The end of school year party is my favorite “holiday” celebration of the year. Handled correctly, it becomes a true celebration of a community of learners who have grown into a cohesive classroom team.
It's also a good way to wrap up after the stress of annual testing.
The end of the year is a bittersweet time. There is no doubt that all teachers look forward to some time out of the classroom, and many kids do as well. But if your students have come together to form solid community, you can expect a few tears to fall.
Making the most of your last day together
The key to a successful end-of-school-year party is to let the class decide what they want to do. As with all classroom activities, you will have to guide them, but be sure to let those little imaginations run a bit wild. Some craziness is a very good thing!
I highly encourage you to go beyond the standard “snacks-and-video” affair that other classrooms will do. Instead, work with your kids to create fun classroom activities that they will literally remember for the rest of their lives. It's actually quite easy to do.
Just like a team of adult co-workers who spend a lot of time together, every class will develop a distinct group personality. They'll share inside jokes that only make sense to them, have favorite phrases they like to toss around and will laugh at situations that only make others roll their eyes.
Frankly, it's this “personality” that makes me love what I do!
To help you understand how you can transform this group characteristic into a fun end of school year party, I'll share some parties from my past.
End of school year party ideas
The cheese party
Why cheese? Who knows. The party included a variety of different cheeses and crackers. We watched a short Wallace and Gromit video that focused on cheese.
The chicken party
To celebrate a year of chicken fixation, I bought three new books that included chickens for a special read-aloud. With parent help, we cooked chicken nuggets and ate corn (you know… chicken feed!)
The orange party
Snacks included cheese, carrots and cut-up oranges. Fun classroom activities focused on wearing orange and making orange jokes. One of the odder parties I've attended…
The disco party
This one was really fun! And easy – if you can dance a little! I brought a portable CD player and we went out to the blacktop and learned The Hustle. Your phone and some Bluetooth speakers would work as well. No snacks at all, just dancing and running around.
The drawing party
This class loved to draw and color – activities that I don't include very often in my lesson plans (I still remember one of my principals admonishing his staff that “coloring is not a curriculum.”) We spent the end of school year party satisfying our artistic urges.
I think you get the idea. Go with the flow and have some fun.
A one-size-fits-all party idea
If your class did not develop a “party personality,” here is a classroom-tested event that will work every year.
Buy a roll of adding-machine paper tape (about two inches wide by many feet long). Cut off 3-foot strips and pass them out. The kids put their desks in something resembling a large circle so it is obvious how to pass things around from left to right.
Each student writes their name at the top of the tape and passes it to their right. The next student in line writes one or two words that they think describe the person named at the top. They write these words at the bottom of the strip. They then fold up the tape to hide their comment and pass it again to the right.
This commenting and folding continues until the tape arrives back at its owner, who can then unfold it and read a list of descriptive and motivating words about themselves. This is a fantastic way to cap off a year of classroom team building: giving and receiving compliments.
Here are two options that don't use the roll of paper. Gather students in a circle with knees touching. Then…
1. Starting either to the left or right, each student says one amazing thing they learned about the person next to her during the year.
2. Each student in the circle says one word about a single student, then another student becomes the focus. The children must try their hardest not to repeat words.
Take your turn as the teacher!
The end-of-school-year party… you'll never go wrong if you keep it simple and make it fun.