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Termination can be a difficult time for both clients and counselors or teachers. Students can react to endings in a variety of ways that can often be unpredictable and really different from their usual behavior patterns. Some students might withdraw and mentally seem to create some distance, while others will become aggressive or might act out for increased attention. By incorporating activities to help wrap up the end of the year, you can help curb some of these reactions and ensure that students get closure around the work they have done with you. These can be especially helpful for teachers or counselors who will no longer be working with these children again the coming school year.
1. Make a Countdown that Ends in a Fun Activity
Ensuring that your students know how many sessions or weeks they have left with you is really important. Endings can sneak up on kids, and a surprise ending can be really hard for young children. By giving your students time to process their feelings about the end, they will be ready (or more ready) to finally say goodbye.
- Calendar, poster, or other timekeeping chart
- Markers or stickers
Make a calendar with the class to mark out the final projects, activities, and events for the end of the year. It is helpful to do this six to eight weeks before the end and try to refer back to the calendar as the weeks pass. By ending in a big event such as an ice cream social or another fun day, the end of the year becomes something both interesting and fun to look forward too.
2. Memory Bracelets
This is a fun activity that might be best one-on-one, but it can be adapted for small group work. By encouraging students to think about all of their favorite memories or successes from the past year, they can connect the year with positive feelings and be proud of their accomplishments.
- Colorful beads
- Lengths of string (it can be helpful to tie a knot at one end to assist young students or students with special needs)
Have your student select beads one at a time for their bracelet. As they pick up each bead they have to say one good memory or accomplishment from the year. If done in small groups, have students take turns around the circle to allow them more time to think and to be sure everyone is involved.
3. "Letting Go and Reaching Towards" Hands
This is a fun and simple activity that can be both creative and thought provoking. It's a great activity for students who are transitioning into something new, perhaps going from elementary to middle school or other big transitions.
- Either blank paper or paper with two hands drawn on it
- Markers or pens
If you chose blank paper, have students trace two hands on the paper and write "let go" over one and "reach for" over the other. Have students come up with at least five (one for each finger) things that they are going to leave behind from this year and then at least five things that they are exciting about for next year. This can also lead into a great class discussion if desired.
4. Treasure Chests
Similar to the bracelets but requiring less supplies, this activity is a great way for students to visualize all of the good things from the year in one quick graphic.
- Paper with clip art treasure chests printed on them
- Markers or pens
Have students brainstorm all of the good things that happened that year and all of the things they accomplished. They can write all of these things or draw pictures of these events (or treasures) in their chests to keep them all in one place.
5. Compliment Dance Party
This is a great social-emotional activity to help students say goodbye to each other as well. By incorporating movement, it becomes a fun and special event that can be memorable to all. This activity should be tailored for the students in the room though, so if students have mobility issues or sensory issues, or if there is a student often bullied by peers, please take these things into consideration.
- Blank paper
- Pens or pencils
Tape a blank piece of paper to each students' back. Instruct students to walk around/dance around the room while the music plays, but once you stop the music, they should turn to the student nearest to them and write a compliment on their paper. Continue this process until everyone has a few compliments. This is a great activity to follow a discussion about compliments and how to give constructive or thoughtful compliments.
Endings can be really scary and difficult for kids despite the often joyous nature of looking forward to summer break. By incorporating a few well placed activities, you can help curb this underlying anxiety so students can focus on the joys of summer instead of the loss of classmates or teachers.
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