3 Meaningful Activities for the End of the Year

As these last weeks of school drag on, it can be tricky to make forward progress. The weather is getting nicer, spring events disrupt the schedule, and (let’s be real) fatigue is in full force. If you are like me, you need some simple, meaningful, go-to lessons to fuel you and your students to the very end. Here are 3 to do just that.


1. Revisit your fool-proof portraiture lesson.

Have students make a new, end-of-the-year portrait. Mount them side by side. Ask students to reflect on their growth as artists. Create a writing frame to guide them and keep their responses focused. For a techie alternative, record their responses, post them on a private YouTube page and mount the linked QR Codes with the portraits.

2. Have students design a calendar for next year.

Start thinking about next year? That’s right, I said it! Have your students design an academic calendar they can use next year. Fill it with important district or school dates that you might already know. Include arts advocacy quotes or artist birthdays. Download the calendar below as a starting point! If you’d like a customizable version, click here.


Click to Download Free Calendar!
Click to Download Free Calendar!


Be as free or as directed as you choose. Students might have total choice on how they embellish the calendar, or, you might do mini-revisits of all your important lessons. For instance,  “Use only cool colors for December,” or,  “Create a composition with organic shapes for June.”

3. Let artists inspire outdoor projects! Don’t resist it…get outside!

Let Andy Goldsworthy inspire some outdoor, impermanent installations. You might have a madonnari festival in which groups of students take sidewalk chalk to the extreme. Bring the outdoors in by using flowers, leaves, bugs, even chicks or ducklings for visual study. Go on scavenger hunts looking for geometric shapes, examples of balance or rhythm, or places where design makes your community a better place to live. Tap into students’ tech interests by asking them to snap pictures of their finds.

You’ve almost made it, you are in the home stretch! Finish the year strong by trying one of these inspiring ideas!

What is your plan for the end of the year?

Do you have any other successful activities to share? 


Sarah Dougherty


My name is Sarah Dougherty, and I teach elementary art in a large urban district in central Iowa. I love working with our diverse population of K-5 students to bring art to their homes, communities, and everyday lives.


  • Theresa

    I LOVe to RECYCLE at the end of the Year! In 3rd grade we make Louise Nevelson Inspired Box Sculptures with all of our dry markers and lids, glue bottles, glue sticks, small containers, and whatever fun Found Objects wee have collected over the year. In 2nd grade we Look at the FANTASTIC Horse sculptures of Deborah Butterfield the create our own using toilet paper tubes, short pencils, soda tops, corks, old yarn scraps, paper scraps, etc. It is so fun to dig through trhe “treasures” we have saved all year.

    • Theresa, we’d love to see some pictures. Thanks for sharing!

  • John Post

    Making clay – from in the ground to in the kiln. You can read how to do it here.

    • Wow! What a fun process!

  • Katelyn

    I just did an Andy Goldsworthy lesson about installation and impermanence with my middle schoolers, after which we went outside and made natural sculptures. Students’ enthusiasm was back up, and we all got to enjoy the beautiful sunshine!

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