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Teacher riding a wave into summer break.

June 24, 2019

Summer Break: How to Enjoy the End of the School Year

Advice and ideas for teachers to make the most of the end of the year before transitioning to the summer break the students are eager to begin.


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Ideas for teachers to make the most of the end of the year before transitioning to the summer break!

Lots of advice for any teacher before summer break tends to focus on making it to the end of the year. You know how it is: Lots of gritting our teeth and grimly hanging on until the very end. What a miserable way to spend even one minute of our lives, much less convey that attitude to our students. If we are as miserable as the gloomy advice would make it seem, just think how miserable our students must feel.

Instead of glumly counting the days until we can be freed from the prison that school can be before summer break, how about doing something—well, spectacular? And by spectacular, think fireworks, cheers, applause, celebrations and a huge smile on every student’s face.

Changing a negative mindset before summer break can change everything. It’s a sure win-win. Best of all, it is pretty easy to be spectacular. Here are 10 easy-to-implement suggestions to get you started thinking about how you and your students can end the school year in a spectacular fashion.

Students running towards summer break

1. Hold a classroom awards ceremony. Celebrate the little things that have made the year special: most improved, neatest papers, most cooperative—the list is endless.

2. Surprise students with a bulletin board dedicated to their accomplishments. Take sneaky photos of them working and print them out. Then, use bright paper to spell out their successes. Maybe a Top Ten list of the best moments of the year.

3. Have students write each other thank you notes for the kind things they did for each other during the year before they head off for summer break.

4. Hold a Teach-a-Thon to prepare for final exams or end-of-the-year standardized tests. You can manage it, but students can be the actual teachers.

5. Bury a class time capsule to be opened when they graduate. Fill it with notes to their future selves, headline clippings and other memorabilia.

6. Hold a charity event where students work together to help others less fortunate. Online games such as Freerice are wonderful for this. Locally, there are many organizations that could use student volunteers or donations. The key to making this type of project spectacular is ensuring students get to work closely with their classmates.

7. Turn review sessions into sporting tournaments. Hold an Olympics or a World Series or a Stanley Cup playoffs. Have students make up rules and procedures and have a blast!

8. Break out giant sheets of bulletin board paper and have students write advice to next year’s students before the idea of summer break starts tot ake over. They can outline each other’s hands or feet and write their names on it as well. You benefit from the relaxed time now and also get a wonderful bulletin board to display next fall.

9. Have students make two or three paper airplanes each. Then, have them write facts related to the material under study on the wings. Take everyone outside and fly the planes. Students have to pick up someone else’s plane, read the information and fly it again. Chaos? Yes. Fun? Yes. Learning? Yes. Spectacular? You bet. What a great way to get everyone excited for summer break!

10. Somehow, find the time to write each child a two- or three-sentence note about his or her strengths and accomplishments. Wish them well during the next year. Tell them you will miss them. These will sure to be treasured for a long time.

Looking for free summer reading resources for students and children preK-12? Check out our summer reading list blog and see what you might have missed!

Julia Thompson

Julia G. Thompson received her BA in English from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg. She has been a teacher in the public schools of Virginia, Arizona, and North Carolina for more than thirty-five years.

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