Smooth Sailing into an Awesome End of the Year!

For most, testing is over or soon will be, and the school year is winding down.  From now until the last day, keeping those little sweeties focused, or at least manageable, can be a bit tricky. But you've got this!  By now, you've figured out what works and what doesn't.  You know that the very last week, especially, must be planned almost to the minute.  Have you gotten that far yet?  If you're like me, you'll want those ducks in a row and ready to go long before then.

I'd like to share some ideas that have really helped to keep these final days fun and much less stressful for me.  Perhaps some will be also be helpful to you as you plan.

Remembering the Year

One of the best activities for both students and teacher is taking some time to look back at our year and sharing our favorite moments.  I begin the discussion with several special memories - funny, exciting, happy, and unexpected times we've shared.  That's all it takes to get the kiddos excited to share one of their most memorable moments.  After everyone has had time to share, we begin our end of the year books.  They first fill out and color the book cover.

Throughout the week, we take out our memory books to complete and color the remaining pages.  On the final day, students exchange autographs on the last page which, of course, is the autograph page. The kids love doing these and the teacher gets some quiet time to tie up loose ends.  It's a win-win! Oh, and the parents love them, too!  If you're interested in these End of the Year books for your class, you can find them here:  2nd Grade, 1st Grade, Kindergarten.

Grade Level Spelling Bee 

My teammates and I decided years ago that we would have a grade-level spelling bee on one of the final days.  It turned out to be a great experience for both the students and teachers. so became an annual event.  The spelling words are taken from our yearlong list of weekly words.

A letter about the event and a list of the words are sent home several weeks before hand.  Then the week before the final week, each classroom holds our own spelling bee to narrow it down to the top five spellers.

During the Grade Level Spelling Bee, every class is represented by five students (that's 25 students for five classrooms) that are cheered on by their classmates.  Parents are also invited to attend if they wish.

An unbiased teacher/volunteer gives the words until a winner is crowned.  Actually we give an award and small prize to the top three spellers.  Again, everyone has a great time.

Grade Level Talent Show 

One year a teammate and I had classrooms full of talented kids.  We both loved music and aspiring talent and agreed this would be the perfect year to have a talent show. So then, the Annual Second Grade Talent Show was born.

Several weeks prior to the talent show, we send a letter home about the show, so parents will know and perhaps help their children prepare a talent. The date and time are given in the letter, along with an invitation for parents to attend.  Also, included is a date for auditions. It is made clear that every talent will be auditioned by the music teacher (she graciously agreed to help), and only talents that are fully prepared and suitable will be a part of the show.

Each classroom teacher has a signup sheet in the classroom for students to sign up for a talent performance.  They are allowed to perform individually or with a partner or group.  The signup sheet has a place for names, type of talent, and music (if used). Students are allowed to practice at school during recess or extra times, as well as at home.

On audition day, the music teacher is given the list of talents.  She usually does it during one or two of the regular class times with our kids.  She will make notes on our sheets and send them back to us so we know who made the cut.  These are the students who will perform at the talent show.

One of us types up a performance program to be handed out on the Talent Show day.

The kids, both performers and audience, enjoy the multitude of talent, including singing, dancing, magic tricks, gymnastics, and comedy.  Fun for all!

All School Fun/Field Day

All grades are scheduled to visit outdoor game stations prepared and monitored by specials teachers and volunteers.  Students break up in pairs and visit individual stations with Black Out cards that are punched or marked after completing each station.  Teachers and adults supervise students as they run from game to game trying to get "Black Out" for a small prize.  It's a fun time for all!

We also usually eat picnic-style sack lunches outside that day and play a little longer on the playground.  The kids love it!

Cleaning Up and Putting Away

If you've ever taught a second grader (or first grader, or.....), you know they LOVE to clean up!  What better help could you ask for?  By the last week of school, academics are over, and it's time to put things away.  Students stack textbooks for me to put back on closet shelves, they clean out their desks packing up notebooks and folders to take home, and they CLEAN!  I assign students to clean white boards, chalkboards and erasers, wipe down shelves and tables, and wash desktops.  We clean up and pack up all center activities.

Now, of course, as you know, it may not wise to have every student up and about all at the same time. You will need something they can be engaged in when they are not the ones cleaning.  That's when I use my End of the Year Memory Book pages, spaced throughout the day on each day during the last week.  Completing this book is such a great culminating activity for the year. They LOVE completing it and parents love it too!

  Picnic at the Park  

Every year, our grade level has an end of the year picnic at the park.  This is a walking field trip to the park and back.  Every student brings their own paper sack lunch and the teachers supply a couple of ice chests full of soda (one teacher or a volunteer drives and delivers them to the park).  We eat, play, and have fun for a big part of the day.  It's really quite relaxing.

End of the Year Awards and Gifts
At some point during the last few days, I have an awards ceremony.  The students so enjoy and take pride in receiving special awards made just for them.  I give out Candy Bar Wrapper Award Certificates, wrapped around Hershey bars or similar sized candy.  I have so much fun choosing just the right one for each individual student.  If you are interested in these awards, you can find them HERE.  Below is a small sample of what is offered and how I use them.

I also give each student a Candy Bar Wrapper wrapped around a Hershey bar as a gift.  You can see them below and download a FREE set by clicking on the image.

Do you have an end of the year awards ceremony?  I'd love to hear how you prepare and go about it.

I hope some of my ideas have been helpful to you for this busy, crazy time of the year.
I also wish each and every one of you a great end of the year and a Sweet Summer!  

Thanks for hanging around! :)


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