Every school year by the time May finally arrives, spring fever is in full swing for both students and teachers. As teachers we have a harder time making ourselves create lessons, and the kids have a more difficult time focusing when all they want to do is be out of school. Thus, we’re typically left scrambling around wondering what on earth we can do to keep our kiddos engaged through the last day. So, I’ve created a list of 10 activities and ideas that will keep you and your students focused, and help you finish strong.
1. Board Games
This is always a crowd-pleaser! When I was still in the classroom, we’d have a “board game day” at the end of every school year, and the kids loved it! I brought 5-6 games from home and set up stations. (The top requests and subsequent favorites with my kids were always Trouble, Life, Battleship, Candy Land, and Jenga.)
Once the kids arrived, I let them divide into groups of 4. (While I did allow the kids to choose their own groups, I occasionally still had to make adjustments due to behavior and personality conflicts.) I explained the rules of each board game to everyone before we started playing, and then I allotted a certain amount of time at each station before switching. By the end of the day, the kids had be given an opportunity to play every game, and they had a blast.
2. SCOOTs with Music
SCOOTs are ALWAYS winners with the kids because of the movement, and with me because of the skill practice. If you don’t know what a SCOOT is, consider this your formal introduction. A SCOOT is a whole class game where students rotate between desks and do a task at each desk. It’s a high engagement, fast paced activity that students love! The best part is you can use any task cards or review cards you already have.
Simply, place one card on each desk and have the students take a piece of paper and a pencil with them from desk to desk. (I always added fun music while we did our SCOOTs and the kids were allowed to “dance” at their desks AFTER completing the task there.) This could easily be modified for homeschoolers by just placing the cards around the room or around the house. You could still have your kids go from card to card, and enjoy the active learning.
This is the perfect rainy day activity…especially if your learners are movers! They can remain active while participating in an “indoor appropriate activity” and be reviewing skills, too. SCOOTs are definitely a win-win!
3. Science Experiments
One activity that we always seem to skip over during the school year is science experiments. They’re so much fun for our kids, but honestly, they require A LOT of preparing as the teacher! However, now is the perfect time to have some fun experimenting.
If you need some ideas for exciting (and simple) experiments, I have a Science board on Pinterest you can check out here! Honestly, there are some great ideas, and many don’t require too much planning. (Make sure you take a look at the “Erupting Death Star.” It’s bound to be a winner with your Star Wars fans. 🙂 )
4. Themed Days
You could have so much fun creating and implementing themed days. Consider having a “science day” where you complete a nature walk, and conduct science experiments. Or, maybe you could have a “reading day” where you read aloud to your kids, and let them read some of their favorite authors’ works to each other. Then watch movies based on the books.
How about an “eating around the world day” where you discuss some of the different countries around the world, and sample some of the treats associated with those countries? You could actually let your kids research the different countries for a few days, and then have the treat-tasting day at the end. There are an endless number of options for themed days with the only limiting factor being your imagination.
5. Nature Walk
Go on a nature walk, and see what sorts of interesting things your kiddos can find. Then bring your finds inside to discuss and investigate! You’d be amazed at how much fun this can be. If you have access to magnifying glasses or microscopes, use those to look more closely at what you and your kids unearth.
Another variation would be creating a class leaf book. Collect different types of leaves on your nature walk, and then research the unique types as a class project. If you want to dig a little deeper, allow the kids to discover which types are native species and which are non-native.
6. Take School Outside
Vitamin D has positive effects on everyone….so, just consider this an act of medical necessity! Consider taking your board games outside, or simply having a picnic/snack out in the sunshine. If you teach at a school, see if there’s an opportunity for your class to have a little more recess time each day.
If you homeschool, consider doing some schoolwork on a porch, deck or blanket, and then adding more physical activity. Or, if you have the opportunity, go to a park and have school. Many local parks are relatively quiet during the school day, and this would be the perfect setting for learning. Sometimes, just a change of pace and location helps everyone.
7. Community Guests or Field Trips
For my homeschooling peeps, this time of year is perfect for you to take some field trips. Find a zoo, an aquarium, a national park, or a historical landmark to explore. My kids love any type of field trip, and they learn so much every time we take one.
As a classroom teacher, you don’t always have the luxury of being able to go somewhere at the end of the school year. So, why not bring these places to you? See if you can get community helpers or workers from some of these tourist attractions to come to you! Many places will work with teachers and schools to provide educational information to local students. All you need to do is ask!
8. Have a Small Group Lunch Date
So many times we get wrapped up in our roles as teachers and we don’t always get to know our kids personally. Eating lunch together in the classroom was always a huge hit with my kids. It was fun for me to get to know them as individuals, and it was fun for the kids to see me as someone who wasn’t always just the teacher.
To make this even more inviting, I liked to divide the class into groups of 5, and eat with one group each day. By the end of the week, all of the kids had an opportunity to eat with me. They loved my focused attention and the fact that we could chat about things other than just “school.”
My own boys still enjoy for us to eat a picnic lunch in the den and watch a movie together. Because it isn’t something we do often, it is a treat for them. Obviously, they get plenty of time with me outside of “school,” but sometimes just changing our routine is fun!
9. New App and Website Day
Let’s face it…kids LOVE technology, and while we don’t want their faces glued to electronic devices all the time, if used sparingly, technology can be a fantastic learning tool for them. So, why not allow your kids to try out some new apps or websites, and give their “professional” opinions about them?
This would be a great opportunity for kids to look at things a little more critically. (Obviously, this should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway…put specific parameters on what they can view. Consider creating a list of potential websites and apps you would like them to try out. This way, they will only have the freedom to investigate specific sites.)
You can create a rubric or a checklist of things you want to find out about the website or app. Then allow the kids to score it based on the criteria you have provided!
10. Finish Strong with Kids’ Choice
The last idea is simply let your kids tell you what they would like to do! Create a survey for them to take or just have a discussion and compile the ideas. They will gladly tell you some things they would like to do before the year is over, and then you can vote. (By the way, this would be the perfect time to discuss popular vote, democracy, etc.) You’ll probably be amazed at the unique ideas they will come up with given the opportunity.
Well, there you have it! You’ve all worked so hard this school year, and you want to make sure that momentum continues to the very end. So, consider implementing some (or all ten) of these ideas into your end-of-the-year festivities. They will absolutely help you and your kiddos finish strong!