Here is a compilation of some of the best ideas I have found on the Internet for ways to keep kids of all ages engaged even on the last day of school! (Scroll to the bottom of this post if you are looking for award ideas and resources to write positive and effective report card comments.)

a note about end of the year behaviors:
My plan for the end of the year madness fits right in with the ideas for developing intrinsic motivation in this edutopia article by David Palank. If one of my middle school students acts up, I pull them aside and tell them that they will not be participating in the sculpture project until they write a one page essay about HOW THEY PLAN TO BEHAVE from now until May 25. ("Self Persuasion")
I ask them, "What are you going to DO? What are you NOT going to do in my class?" Then, I look the student straight in the eyes and say, "If this happens again, there will be a discipline assignment and a parent contact. Do you WANT that to happen?"
I know, I know - consequences are technically a form of extrinsic motivation, but the above strategy works because it lays responsibility for misbehavior squarely on the shoulders of the students. There is no reason for ME to get upset with their behavior and lecture and scold. The one who should be getting upset with the behavior is the student!
I have divvied out several of these quick essays in the last few weeks: students understood exactly what they were doing that was inappropriate AND they outlined specific ways to behave that were better choices! (There have been a few students who went home with a discipline assignment to be signed by their parents - they lost art participation time as well in order to write the discipline assignment.)
So far, the end of year misbehaviors in my middle school classroom have been very mild - the kids have been respectful to me, are working hard, and are taking responsibility for their actions.
I had been dreading these last few weeks of school because of the wild behavior I have seen in the past; not anymore! Mischief managed!


This year, after the art supplies were put away and the kids helped me clean the room, I showed them the below video and they went to town! All my middle school kids loved it, even the ones who said they "didn't want to do a friendship bracelet" wound up making one:

How To Make a Friendship Bracelet With a Cardboard Loom, Youtube

40 End of the Year Cleanup Jobs For Your Students, by Jennifer Borel, theartofed.com

How a Student Survey Can Improve Your Classroom, by Suzanne Capek Tingley, wgu.edu

Mascot Mural For School: Grids, by Eric Gibbons, artedguru.com ... this is a low-mess collaborative drawing that could be adapted to upper elementary, middle, or high school

4 Engaging End of the Year Projects To Keep You Sane,  by Tracy Hare, theartofed.com, middle or high school

Feeling a Bit Like An Artist Magician, by Peter Sansom ... upper elementary, middle, or high school (this blog post is about repeated drawings in a pattern...)

5 Legitimate Reasons To Take Your Students Outside, by Lindsey Moss, theartofed.com ... upper elementary, middle, or high school

6 Innovative Ways To Use Up Leftover Paint, by Abby Schukei, theartofed.com ... upper elementary, middle, or high school

How To End the School Year In Peace and Harmony (Or How To Keep Them Engaged Until the End!), by Amy Zschaber, artfulartsyamy.com ... middle or high school

5 Super Fun End of the Year Projects, by Michelle East, createartwithme.com ... middle or elementary school

End of the Year Activities, Cassie Stephens, Youtube ... elementary school

Floating On to _____ Grade!! End of Year Project!, by elementaryartfun.blogspot.com ... elementary school

Scrap Paper Art, by Sheryl Depp, primarilyartwithmrsdepp.blogspot.com ... elementary school

6 Activities To Make Your Art Room Even More Fun, by Alicia Eggers Kaczmarek, theartofed.com ... elementary or middle school

Pre-K - K End of Year Art Projects, by Audra Wallace, scholastic.com 

Save The Best For Last, by Jessica Balsley, theartofed.com ... elementary school

Other ideas for engaging, low mess projects for the last few days of school: 

  • Stations: Have a variety set up for kids to choose activities such as drawing books, puzzles, games, Legos, etc. 
  • Origami
  • Flextangles
  • Weaving
  • Photography - alphabet scavenger hunt outside
  • Texture rubbing contest outside - all you need is paper and crayons; who can find the most textures?
  • Paper Airplane contest; students can throw them at the teacher on the last day of school!
  • Pop Up Cards or Books (link takes you to the Pop-Up channel on Youtube)
  • Flip Books
  • Art Games - link takes you to a listing of a variety of art games
  • Drawing Games (Exquisite Corpse, etc.)
  • Sculpture Games (Sculptionary with modeling clay, marshmallow challenge, etc.)
  • Paper Dolls or Characters: directions on craftsy.com or directions on jampaper.com (use patterned paper, wrapping paper, wallpaper samples, etc. for clothing and for younger children cut out templates to trace for shirts, pants, etc.)
  • Youtube playlists; here is mine on sculpture
  • Roll a _____ Games: (Below is a design by art teacher Hannah Smith - more designs can be found on Pinterest)
  • Scrambled Art Grid Puzzles: more examples can be found on Pinterest


Handmade awards; gold spray-painted palettes, paintbrushes, mannequins, wooden candle sticks, and wooden plaques by Francisco and Janell Matas (for high school outstanding student in photography, ceramics, sculpture, drawing, painting, digital art, AP studio, adapted art artist, adapted art, jewelry/metal, and outstanding senior)

Certificate Designs by Leanne Godbee:

Abby found these plastic party favors in the party supply section of Hobby Lobby. She painted them gold and added the jewels.

Click on this link, Art Award Template, to download a DIY paper template to make this nifty art trophy! The design is from Leslie Gould at heythatsmyartteacher.blogspot.com 


    101 Report Card Comments To Use Now, by Genia Connell, scholastic.com

    100 Report Card Comments, educationworld.com

    Comment Ideas For Report Cards, by Chantal Latour, teachnet.com

    "Wait... That's All?" Why That End-Of-Year Art Portfolio Isn't Thicker, by Mrs. Joanna Elliott, mrselliottart.blogspot.com

    article by Mrs. Anna Nichols

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