There’s nothing quite like the last day of school. Teachers are over it. Grades are in and kids are wild. Every year it feels like a disaster waiting to happen. It’s my least favorite day of school. Yet every year, I survive. The secret to my success is keeping a well rounded library of last day of school activities in my back pocket. No matter the year or group of kids, I always have a plan going into the last day of school.
Today, I’m sharing some of my favorites.
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You can actually put this in the category of the last couple days of school if you want. There’s no reason you have to do all the end of year cleaning yourself. Each class can be responsible for something different – wipe down counters and clear our sinks, wipe off desks, pick up 15 pieces of trash, clean whiteboards… whatever you need to straighten up for the end of the year. The teeniest, tinyist piece of garbage counts!
This is one of my favorite last day of school activities! Write a list of about 12-15 words your students can draw for Pictionary. Throw in a few words that are kinda tricky. Break your students up into groups of 4-6. Each group should have a white board and marker or scratch paper and pencil. With you standing somewhere in the center of all the groups, whisper the first word to one person from each group.
They have to go back to their group and draw the word. Once someone guesses, a new person runs to you, and whispers the word they just guessed. Give them the next word on the list. Then the whole process repeats again! The first group through the whole list wins!
I love this game because it is so engaging and kills so much time. I play 2-3 rounds, depending on how much time I have. Have a few lists – even take mine from the picture! That way early classes won’t spill the beans for your later classes.
I always enforce the rule that if they’re running, they have a 30 second penalty. The game stays more tame this way.
If you have space to go outside, do it! Play kickball against another class or let kids have free time to talk and play. I taught at a campus for a long time where the last day of school ALWAYS consisted of at least an hour of free play outside on the field and donuts. If our kids were content, we’d stretch that outside time out as long as possible. Be sure to give kids boundaries though. This is the last day of school, and there are still rules.
I’d like to say play board games, but when it comes to last day of school activities, Uno is the best option. Everyone knows how to play and you can put kids in bigger groups. Big groups means you need fewer decks of cards. Uno is engaging, easy, and competitive making it perfect for the last day of school. I keep about four decks in my classroom at all times.
Trust me – stick with Uno. I even tried Yahtzee one year and while it was okay… it wasn’t great. It just wasn’t fast paced or competitive enough. Other board games might take a long time to set up, clean up, or figure out how to play. Uno is best.
Have a Fancy Day
Full disclaimer – I haven’t tried this atypical last day of school activity personally, but it was suggested by a trusted mentor teacher who did it for years. Plan a school wide dress fancy day. Ask students to dress to the nines. When students show up dressed fancy, they carry themselves well and take pride in their actions. Your students are less likely to have major behavior incidents.
Watch a High Interest Movie
If you can pull it off, watch a movie! Pick a movie that is high interest and has a great ending. Think about movies they might not have seen yet like Jurassic Park, Apollo 13, or The Day After Tomorrow. Watch the movie for a few days before (hellooo time to wrap up your last minute list) so that it ends 5-10 minutes before the bell on the last day. (Then, have them each pick up 10 tiny pieces of trash!) Your students will be so interested in the movie, they won’t be disasters in your classroom.
Make a Brochure For Next Year’s Classes
If you are required to plan academic activities all the way to the last day of school, consider having students make a brochure for next year’s students. Get them thinking. Create a quick questionnaire that helps them think of all the things a new student walking into your classroom on the first day of school would need to know. Then, ask them to make a tri-fold brochure [here’s a link for a free starter template!] you can show students and parents at your open house next year! This is probably best as a 2 day project, depending on how long your day is.
If you’re the teacher who likes to have a plan for the beginning of next year, check out this blog post!
Don’t let the last day of school be your least favorite. With a variety of engaging last day of school activities in your toolbox, some coffee, and a few deep breaths… you’ll be on your way to summer break!