The end of the school year approaches, and it’s now time to celebrate and have fun! State testing on the Smarter Balanced Assessment is complete. Grading work is complete. Report cards are finished and printed. The end of the year awards are ready to be handed out. Desks are cleaned out. Textbooks returned. Bulletin boards cleared. Materials packed and put away. What’s left to do when you have 6 more days of school left? It’s time to have fun!
Over the years, our end of year activities have evolved, and we reward our third graders with many fun activities for all their hard work during the year.
Here’s a breakdown of our end of the year activities:
- Field Trip to San Juan Capistrano Mission
- Game Day
- Field Day
- Pizza Party Picnic and Yearbook Signing
- Movie and Popcorn
For the past four years, we have raised enough through fundraisers to take the entire third grade to the San Juan Capistrano Mission in San Juan Capistrano. Instead of a school bus, we take the Metrolink train! There is a train station about 5 minutes from the school. The students and parents meet us at the train station. From there, we board the train for a one hour ride to the San Juan Capistrano train station. Once there, we walk about 3 blocks to the mission.
We spend the entire day at the mission and do not return home until 5:00 pm! During our visit, we take a docent tour, watch an amazing assembly on Native Americans and participate in an adobe brick making activity! We also have pizza and chips for lunch, ordered from the local Dominos Pizza.
The next day is Game Day! During the entire morning, students play games with their classmates. Initially, we asked the students to bring a board game from home. I also had some board games that I would put out as well as, dominoes and puzzles. But then we made it even better because for the last two years we’ve also let students bring electronic games from home! This year we also let the students use the Chromebooks to play online games. I set up a unique Google Classroom with links to kid-friendly sites with online games.
If you do this, make sure the students understand that they can only play games that do NOT require an internet connection. This is because we can not add their devices to our network. So any App or game used must be a stand-alone App. Also, we do not allow students to bring cell phones as one of the devices (we don’t want them accessing cell service to download Apps or take phone calls!). They may only bring tablets and DS2 type devices. They may play alone or share with a friend. At recess time and lunch times and after Game Day is over, the students leave their devices on my desk with a sticky note with their name on it. That way, they are secured and kept safe.
Since there are usually three third grade classes, we have three to four activities for the students to participate in during Field Day. The activities really depend on what P. E. equipment is available. My school is fortunate in that we have itinerant P. E. teachers who come to our school weekly. So we have lots of cool P. E. equipment including hockey sticks, cones, portable goalie nets, all kinds of balls, jump ropes, and even more.
The students rotate between the three to four activities during the morning. One teacher supervises each activity area. Depending on the weather (it can be June Gloom cloudy or scorching hot in SoCal), we play all morning until recess.
Even though we are an elementary school, we do have a yearbook. So each year, we have a pizza picnic out on the lawn outside our classrooms. The students bring blankets and their cameras. Instead of eating in the cafeteria that day, we provide them with a picnic of pizza, chips, and juice. After lunch, they now have time to take pictures and have their yearbook signed by their friends. Those who do not have a yearbook, have made a memory book that their friends can sign.
MOVIE DAY AND SNACK
It’s the last day of school. We watch a movie and have some popcorn. I pick the movie and it is usually WALL-E. Why that movie? Because I also teach a unit called “The Future” which is all about the students’ future. What will life be like in 2035? I show them how technology has progressed from the first phones to cell phones. How quickly the world is changing. We talk about what kinds of jobs they may hold in the future (robots will be taking over a lot of them!). This movie has a timely message about protecting our planet (WE MUST NOT WITHDRAW FROM THE CLIMATE TREATY!!!), and the overreliance on technology.
What are your end of the year activities? Share them in the comments!