The end of year celebration in the classroom is an important day. Students, parents, and colleagues will either remember that day fondly as a day not-to-be-forgotten, or it will be a day that blends in with the rest. While other classroom celebrations will also be remembered fondly, the last day should be the pinnacle of acknowledging how much growth has occurred during the last school year.
I understand feeling deflated on the last day of school. This was the last opportunity to show my students and families my appreciation – and yet it was just like every other day. No bittersweet ending to my school year.
Funny, because I remember other years when the last day was still still being talked about into the beginning of the next school year. How was one year different from another? After reflecting, one thing came to mind: How we celebrated the last day or even last week of the school year DID make a difference.
What are some fun things to do on the last day of school?
End of school year activities don’t have to be just a party, but something special and out of the ordinary daily grind will be remembered by students quite possibly throughout their lives. While a movie and popcorn day sounds like a wonderful relaxing “free” day for students (and an opportunity for you to get some much needed end of the school year paperwork and/or packing up completed), it most likely won’t be a day that students will have fond memories of for years to come.
Here are some things you might want to consider when planning your end of year party ideas:
- Memory books
- Field day activities with matching class last day of school t-shirts
- Letter that is addressed to next year’s incoming students
- Party games
- Themed centers
- An awards ceremony
- Gift ideas for students -even just eating with the teacher for a slice of pizza can be considered a pretty awesome gift
- Graduation ceremony – this does not have to be limited to the traditional kindergarten graduation. Any grade should be filled with fanfare and fun.
- Use scrap construction paper to have students create a class mural to print for each and allow them to sign to display every year in your classroom.
- Put together a slideshow to jog students’ memories about how much growing they have done since the beginning of the school year
- Stage a “final walk” for the oldest students in your grade who will be exiting the building for the last time. Line up the entire school in the hallway at the end of the day and have the “graduates” walk down the hall for the last time while the onlookers cheer and applaud them on to the next chapter.
Need more celebration ideas? Check out this post of 150+ ideas, a summer reading incentive, a fun way to ask students what they think you do during summer break, and even an end of the year magazine with even more suggestions!
How do you plan an end of school year party?
Even if you don’t love party planning, here are 5 steps to consider when planning a classroom celebration that is memorable for many many years to come:
1 – Choose a theme
This is the best part! You can choose a theme based on pretty much anything your students would enjoy. Make sure it is a theme that all students might have at least a small interest in, otherwise you might lose a few right from the beginning.
Then, when creating the activities, song list, snacks, invitations and more, it is super easy to center around that theme to make the entire day a bit more cohesive.
Examples: animals, robots, science, around the world, sports, movies, your students’ current interests
2 – Choose at least 3 activities that tie to your theme
Make sure to consider whether you will be inside or outside. Vary your choices. For example, you might have activities planned that are active in nature and need to be outside. Or you might want something more educational and aligned with the curriculum like letter writing.
Another option is to do a combination of both during learning stations – or even have students rotate through different grade level classrooms in the building with each teacher in charge of just one activity for the day.
3 – Set the tone – literally
Make a party playlist that matches your desired feeling and theme. Finding fun songs to match the overall topic of the day can really set your classroom party apart from the crowd.
Examples: KidzBop songs or monster mash titles
4 – Awards
Even something simple like certificates or candy bar awards are super special and remembered. It can be as formal as you like if you want to invite parents and caregivers in to school for an official ceremony – or it can be something jovial and spread out throughout the school day.
Example: Fun certificate or trophy
5 – Memorabilia
I still have an autograph book signed by my friends the last day of school in 4th grade. And I smile every time I happen to come across it over the years. That little piece of memorabilia means the world to me. You want your students to feel the same way years later when reminiscing about your classroom.
Example: Buttons, custom stickers, tattoos, or a memory book
If you follow those 5 easy steps, you will have a day not to soon be forgotten.
Would you like all the steps in a handy free Classroom Celebrations Party Planning Sheet? Make sure to grab that below. While you’re there, check out an even better resource I have already pulled together for you: a Dog Themed Classroom Celebration Pack!
It will save you tons of time to focus on the end of the year paperwork and packing – while still having a party your students and parents will be raving about for months or years to come! Don’t miss out on your chance to create a stellar party the easy way – Click HERE to learn more and grab your freebie planning sheet!
What are some other things you have done for end of your school year with your students that was a hit? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!