Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: This Year is "In the Bag" Easiest Last Day of School Activity Ever!
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This Year is "In the Bag" Easiest Last Day of School Activity Ever!

Fun, easy, cheap end of year activity to do on the last day of school! Perfect for all grade levels. Includes optional writing component! The basic idea of my "This Year is in the Bag!" activity is for students to represent something they will remember about 4th grade and to create an easy, meaningful culminating activity for the school year. Don't have time for memory books? Make a memory bag!
Are you looking for an OH SO EASY, cheap, and FUN activity to do with your students on the last day of school? Well I think I have come up with something that fits the bill and that will also be meaningful!

My "This Year Is 'In the Bag'" idea is so simple {don't groan when you read about it!} that you can implement it right away with very little work for you and it will be WORTH the memories you share on the last day of school with your students.

The only real prep-work you will need to set aside time for is the written assignment part if you choose to use it...so if you have a handful of days or more left before the end of the year, this activity is perfect for you!

In my "This year is in the Bag" activity, students {and myself} choose one item that symbolizes our year together (it must be positive and kind!). Students are allowed to come up with an inexpensive item that they give to everyone {like mine is} or it can be an item that they just want to tell us about. They have the option to draw something, find a magazine picture, or use an object. The options are endless. I think the small gift option is awesome because students leave the year with a "bag full of memories."

I give everyone a paper bag labeled "4th Grade is in the Bag!" to place their item in. Students can bring in their item as soon as it's ready, but it must be kept secret until the day of our activity {hence the paper bag!}.

It's a good idea to have these due the day before the last day of school so that you make sure everyone has turned in the assignment and will be able to participate in the activity. Before the last day of school, we spend a few sessions (of about 1 hour) in class doing two important things to prepare for this activity/event:
1) students independently brainstorm ideas of memories and big aspects of the year they could try to symbolize
2) students write to explain the meaning of the object being shared
I added these extra preparation steps because I thought I would get more meaningful responses out of students if I gave them the opportunity to reflect on their year and get an idea of what object they could put in their paper bag in class versus leaving it up to them to figure out at home on their own. I also felt like my students would get nervous or might not know what to say on the spot when we share our items, so I wanted them to have a written explanation that they could read from if they needed to.

I had a few different ideas for how students could go about this activity:

1) Simple option: Choose an object that symbolizes our year together. What's our year been "all about?" We do "It's Abouts" graphic organizers to track the themes and lessons in our read alouds, so this brainstorm is a totally awesome way for us to think about our year together.

Students' item could just be something they want to show us OR a small give-away gift like mine. I joked that it would be funny if I gave them pencils because they reported all year that 5th graders had stolen pencils out of their desk when we switched classes. I mean, of all the things to remember about 4th grade, that was a big deal! Haha.

2) Honoring the importance of relationships option: Choose an object that symbolizes a memory with another student in the classroom. Students can choose to give the symbolic item to that friend. {I imagined hand-drawn pictures, notes, etc. coming from this option}. Since a big part of school is developing new friendships and better relationships with classmates, I wanted to make sure students had the option of expressing that what they will remember most about the year is developing a friendship with another student. This memory celebration doesn't have to be all about me, all about curriculum, or all about the activities we did together!

For my symbolic items, I chose a few things that I could give each student. One of my ideas was to find brain-shaped erasers and give one to each child telling them that our year together is in my memories forever. I also wanted to give them a plastic heart to remind them to always be kind {with a printed quote from Wonder by RJ Palacio, the read aloud we are wrapping up during our last week}.

These are inexpensive things I can find at the dollar store and I will easily be able to give one to every child without feeling guilty about spending my family's money!

Fun, easy, cheap end of year activity to do on the last day of school! Perfect for all grade levels. Includes optional writing component! The basic idea of my "This Year is in the Bag!" activity is for students to represent something they will remember about 4th grade and to create an easy, meaningful culminating activity for the school year.I searched AC Moore a few days before our last day hoping they would have the brain shaped erasers, which my daughter told me she thought was a little weird and gross. :) Then, realizing that I would either have to find a back-up symbol OR go searching a bunch of other stores, I found these elephant erasers and decided I could go with the saying "An elephant never forgets" to help me explain why I chose an elephant for my symbol of our year. Like an elephant never forgets, a teacher never forgets her year with students!

The plastic hearts are something that I've used year after year with read alouds like Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch  and Each Kindness. I've been able to find them in red and pink at the Dollar Store, usually around Valentines and just have a stock pile of them. I'm sure you can find them at craft stores in the wedding section year-round. I'll share with students how we spent time learning about kindness through our read alouds and remind them that kindness is something to pass on to others.

UPDATE:
You can see some of the items my students came up with in the picture below. They were so creative and thoughtful with their ideas. It made my heart happy to have worms (for being book worms), copies of some of the inspirational posters hanging in our classroom, fruit by the foot (as a reminder of all of the fun we had in math class), and smarties to represent learning about growth mindset.
Fun, easy, cheap end of year activity to do on the last day of school! Perfect for all grade levels. Includes optional writing component! The basic idea of my "This Year is in the Bag!" activity is for students to represent something they will remember about 4th grade and to create an easy, meaningful culminating activity for the school year.
One student said, "This year really gave me a boost. Now I know I'm going to be a reader for the rest of my life!" Another gave out task cards that they had written using each classmates' name. (Yes, my love of task cards was passed on to the kiddos and I just LOVED that a student wrote her own word problems to symbolize our love of math!)

The funniest symbolism was with a dog bone and a collar. (Wait, what?!?!) I wasn't sure where the explanation was going, but the student told us that taking care of his dog reminds him of the way I took care of them all year. He said, "You are kind, helpful, and funny. I just didn't realize how much you did for us this year until it was over." {HEART MELT!!!}

So there you have it!

I spent 5 dollars on erasers, already had the brown bags at my house, and already had the plastic hearts on hand. I printed the bookmarks from Wonder and that didn't cost a thing.

However, the time I shared with my kiddos on the last day of school with a focused activity, where objects and surprises were hidden in paper bags and we were full of suspense was a priceless way to end our year together.
Fun, easy, cheap end of year activity to do on the last day of school! Perfect for all grade levels. Includes optional writing component! The basic idea of my "This Year is in the Bag!" activity is for students to represent something they will remember about 4th grade and to create an easy, meaningful culminating activity for the school year.

Fun, easy, cheap end of year activity to do on the last day of school! Perfect for all grade levels. Includes optional writing component! The basic idea of my "This Year is in the Bag!" activity is for students to represent something they will remember about 4th grade and to create an easy, meaningful culminating activity for the school year. Don't have time for memory books? Make a memory bag!
If you are in need of an activity for your last day, grab up the printables for this simple activity for free! If you are not following my store yet, I'd love for you to go ahead and click that green star when you grab this freebie!

Want more end of the year ideas?
See how we "Slide into Summer" with Math Review and a Summer Themed Party
Summer Themed Number and Operations Review Task Cards (4th/5th grade)
Summer Slide Task Cards Bundle

Close to state testing? Read all about how I help my students think through reading tests to prepare them for the state reading test.

2 comments:

  1. What a sweet idea! I am sure your students will remember this one! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Our last day was awesome because of this activity! I'm planning to share the symbols that students used in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!

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