Top 10 Tips for Teachers on the Last Day of School (Ogle, 1986)

For many teachers, the last day of school can be worse than the first. All of the worksheets are done, grading is finished, and the students are anxious to start their summer vacations. Any hope of getting in a last-minute lesson is dashed when you see your students' anxious glances at the clock. However, there are still some things that you can do to fill the time until that final bell rings.

1. Write letters:

You can ask your students to each write a note to students who will be incoming in the fall. Have them talk about their favorite class activities, share jokes, or give new students important information for surviving the school year. You may gain some insights on your teaching style, and you can always use the letters as icebreakers the next school year.

2. Make some memories:

Make some memories by creating class memory books that are easy. You can create simple printable worksheets for students to complete and staple together as a book. Have them write down favorite memories, draw pictures of the classroom, and sign autographs for each other. If you have time, you could even include a class picture on the cover.

3. Take out the trash:

Quite literally! You can use the boundless energy that the students have to take down posters, scrub desks, shred old homeschool worksheets, or pack up books. To avoid the groans, consider making it a game or a race - divide the class into teams and see which team can complete its tasks first to win a prize.

4. Ad lib for laughs:

Develop a list of silly topics, one for each child, and put them in a jar. Have each student pull a topic and give them a minute or two before calling them up. Encourage the students to get creative with fun topics like "what would you do if you were the president" or "convince us to buy your shoes."

5. Get outside:

After all, your kids would rather be outdoors. Try some fun outdoor games that require teamwork, like relay races or water balloon tosses. It will allow your students to burn up some energy without tearing your classroom to pieces.

6. Play learning games:

If your classroom is stocked with a variety of educational games, now is a good time to pull them out for entertainment. Organize game centers around the classroom and allow students to pick which ones they would like. Set a timer and have groups rotate from one activity to another periodically.

7. Focus on the future:

Elementary school students in particular will enjoy imagining what the next grade will be like. Have them write an essay or draw a picture to share with the class. Or you can have students share their plans for the upcoming summer vacations.

8. Spelling Bee:

Pull out all your spelling teacher worksheets from the entire year, and hold a class spelling bee. It will be an enjoyable way to spend time and refresh students' memories. Older children may enjoy a Jeopardy-style game involving facts that they learned throughout the year.

9. Say something nice:

Pin or tape a thick sheet of paper to every child's back. Have students go around the classroom and write something nice on the back of their peers. If this is too rambunctious for your classroom, have your students make autograph books that can be passed from row to row and filled out by their peers.

10. Say thank you:

Teach your kids to show their appreciation. Have them write thank you cards for their favorite school staff. This can be parent volunteers, the principal, even the janitor or the food service workers.