Oh, the end of the school day… Kids are shoving items haphazardly into their backpacks. Coats and lunchboxes scatter the floor. The classroom is far from clean. And the volume gets louder and louder. Does it sound like your classroom? End of the day procedures in the classroom are so important because, without them, the classroom can easily become a chaotic place.
I know implementing procedures is easier said than done, but I promise that the end of the school day can look calm and collected. It’s all about setting the right end of the day procedures in the classroom.
Creating an End of the Day Routine
In my classroom, I had the rule that students were never doing “nothing”. Students knew that if they finished a task, they had two options: read silently or work on an incomplete assignment. Setting this expectation took time, repetition, and lots of practice, but it did stick. I write about how I set classroom expectations in this blog.
Of course, if you want to create a calm end of the day routine, you’ll also need to get clear on a few things first:
- What do you want your end of the day procedures in the classroom to look like?
- How will you make these procedures and expectations clear to students?
- How will you know students have met the goal?
Once you have an idea in place, you can start building an end of the day routine. In my classroom, I ended the day by having students write in their planners, complete table jobs, pack up, and read silently. But you can customize your classroom routine to match your classroom.
Here are some ideas to keep the peace at the end of the day. These ideas require no talking from students:
#1 Read Aloud
This is a great activity to initiate your end of the day routine. It’s a clear signal to students that the end of the day is coming, and it works as a transitional period between the rowdiness of class time to a quiet pack-up time.
During the read aloud, gather students on the carpet or let them sit around the room and listen as you read. You can read a picture book, or maybe you read the next chapter of a book each day (what a fun thing to look forward to!).
#2 Play an Audiobook
Audiobooks are a quick and easy activity to incorporate into your end of the day procedures in the classroom. Epic! for Kids has a ton of free audiobooks, so you don’t have to spend any extra money or time setting this up. My students always loved the “I Survived” series on Epic!
While students listen, they can quietly clean their desks, color, or put their heads down. The only rule is that students can’t talk! You can’t force anyone to listen, but set the expectation that this is a quiet time.
#3 Quiet Math
A calm end of the day routine and an opportunity to review. It’s a win-win! Give each student a dry erase board. Verbally give students a string of equations to solve, such as four times three, plus two, minus six. Then, have students show their boards.
The first student to show the correct answer “wins” a silent cheer from their classmates. Do a couple of these math equations quietly, and when you feel students have settled, you can move to the next part of your end of the day routine.
#4 Nature Scenes
YouTube has a ton of peaceful, nature-themed “ambiance” scenes you can plan. Put one of these ambiance videos on while students pack up or clean their area. While they clean, they should remain quiet and listen to the sounds of nature sounds. Not only are these sounds calming, but they also work as a voice gauge – if they are talking, they can’t hear. (I kept the volume somewhat low, too, so they really had to stay quiet to hear.)
You can also play a video on YouTube as a part of your end of the day procedures in the classroom. I often played Animal Planet, on silent, for the last 10-15 minutes. Bonus points if the YouTube video aligns with any science or social studies topic you are teaching!
#5 Silent Five
This is a really simple end of the day procedure that takes zero prep or planning. For the last five minutes of class, implement a zero talking policy. You can offer an incentive if all students make it to five minutes. This incentive might be a point, five extra minutes of recess, or candy. Just be sure this expectation and procedure fits with your students. Some classes have a student that really struggles to stay quiet, and they may not be able to reach that incentive.
You can put a timer up, so students can also keep track of the time. They can read, work, or pack during these five minutes. This became standard routine in my classroom. Students would even take initiative to call out “Silent 5!” to let others know if I missed the time on the clock.
Take your time to read through and think about these end of the day procedures for the classroom. Think about a routine that will best match the personality of your students and make them successful!