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Summer Crafts and End-of-the-Year Activities

Create pretty pinwheels to take outdoors and colorful animal masks. Plus, three great ways to celebrate a successful year.

By Megan Kaesshaefer
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Summer Crafts

1. Wild Animal Masks
Go wild with vibrant animal masks! Teach students about endangered species and invite them to build their own animal masks out of recycled materials.

Materials: Colorful cardstock, glue, scissors, hole punch, elastic string, decorations such as glitter, feathers, beads, and buttons

How To Make It
Step 1: To begin, teach students about endangered species. National Geographic Kids has great resources on the topic, and World Wildlife Fund has an up-to-date list of animals in danger.

Step 2: Next, invite students to choose an animal that is endangered (for example, the burrowing owl, arctic fox, or river otter). Students should make a list of interesting facts about their animal, such as region, habitat, population size, diet, physical characteristics, hunting techniques, and more.

Step 3: To build the animal masks, begin by passing around colorful, sturdy cardstock for the base of the mask. Students should cut out a wide oval, with a triangle or circle shape jutting down for the nose. Students should also cut two small circles for the eyes.

Step 4: Next, invite students to glue feathers, beads, glitter, buttons, and other decorations on to their masks. These embellishments should make their animals identifiable and should give their masks personality and flare. Let the masks dry.

Step 5: Use a hole punch to punch a hole at both ends of the mask. Cut pieces of elastic string (about 18 inches long), thread each end through the holes, and tie. To finish, students can share their masks with the class!


2. Clothespin Pinwheels
Harness the power of the wind with this hands-on activity.

Materials: Colorful lightweight paper, glue, scissors, clothespins, pushpins, map pins

How To Make It
Step 1: Begin by teaching students about the power of wind energy. From old-fashioned windmills used for pumping water on farms to today's modern wind turbines, wind power is a valuable form of renewable energy. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has more useful facts on wind energy.

Step 2: Give each student a 6-inch square piece of paper. Instruct students to use scissors to carefully poke a small hole in the center of the square.

Step 3: Next, fold the paper square in half diagonally. Then, fold in half again. Unfold the square and cut along each crease two thirds of the way toward the square's center.

Step 4: Fold every other point to the center of the square so the points overlap and hold them firmly in place.

Step 5: Next, poke a pushpin through the hole in the center, press firmly, then remove. Place a map pin into the hole. The hole made by the pushpin should be larger than the circumference of the map pin, so when wind is applied, the pinwheel can spin freely. Invite students to test the pinwheels outside or indoors using a fan.

 

3 End-of-the-Year Activities

Celebrate a successful year with classroom art and a little love from the community.

1. Design Memory T-Shirts
Memory T-shirts make for a nice craft in the last week of school. Students stamp and color a white T-shirt with memories from the year. They illustrate their favorite lessons, field trips, pictures of their friends, books they read, and more. The typical shirt might have pictures showing the metamorphosis of the monarch butterfly, some weather pictures, or stamped fall leaves. We mix in fabric paint if we're stamping and then kids get to wear them home on the last day of school. –Jeremy Brunaccioni, Gill, MA

2. Make Time Capsules
At the beginning of the year, each student fills out a survey about who they are, their favorite things, and their goals for the year. I then take a picture of each student in a fun costume. Students place items inside hollow tubes and decorate them. I store these time capsules until the end of the year, when we repeat all the activities; the students fill out a new survey, take another picture, and write about their achievements. Finally, they open their time capsules and compare how much they have grown! –Beth Wilson, Stroud, OK

3. Host a Community Fair
For a special end-of-the-year event, I brought the diversity of our community right to our school's parking lot! I enlisted the help of friends and local business owners to showcase their skills and teach students how they make a difference. We had the state police, a pilot, a soccer coach, a TV reporter, and more! The students learned about the importance of volunteerism and citizenship, and even picked up some new skills.  Sharon Black, Farmville, VA

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