Saying goodbye to our students at the end of the school year is always bittersweet. But this year, in particular, closure (for our students and us) may be more important than ever. It’s been a rocky, imperfect year to say the least and we’ve all put in a ton of work to keep the momentum going. We’re almost there! Here a few virtual and in-person end-of-year activities to find closure with your students and wrap up the quarantine school year beautifully.
1. Count down the final days with a bang.
Start with a balloon countdown. Display however many balloons you want to count down and start each day’s class session by popping one of them. Or have students make a paper chain and each day ceremoniously remove one link together. Virtual but still together!
2. Make the last days memorable with special events.
Designate a virtual theme for each of the last few days. Think pajama day, dress up day, or goofy hat day. Turn one day into a game show or talk show where students are contestants. Put together a playlist and have a virtual dance party. Ask students for song suggestions ahead of time and encourage everyone to dress up in their dance party finest garb.
3. Hold a virtual award ceremony.
End of year awards are a great way to make students feel special and recognized. And just because you can’t deliver them in person is no reason you can’t keep the tradition alive. Just hold your ceremony virtually. Here are 50 free printable awards for students to make it easy for you.
4. Have fun with a virtual field day.
Field day is one of the most anticipated days of the school year for most kids. Yes, it’s a bummer that we can’t all be together to participate, but here are a few super fun field day activities kids can do at home.
5. Give your students the opportunity to share their talents.
Have your students put together an act for a digital talent show. Showcase a few acts as the highlight of each of the last few days. Hold a class singalong with favorite tunes from music class. Put together a virtual art gallery and have your students contribute an image of their choice.
6. Create a digital memory book together.
It’s tempting to focus on the chaos that has been the past couple months, but remember … we had almost seven months of traditional learning before going online. Create a digital memory book for your students that wraps up the events and accomplishments of the whole year. Put together a montage of any photos you took before we switched over to distance learning and ask parents to share any photos they have of their kids schooling at home.
Have each student contribute a memory page listing their favorite subjects, units, activities, field trips and unforgettable moments. You can find lots of preprinted memory page options on Teachers Pay Teachers. Check out this 30-page memory book from I Love 1st Grade.
Put it all together and share the link with your students. They can keep it forever in digital format or print it out to keep it on their bookshelf.
7. Take a Bitmoji class picture.
Teacher SueAnn M. recommends this tutorial to help you create an adorable Bitmoji class picture for your students. The tutorial walks you through the process of creating a custom Bitmoji for each of your students and putting them together as a keepsake.
8. Create a blog together.
Use a platform like Blogger (available in your Google applications attached to your email) to quickly and easily create a blog for your class. Ask students to contribute posts to the blog. You can create a series of topics to write about or have them post some of their “greatest hits” from the school year.
9. Make a Flipgrid video.
Flipgrid isn’t just a social media tool for learning, it’s a great way to stay in touch with your students. Teacher Jerry P. tells us his school’s teachers and staff each contributed a recorded snippet of their favorite memory of the school year for an end of the year video for all of the students. Priscilla S.’s school created one where each teacher and staff member recorded their “summer wishes” for the students.
10. Hold an open house.
Closure is important for all of us, especially after a year like this year. Host a farewell open house on Google Meet or Zoom. Invite all your students (and their families if you’d like). Students can drop in at any time to exchange good-byes and wish each other well.
11. Have students and their families do a drive-by.
Looking for a way to see your kids in person? Junior high teacher Ginny B. tells us her school is setting the stage for a tropical end of the year drive-by for students. The whole staff is putting up a tropical backdrop (including inflatable palm trees, wading pools, and celebratory banners), setting up lawn chairs, and decking out in shorts and tropical shirts. Not the same as a real get together, but “At least we will get to see and wave to our kiddos,” she says.
Lots of schools are also arranging times for students to pick up belongings they left at school, so a drive-by would be a perfect opportunity for each classroom teachers to at least smile and say a few words as they hand a bundle through their students’ car window.
12. Have teachers do a drive-by.
Some teachers are designating a time to drive by each of their students’ houses. Mary G. came up with the cute idea of dropping off posters with the school logo and mascot printed on them for families to proudly display in their windows. Katie L. put together a little summer fun grab bag with bubbles, bookmarks, sidewalk chalk, and a candy bar for each of her students to enjoy and remember their year together.
What are some quarantine end of year activities you’re planning with your students? Come share in our WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook.
And check out teachers’ funny online learning stories.