Whether you have a few days, weeks, or months left of the 2016-2017 school year, things are definitely winding down. For many of us, May is filled with field trips, field days, awards ceremonies, and other special events and assemblies. It’s an exciting time but can be accompanied by a long, and sometimes stressful, end-of-the-year to-do list. As you begin to plan for the remaining days, I want to share a few fun activity ideas to wrap-up the school year.
1. Year-in-Review: One of the tools I am most proud of at the end of the school year is my math notebook. It is full of pages and pages of learning. Because I allow my students to use colored pencils and sometimes markers to complete the pages, the notebooks are always colorful and engaging. With this kind of creativity in mind, one great way to review a year of learning and give students an opportunity to showcase what they learned during the school year is to allow students to create a learning anchor chart for a concept or skill. To begin, divide your class into groups of two. Then assign each group a major skill that is part of your grade level curriculum. (If you’d like to review all of the skills, assign each group two, or three, skills.) Student groups then create an anchor chart of important understandings for each skill using their math notebooks, textbook, or other resources. I encourage my students to make the posters fun and engaging! After all groups are finished, students present their anchor charts to the class. (Be sure to have each group create a rough draft before beginning and review each rough draft for correctness before handing out the chart paper.) To create a showcase of student learning, display the posters around the classroom or in the hallway.
2. Review Game: This activity is super fun and requires virtually no prep work! It can be used in conjunction with the Year-in-Review activity above or as a stand-alone activity. (It also takes several days to complete, so if you need some time to complete your end-of-the-year checklist, this is a great independent task.) The basic idea is that students will create a game or activity to review one of the skills learned during the school year. Board games are generally easy and straightforward to create and play, but there are other ideas for products that students could use. See the list below for some examples and pictures of kid-created and kid-tested games from some of my students. Regardless of the product students choose, they should include an answer key and a set of detailed directions. After all of the games and activities are complete, allow students time to play each other’s games or complete the activities– this is the most valuable part because the students LOVE sharing and playing each other’s games!
- I Have, Who Has? Activity
- Crossword Puzzle (I use the Criss-cross puzzle maker at Discovery Education’s Puzzle Maker website.)
- Card Game
- Tic-Tac-Toe Board
- Problems or tasks on 6-sided Cubes
- Dice Game
3. End-of-the-Year Math Reflection Questions: This activity is a great way to get students communicating with each other and to reflect on their year of learning. Promoting self-reflection not only encourages students to look back at failures but also to celebrate them. As we wrap-up the school year, we can use the successes and failures of the current year to help students prepare for the next one. As both a fourth and fifth grade teacher, I love to talk to my students about middle school and how the skills they learned with me will help them as they move forward in school. Using self-reflection questions for group discussion provides me with an opportunity to promote a growth mindset in my students and set them up for success for the next school year. Here are a few examples of the questions I like to ask or on which to have students reflect:
- What is something we did this year you think you will need to remember for the rest of your life?
- What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
- What was your favorite math activity this year? Why?
- What was the most challenging thing you learned this year?
- Name three things you can do to help yourself learn a difficult concept.
As the year draws to a close, I hope you take the opportunity to review learning and celebrate successes and failures with your students as you prepare to send them to the next grade level.
Sound Off! Share your favorite end-of-the-year wrap-up activity in the comments section below.