last day of school activity, you can either print out an image of each of your students or ask them to draw a self-portrait themselves.
Want to add some summer fun? We used the glasses that are available as part of our Free Funky Easter Bunny Craft Template to add some summer flair to ours! Print off the desired page, and let your students draw their ideal summer activity along with their selfie.
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. Have students write a postcard to someone they love that tells them all about their favorite memory from the school year — whether it’s a particular lesson, a field trip, or something funny that happened during a morning meeting.
A fun alternative to this last day activity is to share 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.
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.
Play a Giant Game of Rochambeau
Maybe you know rochambeau better as rock, paper, scissors? Whatever you call it, a mega class game is a lot of fun to play on the last day of school and requires absolutely no preparation (or clean-up!). Break students out into pairs to play this hand-based game. The winner of each match will then move on to play the winner of another match, while the “losers” become the cheering section as the competition is whittled down for the final match-up.
Want to make this last day game last even longer? Make the games “best two out of three” instead of an instant knock out.
Have a Classroom Snowball Fight
The mercury may be rising outside (or in those classrooms without the benefit of air-conditioning), but you can still have a snowball fight on the last day of school!
Split your class into two teams facing one another. Have each student write three things about themselves and wad it into a snowball, then let the snowball fight commence! Set a time for a few minutes of “fight” time, then have students each grab a snowball and read the items listed, guessing whose paper it is.
Summer Word Search
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?
Celebrate Summer With Summer Art
Practice following instructions while making fun summer-themed art that students can take home on the last day of school! This printable “summer” glyph activity requires students to pay close attention to just which colors and patterns they will need to use in each letter to get the perfect piece of summer art.
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.
What Should I Know?
Hand every student a sticky note, and ask them to write one thing on the note that they think you should know. Students can sign their names or leave the name off of the note, making it anonymous. They can then place it on a section of the whiteboard for you to read later.
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