Media & Techniques

3 Easy-to-Prep Activities for the End of the Year

We all know to expect the unexpected at the end of the school year. Between field trips, ice cream socials, and other special activities, your daily schedule is bound to get mixed up at least once. That’s why I love to have a few simple activities on hand for days when I see my classes for less time than usual, or when my rotation of classes gets off. The three activities I’m going to share require little to no prep and can be whipped out at a moments’ notice. In addition, all provide a way to practice valuable art skills. Win-Win.



1. Blind Contour Drawing

Blind contour drawing is a great activity for the end of the year. Students partner up and draw one another without looking at their papers. Besides developing observation skills, blind contour drawing helps your perfectionists get outside of their comfort zones in a fun way. Because the faces turn out so silly, I like to read “When Pigasso Met Mootisse” as a fun jumping off point for my elementary students. A short discussion of Picasso’s work makes the mini-lesson even more meaningful. To take it a step further, use Sharpies on heavy drawing paper and paint with watercolors.

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2. Gesture Drawing

Who doesn’t love to stand on the table at school? Like the previous activity, gesture drawing is a great way for students to loosen up while practicing drawing skills. Students take turns being the models while standing on a table I have set up at the front of the room. After a short demonstration of different ways to gesture draw, students have two minutes to capture the first model. Over the class period, I decrease the time frame down to ten seconds. The kids are extremely engaged, which is a great thing on those days when everyone would rather be outside! Which brings me to my last activity…

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3. Drawing From Observation Outside

If you can round up some clipboards, taking kids outside to draw can be a great activity for the end of the year. I’ve done different drawing prompts over the years ranging from sitting and drawing one object in great detail to a drawing scavenger hunt (example: draw something yellow, draw something that fell from a tree, draw your favorite piece of playground equipment). Drawing outside can help keep kids calm on those zany last days of school.

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So we’d love to know, what activities do you keep on hand for those crazy days near the end of the school year?

Share your favorites in the comments below!

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda Heyn is AOEU’s Director of K–12 PD & Media and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She enjoys creating relevant and engaging professional development just for art teachers.

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