Friday, May 17, 2019

Ending the School Year with Purposeful Fun

It's the end of the year and once again many of us are questioning HOW to end the school year.  Do we show videos or musicals? Do we do singing games? A composition or writing project? How to finish strong?

Much depends on the culture of your school and your students. Much also depends on you.
Where are you at with meeting the needs and behaviors of your students?
 I had a wonderful teacher friend many years ago encourage me to meet students where they are at. If your students come in bouncing off the walls crazy, it is going to be difficult and painful for all to attempt to immediately make them sit, be still, and quiet.
I have found it to be so much more enjoyable for all to spend the time meeting them where they are at (Seven Jumps dance always is my opening activity when classes are like this), then leading them down the path to where we need for them to be. Doing so is purposeful yet playful, and encourages relational teaching and builds community.
Enforcing immediate compliance without time to transition into your class is similar to a prison guard trying to re-establish control during a prison riot and can lead to you and the students feeling like this:
Upset, Overwhelmed, Stress, TiredCrazy, Irate, Angry, Mad, Upset, Person
Ugh.. or uh oh.. or grrr, right?

So, what to do?  Some use the following:

  • Practice Songs/Concepts Already Learned
  • Project Based Learning
  • Prepare Concepts/Skills/Sequences for Next Year
  • Active Music Making - Vocal or Instrumental or Both (Orff Pieces)
  • Show Video Musical with Writing/Drawing/Fill in the Blanks
  • Games/Fun

There are pros/cons to each one - some have more teacher prep, some leave the kids bored and disengaged at what is usually the craziest (and funnest, let's be honest) time of year, and others engage the students in a meaningful, purposeful, and memorable experience!

I choose to meet my students where they are at with playful, meaningful, purposeful fun!

The What:  

The Why: 

  • Purposeful - Review Concepts and Skills Previously Learned
  • Active, Engaging, and FUN!
  • Memorable
The Process:

  • Allow several class periods to teach songs (about 20-25 campfire songs/games/activities total).  
  • Last day of music with each class we have a campfire sing along. I project a campfire from youtube (lots out there like the one below):

  • Build a campfire using tissue paper folded and tucked into black plastic plant pots from Dollar Tree and flickering tea lights.  The logs are made out of construction paper and are taped into place around the plastic pots.  The sticks each have a white label sticker with the name of a camp song printed on it. Each student picks a stick one at a time and that is the song we sing. 
  • Image may contain: flower and plantNo photo description available.Image may contain: people sitting
My students LOVE this so very much and it makes our last music together truly special and memorable. When I announce we are getting ready for campsongs they are so excited and teach me new ones they may have learned at camp last summer!
No matter what you are doing with your students, I hope you are having fun!


  1. Meeting the students where they are is SO important, especially in times like these! I did campfire songs the last day of school last year for the first time and it was so much fun. Thank you for sharing all of these great ideas!

    1. Sorry, I just saw this comment now. Yes, I think sometimes we try to push students towards learning without meeting them where they are at and the learning feels stilted and unnatural. Thanks for the comment. 😁

  2. Could you give some campfire song examples that you do?

    1. So sorry, Kaitlyn, I just saw this comment; usually they show up in my email as well. If you are on a mobile device, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click "view web version". On the right side you will see labelled posts, look for campfire songs and you will find many! 😁


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