Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Making the Most of Time During the Last Weeks of School: Ideas, Freebies, and Resources

It goes without saying, the end of the year is CR A Z Y.  The kids are off the chart excited (the diplomatic way of saying WILD).  There are grades and assessments to complete.  There are records and other paper work to be tended to.  There is a classroom to clean out, organize, and shutdown for the summer.  Plus, there are all those special, fun days that you put off until all the major testing is over.
Whew...I've been on summer break for about a week and I'm still breaking out in a little sweat thinking about the last few weeks of school. ;)

After 16 year is the classroom, there are a couple of tips I have for ending the school year with your sanity intact.
First, start working on all your extra stuff early.  Do not wait until the last minute to try to organize field day, put together end of the year gifts for your students, do grades, and finish permanent record cards.  Take care of as many details as you can before you hit the last couple of weeks.
My second tip is to keep your students busy, busy, busy.  You may have already covered all of your essential standards.  Your students may be struggling to fully focus.  But, you need to keep them moving ahead in their learning.  Plus, from my experience, students behave much better when they are engaged and have tasks to complete.

Here are some fun end of the year/summer inspired activities we did during the last weeks of school...
I love having student work on display.  I have a spot in the hallway where I hang student work and I also put display pieces in my classroom.  At the end of the year, it can get a little too hectic to change out student work, so I put together a simple summer writing craftivity that took little to no time to prep.
Students wrote about their plans or things they would like to do this summer.  They really got into this assignment.  In the end, we had a colorful display to remind us that summer break was just around the corner.

If you would like to use this writing craftivity with your students, it's free at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can click on the picture below for more details.

We also worked on some (hot off the press) literacy and math centers.  For the past couple of years, I've intended to round out my literacy and math centers with sets that are end of the year and summer inspired.  However, since the end of the year is the way it is...I have ran out of steam before I completed my project.
But, this year was different.  I stayed up late several nights and managed to finish up these long awaited resources.  To tell you the truth, it was pretty fun putting these sets together.  They served as a great review of many skills we practiced during the year.  I could really see how far my young learners have come.
Pictured below are a couple of the literacy centers students worked with during the final weeks.

These literacy centers (and nine others-there is a bonus 11th center as well) are part of my Excellent Endings {10 Literacy Centers for the End of the Year} packet.  The centers in Excellent Endings include work with adjectives, synonyms/antonyms, syllables, pronouns, verbs, sight words, vowel teams, contractions, and more.  You can click here if you'd like more details.

We also kept busy with the companion set of math centers, Excellent Endings {10 Math Centers for the End of the Year}.  Pictured below are a couple of centers from this packet.

There are a total of eleven math centers in my Excellent Endings {10 Math Centers for the End of the Year}.    (This packet also includes a bonus 11th center.)  The centers in Excellent Endings include practice with fact families, place value, geometry, time to the half hour, double digit addition/subtraction, fractions, and more.  You can click here if you'd like more details.

These end of the year literacy and math centers offered a good deal of flexibility and quality skill practice during the last weeks of school.
In addition to our center work, another end of the year project I love is my Graduation Glyph.  We've made these glyphs for the past few years and they always turn out so cute.
Like with all glyphs, students answer questions to determine details about their project.

We used our glyphs for some data collection to help complete our end of the year memory booklets.  When we finished, students autographed each others' booklets.  (They loved this part.)
If you would like more info about my Graduation Glyph {A Fun End of the Year Craftivity and Memory Booklet}, just click here.

Besides keeping my kids occupied, (like I mentioned before) there are quiet a few responsibilities that get added to teachers' plates at the end of the year.  One responsibility we have at our school is to put together a little something for our classes during Awards Day.  
This year we had the option of doing awards with our students in our own classrooms, instead of in the auditorium with the entire grade.  We opted for doing awards in our classes and I went to work making some new superlative awards for my almost second graders.
It was nice to reflect back on the year and about my students' accomplishments, personalities, and interests.  All the students loved hearing about their special awards and why they are so deserving.  We had a great time.
I created the awards in full color and in ink saver, backline.  I went back and forth on which version to use.  In the end, I decided to go with the ink saver on some bright and colorful paper.

My End of the Year Student Awards are also available at my store.  They are editable and include girl and boy versions of all of the awards.  You can click on the picture below for more information.

Student awards and end of the year gifts are definitely tasks that you can get an early start on.  For this year's gifts, I gave each student a book and personalized bookmark.  
Scholastic books is a great resource when you are trying to outfit your entire class with the same book.  I was so excited to see this Ready Freddy Second Grade Rules on sale for $1.  #score

Many of my firsties were pretty proud to be leaving for the summer with their very own chapter book.
If you would like a free (and editable) copy of the bookmarks I gave to my students, you can click here.

I hope some of these ideas and resources are a help to you as you wrap up your school year.  If you get an early start on some of your extra responsibilities and keep your students involved with meaningful activities, the end of the year will way less stressful.
Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I also snagged the same book for my students. Love the bookmark, thanks for sharing. Do you have a link for the labels you created for the inside of the book. That is too cute!

  2. Thanks for sharing this fantastic and cute bookmark! I just finish creating them for my students! Thanks a bunch!