Teaching online or remotely at the end of the school year? Here are some end of the year distance learning ideas for a meaningful ending to the school year.
Distance Learning Ideas for the End of the School Year
You’ve been through a lot these past few months, and so have your students! With the end of the “virtual” school year quickly approaching, now is the time to plan some meaningful ways to wrap things up. We want to use activities that will keep them interested in learning until the end and having fun! Creating exciting end-of-the-year memories is vital so that everyone heads into summer feeling recognized and valued for their efforts ALL school year (not just during distance learning).
If you are one of the lucky few who are back IN the classroom, check out these end of the year activities for the classroom. However, if you are still distance teaching, the following ideas will help you create a meaningful virtual ending for your students. I gathered my favorite ideas and gave them some distance learning adjustments and tweaks. I also asked my teacher Facebook community for insights and included some of those below.
End of the Year Idea #1: Go on a Virtual Field Trip
Almost all museums, natural parks, and historical locations are closed now. It’s a bummer that we can’t visit these places in person this spring, but we can still take a virtual field trip! Google a location you want to visit, and take your kids on a trip they’ll remember – online!
Here are a couple of great ones for K-2:
- See a dairy farm! This video of Dutch Hollow Farm in Schodack Landing, New York, will fascinate your kids.
- Yes, kids love animals – here’s a wonderful video showing what it’s like to help out at an animal shelter.
End of the Year Idea #2: Recognize Accomplishments
Every child in your class deserves to be recognized for their accomplishments, especially having to overcome the recent obstacles.
- They have learned a TON and have stretched their brains to new capacities.
- Also, they’ve made friends and be part of a community.
- They have adapted to learning from home, and have been a support and friend to their classmates on Zoom.
- They have encouraged essential workers with sidewalk chalk drawings.
- Think of what other things are deserving of recognition!
Let them know that you see them and what they can do. Tell each student individually and in front of the class with words from your heart. You can easily make them feel good and bring a smile to their face with a special reward or certificate they can hang on their wall, or share with their grandparents on Facetime.
Give this free set of student awards a try! The full collection has hundreds of award options (find it HERE). These are EDITABLE, so you can write the exact words your students need to hear. Send the award by email or share them during a class meeting or goodbye celebration.
End of the Year Idea #3: Enjoy Your “Virtual” Time Together
Most importantly, try to spend some meaningful time together by simply having fun! Play games and participate in some virtual activities that your students enjoy! For example, “theme days” are loads of fun, especially in video chat! Plan a week of “theme” days. Here are a few suggestions, but you can make up any theme you want!
- Dress Up/ Costume Day – kids can wear their old Halloween costume, or make a silly costume (such as wearing a planter pot as a hat or having “crazy hair.”
- Wear a Hat Day – Let kids share about what their hat means to them, where they got it, or why they chose to wear it.
- Share your Pet Day – if they don’t have a pet, let them share a favorite stuffed animal or draw a picture of an imaginary pet, or “invent” the perfect pet!
- Show and Tell Day – Give each kid 5 minutes to show and tell about something they choose.
- Play a Game Day – Find a virtual game and hold a tournament – perhaps an online game that they’ve played before
- Drawing Day – do directed drawings with your kids. Do one for each day of the week if you want!
- Beach Day – have kids wear their sunglasses and do school sitting on a beach towel. Swimsuits may not be appropriate on video – use your best judgment, of course.
- Camping Day – Let kids create a tent to have school in for the day! They can share a photo or give a virtual tour.
End of the Year Idea #4: Goodbye party or “graduation”
Saying goodbye is hard for some, and it’s crucial to find closure before summer vacation. This year, that task is more complicated. We’ve never been in this situation before, and everyone misses the classroom. Many of us didn’t even get to say goodbye and didn’t expect to be out of school for so long. We thought we’d be going back. Therefore, let’s do what we can to bring a satisfying closure to our students’ year.
The goodbye star activity helps kids to reflect and say goodbye to friends together as a class. It’s been a popular activity in classrooms for years as a way to end the year on a positive note. Kids get to share and write memories and goodbye messages to their classmates on stars. They strengthen relationships and good feelings this way. Most of all, end-of-the-year goodbye stars make a wonderful keepsake.
I’ve provided a FREE digital resource you can use. That way, you can do it as a virtual writing activity in Google Classroom! Everyone will get a chance to sign (fill in a text box) on each classmate’s star.
If you’re not sure how to do this virtually, I’ve created a quick tutorial video to help. Make sure to assign students the ability to EDIT to file, not VIEW (as is shown in the video). Click here to see how to use this google activity.
End of the Year Idea #5: Goodbye Package
If you are a gift-giver, you have the perfect mindset for creating a special goodbye package for your children. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s truly the thought that counts! Kids would love a special delivery, or the invitation to pick up a “special gift” for them at the school (if that’s an option). If you are able, you could mail it to them. For example, you could include any of the following ideas:
- The child’s goodbye star (mentioned above)
- A postcard or a letter from you
- Small dollar store items such as bubbles or chalk
- i.e., Add a letter or note from you, a little surprise like bubbles or chalk, and the goodbye star.
- A book, or an encouragement to read over the summer (see the FREE summer reading booklet, attached).
Classroom Resources for the End of the Year
End of the Year Social-Emotional Learning Resource
The end of the year social emotional learning resource is the perfect companion to your last few weeks of school lesson plans. It includes mini-lesson ideas and engaging activities that reflect on the connections made in the classroom and introduce a discussion about how they’ve used important social and emotional skills throughout the year.
The SEL end of the year resource and activities will encourage discussions amongst your kids about kindness, memories they’ve had throughout the year, friendships they’ve built, and goals that they have for their future.
More End of the Year Ideas
PIN IT for Distance Learning Ideas for the End of the Year