Why End of the Year Theme Days?
In my last post, I gave a bunch of tips for, not only surviving, but actually enjoying the end of the year. One of those tips, was to have something to look forward to each and every day. The way I do this? Theme days!
I have a calendar for the last 15 days of school with 15 different theme days. The students, the other staff, and me all look forward to these days – I look forward to them all year long!
The great part about these theme days, is that they can be done in any order that works best for your class. The way that I have organized it for mine, is that the theme days where the focus is more bringing something into school or wearing a certain outfit go first. Why? Because usually at the start of these theme days, I still have some curriculum to finish up and I can’t spend all day doing theme related activities. However, at the end of the school year (the last 7 days or so) I am pretty much out of curriculum and have no idea what to do with my students. Hence, the theme days!
It is so wonderful to know that I have activities planned for the last fifteen days of school that are engaging and reviews all that we have learned throughout the year. So what are these activities? Well they can all be found in my Special Days Bundle along with read aloud suggestions, literacy and math activities, and other fun activity ideas! But I will show you some of them here!
Here is a sample calendar that I use with my students to show you the order of activities that I use and the types of theme days I have.
Wacky Hat Day, Show and Tell, and Toy Day
The first week of activities, as I mentioned, involve students bringing items into school or dressing up a certain way. Bringing in toys or special items from home is a treat for students, because we don’t normally have that privilege. I have included literacy and math activities for these days as well. For example, on Toy Day, students would write about their favorite toy and I have made some measurement sheets for students to measure their toys with non-standard units.
Books and Bubbles Day, Rainbow Day Backwards Day, Sunglasses Spectacular, and Pajama Party!
Books and Bubbles Day is such a fun and easy day! Students are so excited to read their favorite books with their friends and play with bubbles outside at recess. If the weather is nice, then we spend a lot of time outside with bubbles and reading outside. I have also included a response sheet to write about their favorite books and math activities with adding dice and covering up “popping” the bubbles.
End of the Year Pirate Day!
Starting with Pirate Day, the final 7 days are all encompassing theme days, the way that I use them anyways. For Pirate Day, we dress up like pirates and read How I Became a Pirate. We discuss and write whether we would actually like to be pirates or not. Then we follow clues and go on a treasure hunt around school. We end the day with the students making their own treasure maps.
Fairy Tale Fun Day!
For Fairy Tale Fun Day, the students can dress up as a fairy tale character if they want. Most of my students know the common fairy tale stories, so I like to read them two different kinds of fairy tales that showcase a more positive view of women, as opposed to the usual helpless stereotype of women. I read them Paper Bag Princess and Cinder Edna which show women being smart and being the heroes of their own stories. While this is just a fun theme day, this is a great opportunity to showcase the stereotypes typically found in fairy tales. We also write our own fairy tales and play lots of fairy tale board games in math.
Cool Camping and Beach Blast Days!
Cool Camping and Beach Blast days are definitely a lot of fun, and perfect for going outside in the warmer weather. We go outside as much as possible for reading outside or for going on nature walks or playing water games. I love seeing my students read on their beach towels or in their sleeping bags – it makes them so excited to read for a long time! I have lots of fun read aloud and writing and math activities for these days as well.
Board Game Bonanza Day
My favorite day of the whole year is Board Game Bonanza Day. Students spend a while in the morning playing their favorite games that they have brought to school. Because they bring in their own games, this also means that I can put away some of mine for the summer. I do leave most out though, so that students who forgot to bring in a game can use one of mine. After playing games for a while, I do still have them read to keep that routine the same.
Then for the rest of the day – math and writing – they get to make their own board game. They use any leftover materials, recycled goods, creative tools, to make their own game. There is so much math and creativity used in making your own game. They also have to think about direction writing when they are writing down the rules of the game. Students are so engaged in doing this all day. When they start to have finished their own games, they can play each other’s games! I also invite our older buddies to play games with us. It is truly amazing how engaged the students are with this task all day long.
End of the Year Crazy Clean Up and Cinema Days!
The final two days are used to end our routines for the year and have the students take ownership in cleaning up their space and saying goodbye to the year. I have them read one final time and then organize the books from their book bags into our classroom library. They get to take home the nametag on their book bags. Then in math, they help organize the math materials and then play their favorite card game one last time. For writing, students get to take their writing folders home and look around the room for any more of their work on display or names around the room to take home. Everything needs to go home today because some students don’t bring backpacks on the last day of school.
We end the day with their favorite activity of all time – shaving cream on tables. I put the shaving cream down and they get to rub it around the table. I have them write our high frequency words in the shaving cream and then free play with it. Why do I use shaving cream? It is the best table cleaner ever. It gets off glue, tape, stickiness from nametags, and all markings from over the entire year! When the kids have had their fun, usually I plan this so then they go right outside to recess or to a special, I come around with a simple razor to easily scrape off the leftover pieces of tape. Then I just wipe the shaving cream off with water and the table is super clean! Easy peasy and the kids have so much fun doing it!
And on our last day, we do our final morning meeting and watch a movie together. Then the day is done (It’s always a half day for our school)! Some districts give teachers a paid day to clean up and pack up the room, but our district does not. So this means that I can spend the time that they are watching the movie doing the last pack up and clean up tasks for the summer. After the movie is over, if there is still time, we play our favorite morning meeting activities or go outside for extra recess. We enjoy our community one final time and say our goodbyes.
I really love ending my school year with these theme days and I hope that you will too! Definitely tag me on facebook or Instagram or comment below if you try one or all of these theme days – I would love to hear how your students use them!