Sunday, May 3, 2015

That's a Wrap! End of School Activities

We're going with the Field of Dreams, "If you build blog it, they it will come." mentality at the moment. 29 days and counting left in the school year for us, which we are sure may seem like a lot to some of you who are ending this school year much, much sooner, but we will get our payback time come July. ;)

We really don't know what it is about the end of the school year, but we absolutely love it! Perhaps it's because the pressure is off. The learning is learned. The books are read. Homework is dead. Whatever the reason, we just love enjoying time with our class, letting them be kids and winding down our amazing school year together.  

Here are a few of our favorite class activities for the end of the school year.
Given our end of school humor, the book "No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teacher's Dirty Looks!" is our favorite read aloud based solely on the title alone. So, of course we created some Booktivities to go along with the story! These fill in our centers time while we're assessing for report cards throughout the last weeks of school.

Somewhere between Open House, report cards and end of school we usually find ourselves winding down, but we can't ever let the kids know we are winding down. Sometimes we are so wound down we feel like we don't have a lot left to do with them, and truth be told, sometimes it's hard to keep their summer squirreliness under control! Right? So last year, we decided to create activities that kept our learning geared up while our brains and lesson planning abilities wound down. Last Day Hooray keeps them busy, independent, engaged and enthusiastic about school ending and summer beginning! 
We use summer vocabulary words to have them create their own summer bingo cards which we play over and over throughout the last week of school. 
We know our students learn a lot from us all year, so the end of the school year is the perfect time for us to learn a little from them too. We love giving them our End of School Year Exit Interview. They interview their friends and tell us what they liked, didn't like and will always remember, or rather forget, about our school year together. 
We love giving them opportunities to write their own thoughts and ideas...We've come a long way since the first day of school! We enlarge our Summer Survey onto 11"x17" copy paper (enlarging to 185% usually does the trick on our copy machines) and let them tell us all about their summer hopes and dreams. Then, we share them in small groups and they take them home to share too. 
We also have an ice cream sundae party at the very end of our last day. We post this sign up sheet outside our door beforehand and ask for donations. This sign up sheet is included in our Last Day Hooray preview in our TpT Shop for free. Download the preview and print your own Last Day Ice Cream Party Sign Up sheet.  
Each of our students gets a personalized bucket on the last day of school. We grab them at Micheals when they go on clearance, around 50 cents a piece, at their lowest price! 
Inside, we include their Monthly Memories book, our class DVD with photographs set to music from our school year, a copy of our Sliding Through Summer Skills Review Booklet, a deflated beach ball from the Dollar Tree, and a summer journal that they create during the last week of school (tutorial and download below). Sometimes we throw other leftovers in there like stickers, crazy straws, or anything else we want to purge give. :) 
We get the kids excited about continuing their writing skills over the summer by having them create their own summer journals. It's easy as 1-2-3.

We give them two choices of covers, which you can grab for free {here}. They can add stamps, stickers, doodles, really whatever you have time for. 
One of our absolute favorite activites on the last day of school is our Sharing Page raffle. You can read about how we run share time in our classroom {here} and {here}. We usually end up with enough sharing books for each student to take 2. We throw them out on the classroom rug and let the raffle begin!
Nothing fancy...We just have them write their names on a piece of scrap paper and throw them into a bucket. 
We pick, they pic...Simple as that! 
Once they're done picking, they take their new sharing books back to their desks and read them while the other kids are picking. We know what you're thinking...Stinks if you're last! Not really...We only let them pick one at a time and then we put all the names back into the bucket for round 2. We also give a few minutes of trading time at the very end. Anyone who wants to swap, comes to the rug for a quick trade. Those who don't want to trade, stay in their seats. 
One last science lesson before we swagger into summer... 
We have the kids inflate their own beach balls for last day of school classmate autographs. No worries...We do have a few air pumps on hand to help them out if they need it. :) We estimate how many puffs it will take and place our bets on whose arm will tired first using the air pumps (usually ours). But between breaths and pumps, we get these inflated fast! As they finish, they set them in their chairs and head to recess. We do a double check when they're gone. 
 When we get back from recess, the real fun begins! We have tried this multiple ways, but here's how signing our last day of school beach balls works best for us. 
1. Give each student a permanent marker
2. Have them write their name on the end of the beach ball, all in the same spot so we know whose is whose.
3. Give them each their own class list with all of their classmates names. 
4. Ready, set, go! Let them roam around the classroom, gathering signatures and crossing off the names on their class list as they go. We never worry if they miss one or two, we just say, 
"Check your list!". 
Of course we sign them too...

One year, we must have eaten one too many cafeteria lunches or something because we had the crazy, last minute idea to let them go outside and celebrate the last day of school by throwing their beach balls, like graduation caps high into the air. Remember how we had them write all their names in the same spot on the end of the beach ball? This is why...Trust us. 
Ok, how can you say no to these faces! We know they're blurred, but trust us...Pure joy...Summer Bliss! It quickly became a last day tradition for us. Now, we always throw our balls into the air on the last day of school! Errr...You know what we mean. :)
And that's a school year wrap folks! 
Close the homework. Start the fun. School is over. 
Summer's begun! 
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