Teachers Are Sharing Their Cherished End-of-Year Traditions, and We Can’t Pick a Favorite

Where meaningful meets magical.

Photos of teachers' favorite end of year traditions

Any teacher can tell you the end of the school year comes with lots of feelings. Relief. Nostalgia. Excitement. Exhaustion. A little heartache-y. How can teachers possibly meet students where they are this time of year when everyone is all over the place? Tricky, right? That’s why we absolutely love these teachers’ favorite end-of-year traditions. They provide a feeling of completeness (with a little touch of whimsy) to send students into summer.

1. A learning bubble map

“Creating a massive bubble map of ALL the things we did throughout the year and writing about our favorite parts! It’s fun to see what they remember!” —Christy K.

2. Classroom campout

“Setting up tents in my classroom that students work from the last week of school! They are always so surprised to walk in and see tents!!!” —Rachel G.

Plus, check out 35 ideas for a classroom camping theme here.

3. Plant it forward

Check out this teacher who propagates her spider plant for each of her students as one of her favorite end-of-year traditions. So sweet!

4. Student teaching

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“Having the kids teach a lesson. So fun!” —Janae S.

5. A minute in the spotlight

“I teach theatre. On the last day we do Minute in the Spotlight. Each student gets 1 minute to do whatever they want, on stage, in a spotlight. Students show off unknown talents, read thank-you notes to classmates, dance, sing, tell jokes, read poetry … the list is endless. It’s such a fun way to end the year, and oftentimes we find out new things about each other.” —Tamara M.

6. Giant picnic

“Whole school last-day picnic at the park.” —Sheryl O.

How easy (and fun) is that?

7. Autographed shoes

“My first year of teaching, I got a pair of colored, canvas tennis shoes and had my ‘homeroom’ kids sign them. I then wore them when they came to get report cards. Every year since, I have gotten a pair of shoes for my kids to sign. The year we were shut down because of COVID, I designed a pair of shoes and had my class sign them virtually. Even though the kids don’t have to come back to get their report cards anymore, I still wear the signed shoes on the last day. I just finished year 31, which means I have 30 pairs of shoes with the names of all MY kids.” —Jill H.

8. One last selfie

“I always take selfies with each student to go along with their first-day-of-school pictures in their memory book. That way they see how they changed but also have a picture of me with them to remember our year together. (I also use those selfies in our Memory video at the end while Rascal Flatts’ ‘My Wish’ plays.)” —Jessica A.

9. Collaborative art project

“I have each student (75ish) dip their fingerprint in paint and put it on an empty tree photo so it looks like leaves, and then write their initials. Then, I frame them and hang them up each year. I started this 3 years in; I wish I did years 1 & 2 too.” —Jackson K.

10. Story and matching craft

“Reading ‘The Empty Pot’ and making pinch pots!” —Lindsey Y.

11. Making next year’s bulletin board

“I take a picture of each of my classes and put it up on a bulletin board for the next year to see. I call it the ‘I survived math’ board.” —Kassi P.

12. Doing the wave

“All teachers/staff standing on bus line waving goodbye as buses pull out on last day! Most drivers beep too!” —Karen C.

13. Start a paper fight

“The last week of school when teaching grade 7 or 8 and cleaning out desks, I sometimes start a paper fight. The kids never remember that all year when I don’t allow paper thrown I promise them a paper fight at the end of the year. It is absolute bedlam and sometimes other staff come running. I pre-arrange with a kid minutes before, for permission to dump a recycling bin of paper on their head. Kids absolutely love it and remind me of it years later. It’s a great way to get the classroom clean and be silly.” —Laura R.

(We know teachers like Laura will make sure the paper gets recycled and that no extra work is left for the cleaning crew!)

14. Senior “clap-out”

“The graduating seniors in our town visit their elementary schools wearing their graduation robes for senior ‘clap out’” —Denise E.

15. Jam out

“Blaring Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out for Summer’ in the car as I drive away from the school.” —Kieron D.

Such a fun, easy way to put a final bow on the end of another year. (We heard this comment from multiple teachers!)

However you choose to wrap up a school year—whether with shoes, selfies, or a selfless spider plant—we hope you found some inspiration from these educators sharing their favorite end-of-year traditions!

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