It’s that time of the year when everything comes to an end. Students take final exams; teachers grade those exams; final grades are submitted to administration, and report cards are sent out. For both ESL and mainstream classrooms, it’s a hectic time as May ends and summer begins. Now, some countries continue school until the end of June or July, but in other countries (the U.S., for example), school ends in May.
Alice Cooper’s song comes to mind:
Sometimes it’s hard to find activities to keep children interested as they near the end of school. Attention spans grow increasingly shorter with each passing day, and students count down until the first day of summer break! I did that, too, when I was in school.
So, how do you maintain your students’ interest and have fun at the same time?
Ten activities for the end of the year
There are so many activities you can do with your class! It’s hard to narrow them down to just ten, but after searching around, I found ten I like.
- 1) Let the students teach a lesson! – This is a great activity for students to demonstrate what they know about a particular subject. You can split your class up into small groups (or pairs), let them choose something they’ve learned, and have them prepare a lesson. If your students are in middle elementary (grades 3-4), you may need to help them often. If they are older, let them work on their own. I have seen that some students may understand concepts better when their classmates explain something to them in their own words. Sometimes teachers use language that is too technical.
- 2) Write a reflection piece! – The school year is full of all kinds of experiences, some good and some bad. Students need time to reflect on what they experienced over the year, so let them write in a journal or essay. If you’re really daring, ask your students to share their reflection piece with the class (if they are willing). It’s wonderful to listen to what each student has to say.
- 3) Have class outside! – The weather is sunny, hot, and great for getting outdoors. If it is not too hot outside, hold a class outside to get fresh air. A change in scenery can really boost students’ attention and concentration. Make sure you have permission from the administrator if you need it, though. There are few things more embarrassing than holding a class outside, and then having the principal walk out and tell everyone to go back inside.
- 4) Have your class write an “A-B-Cs of Survival” for your grade. – This can be a fun collaborative activity for the entire class! Like the title says, the book should be a survival guide for incoming students. Each tip should be in order beginning from A-Z, and have students illustrate each page, too. They can have fun and talk to each other at the same time!
- 5) Do a volunteer project! – I’ve written about this before, but volunteering can be an excellent way to get students involved in their communities. These projects can be simple, such as picking up trash around the school or along the roadside for younger students. For older students, you can have them volunteer at a soup kitchen or tutor younger students for an afternoon. After they finish their project, they can write about how they felt, and come up with more ideas about how to help their communities.
- 6) Make ice cream! – Summer means hot weather, and hot weather means ice cream! This is an easy, fun, and edible project that doesn’t take long. Your students will love it, and it’s a nice snack get them excited for summer. You can find a recipe here.
- 7) Make a class scrapbook – You, as well as your class, can collect papers and projects and other things to make a scrapbook. Each piece should be something meaningful to each student. This activity is a great way to reflect, talk about fun experiences over the year, and helps bring closure.
- 8) Have a “Compliment Party”! – Everyone should sit in a circle and each student goes around the room to share two things they like about each classmate. Students need to be built-up and know they’re loved and cared for (by their parents, teachers, and friends).
- 9) Hold a “Silly Olympics” – Create a series of fun, silly games and activities for students to compete in as teams (or pairs). The events can be anything that involves movement and teamwork. Games like a tug-of-war, three-legged race, cavalry game, and the human knot can give students the chance to work together and have fun at the same time. You can have a class-wide or even school-wide competition if the other teachers are willing.
- 10) Hold a Quiz Bowl! – Quiz Bowls are fun trivia games that encompass a number of topics, ranging from sports to mathematics and science. Basically they’re “Trivial Pursuit” without the game-board and pieces. Jeopardy is also a fun trivia game to get students to show what they know! You can use information from your own lessons, or search for questions from other sources. This activity utilizes teamwork – building the right combination of people strong in a variety of subjects – with thinking.
These are some activities you can do if you have time.
What kinds of activities do you like to do at the end of the year?