We all know that the end of the year can get overwhelming and stressful. The children can easily lose engagement and behaviors can increase. One of the best ways that I have found to help with the end of the year slump, is to let the students lead the end of year activities. At this point in the year, the children are ready to take leadership over their day. Having this sense of control and ownership helps them to feel more engaged in their learning. What can students take control over?
Teacher for the Day
One of the best ways to let students lead end of year activities is to let them be the “Teacher for the Day”. The students absolutely love “being in charge” and you can let them call out the transition directions and lead the lines. They can also plan some different activities, depending on the age of your students. For young children, even being called the “Teacher for the Day” is beyond exciting. Think of what students can take over when it is their turn, and let them! Choosing a movement break? Let them decide! Choosing a read aloud? Let them decide!
When I taught 3rd grade and 2nd grade, I sent home this planning sheet and let them plan out their teacher for the day activities. It worked really well to have the plan in advance, because it gave the students a chance to be thoughtful about what end of year activities they wanted to do. I will be trying a smaller version of this out with my kindergarteners this year.
Leading morning meeting is a very easy end of year activities to let students take turns leading. Students, by this point in the year, are very familiar with the format of the morning meeting. They know a bunch of different greetings and activities. All you have to do is create a schedule to let each student have a day. The teacher for the day gets to pick the greeting and activity for the morning meeting. In the older grades I’ve taught, I also let them write the morning message. With kindergarten, I’ll probably let them ask the morning message daily question.
Letting students lead end of year activities is a bonus for you. At this point in the year, you’ve planned all the morning meetings. You’ve done all the greetings and the activities. And it’s starting to feel a bit stale- or is it just me? Letting the students take over the planning of it helps reenergize your morning meeting.
Literally anytime that you can include choice in your end of year activities, the more engagement you will have. By this point in the year, they know what kind of learning they prefer and how they want to practice their learning. Want them to read? Let them choose where to read or pick out their own books for reading. Need them to do some writing? Let them choose which genre to write, or let them write anywhere in the room. Have a math activity to do? Let them choose their second math activity from the games they’ve loved all year. Just by infusing a tiny bit of choice into every activity you lead will help decrease any behaviors and increase engagement in the activity.
Other End of Year Activities for Kindergarten
The other end of year activities that lead to instant engagement? End of the year theme days. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The end of the year theme days give everyone, including the teacher, something to look forward to each day as the end of the year approaches. Each day has a different theme to it and complete related activities. I have noticed over the years that this is 100% more effective for the end of the year stress than doing an end of the year countdown. You can read about why I don’t do an end of the year countdown here.
End of year activities can be stressful and overwhelming… or they can be instantly engaging when you let students lead them. Letting students lead end of year activities not only reinvigorates your day, it helps the students feel pride and ownership over their learning.