Kid Activities
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End of the School Year Activities

January 13, 2012 20:00 by Barbara Shelby


 

Updated June, 2013

 

An "End-of-the-Year event" may seem unimportant, however it is a VERY IMPORTANT activity. It's the end of the school year! The CLOSURE cements the experience of the year, and positive memories have an effect on the children's attitude. 

 In this category are ideas for display boards, games, literacy, treats, feel good, and just plain fun!

This is a time to look back and reflect --as well as a time to think ahead. Additionally, be sure to recognize your graduating youth--both grade school and middle school-- in some way!

 

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END OF THE YEAR FUN IDEAS...

Read "Goodbye House" & "Goodnight Moon"...
A nice idea for younger children... 
1.  Do a compare and contrast of the two books.
2.  Then have the children draw pictures of the things they would like to say "goodbye to" in your room.
3.  It's good "therapy" because we know how hard it can be to say goodbye to our familiar room and friends. When complete... bind it into a program book titled 'GOODBYE ROOM'.

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Play PIN THE MUSTACHE on the Teacher/Caregiver

Blow up a picture (or draw one) of one of your staff members...Make/cut mustaches out of black construction paper. Place tape on the back of each mustache. Then the game proceeds just like 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey'.
IDEA: You could also get permission from the school principal (or a favorite school person) and pin the mustache on a picture of them!
 

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Grade 3 (Or__________ ) HAS BEEN A BALL!

This is a fun and different way to have an autograph party as a remembrance of the time spent in child care program or class. 

Beach balls are fairly inexpensive--order some from a novelty company-have children blow them up and then get autographs from each other on the balls! 

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  1. Have a "WHAT I WANT TO BE DAY" and invite kids to come dressed up in clothing that REPRESENTS a job that interests them.
2Have students research their chosen profession and report to the group---and/or make posters depicting their chosen occupation.
3.  Just thinking of things they can wear, design, and make could take up a portion of the week!!!
4.  Take pictures of the event to add to your program scrapbook and for kids to take home.

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MAKE TIN CAN ICE-CREAM!
Cara Bafile, shared one of her favorite activities in "Education World" WORLD -- making tin-can ice cream. Ice cream is good any time of year -- but this activity is a great small-group activity for the last days of school! It's one of those 'teacher hand-me-downs' with no particular source. I have seen some similar recipes using self-sealing plastic bags, but she vouches for this one --and says-- you'll make the best ice cream you'll ever have!"

TIN CAN ICE CREAM DIRECTIONS:
(Ice cream without an ice-cream maker!)
Ingredients:
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup whipping cream
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (pure vanilla extract works best!)
Other materials needed:
• 1 small coffee can
• Strapping tape (It's the only tape I've found that will hold the lid tightly in place.)
• 1 large coffee can
• 1-1/2 cups rock salt
• Crushed ice (2 bags)
• Rubber spatula
• Spoons, cups, and bowls

Mix the ingredients in the small coffee can and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Tape the lid on the can securely with strapping tape. Place the "filled" small coffee can inside the large coffee can. Pack the large can with crushed ice around the smaller can. Pour at least 3/4 cup of rock salt evenly over the ice. Place the lid on the large coffee can and tape securely with strapping tape. Roll the can back and forth for ten minutes. Then open the outer can. Remove the inner can. Remove the lid and stir the mixture with a rubber spatula. Scrape the insides of the can. Do not allow mixture to become liquid. Replace the lid on the small can. Tape securely again. Drain the ice water from the larger can. Insert the small filled can. Pack it with more ice and salt. Roll it back and forth for five more minutes. Enjoy!

This recipe makes about 3 cups of ice cream. Teachers/caregivers might adapt the recipe, depending on the size of the group or whether they want small groups of students to make their own batches.

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DO SOMETHING FUN SUCH AS... AN EGG DROP!
Many schools save the last days of school for their annual "egg drop" activity. Each student works within guidelines to fashion a container for an egg so that the egg won't break when the student drops it from an established height… 
 

EGG DROP
Use hard boiled eggs (you could probably do raw-but be cautious of Salmonella and spoilage!).
Have each child create their own container for the egg -- with the purpose of the egg not breaking. Some kids have used "parachutes," and cans with foam. It can be a lot of fun!

Of course, everyone's hypothesis should be that their egg won't break.
The testing is the fun part---when the youth see if their egg remains intact! For this you want to drop the egg container from the highest available point.... A second floor balcony, off the top bleacher of the football field or by a teacher on a ladder?
*Even though this is for older students, it can be adapted to the lower grades without going into weight and velocity.

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MAKE END OF THE YEAR PRETZELS
Send students rolling into the next year by making grade-number-shaped soft pretzels. When it is ready, cut the dough into small pieces and give one to each child. Have students stretch and roll the pieces into long ropes, then shape into the number representing next year's grade.

As the pretzels bake, invite the group to talk about favorite moments of the past year, and to speculate on what next year will bring. Give teachers, office staff, and others a special thanks by inviting them in to your program pretzel celebration.

YEAST RECIPE:
Ingredients:
1 pkg. dry active yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. butter, melted (or 2 tbsp. vegetable oil)
4 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
Course salt
1. In a large bowl, soften yeast in water for 10 minutes. Add salt, sugar and butter. Mix in flour until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes and set aside for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With a knife, cut dough into small pieces. Roll each piece into pencil-thin ropes and shape into pretzels. Spray a cookie sheet with PAM type product.
3. Place pretzels onto sprayed cookie sheet. Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle coarse salt on top. Bake for 12 minutes.

SOFT PRETZELS USING FROZEN BREAD DOUGH!
2 - 16 oz. loaves frozen bread dough
1 egg white, slightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Coarse salt
• Separate thawed bread into 24 - 1 1/2" balls.
• Roll each ball into a rope 14 1/2" long.
• Have children plan and design pretzel shapes (letters or numerals).
• Put pretzels one inch apart on a baking sheet
• Brush with egg white mixture
• Sprinkle with salt
• Follow baking directions for bread dough
• Check early since they will cook faster than a loaf of bread

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MAKE FRIENDSHIP BRACLETS FOR EACH OTHER...
These are nice any time of then year--but especially nice for the end of the school year!
Give kids lengths of string, yarn or embroidery floss.
If these are new to your group...demonstrate how to braid the string together to create a friendship bracelet--have kids make their own design and add beads if desired.

FYI: Friendship bracelets made for friends should be tied on by the friend if possible to an arm or on an ankle and worn until it falls off naturally. Threads commonly used are floss and will wear in time. There are some friendship bracelets made for wishing wishes, those are fun but tend to be thinner as the 'friends' like them to fall off faster so that the wish can come true.

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T-SHIRT MEMORIES
1. Have each child bring a pre-washed white shirt to school on one of the last days of the year.
2. Paint each child's hand with bright-colored paint; then have them press their handprint onto the T-shirt.
3. Have children sign their names under their handprints.
4. Last, have them collect autographs from their friends using thick, pointy-tipped, permanent black markers to sign the T-shirts.
5.  You could also just write the grade and year on the front or back of the t-shirt and have all students sign the shirt---and perhaps add a personal touch with a favorite saying or drawing.

Donna Thomas, a teacher at Heritage Prep Middle School in Orlando, Florida has said, I still hear comments from the children; they say things like 'I remember all my friends from first grade, even the ones who've moved away, because their names are on the shirt.

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BALLOON TOSS: GOALS FOR THE FUTURE

At your end-of-year party, give each child a slip of paper and invite him or her to write one goal for the future.
Have students slip the notes inside balloons and then inflate them. Later, have kids toss balloons (like graduation caps), keeping one to pop and share its (anonymously) written message aloud --with the rest of the group.
(Actually, work the last part out in a way that the majority of the group likes---read one message, several messages, or all or no messages) 
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THANKS FOR THE C
OMPLIMENT (A nice way to end the school year!)
Need: Paper, markers, tape 
1.  Everyone gets a piece of paper taped to their back. (Make sure their name is at the top of the paper.)
2.  Each person is given a marker.
3.  Each person in the group must walk around the room and write a compliment or positive remark about that person on their back..... NO PEEKING!
4.  When everyone has written something positive on each others back, they return to their seat and read what was written.
5.  With a smaller group, everyone exchanges papers without looking at their own. Each participant can take a turn at reading aloud from person's list they have. . (Adjust for a larger group)

This is a great self-esteem booster! If some children still don't know each other very well...they can write such things as: You have a great smile; You're hair always looks nice; Great blue eyes; etc.

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INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO YOUR NEW TEACHER...
Consider having children write letters introducing themselves to the classroom teachers they will have NEXT year. Student letters might include information about themselves, their families, their hobbies and interests, their strengths and weaknesses in school, and so on. That way, teachers can start the new school year knowing a little something about their new students. When school starts, you can find out the children's teachers and deliver the letters. Also doesn't hurt to 'build some bridges' with the school community!

If you will be leaving a position as the "site director"---and a "new director" that does NOT know the children will be taking over--be sure to do this. It will be beneficial to both the children and the new supervisor! To make it easier for the kids, you could also put together a form letter where they just fill in the blanks!

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AUTOGRAPH BOOK
At the end of the year have each child make an autograph book. They pass around their books and get everyone's signatures and notes for a summer keepsake.

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TWO SNACKS...

GRADUATION SNACK #1 (In recognition of  youth moving to Middle School or High School)
Whip together 8 ounces of softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup of seedless strawberry or raspberry jam.
Lightly spread the mixture on flour tortilla or Lavash bread, then roll up each sandwich diploma style and tie on a ribbon made of 'Fruit by the Foot'. Makes 4 to 6 sandwiches

#2 SNACK--EDIBLE GRADUATION CAPS
1. Place a miniature peanut butter cup--bottom up on a plate.
2. Top with a small dollop of frosting or peanut butter and then press on a chocolate-covered graham cracker.
3. For a tassel, tightly roll up a small square of fruit leather. Cut fringe on one end and attach the other end to the center of the graham cracker with another dab of frosting or peanut butter.
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IDEA: THEMES ARE A GREAT WAY TO CULMINATE THE SCHOOL YEAR! (Actually, themes are wonderful ANY time) Example is adapted from Lori Eisner in Florida... Her last week of school is Caribbean/Ocean week. 
Children imagine they are all on a CRUISE SHIP leaving from MIAMI, FLORIDA ON MONDAY and sailing to different islands.

PORTS OF CALL:
Tuesday:  Arrive in Grand Cayman
Wednesday: Oranjestad, Aruba
Thursday: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
On Friday: Back at school. (You can choose your own islands.)

During the week  limbo, hula, make fruit smoothies, try exotic fruits, read island books, and learn about the ocean.

• Have children wear cruise wear all week; play Caribbean music, bring beach towels and relax! (See 'Water Games' category of KidActivities)

 

The last day of school is a luau.

• Kids  make/wear a white T-shirt that says, "Aloha ______ 2013" with a hibiscus drawn on the front and the autographs of children on the back.

Have children create visors; girls wear hula skirts; boys wear Bermuda shorts. Create lei's out of beads, foam flowers, and other materials. (See lei craft in the Ocean Themed Arts and Craft section - scroll half way down the page) 

A fun way to end the year! These are just ideas and can be combined any way you wish...

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THE FOLLOWING NEED TO BE STARTED AT THE BEGINNING of the school year--in preparation for the end of the year!

Start a special journal for each graduating student.
Throughout the year, teachers, parents, community members, peers, and others can write messages to the students in the journals; you can also include activity photographs. Give the journals to the students at an end of the year family event --or your 'End-of-the Year'  party! Working on these throughout the year, will provide a wonderful keepsake for your graduating youth.
Or...
Instead of presenting a journal to the students, have  students record their thoughts in a journal during the school year: Things for which they are thankful. Present the journal to their parents at the end of the year.

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IDEA: TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS DURING THE YEAR and put together a slide show.
1.  Of course you can show this as PART OF A YEAR-END FAMILY EVENT---but it would also be a wonderful "WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION to the new children you will have the next school year.
2.  You could use it to show children and families some of the things you do-how they're done--and what to expect! If you haven't started, get your slides, videos, and activity scrapbooks going now!

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DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR: Children can create individual scrapbooks with pictures, favorite sayings, stories and art work saved during the year!

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TWO 'LEAVING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL' IDEAS!

IDEA: WRITE YOURSELF A LETTER
At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year. Encourage youth to also include a current picture.

On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year (or sooner). Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to you. In a year (or sooner) mail (or return in person) the letters  to the students.

The directions are slightly different for eighth-graders. Ask them to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by the end of the next four years. They seal these, self-address them, and give them to you. Mail those letters back to them at the beginning of their senior year. Original directions for this activity say to mail at the end of their Senior year; however mailing them sooner will remind youth of their goals. They still have a year left!

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A WONDERFUL IDEA! Current graduating kids might create a handbook full of advice for the next group of “new to the program or school” kids. They could contribute pages to a single handbook, or brainstorm a list of helpful tips and information; this could be used to create mini handbooks. The hand-books could be given out to new families with your "Welcome to our Program (or School)" packet!

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  IDEA: Many schools and programs end the school year with an Olympics Type Event. Tons of ideas if you check out the categories of:

 

Some 'Indoor or Outdoor FIELD DAY' ideas from the above links are:

  • Potato Sack Races (using old pillow cases or sacks purchased from Oriental Trading or similar supplier)
  • Shoe Mix-Up: Have children take off their shoes and mix up the whole pile; have them race to put the shoes back on.
  • Tug of War: Using a huge rope have Kids vs. Kids and then play with Kids vs. Adults (They'll like that one!)
  • Sock Throw: Put a tennis ball into a long sock and have kids throw it to see who can throw it the furthest!

Set up a COLORED RING TOSS

Have a HULA-HOOP CONTEST

HAMMER THROW
Need: Small paper bag, newspaper, string
1.  Stuff a small paper bag with newspaper.
2.  Tie it off with a 12" long string.
3.  Hold the end of the string. Spin around 3 times. Let go.
4.  Watch how far the hammer travels. Record distances. The longest distance wins.

JAVELIN THROW (Nice idea for inside too!)
Need: Soda straws, waste paper basket, tape
1.  Tape 4 straws together end to end.
2.  Mark a starting line behind which all players must stand.
3.  Place a wastepaper basket 5 feet from the starting line.
4.  Throw straws into the wastebasket.
5.  Give each player 5 turns.
6.  The winner is the child who gets the straws into the basket the most times.

STANDING BROAD STRETCH
1.  Mark a starting line with tape.
2.  Start with the toes behind the line.
3.  Take one giant step.
4.  Measure the step.
5.  The winner is the one who took the biggest step.

SHOT PUT FOR DISTANCE
1.  Make a ball out of aluminum foil.
2.  Hold the ball in the palm of one hand.
3.  Instruct children to place that hand next to their ear and then push the shot into the air extending their arms.
4.  They can not move their feet. Record distances; the longest distance wins.

DISCUS THROW
1.  Use a Frisbee to play discus...or...
2.  Tape two heavy foam plates together. Hold the "discus" like a flying disk. Throw away from the waist.
3.  Record distances. The longest distance wins

PLAY BADMINTON
1.  You can have competitions involving pairs and singles.
2.  You will need a judge to determine if shots are in or out in the event there is a question.
3.  Keep scores for each of the teams competing.
4.  Use the official badminton rules or make your own that are consistent for every team.

SOCCER
1.  Set goals at least 15 feet apart. Goals can be as simple as a rope anchored in the ground.
2.  Play the best two out of three games.
3.  Keep scores for medals and prizes.

• How about the games played in 'Summer Olympic Games' such as: SOFTBALL, FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, HANDBALL, HOCKEY, TENNIS OR VOLLEYBALL? They're all Summer Olympic Games!!!

In preparation of your games you'll need:

  • Stop watches
  • Tape measures
  • Whistles for the game officials
  • Equipment that each game requires

 

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IDEA: LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL WATER STATIONS
The last week of school can often go into extremely hot days… During that week,
hold a Water Fun themed day!
Have the children bring their swimsuits and towels to school and outside for an hour or two and take part in a variety of "water" stations. (Similar to a day of Field activities).
Stations could include:

  • Beach volleyball: a basketball hoop in a small child's swimming pool
  • Obstacle course: (Go through a sprinkler, over hurdles, through tires, etc.
  • Sprinkler limbo or sprinkler jump-rope: Use the flat hoses with holes in them and jump rope or have a Limbo line
  • Also see Water Game Category

The person who described the Water Station Day—said they also had the village fire truck visit to spray anyone and everyone! (A great idea on its own!!!)
With activities finished---all dried off and changed clothes so that no one went home wet. It was a great cool off and quite a nice change for the last week of school. Idea from John Coomer

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 A great idea from the pre-school graduation at Great Lakes Day Care in Royal Oak! Something like this is also a nice idea when graduating from Kindergarten or Grade School... 

 

 

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TEACHERS SAY GOOD BYE...

IDEA: END OF THE YEAR REMEMBRANCE KIT
This wouldn't be too difficult or expensive to do!

Here is something to remind you of SAC, Grade 1 (or________)...

Some seeds to remind you how much you've grown-
A sucker to remind you of how sweet you are-
A book mark to remind you to always love books-
Money to remind you of how much you're worth - (Play money)
...All in a cup filled with love and a kiss.

Put all items in a paper cup with a Hershey’s Kiss--wrap it up with cellophane and tie with raffia, yarn, or ribbon.

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IDEA: A LETTER TO PARENTS AT THE END OF THE YEAR...

Dear Parents,
I give you back your child ~ the same child you confidently entrusted to my care last fall. I give him/her back pounds heavier, inches taller, months wiser, more responsible, and more mature then he was then.

Although he would have attained his growth in spite of me, it has been my pleasure and privilege to watch his personality unfold day by day and marvel at this splendid miracle of development.

Ten years from now if we met on the street, we'll feel the bond of understanding once more, this bond we feel today.
We have lived, laughed, played, studied, learned, and enriched our lives together this year. I wish it could go on indefinitely, but give him/back I must. Take care of him, (or her) for he (she) is precious. I'll always be interested in your child and his destiny, wherever he goes, whatever he does, whoever he becomes.
~Author Unknown

You could change the "I's"--to "We's"---
the "my's" to "ours"...
and "me" to "us"...
If it is to be from the entire  staff of a child care program...

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IDEA: Program/Class AWARDS
Get creative! Make up some fun and unique awards for your students. Find something unique about EACH CHILD and recognize them for that unique quality. You can purchase award certificates at your local teacher supply store. You may also want to create them yourself on a PC or download a template from the internet.
Suggestions:
Make up awards to match candy bars, such as:

•ALMOND JOY AWARD: For the person who is always happy

•BABY RUTH AWARD: For baseball-minded student BIT-O-HONEY AWARD: For someone very sweet
 
•BUTTERFINGER AWARD: For the person who broke the most things
accidentally
 
•DOVE AWARD: For the program/class peacemaker
 
•GUMMY BEARS AWARD: For a very lovable child, who is always laughing
 
•JOLLY RANCHER AWARD: For the person always telling jokes
 
•KIT KAT AWARD: For the student always at the teacher's side
 
•LAFFY TAFFY AWARD: For someone with a sweet disposition
 
•LIFESAVERS AWARD: For the person, who is always helping someone in need
 
•MILKY WAY AWARD: For the group daydreamer
 
•MR. GOODBAR AWARD: For the student who exhibits the good qualities of friendship
 
•NESTLE CRUNCH AWARD: An alternative to pencil chewing
 
•NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: For an outstanding personality
 
•NUTRAGEOUS AWARD: for the wild and crazy person in class
 
•SKOR AWARD: For athletes in the class
 
•SNICKERS AWARD: For having an outstanding sense of humor
 
•SWEET TARTS AWARD: For a sweet girl/boy
 
•SYMPHONY AWARD: For anyone musical
 
•TEDDY GRAHAMS AWARD: For the most huggable
 
•THREE MUSKETEERS AWARD: For the one always with the group
 
•WHOPPERS AWARD: For the best storytelling
 
•ZERO MATH AWARD: For outstanding performance in Math

Return to top of page

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PUT IT ON THE 'WALL 0R DISPLAY BOARD' SUGGESTIONS!

 

IDEA: MURAL OF MEMORIES
On a nice day--take this activity outside!
Use paints, markers or colored chalk and invite children to create a mural illustrating the many wonderful things your group did, saw, and learned this year. It will be a great "advertisement" for next year's program or class. (Don't forget to hang it up when the new school year starts!)

As an extension, you can have your group write about the favorite memories they drew. Be sure to post these in your 'Information Center'; include it in your current year's scrapbook!

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IDEA: END OF THE YEAR BULLETIN BOARD AUTOGRAPHS BONUS! The board is up and ready to go during the first week of school!

  • Remove what is currently on your Board such as art projects, etc. LEAVE UP Bulletin Board Backgrounds and Borders.
  • During the week BEFORE the last week of school, ask a talented student artist (or do this yourself!) to block letter the words: "HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!" on your bulletin board background paper.
  • Have several children color in the letters…
  • As the days get closer to the end, have youth autograph and write messages on the bulletin board paper.
  • Leave their NAMES AND MESSAGES up for everyone to appreciate.
  • When you return for the new school year you’ll be starting off with one area already decorated with POSSITIVE MESSAGES!
  • No bulletin board area? Get a long piece of butcher roll-paper and do the same…
  • The kids will like reading what they and others left a couple months back!

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IDEA: HIGH FIVES FOR SUMMER! (Good idea for May into June)
Put up plain colored background, a border of your choice, and the title; "High Fives for Summer"!
1. In a color of their choice--have children trace their hand onto a piece of construction paper.
2. Have them cut out their hand shapes.
3. Next give each child a piece of white lined paper (that will fit on the palm of the hand) and have them glue it onto their hand shape.
4. Instruct the kids to write their summer plans on the white paper on the palm.

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IDEA: I REMEMBER WHEN...
Put up the caption in big letters on your bulletin board or butcher paper taped to the wall--- and then have children "decorate" it by writing things that they enjoyed doing in your program the past year!

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IDEA--FAMOUS LAST WORDS: The Wall of Wisdom!

  • Before kids leave for the summer, invite them to leave behind some words of wisdom.
  • Give each child a construction paper "brick" on which to record a piece of advice that they think will be helpful next year… such as "We don’t jump of the swings"... "Be a good sport in the gym"..."Play for Fun!"..."Remember to feed our fish"..."Try new things"...
  • Tape the bricks on a bulletin board to make a wall.
  • At the beginning of the year, share these "famous last words" with your new group in the fall.
  • It’s also a great way for the children to REVIEW rules and expectations WITHOUT YOU going into lecture mode.
  • Indicate which “bricks” belong to your graduating 5th or 6th graders--their “words of wisdom” often come from a place of much experience!

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GOODBYE FRIENDS SONG...To tune of Good Night Ladies

Goodbye friends,
Goodbye friends,
Goodbye friends,
We have to say "so long".

School (or camp, SAC, a grade, etc) is over,
School is over,
School is over.
It's time to end the day.(Or year)

We'll be back soon again
Soon again, soon again..
We'll be back soon again
To start a brand new day! (Or camp, year, etc.)

 

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You may also be interested in Social Event Ideas/Activities for School and Child Care Programs!

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