End of school year countdowns can be a fun way for both teachers and students to celebrate the school year. (Although, if you're anything like me, you probably started counting down the days until summer as soon as Spring Break was over!)
Some 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers want to go all out, while others have had such a tough year that they are just trying to get through the next day. Wherever your energy level, there is a countdown for you! Check out the 7 different end of year countdown ideas below.
The Balloon Pop Countdown
Come up with 10 different fun activities that you want to do with your students the last days of school. Write each of activities down on a separate piece of paper and place them in a balloon. Blow up the balloons and hang them around the classroom, popping one every day until the last day of school!
The activities can be elaborate or as simple as you want. Things like:
- extra recess
- 10 minute dance party
- indoor snowball fight
- popcorn and a movie
- pizza party
- sit wherever you want
- read outside
- popsicle party
- write with a marker/crayon all day
- chew gum
- take off your shoes
- virtual field trip (or REAL field trip)
- donut party
- free time
- board game party
- lunch in the classroom
Upper elementary students will look forward to popping the balloons every day.
Balloon Countdown - Celebrating Students
This balloon countdown alternative was shared with me by a 4th grade teacher that wants to remain anonymous.
Instead of putting fun activities in each balloon, put the name of a student. Make sure each student has their own balloon. Start your countdown to the last day of school based on how many students are in your class.
Then, pop a balloon every day. The student whose name was in the balloon gets to be celebrated all day! Have students give compliments, let them be line leader or your special helper, let them sit where they want, let them choose the brain breaks, eat lunch with, etc. Whatever you want to do to make this student feel special.
Favorite Memory Countdown
This end of year countdown idea was shared with me by 4th grade teacher Heather Schubauer.
Heather has every student write a paragraph or two about their favorite memory from the school year. Then, she has them decorate a big number that matches their assigned classroom number and hangs the decorated numbers on a clothesline across the classroom.
This past year Heather had 29 students, so she started the countdown 29 days before the end of the school with the student whose assigned number was 29. Every day, one student gets to read their favorite memory to the class.
As Heather says, "It’s really nice to hear what they loved and it reminds us all of our time together. Plus it’s a countdown that doesn’t imply we’re looking forward to getting rid of each other."
Below is an example of what this looks like in her 4th grade class.
Student Tip Countdown
5th-8th grade ELA teacher Betty Ann Ralston shared this end of year countdown activity with me.
She has each student write a positive statement / tip on how to finish the school year well on a colored strip of paper. She created a paper chain countdown using each of these strips of paper.
Remove one of the colored chains every day and read the tip to the class - or have the student read their own tip!
Betty Ann works smarter and not harder by adding each day's tip to a display in the hallway, until eventually all the tips are available for all to see!
ABC Countdown to Summer
Start the countdown 26 days before the last day of the school year. Everyday, do something fun that correlates to a letter in the alphabet - going in order, of course.
For example, for "A," you could let students bring a stuffed animal to school, or have a paper airplane contest, or have an art day.
5th grade teacher JoVeda Jones suggested trying out these ABC countdown ideas.
Use the Countdown As an Incentive
Robin Bell, who teaches multiple grade levels, uses a countdown activity as an incentive to help keep student behavior under control during those last few days of school.
She suggested putting a cost-free reward idea in an envelope - 1 idea for each remaining day in the school year. These activities can be as simple or as elaborate as you want, like what you would put in a typical balloon countdown.
Then, display the envelopes so that students can see them. Every day, set a specific goal for students - change up these goals based on what behaviors your students are struggling with.
If students meet the goal, they get to open the day's envelope and get the reward for the next day.
Scratch the Countdown
A 5th grade teacher that wishes to remain anonymous reminded me that not all students look forward to the summer. Some students are dreading losing the safety, security, and meals that school brings them. So for them, countdowns might increase their anxiety.
You know your 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students best, so you are the best person to make a judgment call around this. If you decide that a countdown might not be the best option for your students, you can still participate in the fun!
Instead of having a numbered balloon countdown, simply pop balloons with fun activities inside at random times. You could do 3 activities one day, and just 1 the next. Mixing it up will make it seem less like a countdown.
The end of the year is a great time to have some fun, to remember how much you enjoy your students, and to remember why you got into teaching in the first place!
You might like these other tips and activities to make the end of the school year amazing - with minimal stress on your part!
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