On the last day of school, my friend Ann-Marie and her neighbors greet their kids at the school bus stop with squirt guns and water balloons. We have a special last day of school breakfast and then stay up really late at night on the last day of school. This year, I thought it would be neat to really mark the last day of school in a big way that could become a tradition for my kids.
This year it seems like there’s a lot to celebrate and a lot to leave behind. Many schools are forgoing the typical fanfare that comes with finishing the year, but there’s no reason you have to skip the celebration at home! Some families are celebrating the end of preschool, the end of 5th grade, 8th grade, or even high school graduation. Let’s celebrate!
How to Celebrate the Last Day of School
Hold an outdoor breakfast
Serve up breakfast for your children and if social distancing group rules apply, invite a few neighborhood families. Make it a BYO breakfast to curb the spread of germs. Set up on the front lawn and let the whole neighborhood honk as they drive by.
Drop a gift off at the home of your teacher. E-learning hasn’t been ideal for teachers either. Send an email to the teacher and ask if it would be alright to bring by a gift or if they are available to meet up.
Summer Bucket List
We’ve all been missing all of our favorite activities and places, this summer is the best summer to create a Summer Bucket List (I really dislike this phrase, but I digress). Make a master list of all of the things your family wants to do, all of the places you want to go and start scheduling them.
Run Through Banner
Every year, my friend creates a paper banner and stretches it across the walk for her son to run through. My favorite version was the one that read: “This way to summer break and fifth grade.” When her kids get home from school, they have a tradition of sprinting up the front walk and breaking through the banner.
Walk of Fame/Accomplishments
Set up signs along your driveway or walk that show your child’s accomplishments from their year at school. For my seven year old, her walk of accomplishments will have signs that say: Joined running club, All A’s for the whole year, Met goals in speech therapy, Made new friends, Got along with siblings on the bus, Learned how to pack your own lunch, and a few other fun ones. Kids will have a laugh looking back and remembering how far they’ve come in just one school year.
Bring on the water balloon fight, the squirt guns, the slip n’ slide and the plain old garden hose! Kick summer vacation off right now!
Ice Cream Bar
Set up an at home ice cream bar with strawberry ice cream, chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream. Make it complete with little bowls filled with favorite toppings like crushed Oreos, M&M’s, fudge sauce, cherries, gummy bears and whipped cream.
Oh the Places You’ll Go
Grab a copy of the Dr. Seuss classic, Oh the Places You’ll Go and have a story time on the last day of school. When possible, have your child’s teacher write a little note in the book at the end of every year. When they finish high school, wrap it up and give it to them to keep.
Hide all of the supplies needed for an amazing summer around your house or yard and send them on a scavenger hunt: sunglasses, sunblock, insect repellent, a new bathing suit, sidewalk chalk, bubbles.
Set up your tents, pull out the sleeping bags and spend the night in your backyard. Maybe this will inspire you to try out some local campsites and go camping for real!
School Year T-Shirt
I made each of my girls a t-shirt one year. Lulu’s said class of 2028 and Scout’s said class of 2030. At the time, those dates seemed so far off, and now they don’t! My girls love the shirts. Another time, we made tie-dye shirts at the Tie Dye Lab. This year, I bought one for my son that says, “Peace Out Preschool“. On a normal school year, I’d have them wear them to school on the last day and have all of their friends sign them.
Summer Countdown Paper Chain
On the last day of school, hang a paper chain in your home with one chain for each day until the first day of school. Every day, cut off a link of the chain. When we’ve done this, my kids will write a fun memory of the day and we put it in a scrap book.
One year, my daughter came home with a little paper cup full of soil and sun flower seeds. Her class had started growing sunflowers for a science lesson and the teacher told them to take them home and plant them. When the sunflowers were ready to bloom and growing really tall, that’s when it was time to come back to school. We’ve started growing sunflowers on the last day of school to see if they get as tall as out house before school starts.
Decorate Your Car
With the popularity of birthday parades, it’s not unusual to see cars driving around with painted windows and streamers. Prettify yours with some fun summer break and last day of school messaging to congratulate your child.
Tailgate at the School
I remember leaving school for summer and never looking back, but our kids have been out of school for a long time at this point. Pack up a picnic lunch, bring along some sidewalk chalk and bubbles and set up a little spot in the school parking lot. When you’re all done, drive away for the last time until next school year.
Last Day of School Photo
We’ve all see the popular first and last day of school photos. Don’t forget to take one this year! I love seeing the side by side comparisons my friends post of their kids. Some of my favorite photos are of kids wearing the same outfit they wore on the first day of school. Many of them have outgrown their pants or shirts and they’re hilarious.
When I was younger, my parents would light a bonfire on the last day of school and we’d all empty out our backpacks and burn old homework and school projects that we’re worth treasuring. Some families I know make confetti out of their children’s paperwork and throw it around like it’s a party! We might try that this year and send it all away in the compost pile.
There are so many really good movies about summer camp, summer vacation and the last day of school. Bring that tv outside or set up a whole outdoor movie theater and play some classics. I can’t wait to share some of the better ones with my kids when they get older. For now, we’ll stick with some good old Olsen twins movies, like It Takes Two.
Turn on your car stereo, roll down the windows and turn the sound to 10 for a fun driveway dance party! School’s out! Summer is here!
Do you have any other really great ideas for celebrating the last day of school? Let us know in the comments.