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It’s May!! The beginning of the end of a school year gives me all the feels. It’s bittersweet. Each year is unique and there are always parts I will miss and parts I am ready to let go. I can’t wait to be able to be a summer mom/wife and for a more relaxed pace. But, it won’t be long until I start thinking about the next year and plan away because I truly love it!
Here’s how we wrap up the last week of school in my 2nd grade classroom.
Our last days chain countdown commences. The last week usually includes a 2nd grade kickball tournament, popcorn and movie day, ice cream party and awards day.
I usually start this with about 10 days left. I went with a paper chain because there is just NO way I could keep balloons inflated during the last few weeks of school. I think that would make me go bonkers on top of all the other craziness! I also like the chain because if I forget to write down the order of the activities (which I always do), I can sneak a peek. We rip off the chain link at the end of the day to see what’s in store for tomorrow.
You can read more about it here.
Truth: I am HORRIBLE at remembering to take pictures throughout the year. My end of the year slideshow would always end up being like 30 seconds long. Here’s the first day and here’s our field trip we took last week–ha!
BUT two things really helped me this year. 1. I started using SeeSaw to communicate and share with parents. This forced me to take more photos and they are all stored right there (and available to download)! 2. I added “classroom photographer” as a reward and put students in charge of the picture taking. (I got this idea from my friend Amy @theuniqueclassroom) Now I have a TON of photos I am dumping into a PowerPoint presentation to show on the last week of school.
We read aloud every day so of course this continues through the last week! My absolute favorite book to read the last day of school is No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks by Diane deGroat. I read Brand New Pencils…at the beginning of the year and I usually have at least one student who remembers it! After we read it, I roll out the red carpet and hand out their end of the year award certificates.
I also like to reread Mrs. Spitzer’s Garden. We read it the first week of school and create our growth mindset flowers. I save these flower craftivities as part of their memory folder so they can read what they wrote at the beginning of the year.
It’s fun to reflect on their goals and see how much they have grown!
For everyone’s sanity, it is crucial to keep learning at the forefront of each day. But, since students (and teachers) have a tendency to want to clock out before the year is quite through, it requires creativity to keep students engaged.
Last year, I planned Flashlight Day as part of our countdown. You can read all the details here but part of that day was a scavenger hunt review activity–in the dark, of course!
Their scavenger hunt paper asked them to find things like nouns, 3D shapes, punctuation and suffixes. You can download the recording sheet here.
This time of the year, I am giving out rewards for anything and everything. You remembered your homework? Go clip up! Went up 50 points on iReady? Here’s some Skittles. Seriously though, sometimes you just have to pull out the secret candy stash (for yourself, too!). My new favorite thing to do for students is asking a “bonus” question about something super random when a student volunteers. The other day, we were reading a Scholastic News. I randomly mentioned that Mr. Stahl loves maple syrup (text connection!). When students were answering the questions, I threw in a BONUS for whoever remembered what I said Mr. Stahl loves! They were floored!
How else do I reward students at the end of the year? I use Whole Class Positive Behavior Bulletin boards to motivate my students to make good choices. The novelty of these boards keeps it fresh and new. With over 15 reward choices, my students are always excited to vote for what they will earn!
I use friendly competition and games to reward groups of students working hard and cooperating during times like our Game Day. On Game Day, we play many of the games we used all year like Kahoot, Sparkle, and Jeopardy. I award a paper medal to each team which you would think were made of real gold by their reactions-ha!
I also make sure to reward individuals as much as possible. Whether it is a simple celebration and classroom cheer for a child who met a goal or made great growth or something tangible, this is the time to pull out all the stops and end the year on a positive note. One way I encourage individual positive behavior is by allowing the student who clipped up the highest on our clip chart to pull off our chain link for the following day. This really motivates my students and it is FREE and simple to implement. Yes, we still use a clip chart and it works for my classroom. Last year, I cut off the bottom of it so that I can use it to encourage and the same kids aren’t always clipping down. You can read about what I do instead of clipping down here.
I hope you have an amazing last few days/weeks of school! It can be stressful and crazy but it is ALL worth it at the end 🙂