Keeping students engaged at the end of the school year can definitely be challenging. The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer, so they may be staying up later. Overall, the students, as well as the teachers, are ready for summer break! With the chaos of the end of the school year, it is important to keep your students excited, but still focused, as much as possible. Here are some easy ideas to keep your students engaged.
1. Change up the classroom layout.
There is no easier way to do a refresh than to change up your classroom layout. This could be as simple as moving the students desks to moving some or all of your furniture. I love a new seating arrangement every now and then.
2. Keep a routine as much as possible.
As crazy as the last few weeks of school can be, try to keep a routine as much as possible. I am a huge supporter of changing things up and throwing in fun activities, but I have certain things that I will do every single day as well. This helps to keep somewhat of a routine, which always helps to keep students feeling calmer.
3. Get your students moving…a lot.
This time of year, we are all getting antsy. I always feel like the students need a lot more movement than normal. We get outside as much as possible. We find new places to work in the classroom. I also love using GoNoodle and Cosmic Kids Yoga for much needed brain breaks.
4. Have some special “themed days” or do an ABC Countdown to the end of the school year.
Every year, our ABC Countdown ends up being one of my students favorite things about the school year. We countdown the last 26 days of school with a different theme for each day. We make these very simple A-Bring a Stuffed Animal Day, B–Bubblegum Day, C-Sidewalk Chalk Day, etc.
This is also a great time to do a classroom transformation day like Superhero Day, Camping Day, Book Tasting, Construction Day, etc. Anything to get your students excited to come to school every day will help with student engagement throughout the year.
5. Do some STEM/STEAM projects.
Allow your students creativity to shine through with some STEM/STEAM projects.
6. Let your students teach.
Give your students the opportunity to teach the class something. You could give them a particular topic, or let them decide on their own. My 5th grade daughter has a monthly “passion project.” They choose a topic and create a Powerpoint, poster, song, game, or whatever they come up with, to teach about a topic of their choice. Let me tell you, the topics that she chooses have been a little odd at times (onions, the game of Monopoly, history of dumpsters, …) but I love that she is working on researching and presenting, all while learning random facts. This idea could definitely be used at any grade level with a little adjustment.
7. Let your students work in groups.
At this point of the year, it becomes harder and harder to cut down on talking. So instead of constantly trying to battle it, take advantage of the fact that your students know each other very well by now. Let them work together in groups to play games, solve problems, read and discuss books, etc. I love to do our Summer Challenge during the last week of school, which lets my students use their cooperative learning skills.
8. Find ways to celebrate their school year.
9. Let them help you clean.
Your students LOVE to help you! Take advantage of this and let them help you clean and organize at the end of the school year. I always sort through my books and give away some well-loved (AKA – worn out) books to my students at the end of the year. They are also great helpers when it comes to sorting supplies. You will save so much time by having them help you with these types of tasks.
10. Reminisce and prepare for next year
Take the time to allow your students to reminisce about their school year. Give them a chance to talk about their favorite moments from the year. This is also a great time to get them prepared for next year. Have students from the next grade level tell them all about what to expect next year. I like to have my students write a letter to my class for next year.
Most importantly, remember to stay positive and have fun with your students!!