Red and white calendar with bouquet of balloons

Share Like A Boss

Kids Should Earn the End of School Year Countdown Activities

Student Behavior Improves When They Earn the End Of Year Activities

It’s time to count down the end of the school year with some fun activities, but this year your students are going to earn the fun.

By putting this new spin of earning the fun on the end of the year activities, you will also see behavior improve instead of the tank in positive behavior like in years past.

♥♥If you are looking for some great end of year activities that they can earn I have you covered. ♥♥

You will find an end of school year printable packed with activity ideas in this post. Just giving you a heads up. Don’t miss it as you read through this post.

Reasons For Poor Student Behavior

Classroom management can get tricky as the end of school year activities ramp up. The last few days of school can get a little (a lot) crazy. Kids are out of the routine, they aren’t getting sleep and the end of the school year is and always will be extra special.

It’s like a switch. I swear, it starts happening the week after daylight savings time starts.

Is the decline in positive behavior because they aren’t getting enough sleep?  Yep.

Is it because routines at home and school are being disrupted? Yep.

Is it because the excitement and anxiety that comes with the end of the school year celebrations affects kid’s emotional reserves? Oh Baby, Yepper Doodle!!! 

Watch The Live Stream Replay

Teacher Stress At The End Of The Year

And, as the days start to count down, sometimes you just look around your room and want to hide.  You think this is supposed to be a fun time. But look at all the arguing.

OR- You think, how are we going to do this fun activity if they won’t shush (shut their pie whole) for 10 seconds so I can tell them the directions.

This is going to be double the work instead of double the fun.

You want these last days to be fun. Everyone has worked so hard. You are proud of your students and you want these last few weeks to be ones they will remember for the rest of their lives. 

That’s a really tall order and the stress is real.

You’re spending extra, extra time prepping the fun. Extra, extra, eeeeexxxxtttrrraaa money getting all the stuff and then…Uggg. Their behavior is stinky and you feel like you might lose your cool.

How Do You Still Have Fun And Keep Student Behavior Top-Notch?

The answer is simple, effective and fun.

Students need to earn their end of year celebrations and rewards.

Yep that’s right. No freebies. You’ve had them earn their rewards all year long, why stop now?

But, instead of business as usual, we are going to mix it up a bit with a cool little slant on the process but the idea is the same. 

At the end of the school year I’ve used these exact words, “You give me what I want and good things are going to happen.” Let Them Earn The Fun. 

At the end of the school year I’ve used these exact words, “You give me what I want and good things are going to happen.” Let Them Earn The Fun. 

Top-Notch Behavior and Positive Peer Pressure

Along with all the mixed emotions and the excitement, behavior and expectations for excellence seem to get forgotten. One way to help keep those classroom behaviors top-notch is to give students a REASON TO BEHAVE, and to help their fellow classmates to behave as well.

 A little positive peer pressure is very helpful at the end of the year.  

I’ve heard it said “It takes a village.” Well in a K-1 classroom most of the village is below the age of 7 so you want kids to be able to help out each other with some positive peer pressure. It’s amazing how much pull friends have even at the age of 7.

Why Giving The Reward for “Free” Backfires Every Time

Human nature is pretty predictable. We don’t want to do certain things except when there’s something in it for us.

It would be awesome if kids (or anyone for that matter… spouses, significant others, pets, children, friends… you get the idea) would just do the right thing because it’s the right thing. It just doesn’t work like that much of the time. It’s what we’re working toward and this method has a way to bridge into that but… for now we are using the carrot to move the cart.

(Yep, move that cart right out the door and down to the nearest lounger.)

That’s the power of the reward being hooked to a positive behavior. 

End of School Year behavior tracker Mystery picture reveled

Why It Works

They are going to keep their behavior in check because they know what’s coming up and they have invested their own effort in getting the reward. And they are going to expect their peers to comply too.

Create The Countdown With Them

Before all the fun gets started ask your students to brainstorm what they want to do to celebrate the end of the year. Now a bit about brainstorming with kinders and firsties.

Pony Rides? Oh Heck No! How About A Popsicle?

If you teach kindergarten or first-grade they are going to have a hard time coming up with appropriate things to do. Pony rides and roller coasters aren’t going to happen.

So as you brainstorm “help” (okay- use your mighty kinder and first-grade teacher skills to force the conversation to benefit the greater good. Yet another teacher skill for the resume.) Steer the conversation to the fun you can provide.

Here’s That End Of School Year Printable I Was Telling You About

If you’re like me I draw a blank when it comes to reasonable fun activities for the end of the year. (I’m just thinking about sleeping-in and sipping margaritas by the $12.00 plastic Walmart pool I’m buying as soon as summer starts. Can I get an Amen?)

So to help you with the brainstorm steering activity I’ve collected ideas from across the nation… (okay I did a google search… it wasn’t hard)  to give you an idea of what YOU want when brainstorming with the kids. 

Use these two great sites to find what you need and/or print this pdf that I made for your convenience. 

End Of School Year Posts From Other Sites You Might Like:

Here’s the: End Of The School Year Activities/Fun Students Can Earn Printable that I made just for you. 

Create The End of Year Countdown With Them

Make It REAL To Them – Put It On A Countdown Calendar

You’re done brainstorming. Now plan it out. Some kids will drive you to crazy town wanting to know… “When’s pajama day? When do we do camping day? When is the special movie? When, when Wheeeeennnnn????”

Put it on the calendar and they can figure it out themselves. Draw a little picture to help them read the calendar.

Freebie Alert

This is one of the tricks I talked about in the post about ending Teacher stress at the end of the year. Make sure you read that too. Just a heads-up. There’s some freebie templates and calendars over there so be sure to read it and grab your freebies.

The Big Idea: Wanted Behavior = REWARD

Now that there’s fun scheduled, let’s think about how your students’ behavior can be attached to the activity.

What sorts of behavior do you see going down the drain?  Are they forgetting kindness? Not cleaning up? Trouble on the playground…(There’s ALWAYS trouble on the playground, right? I’m talking more than usual trouble.)

Maybe they are talking and can’t shut-up. Maybe they are following directions like a bunch of drunk sloths. (Sorry Sloths. Don’t send me hate mail.)

pop-up bugs used as behavior trackers with toy net

Effectively Attach Student Behavior To Each Fun Event

This is an important part. You want to butter them up a bit. Let them know how good they’ve done this year with the behavior you want. Let’s say you want to work on the excess talking that you’ve been noticing. (You know you start to give directions and in about 10 seconds half your class is whispering or giggling back and forth with a friend. Uggg. Don’t throw your hands up and go sulk.  You got this!!!)

So you say, “Today we are working toward an extra recess time. To get extra minutes of recess I am going to be looking for something you already know how to do and you do it really really really good. But now since you will be 2nd graders next year I’m looking for how 2nd graders need to do it. And you are really ready for this. Do you want to know what behavior we are going to work on and do like 2nd graders? So we can earn this fun end of school year extra reward recess?” 

They are going to say, “Yah, yah, what is it we can do it!!”

And then you are going to tell them it’s listening like a 2nd grader while the teacher is talking. Show them what that looks like.

Tell them that when you see eyes on you, mouths closed you will know they are listening—- BUT when you see kids interacting by smiling, and nodding and asking questions and ignoring others that might not want to act like second graders then that’s when they will be getting the points for the extra end of school year recess. 

And that recess has  been scheduled for Thursday afternoon so that’s not a long time to get these points. 

Make Them Believers

Now here comes the part that you are going to see what a mean, mean but oh so smart and brilliant teacher I was.

At some point they are going to expect you to give them the “marble in the jar” without much effort on their part.

You are going to say “Clean-Up!!!!” and they are going to pick up one yucky and think they are done. 

NO WAY…. Not Today Young Padwan!!!  

That’s when you say… “Guys, I’m so so so sad because I was so looking forward to popsicles tomorrow. We have it on our calendar. We talked about it all day trying to earn the popsicles but you guys, We didn’t reach our goal. We still need 4 more points. We can’t have the popsicles tomorrow. Here’s what I’m going to do tho.  You guys get another chance. Tomorrow when it’s time to clean up you are going to do it fastl. You are going to do an A+++++ job and pick up tons. You are going to tell your friends ‘Good Job Cleaning-Up. We are getting popsicles because of YOU.’”

Erase the popsicle from the calendar and move it to another day. 

Then I promise they are going to be believers.

When you say clean-up… guess what they are going to do… clean-up like a bunch of hungry hyenas. 

Kindness paper chain behavior tracker in page protector

Make The Behavior Tracker Fun Too

AKA -This Isn’t Your Ordinary “Marble In the Jar Reward Tracker”

Below are a few ways to ramp up how you keep track of how they earn the fun. Sometimes this is motivation enough for good behavior.

In the comments let me know which is your favorite or if you use something else in your classroom.

Mystery Reward text

This is so easy and so effective. Take a look at the picture. Find a picture of what the reward will be. (If you are planning on the calendar, as mentioned above, just write ‘Mystery Reward’.)

Place a picture of the reward in a page protector. My picture is of a plate of s’more fixins’. Then on another paper write the behavior you want your students to work on. 

I have ‘Follow Direction- Quickly’ Cut the paper into pieces and tape it on the top of the page protector.  

A mystery picture of s'mores is revealed pieces of paper with the words "Follow Directions Quickly" are removed

When students do a fantastic job of following directions quickly, take a piece of paper off of the top, thus revealing a small hint of what the ‘Mystery Reward’ is. 

They are going to go bonkers trying to guess. It’s hilarious to hear what they think it’s going to be. 

When all the pieces are removed and the reward is revealed students will be beyond excited for the reward and they will enjoy it all the more because they earned it.

Chain Reward text

Building chains are a great way to make progress toward a goal visual. Write what you want students to do on a piece of paper and place it in a page protector. Also write the reward on the piece of paper. Then they will know wanted behavior = reward. 

Then cut some stips of paper for the chain. Store them in the page protector so you don’t have to search for them when you need them (Check out the picture below for a simple hack on this)  Set the goal. If your students get 40 links they reach the reward. 

Chain Behavior Tracker, chain links with kind behavior written on each

I like to use this one for kindness. When someone sees someone else being kind they write what they saw on a strip of paper and attach it to the chain. 

Simple. Done. Yah!!!

Pop-up reward Text

This one is probably nothing you’ve seen before. (Always trying to bring you something original)

It’s like the ‘marble in the jar’ but this one is ‘pop-up bug in a net’. Here’s how it plays out.

You get yourself some pop-up party favors. I have bugs. 

You tell the kids you have 9 bugs, and the only way they can be caught is if ALL students put away their work supplies quickly and return to their desk.

suction cup pop-up bugs in a clear cup and toy net

If you need some pop-ups I found some for you. This is an affiliate link which is explained below. 

Some of the links you see are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with, or have seen the value of all of these resources for teachers, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals. 

As always, if you have any questions about any of the resources for teachers found on this page I’d be very happy to help you.  I am here for you. 

Show them how they have a suction cup and if you press it down they will, after an unknown amount of time, pop-up. 

Tell them they will have 15 seconds head start and then you are going to press the pop-up down and release it. When the pop-up, pops-up and all the students are in their seat and ready they will earn that bug. When all 9 have been caught the reward of ____ (you fill in the blank) will be earned.

Teacher friend… this is gold. They are not only going to move fast but they are going to be staring right at you in anticipation of the pop-up flying through the air and you doing your darndest to catch it.  

This is the stuff that’s going to get you “BEST TEACHER EVER” status.


Earning rewards at the end of the school year is going to keep the fun up, and the behavior problems down. Also, trying new and novel ways of keeping track of progress toward a reward or end of year celebration, can be as much fun as the reward themselves.

Making them earn the fun is the key to a happy and positive end to the school year. You’re the best teacher ever and you’re giving them memories to last their life.

Having them earn the fun is going to be a big part of your “Best Teacher Ever” title. 

•••You got this!!!••• 

Other Posts From Angie At Making The Basics Fun about  the end of the school year. ↓

Share Like A Boss

Angie K

Angie K

I love to help teachers create an amazing teacher life.
I've taught for 25+ years and I want to help you find joy and energy in each day.

Share this post