5 Fun Closing Activities to Improve Your Classroom Dismissal Routine
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5 Fun Closing Activities to Improve Your Classroom Dismissal Routine

Jun 23, 2023

by Jenna Kimber

Of course, center rotations can get loud, indoor recess can be rowdy, and competitive games can test patience. However, dismissal is commonly the most dreaded time of the school day for teachers. It can be difficult (not impossible!) to set dismissal routines that students will follow after a long day of learning. The best time of the year to set expectations is within the first few weeks of school, so now is the perfect time to try new dismissal routines.

Here are five closing activities that can make dismissal way less dreadful.

If you haven’t heard of it, ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response. It’s essentially the scientific term for the goosebumps or tingling sensation you may feel from sounds or visuals. ASMR videos are relaxing and help students concentrate in the classroom.

These videos can be used for brain breaks, but you can also use them to help students focus on routines during dismissal. It’s up to the teacher and class how they’d like to set the routine, but you might consider watching one ASMR video before packing up and one after. Or you might choose just one of these times. Some teachers even play an ASMR video while students are packing up.

The key is that it’s expected for students to be calm and quiet during the videos. It might be extra engaging to set only two or three days each week that your class watches ASMR videos at dismissal as students will look forward to these set days. Here are a few videos we recommend from YouTube.

Many classrooms have implemented morning meetings in recent years, but it may feel overwhelming to also include a closing circle during a hectic school day. Both are responsive classroom procedures. However, while morning meetings are often lengthy, closing circles are only supposed to be about 5-10 minutes long. They wrap up the day in a positive manner, and kids are expected to be calm right up until it’s time to head out of the classroom for dismissal.

After students pack-up, they form a circle either on the rug or standing around desks/tables to begin closing circle. During this time, the class will celebrate and reflect on the day’s learning. The teacher might pose an open-ended question, like “What is one thing that went well for you today?” and students can share with a partner next to them in the circle. This might be followed up with a quick activity, such as a unique class chant or a one-word adjective shared by each student to describe their day.

Instead of letting students chaotically wait around for dismissal to begin, the closing circle engages students in purposeful talk with their peers and teacher. As the year goes on, students can plan and lead closing circles as it is such a simple part of the school day for them to take the lead on.

It seems that things tend to go awry at dismissal when students feel that they have more freedom at the end of the day. To make dismissal less chaotic, try assigning end-of-day responsibilities to partners or tables. Such tasks should be completed after bags are packed up. The expectation is that students will work on their end-of-day responsibilities until it’s time to leave the classroom. Completing these tasks also instills the importance of taking care of their classroom and community.

Here are some tasks we recommend:

Consider making mini checklists on clipboards to make students feel important during this dismissal routine.

More classroom jobs here!

This dismissal routine may not be doable every single day, but could be used on set days in combination with a closing circle or alternating days with ASMR videos. With the last 5-10 minutes of the school day after packing up, assign one student to read aloud a short, favorite book to the class. Think of this as a speedy read aloud, so students should only pick books or passages that they can read aloud within 10 minutes.

For older students, they might read an excerpt or a chapter from a longer book. For younger students, they may simply show illustrations to the class and tell classmates what they like about the illustrations as they flip through the book. To mix it up once in a while, you could invite older students to come into your class to guest read at dismissal or you can listen to others read aloud on YouTube.

Students will look forward to their own dismissal read aloud time, and when it’s their turn to listen, they will be calm and quiet until it’s time to leave the classroom.

Students love to try new things in the classroom, especially if it involves technology. There are so many fun and engaging podcasts, including ones appropriate for children. Listening to a podcast at dismissal ensures a quiet classroom (unless they break out in laughter to some of the more comical kids podcasts!). It’s also a great opportunity to enhance listening comprehension skills. Consider playing a podcast during or after students pack up. It could be a great time of day for students to lay leisurely on a rug and listen to the podcast until dismissal is called.

Here are some super fun podcasts to try in your classroom:

Dismissal time routines may require a bit of trial-and-error with each new class, but with a combination of set expectations and engaging end-of-day activities, your dismissal time will be much less dreadful.