Activities & Lessons
Wrap up the school year right. An in-person send-off may be out of the question right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find fun ways to say farewell from a distance. These virtual end-of-school-year celebration ideas will make the final days of remote learning memorable for students, parents, and for you. Don’t we all deserve to do a little celebrating after the year we’ve had?
End-of-the-Year Virtual Activities
Whether you’re thinking end-of-the-year virtual party over Zoom or something more educational, we’ve got you covered. (For more great ideas, check out our post on in-person end-of-the-year celebration ideas.)
Activity 1: Plan a Theme Week
End the school year with a bang by filling the last week with festivities! Instead of a theme day, have a theme week! Choose one theme per day, and have your students take photos throughout the week to share in a virtual memory book (see activity #2 for instructions). Here is a list of themes to get you started:
- Decades Day: Challenge your students to put together an outfit representative of a particular decade, like the 70s, 80s, or 90s. They can dig into their parents’ or grandparents’ closets on a quest to find vintage items, or DIY an outfit using pieces from their own wardrobe.
- Book Character Day: Students can dress up as their favorite literary characters. Alternatively, have them read a short passage, share a quote, or act out a scene from a favorite book.
- Pajama Day: Your students deserve a day kicking back! Let them spend class wearing their most comfortable pajamas. They might add a pillow and cozy throw into the mix, too.
- Wellness Day: This school year has been one for the books! Give your students (and yourself) a break by having a day full of wellness activities. Lead students in simple stretches, breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga moves. You might also suggest they try journaling and mindful coloring.
- Global Day: Have your students pick a country to represent for the day. They can share a recipe from or an amazing fact about their country of choice.
- Game Day: There are plenty of games you can play virtually with your class to get them pumped up for summer, such as a scavenger hunt (see activity #3), karaoke, charades, Pictionary, and freeze dance!
- Superhero Day: Have your students wear their favorite superhero costume. If they don’t own one, encourage them to create a superhero persona. First, have them decide on their superheroes’ names and powers. Then, challenge them to sketch out a costume and share their creation with the class. If they have time and the materials, they could even design the costume and wear it to class.
Activity 2: Make a Memory Book
Invite students to reflect on the past school year using one or more of the following prompts:
- My proudest moment was... I felt proud because...
- One thing I learned was... I learned it by...
- At the beginning of the year I couldn’t... Now I can...
- The best book I read was... I liked it because...
- The funniest thing my teacher did was...
- My favorite memory of my teacher was when...
- One goal I achieved... I achieved it by...
- My favorite day was when the class... This was my favorite day because...
Younger students can draw pictures in response to the prompts. If your students are learning remotely, they can take a photo of their illustrations and share their memories during your next virtual class.
Another option is to create an online memory board using one or more of the prompts with the digital bulletin board tool Padlet. For step-by-step directions on how to use Padlet with your students, check out this fourth-grade teacher’s tutorial.
Older students can create their own digital memory books and share links with the class using Canva’s free photo book maker.
Activity 3: Go on a Scavenger Hunt
Your students will surely miss their classmates over the summer. Even if they plan on keeping in touch with their buddies, this scavenger hunt is a way to help them deepen social bonds. For this activity, have them use the following statements as a guide to discovering more about their classmates:
Find a classmate who...
- ...will go on a family road trip during summer vacation.
- ...loves to visit the beach.
- ...loves playing sports.
- ...loves catching the latest blockbuster movies at the theater or online.
- ...can’t have enough ice cream in the summer!
- ...will attend another school next year.
- ...will move to a new house, city, or state.
- ...will attempt to read over 10 books during break.
- ...has a birthday in the summer.
- ...can speak another language.
- ...will get to spend more time with the family pet during the break!
- ...will learn a new skill during summer.
- ...is not a fan of the heat.
- ...will volunteer during the break.
- ...will tutor other students during the break.
Feel free to modify or add to the list and don’t forget to have fun!
Activity 4: Hold an Awards Ceremony
Celebrate a successful school year virtually with digital certificates that spotlight students' talents and other positive traits.
- Best debater
- Best joke teller
- Best class tutor
- Biggest prankster
- Biggest techie
- Biggest DIYer
- Most civic minded
- Most opinionated
- Most upbeat attitude
- Most polite, kind, organized...
- Most avid reader, gamer, writer...
- Most likely to brighten your day
- Most likely to save the planet
- Most likely to become a teacher, comedian, politician, author, inventor...
Activity 5: Put on a Virtual Talent Show
Brainstorm a list of talent show ideas with your students. They might create a TikTok video, play a musical instrument, recite a poem, paint a picture, or do a stand-up routine. Decide if you’re going to do the talent show live or by showing videos of the acts. Either way, put a time limit of about three minutes on the acts and make sure students practice, practice, practice. Even students who do not want to perform can participate by playing host, designing an invitation to parents (they could do this by hand and take a picture so it is email-ready), creating a memory book of the event (see activity #2), or managing the other student acts. Here’s a step-by-step video explainer on how to put on a school-wide virtual talent show using Flipgrid.
Activity 6: Go on a Virtual Field Trip
The end of the school year is a great time to take learning outside the classroom. Students can get up close with leopard sharks, moon jellies, and other sea creatures in their natural habitats. They can take a virtual trip to Mars, hike a Finnish forest, or practice their drawing with an award-winning picture book illustrator. These and many other free virtual field trips are just a click away. For free online trips to art, science, and history museums, check out these offerings.
You could also invite authors, illustrators, chefs, and other professionals to visit your classroom virtually. Plan the visit so your students and you know what to expect. The first part of the visit might feature a demonstration or tutorial. Authors might read a passage from one of their books, and illustrators might show students how to draw one of their characters step by step. The second part could be a Q&A.
More Virtual End-of-School-Year Activities
How do you wrap up the school year? Do you hold an end-of-the-year virtual party over Zoom? Do you have clever ways of keeping the festivities fun and educational? We’d love to hear your ideas. Share them with us on Twitter (@HMHCO) or email us at Shaped@hmhco.com.
***We understand that addressing the interrupted learning of this past school year presents a challenge for educators everywhere. This article is part of a series of resources focused on COVID learning recovery and designed to help you plan now for summer school and next year.