Ideas to Survive the End of the School Year

Hello!  This is Karla from CMajorLearning.  Can you believe it is the end of the school year already?  On one hand, it seems as though this year has flown by and on the other, it has lasted forever!  As I end my school year (Canal Winchester Schools has 13 days left as I'm writing this), I'm looking for ways to survive!  Here is my list of the top 10:

Sing Sing Sing!  Yes, this may seem obvious, but keep the kids singing and making music together.  Pull out the favorites of this year or your personal favorites to sing with the students!  Something with lots of repetition is good so that they can learn it quickly and then be making music.  If they are singing, they can't be talking at the same time!

Play Play Play! Again, maybe another obvious idea but keep the students engaged by playing games and playing instruments! Personally, I know it is hard to keep the pedal down during the last few weeks of school because we, as teachers, are just tired, but letting up only lets the opportunity for trouble to begin!  Is there a game or piece that you have not had the chance to get to this year?  Now is the time to pull it out and let the students PLAY!

Move Move Move!  Going right along with singing and playing, have the students dance, choreograph or free move in every lesson.  First, the love to do it! Second, it burns off some energy!  Third, it is just FUN!  Keeping everyone busy (the teacher included) helps to make the class time go more quickly, so dig out your Rhythmically Moving (Weikart) or New England Dancing Masters (Amidon) books and get moving!

Do purposeful worksheets or assessments!  Don't just give the kiddos worksheets to keep them busy - make sure they have a purpose and that the students know that!  I find that my kiddos really enjoy the interactive ones like my "Write the Room" Series and Aileen Miracle's "Popsicle Stick Rhythms".  You can also be taking end of year assessments through the singing games the students are now comfortable with and love to play!  

Drumming!  Getting out those drums is always fun - no matter what age - kid to adult!  This time of year is a great time to have learning about drumming and play composed songs.  Dig a bit deeper in their understanding by working in groups to create their own drum compositions and then write out the rhythms and drum sounds.  Students can then decide how to perform their compositions - solos, duets, ostinatos, layering - the list goes on and on!  (Thanks to Katie Wynkoop for input on this idea!)

Try Something New!  We all go to workshops and conference and learn so many new things!  Take these last few weeks of school to try something new!  The kids will LOVE embarking into a song, game or activity that is new to them!  This keeps them on task but also allows you to dabble in something out of your comfort zone!

Set the Stage for Next Year!  I know - who wants to think about starting school back up again in August now, but think of what concepts and skills you will be working on in the next grade level, is there a song or game that you could introduce at the end of this year that could then be built upon come August?  I have done this for the past couple of years with my K's and 1's and find it to be a very purposeful use of my time as well as making the start of the school year a bit less taxing on my voice!

Game Choice Day!  This is quite possible the very best (and easiest) lesson plan that I ever have to write!  Let the students decide what songs and games are played that day!  I have my classes make a list of their favorites (anything we did in that school year) and then we vote (I let them vote for their top 2 choices).  We then start with what received the most votes and play through as many as we can until class is over! The kids LOVE it and I learn what was the big hit from the previous year - sometimes I am really surprised!

Remain Calm!  Boy - it is easy to get overwhelmed with end of year stuff - grading to do, classrooms to clean up, programs to finish - the list goes on and on.  Don't let yourself get bogged down in all of that and bring a level of anxiety and frustration to your classroom.  The kids pick up on this so quickly and unfortunately, they don't help us out by doing their best but see it as an opportunity to run wild and free!  Take a deep breath and enjoy each day for what it brings! 

Have Fun!  I am very fortunate and I love my job and the school where I teach and one of my main goals for the music classroom is to bring joy to each student through music - singing, playing, dancing, creating.  Take a minute and really enjoy the amazing opportunity that you get to instill this love and joy of music in your students.  I don't care if they become music teachers or concert performers (although i would love that), I want them to look to music in times of happiness, sadness and everything in between for the rest of their lives.  So remember to HAVE FUN these last few weeks of school!

Thanks to Graphics From the Pond for the number clip art!


  1. This is a great list! Your #1 suggestion is what is keeping me sane during 5th grade classes this month! They have "checked out" of school and are very uncooperative in most areas, but putting on our favorite songs from earlier in the year keeps most of them engaged. Sing!

  2. Wonderful post, Karla! Such great reminders about the end of the year! :)

  3. A great list! One of my favorite things this whole year has been these past few weeks with 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. I've chosen some choral arrangements of their favorite pop songs and have been having a mini-choir experience as a fun and meaningful way to end the year. Seeing their excitement as they learn these songs they love (even from those who usually aren't excited about music) has been so rewarding and has made this especially enjoyable for me. The way the music is coming together is so satisfying and makes my heart smile!

    Over the next few weeks I plan to have them do centers or have choice days. Another favorite end-of-year activity that allows them to be really creative is to take a class for some creative listening. I like to choose a song and give the prompt "if I gave this song a title it would be...". I ask them to write a few sentences explaining what about the music made them think of it and let them draw a picture to go along with it. Their answers are always so interesting!

    Good lucky as you wrap up the year!

    - Tamara


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