A lot of teachers like to do End of the Year Activities like an ABC Countdown. I have done it a few times and it can be a lot of work, but the kids love it. It is also so much fun to look forward to and it helps take the stress off planning all your end of the year activities. You can definitely keep it low key if you want, that way it is easier. CLICK HERE FOR AN ABC COUNTDOWN FREEBIE
One year, my principal asked us not to do the “countdown”, he was referring to just a plain count down up on the board. His reasoning was that we don’t want our students seeing our excitement to get “rid” of them. I see his point, but when we do the ABC Countdown, we are celebrating their success of completing a grade and all their accomplishments for the year.
When our countdowns were canceled, a few years ago I did a Kindness Challenge at the end of the year instead. I actually liked this much better and it is a lot easier to navigate with all the end of the year events.
Here is how the Kindness Challenge works
How many days do you have to work with?
I figure out how many days we have left in the year (ideally you will want to start this when you have the same number of days as you have students), but sometimes we come across ideas and we don’t have enough days! In that case, just double up the students. Or give one student half a day and the other student the other half.
I have my students in number order all year long, so we go in reverse number order. So, that means that student #22 starts when we have 22 days of school left.
You could also put them in random order. I give each student a number, this is the number that correlates to the end of the school days. If you are doubling up on students, then they can each use the same number.
Each student draws their number big on a plain piece of copy paper and they decorate it. We put the papers in reverse order so the highest number is on top. This is our “count down” and how we can know whose day it is. This is hung in the classroom.
Each day we honor a specific student. I pass out these small kindness papers from our unit and students write something nice about their classmate. We have practiced all year to elaborate more in their writing and to be descriptive.
They can’t just say “I like your shoes”, but they need to elaborate more.
Here is an example: “I like your blue shoes, they make you run fast.”
We also discuss what is appropriate and inappropriate to put on their papers. Sometimes they just don’t know. I will always read it and then return if they need to write a different comment.
I had a student one year who had a patch on one eye. A sweet little girl in my class wrote, “I like your one good eye”. Oh boy! I felt bad having her change it, but it needed to be changed.
After they write, they will draw a picture on another kindness small paper. I then gather all the papers and print up a personalize cover from our unit, then I put two holes in them and use string to tie it into a book.
Making them Feel Special
At the end of the day we sit in a circle on the rug and I read several pages from the book. Depending on time constraints, I may read the entire book, everyone wants their page read and picture shown! The “special” student is always beaming and most kids love to hear positive comments about themselves.
I do give kids the option not to have their book read or their page read aloud. I have never had a student say No. At the end of the day the student takes it home.
Affects on the Students
Students feel on “Cloud 9” the rest of the day, even in the morning the next day they come into class with their head a little higher. In the past I have seen students at their backpacks re-reading their books over and over and parents say they see them reading them at home. It truly is a special way for them to end their year in your classroom. It is a book they will keep for a long time.
This makes for a great way to count down the end of the year. If you would like more information on how these books look or would like the template and more ideas, check out our End of the Year Kindness Challenge. CLICK HERE
For other ways to boost student’s self esteem and respect for each other is thru teaching character education, check out our Character Education Units.