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. My family likes to have a special last-day-of-school breakfast and then stay up really late at night when that final day of classes is done.
The last day of school is such an exciting time for children. They have the whole summer to look forward to and a sense of accomplishment in finishing another long year. Make the day extra special for them by planning a party or another creative activity to commemorate the occasion. Here are 100 ideas for ways to celebrate the last day of school with your children.
100 Celebratory Last Day of School Activities
Hold an outdoor breakfast
Serve up breakfast for your children and invite a few neighborhood families. Try a pitch-in meal or go with a BYO method. Set up on the front lawn and let the whole neighborhood honk as they drive by.
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.
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. Open your ice cream shop in your own kitchen, or set up on the front lawn and make it a party with your neighbors.
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.
Put together a simple scavenger hunt of outdoor things to find. You can easily print off a generic hunt online or make up your own. After your children have found all the items on their list, you can have a treasure waiting for them at the end!
You can also make the treasure itself part of the hunt. Hide and have the kids hunt for all the supplies needed for an amazing summer: sunglasses, sunblock, insect repellent, a new bathing suit, sidewalk chalk, and 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!
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 scrapbook.
One year, my daughter came home with a little paper cup full of soil and sunflower 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 our house before school starts.
Last Day of School Photo
We’ve all seen 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.
What’s a celebration without confetti? 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 weren’t worth treasuring. Some families I know instead make confetti out of their children’s paperwork and throw it around like it’s a party!
If you’d rather not destroy schoolwork, let the kids make confetti by ripping up paper, crepe paper, or magazine pages into tiny pieces. They can shower themselves and others with confetti and keep it going for a while by scooping it up off the ground for more rounds.
Take some time to line up those must-watch summer films and settle in for a chill way to start the long stretch ahead. 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!
Water Balloon Fight
Have some bunch-o-balloons ready to fill up and buckets or wagons to hold them. Get all the neighborhood kids together and let the games begin!
Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Course
Chalk up an obstacle course from the bus stop to your driveway! Include hopscotch, bear crawls, lobster walks, spinning circles, one-legged hops, and a final run across the finish line! The kids can go through multiple times!
Nerf Gun Fight
Have all of the neighborhood kids bring one or two of their nerf guns to battle it out in the backyard. Give them plenty of space to run, hide, and reload. Don’t forget to load up on nerf bullets in preparation!
Foam parties are a blast and a perfect last day of school treat. Organizers can set up wherever there is a water hookup nearby, so all you need is a yard! You might also want to have a couple of sprinklers going so everybody can wash off the suds afterwards.
Celebrate graduation with a bicycle parade. Everybody hops on their ride and follows a leader through the neighborhood. Younger siblings can be pulled behind in bicycle trailers. If you’re lucky, maybe you can even land a fire truck to lead the parade like some do on the Fourth of July.
Hire a pony or two to give rides in your backyard! Locally in Indianapolis, Prancing Ponies brings a couple of ponies and the whole neighborhood can participate. This would be a great surprise for animal-loving children on their last day of school.
Grab a donut decorating pack from your local donut shop and let the kids decorate their own donut. They usually include different colors of frosting, sprinkles, cereal crumbles, etc. Some shops even invite kids to decorate in the store for added excitement!
Pick-Up Soccer Game
Get the whole neighborhood to join in on a last day of school soccer game. All ages can join in for a fun get-together. If you don’t have a goal or net, ask around with your neighbors for one to borrow or create your own.
Set up a festive carnival for the kiddos. You can have ring toss, ball toss, balloon pop, face painting, pin the tail on the donkey, and more. Kids love fast and easy games they can win!
Donning their class shirts or fanciest attire, set up a photo shoot to commemorate the last day of school. Think senior pictures, but more for fun. You can get one with the bus, at the bus stop, in front of the school, or at a nice scenic park.
Celebrate the beginning of summer with a cannonball into the pool! Meet at the nearest pool or even a lake and enjoy an evening swimming with friends. Order some pizza and stay all evening!
Bonfire and S’mores
Kick off summer with s’mores around a bonfire. This late evening activity gives working parents time to get home and friends who don’t live nearby can make their way over after dinner. The kids will love hanging around the fire making yummy s’mores.
Gather your closest friends or invite the whole class to meet at a park for a playdate. The kids will have the run of the whole park with their buddies and it would be a great time to make plans for the summer.
Invite the girls (and boys) over for a mani/pedi! Use Color Street sticker nails for easy application. Or head to the salon for extra special pampering!
Treat yourselves to a taco bar! The kids will have fun making their own tacos with the ingredients of their choice and eating alongside their buddies.
Splatoon Water Squirting
Take a white bedsheet and hang it up outside. Fill water guns with different colors using food coloring. The kids will have a blast squirting the sheet and making art. You might even write out their school’s name on the sheet.
Finger-paint the sidewalk, trees, or each other’s white shirts using paint and just your hands! Feel free to use paintbrushes as well, but kids love the sensation of paint on their bare hands.
Line up the neighborhood kiddos and blindfold them as they get ready to whack the piñata. Fill it up with candy, fidget toys, pencils, tattoos, and summer supplies. They’ll have a ball batting at the piñata and going through the goodies that fall out.
Head to the local mini golf course and let the kids putt through all the obstacles. It’s an exciting excursion for them and it’s a great way to get them moving outside.
Slip ‘n’ Slide
Set up the sprinklers and a slip ‘n’ slide and let the kids have some good old fun in the sun. All you need is a hose, a slide, and a little bit of a hill. They’ll spend tons of time sliding down and running back up to do it all over again.
Start a unique tradition with an annual time capsule. Each year, gather up all meaningful items from throughout the year to put away for future amusement. Your kids will have a ball putting these together and opening them up years from now.
Make room for new summer toys by starting a donation pile. Have the kids go through the garage, basement, or wherever you might find toys or games to donate. Tell them you’ll take them shopping for some new summer items once you drop off a huge box at Goodwill.
Make Hand Art
Start or continue a tradition of making hand art using finger paint and their little hands. You can compare with artwork from previous years to see how they’ve grown over time. Do it outside and they can continue to finger-paint the driveway!
Book a room at a local hotel for an overnight stay. Find one with a pool that offers free breakfast and it’ll be an easy but exciting party for the kiddos. We love the Drury Inn for all of the freebies!
Make dessert! Any kind. Brownies, cookies, pie, Rice Krispie treats, or ice cream. Kids love to help out in the kitchen especially if the reward is a delicious treat. Make enough to share with other graduates!
Shaved Ice Truck
Rent a local shaved ice truck, like Kona Ice, to come to your driveway. The sight of the truck will make the kids squeal with excitement. Some even let the kids fill up on syrup flavoring themselves!
Let the kids have a pass to play with shaving cream. They can spray it, paint with it, squeeze it, or put it on their chin just like adults. If it’s a hot enough day, let them run through the sprinklers afterward to wash up.
Organize a car parade. Invite all of the important people in your child’s life to drive by with signs of congratulations.
Grab a few cans of silly string from the dollar store and let the children run around spraying each other. Silly string is always fun, but make sure you have enough and that you shake the cans a lot beforehand.
The good old potato sack race! Use pillowcases or any suitable bag that will hold one leg of each child pair. Children can also race individually by hopping in their own bags across a finish line. It’s a race to the end of the year!
Kids love giving their parents’ car a good wash! They get to spray the hose, mop around the suds, and wipe the car dry with towels. It’ll give their ride a nice clean start for summer.
Organize a lemonade stand, orange juice stand, or cookie stand. The kids can do all of the squeezing or baking and sell their goodies at the stand. Have fun making signs that’ll be real car stoppers!
Head out to the baseball field! Watch a professional baseball game or see if the high school team has a game. The lawn is a great place for the kids to have a safe view of the field and they’re free to hang out without staying seated in the stadium seats the whole time.
We love to commemorate special days with the release of paper lanterns. They can be found on Amazon. You light a little cardboard insert and let the wind carry it up into the sky. Make a wish for your future as they float away.
Put on a talent show for the adults with all of the neighborhood kids. Kids can get creative with singing, dancing, juggling, ninja moves, or storytelling. Every child can find a talent to showcase.
Host a backyard concert to celebrate the graduation of another school year. Hire a local musician like Indy’s Mr. Daniel for an interactive experience with the younger kids. They’ll have the kids singing along, dancing, and playing instruments along with the music.
Set up bubble wands, bubble guns, bubble machines, and giant bubble buckets for the kids to play with. Provide options to create everything from mini bubbles to giant bubbles you can step into. It’s also fun to run around popping the bubbles in the air.
Give your kids a Yes Day. They get to plan the day and you pretty much have to say yes to whatever they want to do. Set ground rules and limitations before you start. I’ve never been brave enough to try this but everybody I know that has done it says it turned out great. It’ll be interesting to see what the kids choose to do.
DIY Art Studio
Bring the gang to a create-your-own art studio. Locally, AR Workshop has porch signs, coat hooks, trays, s’mores boxes, wall signs, clocks, and so many other options to customize with your name or event. The instructors are there to help so your project will always turn out looking great!
Board Game Night
Have an epic board game night! Play the Game of Life which has the players graduating, having kids, picking jobs, and buying houses. It’s a great game to play upon graduating a grade level and moving on up as the player pieces do. It may even start your child thinking about careers they’re interested in pursuing.
Take your kids on a celebratory shopping spree! Save up for the occasion by having the kids do chores then head to the mall to pick out some new summer clothes and shoes.
Commemorate the milestone of the last day of school with a plush Build-a-Bear! The kids will love picking out their bear, putting the stuffing in, choosing its clothes, and personalizing it.
Have a blast creating tie-dye t-shirts the kids can wear all summer long. It’s a fun, hands-on activity with wearable results they’ll be proud of.
Ask a local food truck to come to your neighborhood for the evening. All of the neighbors can come to enjoy dinner outside while the kids play. Usually, trucks are willing to come out as long as the neighborhood is big enough that the turnout will make it worth their while.
Sparklers and Fireworks
Hand the kids sparklers at dusk and they can run around celebrating their last day of school. They will enjoy writing their names in the air and making smoke circles. You can even end the evening with a fireworks show.
Start off summer with a good old-fashioned creek stomp. Find a creek near you where the kids can skip rocks, find shells and treasures, build sculptures with rocks or sand, and run up and down the creek. My boys always love a good creek stomp.
Break the Banner
Make a banner like at the end of a race for your kiddies to run through as they get home at the end of their last day of school. Put it across the threshold they’ll cross to signify the end of the school year and the beginning of summer!
Packed Lunch Note
If your child has a packed lunch for school, put a special note in their lunchbox reminding them how proud you are of them and how much you are looking forward to spending the summer together. Add a list of fun things you guys can do during the long hot summer months. Knowing what’s on the horizon will make that last day so exciting.
During the last month of the school semester, make a countdown to the last day of school. Each day, you and your child can write down something you want to do that summer.
Bike to School
I have a friend who on the last day of school will bike with her son to school. While they usually drive, for this special occasion, they both ride to and from school. It was all he could talk about for days.
Summer means no dress code. Kids can use this time to get the hairstyle of their dreams! Mohawks, buzz cuts, colorful dye – anything they can imagine! By the time August hits again, it’ll all be gone. Book that hair stylist appointment for the last day of school.
Stand Out From the Crowd
Meet your kiddies as they get off the bus in a fun outfit and really stand out from the crowd. You can let your child know you’re up to something fun or keep it a complete surprise!
Take orders from your kids for what they’d like for breakfast on the last day. You may be greeted with some bizarre requests but hey – it’s the last day of school. If it’s eggs with Lucky Charms and pasta, then so be it!
Summer Fun This Way
Use chalk to direct your children to summer! Fill the sidewalk and driveway leading home with arrows and sentences such as “Summer this way,” “Fun walks this way,” or “Hop, skip, and jump into summer”.
Pack a Picnic
Meet your children after school and have a picnic on the school field, if allowed, or head to your family’s favorite green space and spend the day as you mean to go on.
Neighborhood Water Fight
On the last day of school, organize a neighborhood water gun fight. Put signs up or turn to social media to get the word out in advance. Change into swimsuits as soon as school is out and let the fun begin!
Plan a special sleepover for the last day of school. Have your child’s friend come home with them after school, have dinner together, and let them play to their hearts’ content. Follow play time up with a movie and a fun sleepover.
School lasts from August to May and your kids have surely made a lot of memories. Take time on the last day to discuss their favorite memories of the last school year.
Say Thank You
The last day of school is a great time to thank your teacher for all the learning and love they’ve provided your children over the last school year. You don’t have to give something expensive! Your gift can be a letter expressing your gratitude.
Ditch the Dirt
Time to get rid of everything that won’t be needed now that school is out. Empty that school bag of bits of paper, broken pens, stray lids, and candy wrappers. Get rid of writing utensils that don’t work or have nearly run out of ink. Also check notebooks, keeping the ones that have lots of paper left and throwing out the ones that don’t. Prepare yourself to start the next school year brand new.
Last Day of School Shirt
Wear an old t-shirt to school and have all your children’s friends and teachers write a message and sign it. They don’t have to wear it, your child could just take it in and have people sign it. I still have mine from when I finished high school, nearly 20 years ago!
Join a Reading Program
Don’t forget to visit your local library to take part in their reading challenges. The last day of school is a perfect time to get registered. They often have some really fun themes, prizes, and special summer events.
What’s summer without a few special treats? Compile a booklet of coupons that your child can earn. Ideas could include extra screen time, staying up a little later, extra topping on their ice cream, or their choice of movie. Reward them with something a little out of the ordinary for something positive they’ve done that’s a little out of the ordinary.
Celebrate your smart cookies completing another year of school by trying your hand at making some yummy cookies. If baking isn’t your thing, head to your local bakery and let the kids have the pick of the bunch.
Flipping into Summer
On the last day of school, present your kiddies with new flips flops that can be used during the eagerly-awaited summer vacation.
Christmas in Summer
Christmas is huge in our house and we love, love, love Christmas music. We’ll play it from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas day, but that’s not long enough for us! One thing my daughter looks forward to is blasting our favorite Christmas songs on the last day of school to really up the excitement.
Dress Fancy with Friends
Organize something fun to wear for the last day between a group of friends. It doesn’t need to be something over the top. Plan to wear the same colors or maybe crazy patterns – just choose something that links them all.
Fill the backyard with obstacles to get that last bit of school energy gone on the last day of school. Set up some tree stumps with a branch to hurdle, give kids a pool noodle and balloon to bat, jump rope, or kick a ball through cones.
Paper Plane Competition
Learn the art of origami and fold the ultimate paper airplane. There will be ways that work better than other ways. Be sure to remember that if the fold isn’t right, the plane won’t fly as far and you’ll lose!
If your child is a car rider, fill the car (safely) to the brim with balloons and watch the glee on your child’s face as they try to navigate getting into the car at pick-up.
Decorate your garage door to welcome your child to their summer vacation. Use magnets to hold up pictures, signs, and streamers.
Invite friends and family around for a surprise party to celebrate your children finishing another year of school. To keep costs low, ask everyone to bring a dish and drinks with them, pot-luck style
Those little kiddies have been working so hard during the school year, so let them choose where to have dinner or what they would like to order in.
I love seeing when people surprise their children with a trip to Disneyland or another dream destination. There’s always a mystery present that the children have to figure out, but once they decipher it, their expressions are amazing. You could choose to reveal your summer vacation plans on the last day of school!
Where are They Now
On the first day of school, children often answer questions including what they want to be when they grow up, their favorite color, their favorite subjects, and more. Why not ask the same questions at the end of the year? Will answers stay the same or will they have different aspirations come May?
If your child goes to a school with a uniform, you could use the last day as a donating day. Most schools hold an array of uniforms for families who need them. Consider donating items of clothing that won’t fit come the new school year.
Celebrate with decorated cupcakes. Add summery decorations like flip-flops, blue icing, funfetti, or sunglasses. You can also find a local baker to make some summer-themed cupcakes if you want something really special.
Surprise your child with a “Schools Out for Summer” sign. Make it super fun with lots of colors so your child will be able to spot if from a distance when you’re picking them up in the car line or at the bus stop.
Once you’ve welcomed back your child from their last day at school, present them with all they’ll need for the lovely summer weeks ahead. There may be a swimsuit, bubbles, water balloons, sunscreen, a fun book, chalk, sunglasses, and a super yummy treat! These can be tailored to suit your summer plans and the great things they’ll need.
Summertime and music go hand in hand, so don’t turn off those thinking brains just yet! Get the family together to make a family summer playlist. Put everyone’s favorite songs on the list, press play, sit back, put sunglasses on, and start summer vacay.
If your yard isn’t already muddy, run the hose and make plenty of slushy mud to splash around in. To make it even muddier, add some potting soil. Take it up a notch and throw in some pans, spoons, and bowls to make mud pies.
Raining on the last day of school? Never fear, all celebrations are not quashed! Instead, go outside and dance in the rain. Be sure to take the whole family out and make it a time for true memories to be built.
Where Are We Going?
If your children are anything like mine, they know the car journey to and from school like the back of their hands. So when you take a different route on the last day, they’ll know something fun is in store. Use the drive home from the last day of school to take them to an unknown destination.
Pick a brand-new place or somewhere that’s a family favorite. The journey will be filled with questions of “Where are we going?” and “What’s going on?” Hopefully, this will be followed with glee when you turn up to the surprise destination.
Children are just so darn proud of the work they complete at school – even the big kids! At the end of the year get out the box of work you’ve saved and look through all the pieces with your kiddies. You could even invite extended family and have your child host a presentation to showcase all the student’s work they completed throughout the year.
Leave Behind the Bad
Although the school year will be full of wonderful memories, it’ll be speckled with bad memories too. Let’s acknowledge those bad memories and leave them in the past by doing this fun activity. Ask your child what their bad memories of the school year were, write them in chalk on the sidewalk or driveway, and throw water balloons at them to wash them away!
My 8-year-old is forever asking me to set up playdates with her friends. But when I only have a first name and the direction they leave when they go home, it’s not really enough information to gain a telephone number. On the last day of school, have your child hand out parent contact information to their friends so that they can be contacted during the holidays for playdates.
Graduating or Moving Up
Some grades have special ceremonies for graduation or moving on up like Kindergarten or 6th grade. When you attend, bring a bunch of flowers to make them feel extra special.
No matter what you choose to do with your children to celebrate the last day of the school year, the most important thing is for them to have fun! After all, they deserve it after such a long year at school.
Do you have any other really great ideas for activities for the last day of school? Let us know in the comments.