Countdown to the last day of school to celebrate all that your students have accomplished this year and, let’s be honest, rejoice in the fact that summer is right around the corner! I love using a countdown for end of year activities in the classroom to keep engagement and excitement high.
I’ve never been a fan of the balloon popping tradition for my end of year countdown, and wanted something quieter but still engaging. Envelopes work perfectly for this! They still keep the suspense, just without the loud *POP*.
I countdown to the last day of school. This is so I can tell my students the day before what will take place the following day, in case they need to prepare. So, I start my countdown at the end of the day when there are 11 days remaining until the last day of school. That sounds tricky, so to help you figure out your start date, take a look at the sample calendar I made.
You can download the FREE Editable End of Year Countdown in my Free Resource Library to make the last days of school special and easy! This freebie includes the envelope labels and editable activity cards that go inside. It’s important to really think about your students, the memories you’ve made and experiences you’ve shared when you’re planning daily activities. Oh and rhyming? That’s just a bonus. 😉
Most of the things on the countdown are straightforward and take little to no prep, like extra recess, sock day, movie day, etc. A few things that took a little bit more work on my end, but were totally worth it are Camping Day, Dance Party, STEM Day and the last day which was a Teacher Surprise. Of course, you can substitute these ideas with anything else, but if you’re interested, here’s what I did:
Camping Day Materials:
-Plastic table cloths for the “tents”
-Paper fire pit props
-Camping/Woodland Youtube ambiance to project onto the board
-S’mores supplies. Pro Tip: Use marshmallow fluff instead of real marshmallows for s’mores. This makes it feel more like melted marshmallows and gives off true s’more vibes.
What we did:
-Students read books of their choice
-Free time on computers
-Completed everyday work in their “tents”
-Played campfire games (Scholastic has great recommendations here)
Dance Party Materials:
-Kid friendly dance music playlist
What we did:
This lasted about 20 minutes, we took a break for lunch, and resumed the dance party a little later in the day. Depending on how “into it” your kiddos are, the timing may be different. We wrapped up our dance party with popsicles!
STEM Day Materials:
My students loved STEM projects. So, I found 4 that didn’t take much prep or materials, and could be done throughout the day. You can download the FREE Stem Day presentation in the Free Resource Library! If behavior is a concern, inform students the day before that they’ll need to be “invited” to Stem Day by showing good behavior. There’s a slide in the presentation that you can display to motivate students beforehand.
Teacher Surprise was the last day of school. At this point, the classroom was essentially empty and boxed away, furniture moved to the middle of the room per our custodian’s request, laptops returned to IT, and the students were a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s chaos no matter how you spin it.
My “teacher surprise” was a mini summer transformation on the last day of school. I prepped my students’ gifts and had them displayed when they arrived. Personalized water bottles (from the Dollar Store), sunglasses, and a note with a QR code to watch our end of year video that I made. I hung beach balls from the ceiling, and also had a beach ball for each student. They took turns signing each other’s beach ball like a yearbook.
The day goes by very quickly, but we manage to make the most of it! Sidewalk chalk, whole group chats about our year, and reading the book Last Day Blues got us through the day and was a simple send-off to summer.
Our students begin as a list of names, but end the year as family. I hope these activities help you celebrate the end of the year together in a fun and meaningful way!
Pin the image below to save this post for later and share it with other educators!