Do you DREAD the last days of school?
I mean really dread them? Schedules run amuck. Students dream of running through sprinklers, sleeping in, and homework-free days. You’ve run out of curriculum and are exhausted from end-of-year testing.
You just want the year to be over with, not because you don’t love and adore your kids, but because of the chaos those last days bring.
The reality is that your year is not over with. You have FIVE. MORE. DAYS. OF. SCHOOL. Not five hours folks, five days!
Yeah…we understand. A few short years ago we also felt that way, but we are happy to say that we now look forward to these last days of school (Crazy! Right? Who would have thought it possible?).
It all started one spring day, as we plopped ourselves down with coffee in our hands (coffee is a must during this time of year…or really any time of year) to begin planning those last days of school. We decided to take that crazy, uncontrollable bull by the horns and make the last week of school something fabulous and fun for ourselves and the adorable little cherubs in our classrooms.
As we brainstormed ideas, camping came to mind. We love to camp. Well…as long as we have access to showers and a somewhat comfy bed to sleep in (oh…and husbands who are willing to do most of the cooking).
We got to thinking…. what if we spent our last week of school in a “camping” environment. That way we could keep the students engaged AND keep them learning right up until the last day of school.
So, we did it! We created a week-long camp for our sweet little first graders. And guess what? The kids LOVED it! While there are MANY times that our grand plans do not quite play out in real life as they do in our ever so positive minds, this one did.
We truly had students bouncing into our classrooms with smiles on their faces right up until the last day of school. And while I’d be lying if I said that we skipped home every day (TOO! MUCH! TO! DO! THOSE! LAST! DAYS!), we did thoroughly enjoy our last days with our students.
Do you want to give End of Year Camp a try? If so, here are some ideas for you!
1. Think of a Theme
Think of a theme for your camp. Last year we did “Critter Camp” with our students. The theme centered around “critters” you’d see in the forest. We decorated our room to match the theme, but you definitely don’t have to. Other theme ideas include African Animals, Pond Life, Ocean Life, Space…the possibilities are endless.
2. Brainstorm Ideas for Camp Songs
Brainstorm (search the internet) for 5 camp songs. Or…if you are so inclined, write 5 of your own (like we did). When your students enter the classroom in the morning, start your day with a fun camp song. We like to sing songs that are interactive in some way. This is sure to put a smile on your students’ faces right from the get-go! You could put the songs into a song book that goes home on the last day of school as a memento.
Our students were singing these tunes at lunch, at recess, and on the way home. Who knew how much they’d enjoy this part of the day?
3. Gather Reading Materials
With your theme in mind, brainstorm 5 reading activities that go with your theme. We wrote mini-books about owls, skunks, grizzly bears, red foxes, and squirrels. But you don’t have to write your own stories (we do because our own kids are grown and we are newly empty nesters, so, frankly we don’t know what to do with the extra time on our hands). Again, search the internet or use reading materials you already have access to.
4. Choose Favorite Math Games
Grab 5 of your students’ favorite math games. Play one each day. If you are handy on PowerPoint, and are empty nesters like us, you can remake the games and add clip art that matches your theme.
Create an End-of-Year journal (or snag the free one below) and have students write in it each day. Topics could include friends, favorite subjects, teacher, special memories, etc.
6. It’s All About Crafts
Search Pinterest for camp craft ideas. They can match your theme, or not. Trust us, students just love to make crafts. Any kind of crafts. If there is cutting and glue involved, they will be in seventh heaven.
These are the “Critter Headbands” our students made last year! (Come on now…you know you want one!) Pure cuteness we tell you!
But these craft stick puzzles were a popular craft too! Cute crafts for the win!
7. Did I say It’s All About Crafts? Scratch that! It’s All About the Snacks!
Search Pinterest and find some fun camp style snacks. Again, it can be theme related or not. The students will love any snack in front of them – especially if they get to make it themselves.
These Bunny Pudding treats were a HIT!
8. What’s a week at camp without activities?
The possibilities are endless here. A game of tic-tac-toe? A homemade puzzle? Or perhaps a game of Balloon Ping-Pong? Brainstorm 5 ideas and you are set!
A game of Balloon Ping-Pong anyone? You know you want to!
9. Read Aloud
Choose read alouds that correspond with your theme. Or, if you are feeling really ambitions, create one. Last year we decided to write a realistic fiction story about a child who was camping and low and behold…just happened to spy all of the animals we were learning about while on her trip.
Instead of creating a book, we created a mural storyboard. As we read each part of the story, we attached the card (with a picture on the front and writing on the back) to the mural. Students wanted to hear the story again and again.
We also created a Scoot activity for students to engage in that correlated with the read aloud. But you can totally keep it simple by choosing books sitting in your classroom library. It’s all about keeping your sanity this time of year.
10. Supply Lists and Parent Donation Forms
Once you have your week planned, you will want to make a list of the supplies you need for the week. You may also want to create a Parent Donation form to send home.
We work in a high-poverty school, yet always have parents who want to contribute in some way (our parents ROCK)! We like to send these donation forms home a couple of weeks before the last week of school.
11. Lesson Plans!
I know, I know! It’s the end of the year and you are beyond CRAZY busy! You’re not even sure you can make it to the last day.
It’s so much easier to throw a few notes in your plan book and call it good. However, if you take the time to write out lesson plans for this week, guess what, you can use them again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that! Trust us, it’s worth the time!
And there you have it! A plan for implementing “Camp Week” in your classroom. A place where fun and learning collide. Give it a try. You will not regret it!
Seems like a lot of work? Well, If you happen to teach kindergarten or first grade, we have already done all the work for you! Check out our End of Year Camp Units all made up and ready to be loved by you and your students.
We also offer End of Year Camps on our Teachers pay Teachers site.
Cindy and Becky
Primary Bliss Teaching