It’s the end of the year and time is flying by fast. As I suggested in my post on “Keeping Your Cool at the End of School,” don’t forget to take time to celebrate! Celebrate your students, volunteers, and a year’s worth of achievements. Check out these amazing end- of-the-year ideas for well-deserved celebrations!
Year after year I struggle with what to give my students as parting gifts. I’ve tried everything, but last year found my all-time favorite thanks to an incredible idea shared by the ever-inspirational Hope King. (P.S.: Check out her newest blog post for five more amazing end-of-the-year ideas!)
Purchase bowling pins. You can pick them up inexpensively from places such as Wal-Mart or Michael’s. Even better? Many bowling alleys will donate old, beat up pins for FREE! (That’s how I obtained the bowling pins used in my class dÃÂ©cor.)
If you use recycled bowling pins, you’ll need to spray paint them. If you use plastic pins from a store, no prep is required (LOVE!).
You may decorate the pins as you like. I left mine plain and wrote the school year date near the bottom, added a cute bow, and tag with each student’s name.
After each child receives a pin, let them take turns signing each other’s!
Students take their autographed pins home as tokens of their year together!
Nothing documents a fabulous school year better than a commemorative slideshow full of photos, set to festive music. Students, parents, and you will all enjoy reflecting on the year through photos and having a keepsake to watch and listen to over and over again.
No slideshow down memory lane is complete without the perfect soundtrack. I combed every site I could searching for perfect songs (both fun and tear-jerkers), and here’s a few that you can hopefully use this year:
"We’re All in this Together" — High School Musical soundtrack
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" — Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
"Be True to Your School" — The Beach Boys
"These Are Days" — 10,000 Maniacs (Natalie Merchant)
"Celebration" — Kool and the Gang
"We Go Together" — Grease soundtrack
"Good Day Sunshine" — The Beatles
"I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends" — Jack Johnson (Curious George soundtrack)
"Upside Down" — Jack Johnson
"My Wish" — Rascal Flatts
"Forever Young" — Rod Stewart
Capture the final moments of the year with tons of fun photos. Whether silly or sweet, photos are great tokens to send home with students as they “set sail” for summer. Follow the tips below to make your photos extra special for students:
Use props to help your students feel both special and silly as you photograph them.
Purchase inexpensive frames (sometimes two for $1.00 at The Dollar Tree) or use clear paper saver sleeves to put the photos in.
Decorate frame or plastic sleeve with stickers, scrapbooking materials, and foam shapes.
Add a special message on the frame glass or plastic sleeve using a Sharpie marker.
Present to each student on the last day of school!
Without totally overwhelming or bogging down students with summer practice assignments, I like to send them off with something fun to get them excited about keeping skills sharp during the months off of school. Last year I found the most adorable mini beach balls on Amazon, and that gave me a great idea.
Purchase and inflate the miniature beach balls.
Print off or have students create, useful summer practice items on note cards. Punch holes in the corner of the cards and attach to the ball using a ribbon or book ring through the air hole seal loop.
Attached practice cards might include: math facts flash cards, vocabulary or spelling cards, or cards with links to useful websites to use during the summer. Don’t forget a list of favorite books to read!
Be sure to attach a coupon for a free book from Scholastic so that students may order a free book to read over the summer!
Your wonderful year wouldn’t be possible without valuable volunteers. Don’t forget to thank them before your kids rush out the door on the last day of school. Using the “lend a hand” play on words, my favorite volunteer thank you has been the craft below. Fellow blogger, Genia Connell has a Mother's Day twist on this that she demonstrates in a video. Give it a try this year!
Purchase small inexpensive flowerpots. (I DO NOT recommend plastic pots.)
You may paint the pots or leave them terra cotta color.
Have each student dip their thumb in craft paint or ink and stamp their thumbprint onto the pot.
Students sign their name under their thumbprint.
Students may use a thin black Sharpie marker to decorate their thumbprints (to look like creatures, people, or other creative doodles) or leave them plain.
Attach fake flowers to ink pens by wrapping the stems to the pens using floral tape. Once you have several flowers attached to pens, fill the pot with cheap fillers like coffee beans, dried split peas, etc.
Place the flower pens into the filled pots and present to volunteers!
Another take on the thumbprint idea is the one pictured at the top of this post. Find cheap plates at the dollar store (or ones you pick up at tag sales during the summer) and have students decorate with thumbprints in the same manner as with the pots. They then use sharpies to embellish with doodles and sign their names. TIP: You may want to glaze the flowerpot and plate with Modge Podge for a lasting seal.
Never underestimate the power of giving students praise and compliments — especially from their peers. Each year I create custom/individualized awards for every student in my class. I present them with their award at the end of the year and they shine every time. I’ve seen TONS of cute twists on class awards, some including candy themes and other fun ideas. Take this idea and add your own twist!
Students love their awards, but CHERISH the classmate compliment books they are given each year. Each student creates a note card or compliment slip (one-half sheet of paper) with a compliment on it for each classmate. All are turned in to the teacher, and then assembled into Classmate Compliment books that students take home at the end of each year.