The end of the year is almost here! However, as spring fever begins to set in, teaching becomes much more difficult. Students and teachers alike reflect on the year gone by, but mostly dream of summer. Here are five ways I like to keep students engaged at this time of year, during downtime, and after standardized tests:
Thank You Notes
The first idea is writing thank you notes to school staff members. This is a great way to show gratitude for all of the people who keep the school running including: janitors, cafeteria staff, librarians, paraprofessionals, office staff, coaches, and more.
Everyone appreciates a sincere thank you, and it doesn’t cost anything. I think it’s important to teach kids the importance of gratitude, and the laid-back last days of school are a great time to fit this in. Check out this free printable card students can color for their teachers from the awesome graphic artist Sarah Pecorino.
Next, it’s great to review key terms and vocabulary. You can do this through fun activities like crossword puzzles and word searches. These don’t feel like work, but they do serve an educational purpose and can be a fun “sponge activity” when kids start to get restless. Want your kids to focus on a task quickly? Build a word search with the names of each student. I’ve never seen such excitement over an activity I created in three minutes!
Self-Reflection and Goal Setting
Another great activity for this time of the year is goal setting and self-reflection writing prompts. These are a nice way to wrap up the school year and set intentions for the summer and next school year. Writing about these things is meaningful for students. Meaningful assignments are one of the key ways to motivate reluctant writers!
Additionally, I like to introduce a little bit of content from the upcoming grade level. It can be fun to try games and competitions related to new material. For example, I have a set of international idioms that students need to try to guess the meanings of. They have so much fun with these strange sayings, while previewing a term they will learn next year (“idiom”). Everyone is on a level playing field with these, since they are completely unfamiliar to most students. Look up a Kahoot or similar activity from the next grade level.
Finally, you can never go wrong with coloring! There are many benefits to coloring. My color by number resources are a great way to engage with content without making it feel like work. For less structured time, I like to give students famous inspirational quotes along with mandalas to color. I love making coloring pages available for students during standardized test season for early finishers and those moments of downtime. These look beautiful hanging in the classroom for end of the year parties, and they can also make nice gifts for students to give teachers.
You can find all of these activities and more in an easily printable packet here! If you prefer a paperless digital option, they are also available for digital use on Google slides here. However, some of the pages are really better suited to print, like the coloring pages.
Do you have any great ideas for the end of the school year? Let me know in the comments!