I was inspired by Cult of Pedagogy to keep my classroom a rigorous, engaging, meaningful classroom environment EVEN on the last week of school.

We usually do theme days during the last week. I stuck with the idea of theme days, but put a little more effort into them so that students' time was valued AND I was still able to wrk on packing up my classroom.

One of our theme days was Art Day, and I think it was one of my favorites!!

I decided to do the most structured activity first before students got too fatigued. This is a project that third grade has done for years, so I adopted it from my wonderful teammates!

First, students trace their hand. I modeled to show them how I wanted it to look so that their hand and wrist took up a large amount of space on the page. Next, students created a border of some kind. Then, they decorated the border and their hand. Some designs were realistic, while others were more abstract. Last, they filled in the white space with writing all about third grade: favorite memories, what they learned, what future third graders need to know, etc.

I kept these, and I'll be displaying them when my new third graders and their families come for Sneak Peek in August!

There's ALWAYS a book to match your topic, right?! Both of these books are from my diverse books collection, and I pulled them out to go with Art Day. Both were hits, and were perfect for reviewing those basic reading skills like main idea, character traits, and making connections!

Amazon affiliate links:
Magic Trash
Fancy Party Gowns 

After we read together, students got to do some research on their own. I chose 6 artists that represented diverse backgrounds and that I was also able to find lots of information on using school-provided online resources. Students were given about half an hour to explore and write down any interesting facts that they discovered.

Artists we researched: 
Georgia O'Keefe
Pablo Picasso
Maurice Sendak
Frida Kahlo
Kadir Nelson
Maya Lin

Resources we used: 
BrainPop & BrainPop Junior (subscription required)
PebbleGo (subscription required)
Epic! (free for educators but must create an account)
KidRex (kid-friendly search engine)

At the end of the day, we did some paper engineering inspired by Ashley over at Talkin' PiƱata Teaching.

This activity allowed students to socialize with their friends and explore art while also problem-solving and stretching their creativity.

At the end of the day, students who had finished their paper engineering projects had the option to continue reading and research OR make a thank you card for a staff member.

Like I said, I think Art Day was my favorite. Students had a great time and learned a ton, but I was still able to get lots of end-of-year work done.

It was even better than Movie Day!

Try it out, then let me know how it goes.

Happy teaching!

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I did it!

I survived my fifth year teaching, and I can genuinely say that I did my best to make every last moment count.

I was totally inspired (and convicted) by The Cult of Pedagogy's article about the last week of school: What To Do On Lame Duck School Days. In her post, Jennifer provides a categorized list of low-prep, medium-prep, and high-prep ideas for the last week of school, standardized testing days, or really any time that you are tempted to show a movie.

Of course, videos have their time and place. And the last day of school - at my school at least - is always "movie day." Jennifer's article got me thinking: How can I do better?

I wanted my students to feel challenged - even on the last day of school - and get excited about learning something new. I wanted them to put into practice all of those skills they mastered throughout the year one last time before the potential summer slide. I wanted my students to have something meaningful to say when their parents asked what they did that day. 

I present to you my twist on movie day. Take it or leave it, tweak it as you see fit.

For morning work, students were asked to work on the K and W sections of the KWL. I had already covered my bulletin boards for the summer, so I decided to put that paper to use. 

I allowed the kids to choose partners, then split the students into 2 groups due to technology constraints. For our first rotations, groups had 20 minutes for each task: making movies and researching movies. 

If you've never used Telestory, download the free app now! It's always a hit. Students laughed all the way through recaps of our favorite books!

We briefly talked about the walk of fame and why people were recognized with starts on the famous street. Students were excited to have a mini walk of fame in our own classroom.

The stars were a sentimental keepsake for students to take home with them. Hello, character trait and adjective practice!

Chatterpix is another class favorite, and it's free too! We use Chatterpix all the time, especially with historical figures in social studies, but we had never done book characters. Students loved making mini movies about their favorite book of the year. 

Notice that both activities were posted on Seesaw, that way parents could see what we were up to on the last day! 

We made time for some game time by playing movie Kahoots. 

As you can see, our KWL chart filled up quite a bit! We even made some time for some short movies  featuring behind the scenes production secrets. Two favorites from YouTube were The Magic of Making Sound (hi, science standards!) and Zootopia: Character Animation (integration of art). 

I have to admit, it was the BEST last day of school I've ever had. Kids were engaged and laughing while practicing academic skills all day long. They learned a lot and were able to make memories with their classmates, and I will still able to work on cleaning my room for the majority of the day.

What do you think? Any other ideas? Share your thoughts in a comment below!