The end of the school year is in sight, which means students’ attention is waning and teachers are tempted to throw in a movie. Instead, learn through the last minute with these activity ideas!

It’s (hopefully) warm outside, students are excited about summer vacation, and you are more than just a little bit tired. The last few weeks of school are challenging for kids and adults alike, but they can be both fun and educational with a little preparation. Try some of the following ideas to achieve a phenomenal end of the school year.

1. Switch Roles

end of the school yearMost teachers agree that they learn as much from their students as their students learn from them. Make this an intentional experience by switching roles in your classroom. Students probably have lots of outside interests that they would like to share with their classmates and you! Set aside specific times during the end of the school year for interested students to teach a lesson that they have planned. The subject can be something they know all about — playing an instrument, speaking a foreign language, caring for a baby, cooking, or dancing.

2. Take a Look Back

This end of the school year activity not only allows your students to express themselves, but gives you insight on planning for next school year. Talk about projects the class tackled and what most interested them. What activities just didn’t work for them? What was the most surprising thing they learned? How could that really boring unit have been turned around? Also ask what they feared most at the beginning of the year so you can tackle those issues at the beginning of next year with incoming students.

3. Look Forward

end of the school yearDo you have some ideas for next year, but just aren’t sure about them yet? Try them out at the end of the school year. Lots of ideas have been posted on this site and others that may have caught your interest. Would you really like to include more technology in your classroom? Maybe it’s time to try out those digital tools with students you know well and trust. Or those 21st century skills you have read about — pick one and focus on it as a class for that last week of school. Maybe you were intrigued by what you have read about Khan Academy — try a lesson and see if this resource works for your students.

4. And the Winner Is

Everybody likes to know that something they did mattered and was noticed. A great end of the school year activity is to give recognition for your students’ achievements. The awards can be simple certificates or notes given for serious academic accomplishments, or more lighthearted recognition of best laugh or most helpful. The class will be reminded of not only what they learned this year, but that they had fun, too. If you decide to do superlatives, though, exercise common sense. Awards like “Most Likely to Bomb the School” are obviously a bad idea, yet that exact superlative recently appeared in a school’s yearbook. Awards can be funny, but ensure they are building students up rather than tearing them down or reinforcing stereotypes.

5. Don’t Forget the Parents

end of the school yearIndividual notes may be too time consuming for you to tackle, but a letter to your students’ parents can convey your appreciation for their support this year. Those who volunteered with special projects or shared their time and talents with your class can be recognized. You can also encourage parents to make the summer an opportunity for learning by suggesting free learning tools (websites and apps), local educational attractions (state and national parks, museums, science centers, aquariums, etc.), and a recommended book list for summer reading.

The end of the school year will be a fantastic finale if these steps are taken to prepare some special classroom activities. Don’t let your students just zone out, watch a movie, or play games while you try to sort through all the stuff that has accumulated this year. Let them join you in learning up to the very last minute, and have a great time doing it!