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?


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.


Tracy Hare

Tracy Hare, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She strives to deepen students’ 21st-century skills by encouraging them to practice critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

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