Learning at home during shelter in place has made all of the weeks run together, and a part of me is sad to see school coming to an end because it’s the only thing keeping any routine in our lives right now.
Still, even the word summer strikes joy in our kids’ hearts, the sound of waves in our ears and the smell of sunscreen in our noses. As unusual as this end of school year is, and even summer “break” may be, I still want to make it as special as possible from home, and make the official end of the 2020 school year a momentous occasion. Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Host an At-Home Graduation
Perhaps one of the strangest things to imagine is not seeing the adorable kindergarten or emotional seniors graduation ceremonies this year. An at-home graduation may not have as much pomp, but it can still be fun. Create a walk from your living room to the kitchen, have cake and present them with a t-shirt that says “I survived 1st grade during a pandemic” or, “mom academy #1 student.” Throw a good playlist on, grab some clappers or horns and get ready to make some noise for your lil’ graduates.
2. Make Thank You Gifts
Bake cupcakes or color pictures and drop them off on your teacher’s, friend’s, or neighbor’s front step, anyone who helped you survive this school year. A card or picture can be mailed or presented on Zoom.
3. Decorate for the Last Day of School
Streamers, balloons, confetti, cupcakes, all the usuals will lift spirits, but my personal favorite is putting streamers across their door, or contact paper, so they can “bust out” for their final day.
4. Print Your Own Certificates
We all deserve an award for making it through this distance learning experience. Make up silly awards and certificates for each family member, and host an awards ceremony!
5. Gift a Summer Fun Basket
If you have not stocked up on these things already, surprise your kids with a basket of summer-time fun goodies. Chalk, bubbles, a movie projector, a new journal, sunscreen, hair dye, temporary tattoos, new sandals or shades, or water balloons. If you’re very bold, gift them with a bucket of water balloons and a note that says you’re ready and waiting outside…if they can find you before you tag them! Nothing kicks off summer like a water fight, am I right? Or, a food fight. Add that to this list if you’re committed to the cleanup.
6. Make a Summer Bucket List
I’ll admit, this idea kind of bummed me out at first because I know this summer our wish list will not be anything like years past.
The more I thought about it though, the more I realized we need a bucket list now more than ever to keep us inspired and excited for the new season. There are still lots of fun things we can devote our school-free time to at home, and I’m betting there will probably be no better time than the Summer of 2020 to work on a new skill, or get a new hobby. You could start to learn a new language, have a karaoke night, camp in the yard, roast s’mores, chase fireflies, make a movie watch list, have a paper airplane competition, finish a massive puzzle, write a play and act it out with your friends on Zoom, learn how to walk on stilts. All the usual things…just the socially distanced and at home version of it. Who needs vacations anyway?!
7. Ice Cream Bar
Ice cream is pretty great any time of year, but it should come with an extra cherry on top when the books are closed and the tests are finished and you’re in a pandemic. You scream, I scream, everybody’s screaming anyway…just add ice cream!
8. End of Year Review––on Zoom
Inspire your child to reminisce and share their favorite lessons, ups and downs, and adventures of the 2020 school year through a video call with an aunt, uncle, friend, or grandparent.
9. Celebration Balloons
This is an adaption to a wonderful idea originally published by Hope King and Amy Lemons and shared in classrooms all over the country. A teacher near you may have done this before.
Choose a word like happy, celebrate, party, etc. to write on some balloons. Each balloon with one letter, has a slip of paper inside with a fun activity written on it. It could be a dance, a treat, a joke. Kids can take turns popping the balloons and enjoy the festivity together.
10. Dress Silly Every Day
Imagine a take two on spirit week. Pajama day, silly hair, colored hair, face paint, your favorite book character. The last week of school calls for extra silly fun.