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The New Teacher Advisor

Closure Activities For the End of the School Year


By the time May rolls around, everyone -- teachers, students, administrators, and staff -- is looking forward to the end of the school year. Still, as school winds down, it can be hard for many students to leave their teachers and friends behind during the summer months. They are used to the routine, and change does not come easily. Even though summer vacation is highly anticipated, losing contact with people they've seen every day for nine months can be difficult for students. Closure provides everyone with a chance to say goodbye and remember the fun times.

If you plan to leave your current school for whatever reason, it is especially important for you to provide closure at the end of the year (or before you leave). Students returning in the fall enjoy visiting their previous teacher before meeting the new one for the upcoming school year. It provides them with a sense of continuity and comfort. Meeting a new teacher can be stressful and uncertain for students. Visiting a favorite teacher from the past often bolsters student confidence to move forward. It is very disconcerting then, to suddenly find your favorite teacher is no longer working at the school.

Below are some ideas for closure activities you can use during the last couple of weeks or days of the school year:

Story share
Have each student write a story about his or her favorite memory of the school year. The memory can be something funny or special; it can be about another student (no hurtful stories -- only positive), an event, a teacher or administrator, or something that happened in the classroom that was especially memorable. Give students enough time to write a good solid story. This activity, because it also serves as a final opportunity to apply the writing skills taught throughout the year, can be used as an end-of-year writing assessment as well.

Next, schedule a day or several days (as needed) to allow students to share their stories aloud. You might invite students to add a closing statement to their stories, allowing them to say goodbye to you and to their friends. For example, this was my favorite memory from this year. Thank you Ms./Mr._____ for being my teacher and I hope everyone has a great summer! Remind students to keep the message brief so everyone has enough time to share. It's especially important to remind students who are leaving the school to keep it short as they tend to be verbose in their goodbye speeches.

If you have younger students who are not yet able to write a story, you can ask each student to think of a memory and tell it aloud during circle time or any other time you've set aside for sharing.

Quilt Pieces
A goodbye quilt is another activity that can provide closure to the school year. When completed, a quilt also offers a wonderful memento for you to take home. Pass out pieces of cloth at least 12 inches square. Have each student write on his or her square a statement or memory of the year and then illustrate it. Again, allow time for each student to share. You might ask a parent volunteer to stitch the squares together to make a quilt or blanket for you to keep. The activity also can be done with plain white or construction paper.

Memory Book
A memory book is very easy to make and fun for students. You can make it as short or long as you want (depending on remaining paper and copying privileges). Each page has students write and remember things from the school year. It also includes a page or two for students to sign. This is an especially good activity for students leaving the school and moving forward to middle school, high school, or college. The book might include pages to record Funniest things that happened this year, Three things I remember best about my teacher, My favorite subject this year, Three things I learned, New friends I made, and so on. For younger students, it might be fun to make a shape book to hold their memories.

Polaroid Scrapbook
Use either a digital camera or a Polaroid instant camera to take a picture of each student. Paste each picture on its own page -- plain white paper, construction paper, or a pre-printed page with a place to put a photo. Give each student his or her own photo page. Have students write a letter to you, telling about the kind of year they had in your class. You then can bind the pages together to create a class scrapbook. You might want to laminate the covers and each page before binding so your scrapbook will last for many years. Don't forget to write the school year on the front, and include a picture of the entire class. This is a great way for students to say goodbye to you at the end of the year.

Note Cards from the Teacher
So much is happening in the last few weeks of school that often we get caught up in the busy-ness of it all. It's important, however, not to forget to say goodbye to your students as well. A great closure that gives students something to take with them is a short note card from their teacher. You can buy the note cards at the store or make them yourself on your computer. Be as creative or as simple with these as you want (and have time for). Doing only a few at a time over the last several weeks of school, write a short note/letter to each student. Write a few nice comments and encourage each student as you know best. This personal note from you remembering the student and saying goodbye means more than you know to those leaving your classroom. If you have multiple classes, you might want to create a card on the computer that conveys your main message. Then sign and jot a quick personal sentence for each student.

Throughout our lives we transition from one event to another. Sometimes, that means moving to a new school, home, or job. Sometimes it means moving forward into a new phase of life. No matter what the transition, we must say goodbye to the old before we can say hello to the new. Providing closure at the end of the school year allows both students and teachers to let go of the past and move forward into the future.