When you hear classroom traditions, what do you think of?
For me, I immediately think of the end of the school year. This time of year is rife with opportunities to cement relationships and build community among students.
Below are nine of my favorite traditions for the end of the school year.
1. Memory Books
Each year I print out a page’s worth front and back of photos from the school year this attach them, book style, with five pieces of blank white paper. This isn’t anything fancy, but it is one of my favorite traditions.
After creating the books I write a letter to each student inside their own book. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on the year with each student, and I have been told by students and their families how much it is appreciated. I try to do two or three a day for a couple of weeks to make sure each letter is personal and meaningful.
Finally, students get their memory books and are able to design of cover of their own and write notes and messages to one another. This tradition is one that is easy, and leaves them with an artifact of the year.
2. Trivia Games
I have never met a class that doesn’t enjoy a little competition. Trivia games, which are content or fun based, are a great way to tap into this energy.
For this tradition, I like to set up the classroom in a pub trivia style and serve lemonade or water and a light snack like popcorn. Students then work in teams.
You can create your own trivia game, but I have one for Texas History and one for U.S. History ready to go!
3. Countdown Tradition
One tradition I don’t think I could ever give up is the end of school countdown!
There are many ways to complete a countdown, and you have to decide what works best for you.
Some countdowns I have tried include celebrating a different student each day, reading a new picture book each day, or completing a fun activity each day. The possibilities are endless!
4. Cooperative Activities
Cooperative activities are a great way to make sure relationships stay strong and students are engaged through the very last moment of the last day of school.
It was a tradition for my class to work their way through this pack of cooperative learning activities the last few weeks of school each year. Not only are they fun, but they also keep students working collaboratively and create memories.
This tradition isn’t for everyone, but my class loved it! We would select one day near the end of the school year to be our read-a-thon and we would have a marathon reading day.
Throughout the day students were able to read independently, in partners, and with lower grade level buddies. We also had many read alouds throughout the day including from mystery readers from the school and community.
This simple to plan day is a tradition that students still remind me about when I bump into them years later.
6. The Great Clean Up Tradition
One tradition every classroom needs is a great clean up. Our classrooms get filthy throughout the year, even with our amazing custodial staff.
This one is exactly how it sounds. Students work together, with the teacher, to clean the classroom. They can organize materials, clean our their personal spaces, and generally tidy the classroom.
The favorite part of the great clean up is always using shaving cream to clean the desktops!
7. Compliment Capes
This tradition is quick and easy! Each student gets a piece of plain paper taped to their back. Then, students travel around the room writing compliments on one another’s paper capes.
If you don’t want to have students write on one another’s backs, the papers can be left on desks with their names on them instead.
8. Passion Projects
Whether you call them passion projects, Genius Hour, or independent study, the end of the school year is the perfect time for students to research and create their own projects.
The element of choice involved will keep students engaged and working hard!
9. Class Photos Tradition
Not everyone buys a class photo, and honestly they were always a little silly to me the way they are so posed.
Our class traditionally went outside and took a still posed, but more natural photo of all of us together. Some years we were on the playground, others we stood out in the field. Each year is a little different.
I would then print the photos for students to keep, usually using an internet code that allowed me to get them SUPER inexpensively.
If we had the time, students would make frames for their photos out of construction paper.
Regardless of what you do at the end of the school year, it is important to keep students engaged and community tight.
What Are Your End of the Year Traditions?
What traditions do you share with your students year after year? Let me know!