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The end of the school year is getting so close, I can almost smell it! While this is an exciting time of year, it is also one of the most challenging. Final assessments, report card writing and classroom cleaning all need to be squeezed into the final month or two of school.
Meanwhile, students are getting increasingly restless and harder to manage. In order to come out relatively unscathed, you need a collection of fun end of the year activities that will keep your kids engaged, motivated AND learning.
We deep dived into the recesses of our memory banks to come up with some of our favourite, student-approved and most successful end of year activities.
The Best End of Year Math Activities
This is a student favourite game every year. I’ve used it from Kindergarten to Grade 6 and it never gets old. The beauty of this game is that it is 100% customizable to your needs. Small group or whole class, any subject area, any age…
My kindies LOVED this game with letters, numbers or even sight words as the year progressed. A number of our junior and intermediate math units include SWAT games as a fun review activity for the relevant math content.
Check out a free one here for Grade 8 Financial Literacy Vocabulary.
You will need:
- 2 fly swatters (cheap and clean)
- Question cards (easily made on index cards or an existing set of flashcards)
- Answers – projected onto whiteboard for whole class or flashcards on table for small group
Display the ‘answers’ depending on how the game is to be played.
The caller (teacher or student) has the question cards. As a question is read, the students use their fly swatters to ‘swat’ the correct answer.
You can decide how you win based on time – the first/last team to rotate through everyone, the first team to a number of points…
Math Fact Baseball
This is a fun way to get restless kids outside and moving while still practising math facts. Make up the rules to suit your students but I like to have the ‘pitcher’ call out a math question (I usually keep it to mental math facts that *should* be memorized). In its simplest form, the ‘batter’ calls out an answer. If they’re right, they move to first base. Get it wrong, it’s a strike!
Personally, I think it’s more fun if a correct answer gives you the chance to actually hit the baseball. If your students are great baseball players, however, this can get old quickly. Switch out the bat and ball for a soccer ball and play soccer baseball instead. You’ll have a lot more action!
Get this pack of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division flashcards now.
This another activity that can be used to review just about any content. Have younger students find different colours, shapes or patterned objects. Older students can find improper fractions, rectangular prisms or supplementary angles.
Don’t have time to create your own? Here’s a ready-to-go Math Scavenger Hunt for Junior Grades. Just copy and staple!
Geometry Nature Art
Spring days are meant for getting outside and playing in the dirt, right? Challenge students to use sticks, rocks, leaves, sand, pinecones and whatever else they can find (maybe a chat beforehand about what NOT to use) to create a piece of geometric art.
Depending on your grade level, consider requiring lines of symmetry, specific shapes, angles… Patterning can also easily be integrated.
Years ago, I bought a book filled with Math Art ideas. It is probably my most used resource book (and I have purchased MANY).
Especially with older kids, this is a fun way to fill some class time while working on problem-solving strategies and higher-level thinking skills. Set up brackets for some elimination fun or play a round-robin. Many schools will have multiple sets of chess boards and pieces but if not, this is a small, cheap chess board that folds into a storage case for the pieces.
Writing Activities for the End of the School Year
There are so many end-of-year literacy activities to choose from that are both fun and educational for students. We’ve picked some of our favourites and divided them into reading activities and writing activities.
Year of Memories Graffiti Activity
This is one of my favourite end of school year activities. My students always enjoy it plus it fills up some empty wall space after things get taken down. I’m always amazed at all the things kids remember throughout the year that I totally forgot about!
If you’re planning on having students write their own reflection or memory book, this is perfect to brainstorm beforehand.
Use a big roll of butcher paper or just an empty chalkboard/whiteboard. If those aren’t great options for your class, each student could write on smaller pieces of paper or index cards.
Explain that you will be working as a class to record as many memories from the year as possible. Make sure students know that ‘graffiti’ is supposed to be messy, fun, colourful, unstructured… so they aren’t stressing about neatness or spelling.
Challenge the class to not put the same idea on the board twice! Encourage funny memories, things you learned, challenging activities, sad memories, problems they overcame… anything goes as long as it’s appropriate!
Poetry is a great writing genre to end the year with as it is fun, creative and quicker to write. Blackout poetry is a fun activity for students that requires them to take an old page from a book/magazine/newspaper and find words throughout the page to make the poem.
These words are dotted around the page and are ideally ‘linked’ in such a way as to create a picture around the theme of the poem. Summer theme would be perfect!
If you or your school library has a pile of well-loved books to be recycled at the end of the school year, this is a great way to put them to good use! This post here gives some more information and examples.
This is an oldie but a goodie. Have your students write a letter to their teacher for the following year. They can introduce themselves, talk about their interests, favourite subjects, learning style, goals and more.
These types of letters are perfect for the next teacher too as they will get to learn a little about their new students right away as well as get a good glimpse of their writing abilities. If you don’t know the following year’s teachers yet, just hang onto the letters until the following fall.
A twist on this is to have students write a letter to the grade coming up behind them. What did they wish they had known at start of the year? Any tips for success? Again, hang onto these and actually hand them out to the next class!
Teach the Teacher Procedural Writing
My all time favourite writing activity for the end of the school year is procedural writing. I always save this to the end so we can have some fun with it. After we learn about the writing genre, read some examples and do some practice writing they pick their topic for their final writing piece.
My instructions are to think of something they are good at and write the procedure so they can teach me how to do it. The real life audience always make writing more authentic and gives the students the extra boost to do their best.
When finished, they get to spend a few days actually teaching me all manner of things. It’s a great opportunity for them to get to laugh with me and AT me! Over the years, I’ve had students teach me how to play Minecraft, skateboard, make a craft, bake a cupcake and various basketball skills.
The rule is that they can only give me instructions that are in their writing. It’s a great way to discover how many important details we often skip!
End of the Year Writing Prompts
There are many summer-related topics that students can write about. Whether you want to focus on narrative, persuasive, mystery, recount or report writing, incorporating the end of the school year always gets students engaged.
Here are some writing prompt ideas to get you started:
- My Summer Goals
- My best memories from grade _ are …
- The award for _____ goes to _____
- My Summer Bucket List
- This summer I will learn…
- It’s the first day of summer and…
End of Year Reading Activities
Read Aloud Novel Study
Pick a lighthearted novel and read it to your kids! No matter the age, students love being read to and this is such a great way to end the year on a positive. Bonus points if you let them vote on the novel.
I like to have my students fill out a blank page for each chapter with illustrations, words, phrases… you decide on your criteria or let them decide how they want to record the action, lessons, inferences or predictions they have as you read aloud to them.
Recording something on paper as you read helps them focus on the story while also maintaining some accountability.
Readers’ Theatre is a wonderful reading activity at any time of year but it can be an especially fun end-of-year reading activity. Divide students into groups for each script and give them plenty of time to practise and prepare.
Make it extra fun by adding in costumes and props to make it more of a play. You could even invite a younger class to come and watch the final presentations.
I actually make these with my class at the beginning of the year so they can use them in their independent reading. However, there is a good chance about one student still knows where it is by the end of the year.
These are a fun end of year craft that can be used for the reading throughout the summer. It’s a simple origami craft that can be decorated when done in anyway students choose. I use this video with my class and it is always a success:
Crosswords and Wordsearches
During literacy blocks towards the end of year, I like to have a few crosswords and wordsearches available for students to choose. There are so many free ones online that you can easily find something to cover the skills and level that is appropriate for you students.
They’re great for early finishers, easy literacy centre task or even as a relaxed, whole class work period.
Scrabble or Boggle tournament
My kids always love when we play modified versions of these board games in class. I write the letters on the board and kids use paper to write the words they can find. For Scrabble, I write 7 random letters (with or without point values) on the board. Students organize their words into 3-letter, 4-letter and so on. When the time is up, they get a little bonus math practice by tallying up their score.
For Boggle, I draw a 4×4 grid and fill each of the 16 spaces with a letter. I actually use a Boggle game to do this so I’m not making it up myself, but either works! Words can be made by connecting letters in any direction as long as each subsequent letter is connected by a side or a corner to the previous letter.
Other Activities for the End of the School Year
Life Systems Scavenger Hunt
Science is a fantastic subject to take outdoors. No matter which grade you are teaching, there is a Life Systems strand that will fit perfectly. If you have a decent school yard then you can play right at school but, depending on your school permissions, you might be able to take a little neighbourhood walk to a nearby forest or park area.
Have students search for items such as a bird’s nest, something with 6 legs, a squirrel, an example of an ecosystem, a carnivore,…
Create a Summer Music Playlist
Still have to check off those last few music expectations? Have your students create a summer playlist with songs that evoke a particular mood and share it with the class, explaining their reasoning.
Be an Expert Inquiry Project
This is one of my favourite projects! It’s great for any time of year and can be adapted to any subject area but I love to do it towards the end of the school year and leave the topic choice wide open for students.
This is based on the Genius Hour model adopted by Google. Students research a topic around a central question that they want to answer. The main requirement is that their topic is something they are genuinely interested in learning more about AND that it requires higher-level thinking. If their question can be solved with a fairly simple Google search then I send them back to the drawing board.
After giving students plenty of time to research and then put together their presentation, students are able to share what they learned with the class. I love how creative they get with their presentations and how interested they are in their topics!
If you’re looking for some materials to get you started and help your students be successful, I have a package available with all the resources you need to get your own Be an Expert projects up and running.
It contains an introductory presentation, bulletin board materials, useful research links, handouts with instructions, reflections and pages to be completed and well as 4 final rubrics (one for each Literacy strand). You can check it out here.
STEM and STEAM projects
Students love STEAM and STEM projects and yet they can be hard to fit into the day during the year. With so much learning built-in, they are one of the best end of year school activities.
In case you’ve missed it, STEAM stands for Science Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEM is the same without the art). The internet is filled with so many great STEAM project ideas for all age levels that combine important problem skills with various math, technology and science ideas.
Who doesn’t love a good talent show? You’ll be surprised at some of the hidden skills your students might have as they develop their acts. Create behind-the-scenes roles for those shy students who don’t want to perform such as set design, music, organizer…
Work with your teaching partners to make it a bigger affair. Invite other classes to watch. Invite parents to watch. This one could be as low-key or as big as you choose to let it!
End of the Year Theme Days
Last year, I decided to pick a theme day for each day of the final full week of school. My kids loved it! We dressed up according to the theme with props around our work area and I planned activities for each day to match the theme too.
Anything goes here, try to go with what your kids enjoy. We did a safari day, beach day, sports day, nature day, silly day, circus day… They all had a favourite but overall they just loved them all!
For each day, I tailored math activities to fit the theme, read alouds were on topic and then we might do a virtual field trip, game or outdoor activity that matched. For example, on Circus day we ‘went’ to see Cirque du Soleil. On our silly day, we all worse funny hats or hairstyles and played Minute to Win It games (see below).
End of Year Games Just for Fun!
Not everything has to have some hidden learning (although, let’s face it – it does!). Especially by the final week or two, we are all happy just to survive.
Here are some games for the end of the year that are just for fun.
Honestly, I’m not even sure what this one is really called. I first learned it at an overnight camp with grade 7s (who loved it) and that’s what they called it…
Block off an irregular-shaped area in the gym/classroom/outside so there is a low wall all around the play area. In the gym I’ve used benches, in the classroom we’ve laid our desks on their sides, outside you’ll have to use what is around.
Students are all in the play area with a large soft-ish ball. Think beachball size but heavier. The rules are simple:
- The ball must remain on the ground at all times.
- It can only be hit with your fist/arm.
- No holding, stopping or catching the ball.
- You cannot touch the ball twice in a row – someone else must hit the ball before you hit it again.
- If the ball touches you anywhere below the knees, you are out. Step outside the barrier.
As the ball gets hit by players and bounces off the barriers (make those angles as awkward as possible) it is a real squeal-inducing game!
Get Outside and Play
There are so many outdoor games that kids already know and love making this an easy, fun way to spend a period or two. The chances are your students will have ideas of games they like and know how to play already.
Just take a minute to review the rules to make sure everyone is playing by the same version and go!
Capture the Flag, Hide and Seek, soccer, skipping, tag, basketball, Octopus (British Bulldog), Four Square,… The list is endless.
Minute to Win It games
If you are looking for some truly fun end of year activities for everyone, this is it! Minute to Win It games are simple and require very few materials. They are great for just about every age. When teaching kindergarten online last year, we played some during one group meet at the end of the year and not only did my kids have so much fun, but so did the parents AND my teaching partner and I!
All you need is a one-minute timer and some simple materials. You can try to get a cookie from your forehead into your mouth, make a stack of blocks as tall as you can, transfer water from one container to another using only a spoon in your mouth… The possibilities of silliness are endless!
Final Thoughts on Fun End Of The Year Activities
I hope you found some inspiration in this post for how to fill those final few weeks with your kids! We always want to make the end of the school year fun but let’s face it, we’ve got assessments stressing us out and we’re flat out exhausted. Pick one of these easy ideas to keep your kids busy and engaged.