Five Ways to End the School Year With Joy!

The end of the school year is approaching, and with it comes a flood of thoughts and emotions, from relief to reflection to anticipation of summer’s promise of rest. One emotion that deserves to be honored is the satisfaction you and your students feel from having worked together to build a thriving community over the course of the year. Here are some ways you can celebrate those accomplishments and close the school year with joy.

  1. Revisit hopes and dreams: Have students return to the hopes and dreams they set at the start of the year and reflect on all the progress they have made.
  2. Have students “remember when”: During the share or activity component of Morning Meeting, students discuss favorite memories from the school year. This might sound like “Remember when we were playing silent ball, and Ashton wasn’t even looking, and the ball just fell into his hands?” or “Remember when we found the toads on the playground, and we kept them for the rest of the day?”
  3. Return to favorites: Reflect on favorite greetings, group activities, energizers, and closing circle celebrations. Work as a class to brainstorm a list, then take time over the last few weeks to incorporate these favorites into plans for Morning Meeting, brain breaks, and closing circles.
  4. Digital photo book: Gather photos that have been taken throughout the year in a shared Google folder. Students can commemorate and celebrate the year by using the photos to make personal photo books in Google Slides.
  5. Memories paper chain: Cut strips of paper to make the links of a paper chain. On each strip, write a class memory or celebration from the year, and link the strips to form a paper chain. For the last couple of weeks of school, remove a link each day and read the memory aloud to the class.


Ending with reflection and celebration can bring a satisfying close to the school year for students and teachers alike, sending us into the summer break with joy in our hearts and a sense of hope for the following year. How will you end the year with joy?


Melanie Barbas is the lead teacher for Classroom Culture in the Colonial School District in northern Delaware and a consulting teacher for Center for Responsive Schools.