The Last Day of Kindergarten

Thursday, 28 May 2020

As we all know, this school year can be described as anything but typical.  The last two months proved to be tough with everyone being thrown into distance learning, but we all survived!  After completing all that, the only thing left to do was find a way to end the school year appropriately.  I wanted to find the best way possible to give my students and myself some closure for our school year so that we could all enjoy our summer and then prepare for what’s next in the upcoming school year.

Typically, we have a cap and gown graduation ceremony for the kindergarten students.  It’s always the sweetest little program and each student gets an opportunity to shine by reciting a nursery rhyme into the microphone.  Sadly, we didn’t get to do that this year, but I wanted to find a way to to let them have their special moment and know that they are amazing.  So, I created a Virtual Graduation, which I hosted on Google Meet (Zoom decided not to work for me that day, so I had to move quick and switch to Google at the last minute!).

The Virtual Graduation is basically a Power Point Presentation.  Each student had a whole slide dedicated to him or her.  Their name was at the top and a picture of them was included on the slide.  I chose three accomplishments to share with everyone about that child, as well as something I will miss about them.  Each student was also given a special award, which was listed at the bottom of the slide.  I wasn’t sure that this was enough, but after we did the Virtual Graduation and got offline, I received amazing feedback from my student’s parents!  It made me feel so much better about it and I knew that it was all worth it.  Get the Virtual Graduation here!

Here is one of the actual slides from my Virtual Graduation.  This little cutie is my cousin's daughter, who was in my class this year, and makes the perfect model for me! 😊

After we completed the ceremony, I created a video to post for my class of me reading a story to them.  I read “The Last Day of Kindergarten” and it talks about a lot of the things you might typically do on the last day.  So it was a bit sad (I may have teared up a little), but it gave me an opportunity to discuss that most school years won’t end this way and what normally happens, and it concludes by letting them know they are now first graders!  Once I posted the video and the kids watched it, I received lots of positive feedback from the families, as well as some tears.  I really think it helped give us all some closure.  

Please don't mind this screenshot I took from the video of me reading to my class--mouth wide open and all. 😆
The next day was a Friday, and we were given permission for our students to stop and pick up their personal belongings and things that were in the classroom.  My kindergarten team took advantage of this and decided we would set up the classroom similar to something we normally do on graduation day. 

Paige was very proud to receive the Wonderful Writer award!
We usually do some personal gifts for the students and have graduation balloons to make things look festive.  We followed through with this and created a schedule for one student to come at a time to maintain proper social distancing.  On their desk we had a kindergarten diploma for them, a hat and certificate displaying their special award (you can get those here on TPT), a framed silhouette photo of them that a local photographer created (shoutout to PS Photography + Films for an amazing job!), the class face t-shirt they helped create, their graduation sign which we used for a photo prop that they could take home and display in their yard, their Lexia medal if they passed level 5 (a goal we work on all year), and a gift bag with a few treats, photo album with pictures of them throughout the year, and a festive balloon tied to the handle.

This is what they saw on their desk as they walked into the room.
The kids were so excited with all their goodies and it really gave them a sense that the year was officially over and they were moving on.  I had a graduation cap and gown on hand, and they each had an opportunity to take a graduation picture.  We talked a little about moving on to first grade, which made me sad that I didn’t get to ease them into the transition them like I usually do by visiting their future classroom and teacher, but I think it really helped us close out this school year.  They left knowing that they were loved, kindergarten was a blast (which is always evident when we flip through their photo albums), and now it’s time for first grade.

As I’ve been at school working these last few days, packing up my classroom and completing end of the year paperwork, I’ve had time to reflect on the past school year.  Now that everything is complete, I’m ready to enjoy summer and plan for next year.  We don’t know what the future will bring us with COVID-19, but I’m praying for the best beginning possible for next school year!

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