It’s been a strange school year for many, to say the least. As it draws to a close, spend some time talking about what made it unique, recalling the good memories, and reflecting on all you’ve learned. These end of year assignments provide activities for those final days on the school calendar, with both in-person and virtual ideas to fit every kind of classroom. Let the countdown begin!
1. Serve up a scoop of memories
Here’s a sweet way to celebrate the end of the year! Make paper ice cream sundaes, with a different memory on each scoop. You can have kids draw these themselves or buy a printable version at the link below.
Learn more: True Life I’m A Teacher
2. Post Flipgrid farewell videos
Flipgrid is one of our favorite classroom tools, whether you’re teaching in person or online. Post some end of year topics, like “What did you learn this year?” or “Share your favorite memory from the past year.” Kids post their video responses and check out other students’ contributions too.
3. Plan a dream vacation
Kids are already dreaming of how they’ll fill the summer hours, so this last-minute math activity will be pure fun! Give kids a budget (say, $2,500) and then send them off to research whether their dream trip can be accomplished. Make sure they include airfare or gas money, lodgings, food, spending money, and all the incidentals that add up when you travel.
4. Compile an end of year playlist
Songs are like smells—just hearing one can bring back all kinds of memories. Ask students (as a class or individually) to compile a list of songs that relate to the past school year and have them write about why each tune has a place on the list. Celebrate the last day of school by listening to songs from the playlist as you reflect on the year gone by.
Learn more: Reading and Writing Haven
5. Fill up a memory bag
Give each student a brown paper bag, then ask them to decorate the front and add some reflections about the year on the other three panels. Then, each student adds 10 items from the year to their bag, with notes about why each is important. Finish up by having each kid lay out their items on their desk. Have a gallery walk around the room for everyone to see each others’ selections.
Learn more: Runde’s Room
6. Research and write a commencement speech
Commencement speeches aren’t only for graduations! Finish out the year by reading or watching other great commencements speeches (the web is full of them). Then challenge students to write—and deliver, if you like—their own speeches for the year they’ve just finished.
Learn more: 2 Peas and a Dog
7. List what you’ve learned from A to Z
What a great way to look back over what kids have learned! For each letter of the alphabet, have them write and illustrate something they learned or did throughout the year. Hit the link below to get a free printable template for this project. Learning virtually? Have students create a Google slideshow instead.
Learn more: Teaching with Jennifer Findley
8. Send thank you notes
This is a skill every kid should learn—writing and sending thank you notes. Have kids write a note to someone who made their school year special, then seal them in envelopes, address them, and deliver by hand or mail. And while you’re at it, why not write a thank you note to your own class?
Learn more: Cult of Pedagogy
9. Post best-of-the-year snapshots
Ask your students to sum up their favorite school-year memory (Science Fair? Field Day? Creative class presentations?) in one snapshot. Younger kids can draw pictures of the event, while older kids are likely to have a photo on their phone they’d be willing to share. Assemble them on a bulletin board—real-world or digital—with a few words from each student about what made that moment so special.
Learn more: Little Soaring Eagles
10. Count the days
Instead of counting down the days until the end, count up the days from the year behind you! Get students counting by having them use a calendar to figure out how many Mondays you’ve had this year, how many Fridays, how many P.E. days, and how many Jello-in-the-cafeteria days. Then work together to make a bar graph and hang it on the wall.
11. Let the students become the teachers
Take a break and let the students lead the class for a change. If you’re reviewing material for finals or an end-of-year test, have each student (or a group) lead the review session on a particular topic. You can also have your students create their own lesson on a topic they’re passionate about. And we love this idea of having kids in one grade make and present lessons on what students in the grade below them can expect to learn the following year. There are a lot of options here, and all of them give you time to take a breather!
12. Talk behind each other’s backs (really!)
Have your students help tape a piece of lined paper to one another’s backs. Have each student get out a felt-tipped marker (not a Sharpie—it may bleed through). Set a timer and put on some favorite music. Let the students mix around the room and write a positive message on each student’s paper. For example, The best thing about you is …, What I appreciate most about you is …, I remember …, etc. After a set amount of time, have students stop, remove their papers from their backs and enjoy reading the words of love from their classmates. (For a socially distanced spin, create a Google slide or Padlet template for each student instead.)
13. Coast into summer
These DIY memory coasters are easy to make and give kids an end-of-year souvenir to take home. Get the free printable templates and complete instructions here.
14. Read a book to get some closure
Little ones especially have a hard time with the end of a school year. Next year lots of things will be different, and that can be a sad and even scary thought for some. Try this list of young reader books like The Egg by M. P. Robertson to spark conversations about what kids have learned and what lies ahead.
15. Dream about the summer ahead
Here’s an end of year assignment that includes both art and writing. Have kids draw a portrait of themselves, then use the template at the link below to cut out and decorate an enormous pair of sunglasses. On the glasses, have them write about their summer plans (or the plans they’d like to have).
Learn more: Third Grade Love
16. Raise a glass and toast your class
Students get a chance to practice public speaking in a very meaningful way at this end of year activity. Get a few liters of ginger ale and plastic champagne flutes from a party store, arrange your students in a circle, and have everyone say something—maybe a goal for the next school year, well-wishes for their peers, a favorite memory. After everyone has spoken, lift your glasses with a cheer and celebrate to end the school year.
17. Author a six-word memoir
This project has taken the world by storm. In six words, can you capture the essence of your school year? Kids can spend a little or a lot of time on this one, refining their words and even illustrating them. Collect them all into a slide show (anonymous, if kids prefer) to share on the last day.
Learn more: Six Words Memoir Project
18. Take a field trip to the next grade
Take your class to visit the classrooms they’ll be in next year. Arrange to spend some time with the teachers, talk to the students, and hear more about what they’ll be learning. This is a good way to allay fears many kids have about moving on from a classroom where they’ve been comfortable. (You can do this as a Zoom tour and meet-and-greet too.)
19. Design a school seal
In this fun end-of-year activity that’s perfect for social studies, have your students design a “Great Seal” for their school. First, break them into groups to talk about what makes your school special and memorable for them. Then, have each kid (or group) create their own “seal” based on the ones used by states and cities. This project is especially meaningful for kids about to move on to another school like junior high.
Learn more: Create Teach Share
20. Determine your “People of the Year”
Time Magazine can’t have all the fun! Help your students to compile of list of the “People of the Year” for your class. Include people important to your classroom (the custodian, the principal, everyone’s favorite “lunch lady”) along with classroom visitors and speakers from the year. Add in some people from current events and pop culture (the current president, a favorite musician) and even folks they studied throughout the year (Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart). Try to take or draw portraits of each, and assign each student to write a brief bio of one of the people included.
21. Write letters or tips for next year’s class
Who better to advise next year’s class on what they’ll need to succeed than the kids who’ve just finished doing it? They can write letters on their own or work together to create a master list of what it takes to make it in the next grade.
Learn more: Diary of a Public School Teacher
22. Create science-inspired art
Ask your students to create a wall-worthy piece of art that reflects something they learned in science. Did you study plants? Maybe a watercolor of flowers. Or if you studied space? A cosmic-inspired number. Send their work home to help them remember, or collect them to create a bulletin board that will inspire next year’s class about what they’ll be learning.
23. Host an open-mic night
Encourage kids to share the writing they’ve done in (and out of) class with an open mic event. Set up a stage complete with microphone and stool—get great tips for this at the link below—then bring kids up to tell a story or recite a poem. Overcome stage fright with a cool casual vibe and plenty of snacks. Invite friends and family to attend or watch virtually via Zoom.
Learn more: Teaching… the Art of Possibility
24. Compose an end-of-year continuing story
Write several story titles like “The Great Summer Adventure,” “How My Teacher Lost Her Mind,” or “My Teacher, My Hero” at the top of blank pages. Then, have each student start a story and, after five minutes, pass the story to a neighbor who will continue writing. (Do this digitally on Google Docs if you’re not able to share supplies from person to person.) Continue writing round-robin style until you have several stories to read aloud to the class.
25. Publish a year-end newspaper
You can do this one as a group or individually. Create a basic newspaper template and have the class fill in the front page news. Recap the year, offer advice, illustrate favorite memories, and more. Then, pass these on to the grade below to give them an idea of what lies ahead.
Learn more: Teaching With a Mountain View
26. Perform a High (or Middle or Elementary) School Musical number
Break your students into groups and have them create (and perform) musical numbers commemorating the year. They can write new words to existing tunes, choreograph a lip-sync performance to an inspiring or memorable song, or even come up with something entirely new. Invite parents or other classes to a final-day performance, in person or online.
27. Assemble a Book Hall-of-Fame
Have each student write (or draw) a reflection on the best book they read during the year. Then, save their reflections and post them on a bulletin board or Padlet so that next year’s students can glean reading ideas.
Source: Kerri Pierce/Pinterest
28. Play end-of-year charades
Have each student write out one memorable moment from the school year on a slip of paper. Collect all the slips in a bag, hat, etc. Divide kids into teams and have them come up one team at a time, choose a slip and act out the memory for the group. No need to keep score—the goal is just to relive all the happy memories from the year.
29. Start a school graffiti wall
Choose a wall in your school or classroom and encourage kids to sign their name and date with a quote or other memory. Use permanent markers or small paintbrushes. Each year, photograph the wall and then paint over it to start anew. If you have enough space, these walls can last longer and only be painted over every so many years, creating much more enduring memories. No wall room? Try a bulletin board or large sheet of paper instead.
Learn more: The Literacy Leader
30. Hold a “Stuff You Should Know” event
Take a day or a week to pass on important things you want your kids to know as they move on in life without you. Share poems, songs, TED talks, quotes, books, and tips that you think will help them along their way. Don’t forget to include simple life lessons (registering and preparing to vote, protecting yourself online, how to behave on an elevator) that school usually doesn’t teach you. Learn more about this end-of-year activity here.
31. Print up a growing tree
Capture each student’s fingerprint as a tree leaf! Label them with their names, then hang them in your room from year to year so kids can see who’s come before them.
Source: Martin Koprowski/Pinterest
32. Build a portfolio showcase
Throughout the year, have students save their best work in a folder or box. Then, at the end of the year, each student chooses their favorite items to display in a portfolio like a binder or display board. Invite parents and friends to come to view everyone’s achievements.
33. Put together time capsules
Students will have so much fun assembling time capsules to be opened someday in the future. These can be as simple as a plastic water bottle filled with written memories or a shoebox stuffed with items to represent what they did and learned over the school year.
Learn more: Mrs. Richardson’s Class
34. Draw a school year timeline
Classroom walls can start to look empty at the end of the year as you take things down to prepare for summer. Temporarily fill in the space with a long strip of butcher paper, then have kids create a timeline of the year. Break it down by month, then ask kids what they remember. Prompt their memories by having them look over their work (what a fun way to review!), and don’t forget to include events, speakers, and holiday celebrations.
Learn more: Minds in Bloom
35. Fill out an end-of-year roundup
Sometimes you just need a quick activity that doesn’t take a lot of prep, and that’s where this free printable comes in. Personalize it by taking and printing a photo of each student, or have them draw their own portrait in the space provided.
Learn more: Squarehead Teachers