If you’re a teacher reading this, I’m willing to bet you might be feeling tired! Especially if you happen to be reading this toward the end of the school year. So I am going to skip ahead through any sort of long introduction, and get straight to the point! Here’s an idea to add to your list of last day of school activities. It goes right along with my new book, A Letter From Your Teacher: On the Last Day of School.
This book companion doubles as a special keepsake that students can take home with them on the last day. After listening to a read aloud of the book, students get to make their very own mailbox. It is then filled with notes from their classmates, and (you guessed it) a letter from their teacher.
When I was creating this resource, I thought of making some sort of origami-ish contraption, where paper could be folded into the shape of a real-looking mailbox. But then I imagined the two scenarios that might inevitably arise as a result:
- Teachers would need to prep a whole class set of these mailboxes ahead of time.
- If they had the kids make it themselves, they would have to shuffle around the classroom to twenty-something students with their hands raised, because most kids would need help folding it.
I know what the end of the school year is like. Who has time (or energy left) for that? So I opted for a much easier DIY container. The kids can just color a flat paper mailbox, and simply cut it out and glue it onto a paper lunch bag. Instant mailbox!
Students can also personalize the back of their mailbox with their own drawings, decorations, and cutouts that they’ve colored.
If you did want to go a little more “fancy” than the paper bag route, you could ask each student to bring in a shoe box or other container to decorate and have them glue the mailbox onto that.
A Letter From Their Classmates
So what exactly goes inside their mailboxes? Give each student a stapled packet of pages with writing card templates, along with a list of names of everyone in the class. The templates included with my resource include ones with 4 cards per page, and also a paper-saving option with 8 to a page.
These templates come with the option of single or double spaced writing lines, or without lines. If you have beginning writers, you could give them cards with a sentence frame.
Tell your kids that they will be getting to give a special letter to each one of their classmates (it’ll be more of a short note, but you can call it a “letter” to go along with the title of the book). Explain that they will also get to receive a special letter from everyone in their class. Take some time to have them brainstorm together the types of things they might write about in these little notes:
- A favorite memory with that person
- A compliment about him/her
- What you will miss about him/her
Another way to think about it is that it’s very similar to a message someone would write in a yearbook. After you’ve brainstormed, pass out the template packet and your class list to each student.
TIP: Here’s the reason I suggested giving each student a stapled packet of the letter-writing templates (rather than a stack of them that have already been cut out). This writing activity is likely to take more than one sitting to complete. If students have a bunch of loose notes, they are likely to get misplaced or end up all over the place.
When a student is 100% finished with writing all of their notes, then have them cut them out into the smaller individual pieces.
Once they’re all cut out, they can be stored inside that student’s own mailbox until the entire class is ready to pass out all their letters on the last day of school.
When’s a good time to do this?
You could save this activity for the very last day of school, or you might choose to start it in the last few days or weeks before. It depends on your class and how long you anticipate it will take them to complete the writing portion of the activity.
Another thing to consider- if you do decide to start the activity in the days or weeks leading into the end of the year, you could still save the read aloud for the very last day. After you have read the book aloud, you might say something like, “Remember that mailbox you made and all of those special letters you wrote to your classmates? You will all get to take them home today and save them, so you can always remember our class family.”
A Letter From the Teacher
When you talk about the letters to and from their peers, you could also add, “Not only do you have a letter from each of your classmates, but I have also written a special letter to each of you as well, just like in the book.” You might hold up a copy of one to show them.
Here is a template that you could use for your own letter to your students. You could handwrite each letter, or type it right onto the template.
Set aside some time on the last day for everyone to walk around the room and “deliver” their letters to everyone’s mailboxes. It would be very similar to Valentine’s Day, when the kids pass out Valentines. You can put the letters you’ve written in each of the students’ mailbox as well.
And then when it’s time to say good-bye at the end of the day, your students can walk out the door with their mailboxes in hand. They get to go home with treasured mementos from their classmates and teacher. Warm fuzzies all around (and celebrations all around…it’ll be official that you just survived another school year)! 😉
Where can I get the activity and the book?
Another End of the Year Activity
If you’re in need of more activities for the end of the school year, here’s one that goes along with one of my other books, Our Class is a Family.
I hope this helps give your students a meaningful, memorable send off on the last day of school! And as I send off here myself, I wish you a wonderful rest of the school year. Even if you’re counting down the days!