There’s something about closing out the school year that seems to magnify the stress of distance learning. There are some activities that we can modify for distance learning and other traditions that we may have to let go. In this post, I share two ideas for end of the year activities for distance learning. Hopefully, you’ll get a little inspiration from some of these ideas.
End of the Year Gift
I just can’t bring myself to do student awards this year. I want to do something different and special for this group of students.
This year, I’m making each student a meaningful end of the year gift or memento.
I started by changing the page set-up of a PowerPoint file to 10×8. That way if I decide to have these printed, the pictures will be an easy to work with size. However, if I print them myself, they’ll look good on regular 8.5×11 paper too.
Then, I added our class picture to the center of the file. I resized the picture, so it’s approximately 4×6, and added a thick border around the picture.
I then used decorative fonts and alphabets to add each student’s name to a slide. You can duplicate slides, so you only have to make the original once.
Then, it was time to get the class involved. I assigned the form below on Google Classroom. I included each student’s name and encouraged students to be thoughtful. At this time, I only have about ten completed, but I hope to have more before I print. You can download a copy of the form here.
I copied and pasted students’ responses to the white space in the frame. I tried to keep my edits to a minimum, but I did correct spelling mistakes.
Finally, I play around with fonts a little. I want it to look like handwriting, so I’m choosing handwriting style fonts.
That’s it! You can either print yourself or have them printed. If you really wanted to go all-out, you could place them in a picture frame. You can download the format I used here.
Escape the School Activity
My End of the Year Escape is one of my very favorite activities for ending the school year. This is one of those things that can easily be used digitally.
I’ll host a Zoom meeting for my whole class. Once everyone has arrived at the meeting, I’ll use the breakout feature to place students in “rooms” for small groups. Students will access the digital files through Google Classroom.
The activity begins with a direction page that gives an overview of each of the challenges in the escape activity. My students have learned that it is essential for them to read the directions carefully.
In the first challenge, students solve eight rebus or word picture puzzles. Students use the directions on the recording sheet to form the combination to open the first lock.
To open the lock, students click on the link at the bottom of the page. That link takes them to the Google FORM where they will enter all of their codes. I’ve set the form up so that students may not move forward until they enter the code correctly.
Once students complete the first challenge, they are able to begin the second activity, where they help the P.E. coach give ribbons for Field Day. In this activity, students complete a logic puzzle with two different parts. In the logic puzzle, students must determine which classes participated in which event in the school’s Field Day. Students must also discover what place each class was in on Field Day.
Clue 3 is definitely my favorite activity! Students must turn in their overdue library books, but to turn in the books students have to identify the title of the book from the quote on the library card.
I have provided more than five library cards for this activity, which will allow you to select the best quotes for your students. I have also included a page of blank library cards where you can add a quote from books of your choice. The flexibly in this lesson means, you will determine the code for the five color lock.
To determine the code, place the first letter of each of the five book titles you’ve chosen in alphabetical order. For example, I plan to select the quotes from the books: The Land of Stories (T), Fish in a Tree (F), Hatchet (H), Walk Two Moons (W), and The Tale of Despereaux (T). I will place the first letter of the first word in each book in alphabetical order to form the code: FHTTW.
In the final activity, students match the school supply icons to clean out their desk/locker/cubby. Students will drag and drop the squares to the correct location on the grid. Each picture must touch the same picture on a different square. Once students solve the puzzle, they will decipher the code to escape the school.
I haven’t yet completed this escape digitally, but I have used some of my other escapes with distance learning. One mistake I made was to assume students would easily transition from physical escapes to digital. Some did, but some really struggled. If this is your first experience, I would explicitly go over directions with your whole group first.
I hope these ideas make the end of the year a little easier for you!