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Chelsea Asher

Chelsea Asher

Educator

Chelsea Asher is an educator and teaching artist, living in Queens, NY. She has worked as an educator for over five years, where she has cultivated and facilitated original creative writing and visual arts curriculum for students aged three to sixty-three.

Chelsea shares some fun end of year ideas that are sure to helps us all make the best out of the last few days of this school year.

It’s almost the end of an exhausting, sometimes wonderful, totally unexpected, and crazy school year. It’s tempting to shove Monster’s Inc on the smartboard every day and just be done with it, but the end of the year can actually be a powerful time for deeper reflections and cultivation of community through independent and group projects. Whether you’re teaching in-person or remote, here are some ideas to share with your group...

Time Capsules

Have students make individual time capsules themed around what this school year meant to them, what they hope to carry forward, and what they hope to leave behind. This project is truly versatile and can be adjusted for different age groups and class needs. The time capsule can be an empty Pringles can, a tupperware, a jar, a taped up paper towel roll, a large envelope, or anything else you can think of, as long as students have a place to put their chosen items. If working remotely, students can create these physically at home using found objects, or they can create a digital time capsule using documents, slideshows, or other software services.

The possibilities for what you can place in the time capsule are equally varied. For younger students, you could have students trace their hands and create artwork from it, so that when they open the time capsules on the decided future date, they can compare their hand size and growth. You can have students place a photograph that they feel represents an important moment in their year, or simply a photograph of themselves from this moment in time. Students can include news clippings, pieces of fabric, or small objects that represent milestone moments throughout the year for them. Older students can write letters to their future selves, or lists of their goals and dreams for the year ahead.

When students have completed their time capsules, you can set a date for everyone to open them and designate a spot to place them, in school or at home.

Teacher for a Day

Have students become teachers! Not only does this activity allow you to take a breather, but it’s fun for students to take on leadership roles and share a bit about themselves with the group. Students can brainstorm activities or subjects they’re passionate about, from video games to recipes to art and beyond, and create short presentations or activities to share with the group.

Balloon Countdown

Put secret fun daily activities, rewards, and riddles inside balloons for students to enjoy as a countdown to the end of the school year. This is a great activity for the last couple of weeks of school. You can either think of your own rewards, like movie and popcorn day, choose your own seat, outside reading time, or have students submit their ideas ahead of the activity and pick the best (and most reasonable, let’s be honest) ones.

Once you have your ideas, write the activities and rewards on small slips of paper and place one inside each balloon. You can also place confetti or small colorful pieces of paper for added fun (if you can stomach the clean-up after). Blow up the balloons and number them, then hang them up somewhere high in the classroom. This activity can also be a useful tool for encouraging positive classroom cultures even as students get restless toward the end of the year. If students complete their daily class goals and follow community agreements, pop a balloon so that they can enjoy their countdown to summer reward!

End-of-Year Newspaper

Create a basic newspaper template and have students collaborate on a publication for younger students coming into their grade the following year. Students can include pieces of artwork and photographs, they can write stories about their favorite memories of the school year, information on their favorite subjects, or give advice that they would have wanted to know. Once completed, make copies and staple them into newspapers or zines to share with the grade below!

Thank You Notes

Students can practice the social-emotional skill of showing gratitude, while also brushing up on their letter-writing chops. As a group, have students discuss moments when someone in their life made this school year special for them. Maybe it was a friend who listened to them when they needed it, or a teacher who really brought a subject to life for them. Students can then write one (or more) letters to that person or people, detailing the moment and what it meant to them. After, students can seal and mail the letters, or hand-deliver them.

Memory Wheels

Students can create beautiful, colorful pieces of art from their favorite memories of the past school year. To start the project, brainstorm as a group to generate a list of what activities and events occurred throughout the school year. Maybe students had a favorite daily ritual or routine, maybe there was a fun art activity they explored, or a subject they particularly enjoyed.

Once you have created the list, have students create their memory wheels by drawing a large circle on a piece of paper. Using a ruler, have students divide the circles into equal parts of six to eight. Then, have students designate different memories of their choice to each segment of the wheel and write the title on the outer edge, then create an artistic design unique to the topic.

Once completed, have students cut out the wheels and laminate them. Teachers can keep and display the memory wheels for next year’s class to see what awesome events they have ahead of them, or students can take them home as a keepsake from their personal journey through the school year.

School- or Grade-wide Graffiti Wall

Designate a bulletin board, length of hallway in the school, or a wall outside with a large piece of bulletin paper or cloth, and schedule a time for each class to come and sign their names and write a message that represents this school year to them. Students can write poems, quotes, trace their hands, create original artwork, or simply sign their names. This year, it has been challenging for schools to come together in meaningful ways as a community, and collaborating on a piece of artwork like a graffiti wall can be an awesome way for kids to express themselves, and see their similarities and differences in visual format.

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