Can you believe we’re already over halfway through April? There are only 6 short weeks left in the school year!
Right now, we’re all hanging on, but I know in a few weeks, the weather will be super nice, and the kids will start getting antsy for summer.
I’ll hold on until the last two weeks of school. Then we’ll celebrate – but with an educational twist. My goal for the last two weeks is to make sure the students are having fun, but still getting something educationally. After all, too many students engage in little to no reading or educational activities all summer, and summer backslide is a real thing. The longer I hold out, the more their brains hold onto!
Usually, we spend our morning working on our memory books and reading, and then have a ‘special’ afternoon until the last day, when we just party all day!
Here are some ideas of special end of year celebrations I love to have with my students:
Book Swap – I send home a note well before this day, telling parents to dig through their child’s old books. The parent and child can choose up to 3 books they’d like to swap. That way they’ll have new books for summer (whoot! – encouraging summer reading!)
They bring their books in, and I write down the number of books each student brought. I also have a stack of 10 or so extra books that I buy from Scholastic for $1 or that I’ve stored up from garage sales over the summer. (No one has to participate – if they don’t bring books to trade, they just don’t do this part; I just have them partner read while we do this. You can also give each of those students a chance to pick one of the books that are left when you’re done.)
Then I lay out all the books on the carpet and pull names out of a jar. Students come up and choose new books to take home.
Once students have chosen all their books, they can pick one to read with a partner. That way, they’re not reading them all, but they get to start digging into them! This one is great, because the kids always find new books they’re excited to have. I’ll do anything to encourage reading!
Students bring in 2-3 of their favorite books, and a pillow or stuffed animal. When it’s time for our reading party, they get their things, pair up with a partner, get comfy and read!
I have them switch reading partners every 25 minutes, so they get to read with about 4 other people. I also break it up with a read-aloud of one of my favorite books and a snack in the middle.
If students do not bring any of their own books, I let them pick out 2 from our classroom library that they’ve been wanting to read, and they use those to read with partners.
Reading parties are always a big hit in our classroom!
I send home a note letting parents know that students can bring a board game or card game to school on this day. They must know how to play it, because they will be teaching others, and it must have their name on it.
Then, I set up 6 kids and their games at a time. I split the students between the 6 games, and the kids who brought the game teach their group how to play it. After 20 minutes, I switch them around. After the 2nd rotation, we bring out 6 more kids games. We do this to rotate through all the games that students brought, and if we don’t have enough for all the rotations, we’ll use some games twice.
Mad Scientist Day
On this day, we spend our afternoon doing fun science experiments. Some of my favorites are:
- Skittles Science Experiment – (Click to see directions!)
- Disappearing M’s (M&Ms)
- Sink or Float Candy Science
- Can You Sink a Marshmallow?
As you can see, I like candy experiments for the end of the year! I make sure there’s a little bit of each left over so they can have a couple of Skittles and M&Ms and a marshmallow. I’m not usually a proponent of giving candy in the classroom, but it’s the end of the year!
For this one, I get out all the manipulatives we’ve used all year and let them rotate through them. I use:
- rulers – They get a piece of paper with two columns and they get to write down a list of things to measure, and then go record the measurements.
- pattern blocks – They work together to make a repeating pattern that goes all the way across the room (or carpet, etc).
- pattern blocks – they work together to design something (a flower, a house, etc).
- 1 inch square tiles – they work together to cover the surface of a number of different sized books (everything from pocket books to chapter books to picture books to big books!) with square tiles and then write down the area dimensions ( _______ tiles x ________ tiles).
- clocks – They make a time and then have their partner write the time on a whiteboard. Then they switch back and forth.
- stacking cubes – They make as many sets of 10 as they can in 2 minutes. Then they group them into hundreds and leftover 10s and record the number. Then they try it again.
I rotate everyone through these stations (10-15 minutes at a station), then I rotate them through again (but they only make it through 2-3) and tell them they can just play, explore and have fun with that manipulative.
Okay, okay; this one really isn’t education at all. We just all get together as a 2nd grade team and rotate through some sports activities, like soccer,
kickball, basketball, bags, relay races, and more. In the morning we read sports books, do sports math and watch the Magic School Bus episode about baseball and friction. Then we rotate through the stations in the afternoon.
Ice Cream Party
Our ice cream party day is the kids’ favorite day every year! We do fun ice cream activities, then we have an ice cream bar with all the toppings and watch a movie. Some of the activities I’ve done include:
- Ice Cream Math Facts: I use this template that I found and have the students pick a 2 digit number (use 3 digit if they’re 3rd graders!) to write on the cone. Then they have to come up with addition or subtraction sentences that equal that number to write on each of the scoops. Once they’ve written their facts, they color and cut out and glue them.
- Ice Cream Science: Each group gets a timer and a scoop of ice cream. We time to see who can make their ice cream melt the fastest, but they cannot touch it with any part of their body! Students might breathe on it, poke it with things, smash it – I don’t give any ideas, because it’s so much fun to watch what these smart thinkers come up with!
- Here’s an ice cream puzzle I found that I’ve had kids color, cut out and take home with them!
For the ice cream party, I ask parents to donate different supplies and toppings. I usually have two different ice creams (vanilla and chocolate chip are the favorites), chocolate and strawberry syrup, m&ms, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. The sky’s the limit on this one!
Here is a link to the note I send home to ask parents for donations: Ice Cream Party Donations