End of Year Activities

The countdown is on for many of us!  Summer is almost here (3.5 days for me-eek)! And, it's the end of the month which means it's time for Weekend Warriors!  This month, my fellow Weekend Warriors and I thought it was fitting to share our favorite end of year activities with you.

 


One of my favorite end of year activities is to task my students with painting a self portrait.



Another self portrait that is.  I always have my students paint one during the first week of school. The portraits then hang in our classroom the whole year.  But, it's super fun to have them paint another picture at the end of the year to see just how far their skills have come.  And, the parents love them!  They are definitely a keepsake item.





When my students make their portraits, they use a black crayon to draw the outline (or a Sharpie, it just depends on our crayon situation at this point in the year).  Then, they paint with watercolor.  Tip: I like to use card stock instead of construction paper. It seems to handle the watercolor better.

You can read more about our self portraits HERE.


Another fun end of year activity is to make some tie dye shirts!  That is, if you aren't afraid to get your hands dirty.  ;)  It's an easy (but kind of messy) way to let your students have fun together during those last few days of school.


Have your students bring in a white t-shirt and get the fun started!  Be sure to remind your students that they don't necessarily need to go out and buy a new white shirt for this. Most likely, your students have an old white shirt somewhere at home. Encourage them to bring those in, the dye will give the shirt new life (and the parents will be happy about not having to buy a new shirt).

TIP: Ask your health office to donate a few pairs of protective gloves. This will help protect your hands and nails from the dye.

Once the shirts are all dyed and washed, have the class wear their shirts on the same day!


I realize that working with dye isn't for everyone.  So, if you prefer to stay nice and clean, then dress as a class the easy way!  That is, decide on a theme and dress alike!

You can come up with lots of fun themes, but here are a few color theme suggestions:
  • Neon
  • Black and White (this one is easy because pretty much everyone has black and white in their closet)
  • Red, White, and Blue (Patriotic)
Or, you could go for a theme like one of these: 
  • Hawaiian/Luau/Beach attire (minus the swimwear, of course)
  • Nerds (a fourth grade class did this one year and it was so cute)
  • Crazy socks
Thanks for stopping by today, friends!  I hope you were able to grab an idea or two!
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My Favorite End of the Year Tips and Tricks

The end of the year is rapidly approaching. The kids are buzzing with excitement.  YOU are buzzing with excitement.  But, not only is it an exciting time, it is a crazy time. So, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite tips and tricks for the end of the year.


What follows is simply what works for me, and I truly hope you are able to take an idea or two away with you.  I've got a few tips for surviving the last few weeks of school, as well as some tips to use now that will help you transition into a new school year with a bit less stress on your plate!


One of my favorite things to do during the last 20 some days of school are projects.  This might look like different things to different people, but to me, I love to do my annual American symbols research project. 

We started our symbols project last week and will continue to work on it until the last full week of school.  The content is always fun and exciting for the kids and they love making all the fun art projects to go with their writing.  You can read more about this project here, and you can check it out on TPT here.

Another project that my students work on is an end of the year book.  It's perfect to use when our curriculum starts to phase out (meaning we run out of lessons).  I use various components of my End of the Year pack and turn them into a book (I bind them after they are finished).  We will start this project next week.


We work on these projects daily and the kids look forward to them every.single.day. They offer consistency, but also variety, and the students are always excited to share their finished projects with their families.


This time of year often leads to behavior challenges.  It can feel like the kids are teetering over that line that leads to chaos.  But, if you really sit back and think about it, you will always be able to find several students who can always be counted on to set a good example for others.  These students tend to be quiet, and are often overlooked when you're dealing with redirecting the teeter totters. One way that I let these students know I care, and that I see how hard they are working to set a good example for others is by writing them special notes.


They always get excited when they walk into the classroom and find a card on their desk.  They also love to take them home and share them with their families.  It's such a quick and easy way to let those students know that you are aware of their wonderful efforts.


While I'm all about keeping my kiddos engaged in learning up until the last minute possible, I'm not a total meanie.  After all, summer IS right around the corner...you can't deny it, so you might as well embrace it.  This year, I am using a countdown chain.  At the end of each day we will remove the bottom link.

As an added bonus, some of the chains have fun events written on them.  Yes, I wrote them by hand.  Sometimes I like to do things "old school."  Hehe.  Anyway, when a chain link with an activity written on it is cut off, the students will get to do that special thing the following day.

You can grab this FREE countdown sign {here}.  :)

Here is a breakdown of the fun activities they will encounter over the next 20 days:
  • Mustache Day (students will be given a fake mustache to wear)
  • Sidewalk Chalk Art Fest (15 minutes outside decorating the blacktop with sidewalk chalk)
  • Bubble Fun (students will get a mini container of bubbles and about 10 minutes to play with them outside)
  • 10 minutes of extra recess (who doesn't love more play time??)
  • 30 minutes of flashlight reading (a class favorite)
  • Choose a new brag tag
  • Watercolor Fun (let your students get creative and paint a fun picture)
  • Movie Party (I like to save this one for last)


At the end of the year, we are required to take everything off our walls and pack it up.  Rather than save this job for the work day after the last day of school, I start removing stuff a few weeks in front of the last day.  Once or twice a week, I simply remove one or two things from the walls, starting with things that the students don't need (think decor).  This saves me lots of time so that when that work day rolls around, I can work on organizing my storage closets, or cleaning out my desk.





At the end of the year, I like to start thinking about the year ahead.  I know it seems crazy, but I am a planner to a fault.  I typically prep as much as I can this time of year knowing that when I return in the fall, I have a few less things to worry about. So, what exactly do I prep?  I prep the materials that I know I will need for the first week of school. Don't worry, I won't show you everything I've prepped, but here's a looksie.

This is from my new Return of the Nerds back to school pack.  I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to use it next year!

I prep letters and forms that I know I will set out at our Meet and Greet the Friday before school starts.


You can find these (and many more) forms in my Back to School Forms pack. 



I also prep things the students will use all year long, like these amazing spelling dictionaries from Lucky to Be in First.


I also laminate my name plates for the next year.  I know that some people prefer to write the names and then laminate, but I've always laminated and then written their names with permanent marker.  It works for me and saves me a ton of time in the fall.


How do I accomplish this while still planning and prepping for the end of the year?  I commit to coming in a little bit earlier a few days a week.  This way, I can stake my claim on a copier (they are a hot commodity) and make a few copies here and there.


Write down your ideas!  I don't know why, but I always get ideas for the following year toward the end of the current school year and I don't want to forget them.  So, I write them down.  I just use a boring old spiral notebook and write down things that I might want to do next year.  I bring the notebook home and add to it during the summer.



Another way I save myself some time in the fall is by keeping my cubby drawer labels in tact.  That is, I keep them attached to the cubby drawers.  Rather than type students names on these, I write them with Sharpie. Since the label is laminated, I simply wipe the names off and leave them in place for next year.  It saves ink, lamination pouches, and time (because I don't have to entirely remake the labels in the fall). 

To remove Sharpie from a laminated surface, simply use some hand sanitizer, a bit of elbow grease, and a tissue.  Easy peasy!

I do hope you were able to take an idea or two away today. Thank you so much for stopping by, and may the rest of your year be a breeze!

Toodles!

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Five for Friday {May 1, 2015}

It's Friday!  And, oh how happy I am about that.  Today, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share some random glimpses into my week.

This time of year, I'm always gearing up for the fall. This means that I am busy prepping the materials that I know I will use when we go back in August.  It also means that I'm decluttering my room of all the build up that occurs throughout the year.  You know, all that stuff that gets thrown into files, cabinets, and containers.  On Wednesday, I was able to get my cabinets completely cleaned up.  I'll be honest, I don't let them get too messy.  #neatfreak  However, that doesn't mean that things don't get tossed in there along the way.  Now the cabinets are nice and clean and ready for a new year.  This is one of my cabinets.



Speaking of back to school prep, I also got my first week materials all ready for our return in August.  I am so excited to use these materials!!





I was ready for some new back to school resources, so I created my own!  This pack is called Return of the Nerds, and I'm so excited about it!  You can check it out {here} on TPT.


I made some major changes to how students access books in my classroom (inert sad face).  It's that time of year when the students are ready for school to be over. They know that summer is only 25 days away, and they can feel it (since summer like temps have officially arrived).  And, they are getting on each others nerves.  Our library area (a bookshelf) was quickly becoming the "let's make poor choices" zone. Long story short, my kiddos are no longer allowed to freely get out of their seats to get a book to read.  So, I decided to put the book tubs at the table groups.  I plan to rotate the tubs at the end of each day.  Let's hope this gets us through the end of the year.


My classroom library isn't leveled or organized an any particular way.  After years of organizing the books by category only to have the students put them away in the wrong tubs (like, ALL the time), I decided to just put them in tubs without specific designations.  This "system" works just fine for our purposes.  :)



The other day I walked past a student's desk and noticed that his pencil box was impeccably organized.  I mean, look at this!  He recently got a new box of crayons.  Maybe that motivated him to makeover his entire pencil box.  Anyhoo, this sight makes me happy.  I mean, seriously, he did a great job.  Now, let's see how long it stays that way.  Hehe.



I made my first Stella and Dot purchase. When the order arrived, I fell in love with the packaging and didn't even want to open up these adorable little boxes!  Don't worry, I did, but only after I stared at the cute boxes for forever and a day.


Don't forget to head over to Doodle Bugs and see what everyone else has been up to!



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