4 Engaging End of the Year Projects To Keep You Sane

The last few days of the school year always seem to be a chaotic rush. Classes are shortened for assemblies and field trips, students are distracted by the warm weather and teachers are trying to cram in every last bit of their remaining lesson plans. It can be tough to get through that last in-depth project. This year, I’ve decided…I will not fight the “it’s almost summer” struggle.  So, for those last few days before summer break, we are going to create for the sake of creating!

Today, I am going to share with you four easy-to-prep projects that are great activities when you just need to make it to the end of the year with all of your hair intact.

end of the year

1. Magazine Bowls

magazine bowls
You probably have seen or even tried magazine bowl projects before, but there really is something that draws kids into this project. To make a bowl, use magazine pages and fold them into 1″ strips.  Create a “hockey puck” by rolling the first strip up into a tight coil. Continue to tape on additional strips and roll around. Once the desired diameter is reached, students “pull” up on the layers to create the sides of the bowl. Finish with a clear varnish coat and add the best part- a cryptic magazine letter message on the rim. See the whole project demonstrated here by Mini Matisse.

2. Paper Clip Jewelry

paper clip jewelry
I tried this late one school year when my secretary told me we had dozens of boxes of paper clips that needed a new home. I thought 8th graders would get a kick out of it and they did! I even had students bringing in rolls of their own funky, patterned duct tape to design elaborate strands of jewelry. We added painted Model Magic pendants to our necklaces as well. See a full explanation here.

3. Marker Ink Coasters

ink coasters
Using glazed tiles, apply permanent marker to the surface in random strokes using contrasting colors. After the marker has been applied, use an eyedropper to drop rubbing alcohol on the surface. The marker will run and bleed, creating unique pools of color. Let dry and apply a clear spray finish. See more here.

4. Paper Coil Collaboration

paper coils
This is a project that can be thrown together at a moment’s notice. Using 1-1.5″ wide strips of paper, students should roll the paper the short way to create small cylinders by gluing the ends with a glue stick. Assign one student (or perhaps a group) to arrange the paper cylinders in a unique formation on heavy tagboard or on a canvas. Glue the coils down with white school glue applied to the ends. It’s a show stopper with little investment!
As the school days wind down, consider calming everyone’s mood with a project that will provide needed encouragement to restless students all while keeping the prep and clean up easy.

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What’s your tried and true, go-to project at the end of the year?

How are you feeling about fitting everything in before the students head off for summer break?


Tracy Hare

Learning Team

Tracy is a middle school art teacher from central MN who strives to create rich, meaningful content and resources through her Art Ed PRO Director role at AOE.


  • Sarah

    pointillism/stippling- love the concentration required! Woven yarn pouches have been great too! http://cassiestephens.blogspot.com/2012/06/in-art-room-weaving-part-1.html I’ll admit- no paint appears in the last 2 weeks. I just don’t have it in me. Right now the classes are all doing choice projects- zentangle/mandala/pointillism- they require focus and calm! :) They choose the topic and fill it with pointillism or zentangles or create a mandala from their idea.

    • Megan Darling

      I love it thanks!!!

    • “I’ll admit- no paint appears in the last 2 weeks. I just don’t have it in me.” Spoken like a true art teacher! Even the bravest teachers have their limits. This is wise.

  • Stacey

    Color Diffusion with liquid water colors & black and silver sharpies – they are gorgeous and the kids that want to get sprayed with the water bottles to help cool off!

  • Amanda Vroman

    I was left with cabinets full of magazines from the previous teacher and have used them in a variety of projects, but I really love the idea of the paper coil collaboration! This will definitely be happening in my room at the end of this trimester. Thanks Tracey!

  • Mr. Post

    Rainbow Drawings How to – Cut paper into small sheets 4 x 6 inches works well. Have kids use oil pastels to make a rainbow (see pic). (Limit the use of yellow as it is a very weak color.) Use the rainbow sheet like carbon paper (If you are old enough to know what that is.) Place a second small paper on top of the rainbow carbon paper and draw away :) Kids can make many images from one sheet of the rainbow paper. Great for Mother’s day cards and for making bigger compositions filled with rainbow colored images.

    • Lane

      Thanks! This is going to be very handy.

    • rccola

      i did this project with Pre-K students this year. We finished on a high note with this one!

  • Mrs Rodenbaugh

    Ha! I have the magazine bowls on the list. Trying to come up with another for my 7th graders. And going to spend one day with my honors class throwing balloons with paint at a canvas.

  • Sherwoodartroom

    Saving fun stuff for the end is a tip I think I read on Jessica’s blog back when I first started teaching. I’ve always followed this advise and it works! We’ve been having a blast the past couple weeks with gold paint, sparkly glitter and sequins, and even some clay. The kids are loving it!

  • Thanks for the shout out Tracy. GREAT words of advice! I love reading your articles.

  • Melissa Gilbertsen

    Saving my bacon once again!! This goes for AOE articles & the comments! I agree with the no paint att…that’s crazy town. (Next year I will remember this!!)

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