The end of the year is almost here! As the end of the school year gets closer, to-do lists seem to get longer and longer with all the things we need to do. Over the years, I have discovered and learned—many the hard way---how to make the end of the year easier and less stressful. Below are 5 tips for surviving the end of the school year with ease.
Tip #1: Create a "Summer School Kit" with leftover copies and extra activity pages.
You probably have stacks of extra copies, unused worksheets, or remaining quizzes for a variety of subjects from throughout the year. Maybe they are scattered across the classroom in folders, bins, and crates. One way to recycle all the extra unused papers plus generate practice sheets for summer vacation is to create a “Summer School Kit” for each student.
During the last week of school have students bring in a large mailing envelope or small flat box and leave it on their desks at the end of the day. Pass out the extra copies, unused worksheets, activity pages, quizzes, and writing prompts to each desk. This is an excellent way to differentiate by adding specific skill sheets to meet the needs of each student in their summer school kits.
Inside their summer school kit include a few bonus surprises:
- End of the Year Goodbye Letter to Your Students
- Thank you Letter to Parents
- How to use this kit—importance of practicing skills over the summer
- A Favorite Class Picture
- A pencil, gel pen, or colored ink pen
- A new book or summer reading booklist
- Candy, pack of gum, or other treats
On the outside of the envelope or box place a summer-themed picture with a note that states, “Do not open until summer!” and tie with a big ribbon. Hand out to students on the last day of school. Students will love opening their Summer School Kits after they get home to see what’s inside of them.
Tip #2: Reflect on your current organization system and re-organize with next year in mind.
Now, is the time to think about your current method of organizing all your supplies, books, files, student records, and curriculum. Reflecting now while it’s all fresh in your mind will help you relax more over summer and put a plan in place for next year.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Did the current systems of organizing your classroom work well this year?
- What didn’t work so well?
- What’s one thing I can change to make my life easier for next school year?
- What’s one thing that I need to change to keep me better organized?
- Look around the classroom is there any furniture or equipment that would work better in a different spot? Or is hard to get to?
- Could you paint the side of your desk or file cabinet with chalkboard paint to use it more effectively in the future?
- Are there any labels, schedule cards, bins, posters, or books that need repairing or replacing?
- Do you like the way your classroom is set up?
- Name one area of the classroom that needs to be improved to work better for your needs?
- How can you cut down time spent on designing bulletin boards?
- Is there anything that could be organized differently (colored-coded, numbered, or with visuals) to make it easier for students to put things back in their correct spots?
- What can I change so that students can help keep the classroom better organized?
By answering these questions, you can create a wish list to implement over the next few months before school starts back. Ask other teachers how they organize their classroom to get new ideas. Remember to start with small changes and be yourself, what works for one teacher might not work well for you.
Tip #3: Throw a Classroom Clean-Up Party during the last few days of school.
Have students help you “summer clean” the classroom. This is a great classroom community activity for students, and it helps out you too. Be sure to give students small tasks with specific directions, so their efforts are beneficial. Another option would be to ask for parent helpers or high school helpers to volunteer for an hour or two.
Even young students can do simple cleaning tasks including:
- Dusting—inside cupboards, shelves,
- Sorting of classroom supplies like pencils, paperclips, markers, etc.
- Clean out cupboards, drawers, desks, and bookshelves
- Organize books, bins, centers, and other supplies
- Have students test markers, sharpies, glue, and toss the ones that have dried out
- Clean erasers, dry erase boards, sink, countertops
- Wipe down whiteboards, shelves, toys, and other small items
- Pack up boxes (non-breakables)
Tip #4: Have students complete an End of the Year Reflection as a closure activity on the last day of school.
Students will love this fun way to reflect on this past year. Reflection questions help students wrap up the year in a positive way! There are two pages to copy back to back--perfect for morning work or centers during those last days of school! Best of all, you can download the
Best of all, you can download the End of Year Reflection FREEBIE Here!
Some of the questions included on the reflection are:
- One thing I learned about myself this year is
- One piece of advice I'd give to next year's students is
- One accomplishment that I'm proud of is
- One thing I'm looking forward to next year is
- Draw a picture that shows your favorite Science and SS unit this year
- One dream I have for the future is
- One thing I'll never forget about this year is
- When I grow up I want to be
- Three words to describe me
- My Favorite Subject, special, sport, game, and food
Tip #5: Keep the last few weeks simple with FUN activities that review important skills.
One way to make it easier during this time of year is to take advantage of the many creative hands-on activities available during those last weeks of school. If you search for "end of the year activities" on TeachersPayTeachers, you will find some great units and ideas. There are review games, art projects, lapbooks, and writing activities galore for you to choose from. One of my all time favorites is to have students create their own country. What a creative way to review geography and map skills! Students love creating their own country with this hands-on activity. Our unit has been newly updated with informational articles, vocabulary posters, and engaging student activities related to many of the themes of geography such as culture, flag facts, climates, housing, natural resources, agriculture, transportation, and more.
Another option is to have your students create an end of the year class memory book! Sure to be a special keepsake for years to come! This is a creative and fun end of the year project for students to work on during those last days of the school year. In our Best Year Ever Memory Book resource, students complete, color, and decorate 19 reflection pages about the best school year ever! It's perfect to use with multiple grade levels because there are cover pages for 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and even includes a star student cover! All pages are in black and white for students to complete, color, and make their own end of the year memory book! Before binding the book, add in some writing projects and a favorite class photography to give that extra special touch!
No doubt your students will enjoy these fun activities, projects, and super cleaning the classroom during the last weeks of school. And you will feel less stressed by putting a plan in place for next year as this year draws to a close.