As testing ends and the school year winds down, teachers have a hard time keeping students focused. If your last month of school is like mine, you probably have already taught all the standards except social studies. Textbooks need to be collected (except for social studies, which you are cramming in from now until the end), so what do you do to keep students focused – and learning? The last month of school is the perfect time to fit in interactive activities and lessons that have high student engagement. I have made a list of my top ten interactive activities to use at the end of the school year.
1. Play Dice & Board Games
Games are truly the best way to learn and practice skills. There are many great games out there for math and language arts, and recently there are more for social studies and science. Or even better, create game stations where students rotate through playing specific games as well as creating their own game! Creating a game on a topic could be an excellent way for a student to synthesize what they have learned during the school year.
- Teach the rules of each game you put out or find a student that knows the game and put them in charge of teaching the other students. I have assumed students knew how to play common games like Battleship to end up with a disaster when they didn’t.
- Bring in big beach towels or mats and take the games outside on a nice day. 20+ kids playing games at the same time can get very loud.
2. Play Test Prep Review Games
If you found really fun test prep games before testing and didn’t get to use them all, pull them out now. All test prep does is review what students have learned all year, so it fits in perfectly during the last few weeks of school. Keep in mind that not all test prep will work during this time – if it isn’t highly engaging, I wouldn’t try to use it now. Everyone is ready for summer break, and students are not going to sit and do gobs of worksheets.
3. Make a Book Report
Adding more reading time at the end of the year is a nice way to transition from loud activities (like games) to a quieter learning activity. Teachers could select a genre for students or just let students read a book of their choice! Personally, I would allow them to select a book as long as it isn’t one they have read before. (Reason being? My reluctant reader used to pull out the same book over and over again to “read.”)
To keep students on track with reading during this time, teachers can give them a book report to create. Teachers could even offer 1-2 options for their reports to give students more ownership of this project. Use the book reports to then practice their speaking skills by presenting them to the class.
There are many great book report ideas on the internet or Pinterest. If you would prefer to purchase a premade resource, I have a wide variety of book reports in my store.
4. Do a STEM Project
If you struggle to fit in hands on activities before testing, use them now. STEM is a great way to integrate math and science at the end of the year. I have used Meredith’s Anderson’s STEM activities with my son, and he has really liked them. I liked them because science is definitely my weak subject, and her resources all include the background information on the science and engineering concepts. That has really helped me to explain the learning to my son. Visit her Momgineer blog here and her TPT store here for ideas and resources.
5. Create Illustrated Timelines
At this time of the year, teachers want to start taking down their things but not have empty walls. Have your students create visual timelines of the history they learned. Start with one chapter in your history and have students identify important dates. Finish the chapter or do two chapters if you don’t have enough dates – you want one per student. Assign each student to create one event poster to hang up. Their poster should include the date, name of the event, and a drawing or visual that represents the event. Keep doing these until you have a visual timeline of everything they studied in history.
6. Complete a Research Project
If you have wanted to try a Genius Hour, you could do a mini-study at the end of the year. Students can pick any (school-appropriate) topic they want to study and research it in depth. Teachers need to help keep students focused by setting a daily goal for what they should achieve during each research period. Again, students should be creating a presentation on their topic to teach to the rest of the class.
7. Create a Class Yearbook
An engaging activity to do the last week of week is to create a class yearbook. Yearbooks tend to be quite expensive, and many students either can’t afford one or some parents just don’t want to buy them. Creating a paper yearbook for each student can be a nice keepsake for students. Teachers can create blank templates for topics, such as the subjects they learned or activities like field day. If you want to purchase one that is already made, I have a class memory book in my store.
8. Write A Letter to Next Year’s Class
Some schools have students visit the next grade level to get a taste of what they will do in the next grade level, Another way to prepare your incoming class is to have this year’s students write letters to next year’s class. (This is also a great excuse to teach students how to write a friendly letter, which I have found most students don’t know.) I would save these letters and leave one on each desk at Meet and Greet in the fall. I would also check the letters to make sure they are going to be helpful for incoming students – you don’t want to scare anyone coming in, and you never know what kids will write!
9. Plan A Summer Vacation
What is everyone thinking about? Summer vacation! Why not capitalize on that interest and have students plan a vacation? It could be a vacation that their families might take or it could be a dream vacation. Teachers can also set the requirements of the vacation to meet their grade level. For example, students could have to research and plan their budget for lodging, travel, food, and activities. They could also research the fastest route or least expensive way to travel. They could create itineraries of what they would like to do. This is a really fun research activity that will integrate research, map skills, math, and writing. If you would prefer a project that is already created, I have a Disney Field Trip resource available in my store.
- If you live near a tourism board, stop by and pick up brochures on things to do. This would limit students to in-state trips, but it would give them hands-on research materials when you may not have access to your tablets or computers.
- If you don’t live near one, you can prepare for next year by asking different states to send your tourism information – they will often send it for free.
- You can also ask if anyone’s parent is a truck driver. They could easily pick up brochures as they stop at truck stops.
10. Hold a “Drive-In” Movie
This is a really fun way to end the year. That last day of school, have students help you stack the desks and chairs to the side and have a “drive-in” movie. Students could bring a beach towel and/or small pillow from home and sit on the floor to watch the movie. Bonus points if the movie is based on a novel your class read!
Be sure to have lots of grocery bags to make sure students take all of their things home with them. My school didn’t allow backpacks those last few days, and the last thing the office wants is a bunch of beach towels sitting around.
I hope you will be able to use some of these interactive activities at the end of your school year! Which ones are you planning to use? Do you have another idea to share that you already use?