By Shannon Anderson, author of Mindset Power: A Kid’s Guide to Growing Better Every Day
For most teachers, the school year is a whole lot of teaching lessons with some fun sprinkled in. But at the very end of the year, when testing is finally over, it is a whole lot of fun with some lessons sprinkled in. You know your kids well, you’ve worked hard together, you’ve achieved many goals, and you finally get the payoff—the chance to celebrate a successful year and enjoy these kids who were your world since August.
This year, it’s different. Some teachers may even feel robbed of their grand finale. How can you still make the most of what time you have left with your class? Here are eight creative ways to help you wrap up your year, even if it has to be at a distance.
Compile the pictures you have taken throughout the school year and create a slideshow on Clips, iMovie, or another app. Add some background music and send it off to students to watch.
Letter to Future Students
After watching the memories movie, have your students write a letter to your next year’s students. Have them share the good times you had, what the incoming students will learn, and tips for keeping on your “good side”! Print these off next year to hand out to your new students.
Have students each decorate a jar or box with the label “Third-Grade Time Capsule” (or whatever grade level you teach). Have them take plain or colored strips of paper and write various memories from the school year on them. They can place all their memories in the jar or box and seal it shut. Tell them to wait at least a year to open their boxes. They should definitely put in some things that happened during the pandemic, since we are living a piece of history right now. You could provide prompts for each strip of paper if needed.
Have students submit two or three adjectives about each of their classmates to you. Create a Wordle for each student in which their name is the biggest, boldest word and all the adjectives from their classmates surround their name in various colors. If there is a way to print the Wordles and mail or deliver them, even better!
If you normally have a way to celebrate the goals the kids achieve throughout the year, have them write up and submit one or two summer goals to you. When they make their goals, celebrate their success. Find a way to show you are excited for their achievements by making a video of you sounding the celebratory class noisemaker, making a post on Seesaw, or sending a postcard.
Have kids go through their reading logs or lists and choose their favorite books of the year. Compile a list of what the most-loved books were for kids to have as a summer reading wish list.
Adventures of a Six-Inch Teacher
To keep kids writing over the summer, send them a miniature cutout of yourself. Have them take your picture on various adventures in their home or yard. They can write about this as a story or funny diary of their six-inch teacher. Ask them to email their stories to you, along with the pictures they take.
Fun in the Sun
If social distancing is lifted by the end of the summer, plan a picnic for your class at a park so they have some time to play and chat together. Bring bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and games, or just hang out. It would be a great way to bring closure to your year together. If that isn’t possible, maybe you could drop off a small surprise to each student’s home and chat at a distance in the yard, if it is safe to do so.
Ending the year without our students in our classrooms is not what anyone ever expected to happen. With a little creativity, you can figure out some fun ways to still highlight the year you had together and make the most of the little time you have left with your amazing kids. They deserve it and so do you!
Shannon Anderson has her master’s degree in education and is currently a third-grade teacher, high ability coordinator, and presenter, and a former first-grade teacher, adjunct professor, and literacy coach. She loves spending time with her family, playing with words, teaching kids and adults, running very early in the morning, traveling to new places, and eating ice cream. She also enjoys doing author visits and events. Shannon lives in Indiana with her husband, Matt, and their daughters, Emily and Madison.
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