It happens every end of the year. The big standardized test comes and goes, and the students think the year is over. Even as I emphasized the test less and less, I still had students who thought they didn’t have to try anymore once the test was over…and we still had two months left! I had to do something because this wouldn’t work for me. Before I knew it, this time after testing became my FAVORITE time of the year!
Let me explain…This time of the year can be crazy with all the trips, interruptions, and end-of-the-year activities! And let’s face it, teachers are BURNT OUT. For me, this means I have to up the engagement even more to get them to buy in and not give up. This is where I shine! I could now do everything I wanted, but I didn’t have the time because I had to keep moving through the pacing guide. Now, I can be the teacher I’d love to be all year!
Sure, it can be a lot more work, but I have students engaged each year until the very last day when we’re trying to finish some of the things we will not have time to finish. In this post, I will share with you some of those end-of-the-year engaging activities that still cover content (mostly), but in a fun way, so students actually WANT to keep working until the very last day! I don’t just want them doing busy work (even though I sure do have some of those things handy), but I want them to continue learning and growing.
End of the Year Activities
Create & Play Review Games
One of the things that I’ve always done every year is having students create review games based on the content from that year. Usually, we do these games for math, but I’m sure you could do them for whatever content area you’d like. Students can work individually, in pairs, or in groups to create a fun review game on a specific topic. Since we play games all year, this is always a fun activity for my students since it is their turn to make a game. They have so much fun doing it, and then we have all those fun games to play between the end of the year activities. I usually give them some rubric with a list of components that the games need.
I’ve seen some pretty awesome games over the years. I give them paper, supplies, and a rubric. They let me know the topics they want to focus on, and then they get to work. I’ve had balloon games, card games, mathopoly, and more. We have so much fun playing and reviewing with them, too!
Read the whole blog post about this activity here and grab some freebies over there to help you get started!
FUN Close Reading Activities
I like to keep everything relating to content until at least the last two weeks, so these close reading packs are handy. Not only are the articles HIGH INTEREST and the questions rigorous, but the mystery picture is super engaging for students. You will have students WANT to re-read and find the correct answers because they don’t want to mess up their pictures. Each pack is filled with a review of ELA standards! Click here to find all the close reading packs I have available now.
Summer Bucket List Writing
I created this summer bucket list freebie a few years ago and loved using it in the last month of school. I even have my own children at home complete one, so we have some goals for the summer. Basically, it gives them space for 10 different activities they’d like to do over summer break. These activities can be anything from “read 10 books” to “visit an amusement park”. To keep it realistic, I have them make at least 5 free activities they can do independently without an adult. Then, they have space to write about how and why they have added this to their bucket list. It’s fun to incorporate what they are already thinking about…summer, with some writing. You can find it in the free download.
Monster Writing Activity
This is another favorite of mine, as well as the students. Each student privately draws a picture of a monster on a piece of white paper. They have little instruction but should include colors and add details to their pictures. No stick figures! Once they complete their drawings, they are instructed to write about their monster, describing it in great detail. I usually give a little mini-lesson on how to write descriptively. I tell them they need to be as specific as possible and describe every last detail of their monsters. I have them write their names on the back of their pictures and their descriptions. Then, I collect them all.
After that (usually the next day), I separate the pictures and the writing. Then, I hand out a writing piece to each student with a fresh piece of white paper. I try not to give them the writing of anyone who sits near them as they may have snuck a glance at the other student’s monster. They are then instructed to read the writing once through. Then they read it again, this time trying to recreate the monster based on what was written on the paper. When they are done, I have them write the name of the person whose monster they drew along with their own name. “Liliana’s Monster by Devin”
Now, it’s time for me to do a little organizing. I match up the drawn monster with each of the originals. This is where it really gets fun. We go through all the monsters together. First, I show the drawn monster from the instructions and then the original. The students LOVE it. You can see the looks on their faces when they look nothing alike because they realize they didn’t describe it well enough. It’s such a fun activity!
Brochure/Letter/Presentation to Next Year’s Class
Having students create something for the next year’s class is always a great activity. There are a few ways it can be done, but basically, the students write a letter, create a brochure, or make a presentation on Google Slides about your classroom for the students the next year to learn more about you. It’s great because it gives the next year’s students an inside look at what it’s like to be a student in your classroom and what fun things they may get to do.
Here are some things you may want to have them include if you do this activity:
- Things about their teacher
- Things they can look forward to
- Tips for Success
- Things you will learn
- Favorite memories
- Highlights from the year
- Words of encouragement
- Best projects
I usually wait until the last two weeks to start these, but my students LOVE them. They are perfect to pull out between classes, field trips, assemblies, and other activities. I love them because they take a long time for students to complete and color, keeping them occupied for all those in-between times. The best part is I had a few different themes, and students got to pick which ones they liked best to make it really represent them. Pictured is one of the themed memory books I offer in my TpT shop. I have eight themes in total: Emojis, Coloring Book, Cactus, Candy, Video Games, Mustache, Rock, and Sports. Click here to check them all out.
Kindness Challenge Countdown
For the last 25 days, we usually do a kindness challenge of some sort to keep students kind and respectful of each other. I write the items on the rings and loop them together. We rip one off each to complete together. Some take 5 minutes, some longer, but it’s always nice to focus on kindness this time of year. I created this freebie for you if you want to try it. Also, if you print it out on different colored paper, the rings will look much more fun. You could even have the students create a new strand of their own when they complete a challenge with the example on it. If they were supposed to compliment someone, they could write how they did that, and you can create a new strand with all their kindness examples, too!
Create a Country Collaboration Project
This next one is one I either do towards the end of the year or in the afternoons of testing days. I put them in groups and/or partners, and they create their own country with its own flag, bird, and currency. They work nicely together on this and have a lot of fun with it. I give them a big piece of bulletin board paper to display. I give them the list of things they must provide for their country. We go over them all, and I explain each one. They usually ask if they can add more things, and I allow that once they complete the required elements. We also talked about creating rough sketches first and discussing each element before the final version gets created. I also included this printable for you in the free download.
Sometimes, in these last two months, I always like to get feedback from the students about our time together. It’s important to me to reflect and evaluate my teaching for the year and develop goals for next year. I consider what my students say in these surveys when making those goals. Plus, I get some honest answers about how the students feel about our classroom, projects, and me as a teacher. Personally, I make their name optional because I want honest feedback. I made these Student Survey Task Cards a few years ago to help me with this. I even added a Google Form version so teachers can organize the data quicker and more efficiently.
I love project-based learning, but I didn’t always get to do as much of it as I liked, so I always did at least one project with the students during this time. They always enjoy this alternate way to learn and incorporate the standards we’ve been working on. My favorite projects come from April at Performing in Education. They are standards-based, fun, and engaging! Here are some tips from her blog on how to get started. Pictured is a fun project where students create their own candy store! My students loved doing these projects! Click here to check out the project.
While I’d like to say that I get to do all the science experiments I want, that isn’t always the case. So, each year after testing, I ensure to get some of those experiments in. The students always BEG for more science experiments, so this is a great time to incorporate more and keep them engaged!
Passion projects are one of my favorite activities to have students work on at the end of the year. They chose a topic they were passionate about and would also like to know more about. They brainstorm questions they have about the topic and then research to find the answers to those questions. Once they have found and organized their research, they have to figure out a way to present it. Most choose to do a Google Slides presentation. It’s a great way to see more of their interests and show them that we can always learn more about what we love.
Virtual Field Trips
The last activity that we always love doing is some virtual field trips. We have a big Promethean board, which I use to display the places we visit. It’s a great way to get out and see the world without ever really leaving the classroom. We have regular field trips, too, but we must raise all the money ourselves, so those are limited. This is a great, budget-friendly way to get more field trips with your students. Just search, and I’m sure you can find some great ones.
Here are a few I found:
- Use Google Earth to visit anywhere in the world…also be prepared to visit each student in your class’s house. You can even click on “feeling lucky” and get a surprise location to visit. Students could seriously do this all day. Tie it into a book you’re reading or a social studies topic you are learning about. The possibilities are endless!
- Discovery Education has a boatload of different virtual field trips based on so many different topics. They even provide teacher resources for you to use!
“Each no-cost Virtual Field Trip comes with a companion guide packed with standards-aligned, hands-on learning activities!”
- Common Sense Media also compiled a collection of virtual field trips on the web. Lots of different ones that you can check out.
There are tons of them out there…a little Google or Pinterest search would also help you find more specific ones to what topics you have in mind.
Expose Students to Next Year’s Standards
If we finish our pacing guide and have time left in the year, I will look at next year’s standards and expose the students to those if possible. We’ll do hands-on, fun activities that get them practicing those standards to give them a head start for next year…if they remember them through the summer.
I’d love to hear more about what you do after testing to get through the rest of the year and still have FUN!