Idea Swap: Celebrate the End of the Year

Teachers share activities for wrapping up the school year and more.

Charcoal Portraits
My art students used charcoal to make portraits of famous figures like Lauren Bacall, George Carlin, and Ray Charles. We focused on realism, light and shadow, and negative space. What talent! -Jennifer Kiraly, Fountain Hills, AZ

Get Moving!
Many states have now increased the weekly minutes for P.E. To use the extra time, my students walk laps. At the end of every lap, they earn a rubber band, and when a student gets to a certain number, we celebrate their accomplishment with extra reading minutes or longer recess. It's great to see them motivated and active. -Sarah Wilson, Casselberry, FL

Math Game
My students love to play "Race to the Top," where each student takes turns rolling the die, announcing the number they land on, and using that number of counters to build a tower. The trick is to be the first to "get to the top"! -Brenda Olson, Dallas, TX

Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus
My third- and fourth-grade students do a unit on ancient Egypt. After researching burial methods, students design an Egyptian sarcophagus with hieroglyphics and other symbols. They sketch their designs in pencil first, then fill in color with oil pastels, and finish by outlining in black. They love this project, and the results are beautiful. -Jane Williams, Independence, OH

Dinosaur Dig
My class adds a tasty twist to a lesson on archaeology: We perform a "dinosaur dig" with chocolate chip cookies and toothpicks! We map out our cookies on graph paper, taking note of where the chips, or "fossils," are. Then, we reflect on our observations by digging in! -Heather Harris, Middleton, TN

Postage Time Capsules
Cancelled or extra U.S. postal stamps can make for great activities in history and biographical studies. My class uses them to make time-capsule memory boxes. I pass around the old stamps, asking students to focus on the date, person, or depiction on each one they receive. Then, they search in the library or online for pictures, stories, and articles about their person or date to decorate their boxes with. -Carol Smallwood, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Parent Appreciation
To celebrate Mother's Day, I have students make poetry anthologies by collecting all of their work from our poetry unit. The students illustrate their poems and we bind them and add a fancy cover. For Father's Day, we create paper placemats. The students write a poem about why they appreciate their dad, add illustrations, and then laminate each one so it becomes waterproof. -Jennifer Kopp, Walkersville, MD

It's Pizza Time!
My art students love to whip up paper pizzas for a lesson in geometric shapes and fractions. Our local pizza restaurant donates boxes for students to use. First, the students trace an eight-inch circle on white paper and paint it red for the pizza "sauce." Next, they draw lines to divide the pizza into eighths. They cut out red circles for pepperoni, brown circles for sausage, small green squares for peppers, and orange squares for cheese. Next, they glue the "pizza" inside the pizza box and practice learning shapes and making fractions. -Denise Harrison, Rayville, LA

Send Home Parent Postcards
At the end of each trimester, my sixth-grade social studies students send postcards home to their parents. As a class, we brainstorm all the topics we studied during that nine-week period. Then I give them a blank 5 × 8 note card. On the front they draw a picture that corresponds with something we studied, and on the back, they explain some of their favorite lessons. Then, I mail them home! -Lori Howland, Duluth, GA

Helping Hands
Each year, my kindergarteners study Community Helpers. We use recycled brown lunch bags and magazines to
create a community of our own. Each student is assigned a community helper and decorates his or her bag accordingly. Then, each student describes the bag he or she has decorated and the class had to guess which community helper is being presented. Afterwards, we hang the "community" outside the classroom. -Julie Pfeiffer, Farmville, VA

Warm Fuzzies
At the end of the school year, I have each child write something positive about a peer (a "warm fuzzy") on square sheets of construction paper, with the student's name printed in the center. We make an assembly line so each student can contribute, then I hang them on the board for a warm fuzzy class quilt!

We also make an end-of-the-year diamante poem, following this model:
first line: favorite school activity
second line: two adjectives describing the school activity
third line: three -ing verbs related to the school activity
fourth line: four nouns related to the school activity
fifth line: three -ing verbs related to a planned summer activity
sixth line: two adjectives that describe the summer activity
seventh line: name of the summer activity.

-Nanette Avery, Miami, FL


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