The end of the 2019-20 school year is near and it is time to celebrate!

Do you have any last day of school traditions? We always go get donuts with friends on the last morning before school and then let the kids pick somewhere special for dinner on the last day {apparently we are all about celebrating with food at my house!} One year we did a fun scavenger hunt when they got home from school, and other years we’ve gotten together with friends for a swim party.

Whether you’re wrapping up a year in preschool, elementary school, middle school, or high school, reaching the finish line on this crazy school year definitely calls for a celebration for parents, kids, and teachers, and we’ve got a list of fun ideas for you.

While this year won’t be the typical end of the school year, we can all celebrate the end of distance learning and the start of summer break!

PS – Don’t forget to thank your teachers this year! We’ve got a great list of Teacher Appreciation Ideas.

Ice Cream or a Sweet Treat of some kind

• Use our list of places to get Ice Cream & other Sweet Treats to find a place to celebrate with ice cream or dessert!
• Pick up supplies for an ice cream bar at home with ALL the toppings.
• Drive thru HTeaO and let everyone pick their favorite flavor of iced tea or pink lemonade.

Plan a fun family outing

• Play a round of mini-golf at Family Fun Center
• Go roller skating at Skate World or ice skating at Lakeland Ice Arena
Drive-Thru Safari Wilderness in Lakeland
• Catch a movie at the Silvermoon Drive-In
• See if your family can escape at Lakeland Escape Room or Escapology Lakeland
(All of the places listed here are currently open and have safety and sanitation procedures in place. Check directly with each business for more details.)

Go on a Treasure Hunt

Lakeland Escape Room is hosting a Treasure Hunt on Saturday, May 30. A treasure chest every child would love to find will be hidden somewhere in downtown Lakeland.

How it works:

  1. Sign up for the Kids Treasure Hunt with Lakeland Escape Room. It is $30 per map, you only need one map per family or group. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP. There are times listed for the Kids Treasure Hunt but they are irrelevant, pick any of the times.
  2. On the morning of Saturday, May 30th, all participants will receive the map at the same time via email (between 9:30-10:30am).
  3. Head to downtown Lakeland with your map and start hunting.
  4. Find the Treasure Chest and WIN! (Intended for children, therefore child must be present to win.)

Click here to learn more.

Lakeland kids Treasure Hunt

Take a Last Day of School Photo

Don’t forget to document how much the kids have changed from Fall 2019!

TIP: let them wear their PJ’s or whatever they’ve been wearing at home these days so it is a true documentation of the kids on the last day of school for 2020.

Have a special breakfast, lunch, or dinner

As I mentioned earlier, we have a tendency to celebrate with special meals – cooked by someone other than me!

• Pick up donuts to go (our favorite is Charlie’s Mini Donuts near our house)
• Let the kids pick their favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner. All restaurants are offering to-go options and many of them are operating at 50% capacity. (As always, do what you feel is best for your family)
• Cook a favorite meal that the kids love
• Eat something crazy you’d never do on a normal day (Ice cream for dinner? Sure!)

Play with Water

Have a water balloon fight, bring out the squirt guns, or set up the slip ‘n slide or sprinkler.

Run into Summer

Make a paper banner to hold across the driveway or hang across the front door with a fun message on it, and let your kids run through it. Decorate it with Happy End of School, Welcome to Summer, Congratulations, or another fun message.

School Year Walk of Fame

Make signs celebrating the milestones of this school year. You can hang the signs around the house OR chalk your sidewalk or driveway to celebrate. Get creative here… Joined basketball club, Met AR goals, Made new friends, Learned to read, Perfect attendance, Good behavior on Zoom calls, Distance learning expert… just a few ideas to get you started.

Summer Fun Box

Have a box for summer fun waiting for the kids to open on the last day of school. Ideas include sidewalk chalk, bubbles, water balloons, sunglasses, sunscreen, bugspray, bathing suits, coloring books, and more.

Scavenger Hunt

Ramp it up a notch with a scavenger hunt! Take those supplies for summer fun and hide them for a last day of school scavenger hunt. We did this when my kids were 4 and 6, and they still talk about it 5 years later!

The quickest way to create a scavenger hunt is to work backwards. Start by hiding the grand prize item. Then write down a clue for that location, and hide the clue with the next item. Repeat the process until you have hidden all of the items.

Have a Picnic

Plan a picnic in your backyard or driveway to celebrate the last day of school or the first day of summer vacation. Remember that a picnic can be any meal of the day – breakfast, lunch or dinner!

You can also use our list of 10 Places to have a Picnic in Lakeland to find an outdoor location around town (keep in mind playgrounds are still closed).

Have a Campout

Do you own a tent or camping gear? Kick-off the summer with a backyard campout. If you don’t own a tent, you can still plan an indoor campout in the family room.

Stay up Late

If you normally send the kids to bed by 8 or 9pm, let them stay up late to celebrate the start of summer break. {Especially if they’re still hyped up from the ice cream you enjoyed earlier!}

Make a Summer Paper Chain

Use paper strips to create a paper chain with one link for each day of summer. Each day remove a link from the chain, write about something fun or a funny story from that day on the slip of paper, and stash it away. Read them all at the end of summer for a fun trip down memory lane.

You could also do it the other way around – write a fun activity on each piece of paper and as you tear them off, make that your fun activity for the day.

Paper Chain

Blare that music and have a Dance Party

I almost forgot one of our summer traditions! We play “School’s Out for Summer” (by Alice Cooper) when we pick my boys up on the last day of school at the bus stop or in car line. They always roll their eyes {my husband I might be singing along loudly} but I know they secretly love it.
(Editor’s Note – the other lyrics to this song aren’t my favorite, we stick to the chorus on this one)

Other songs to celebrate summer: (a quick YouTube search will pull all of these up)
Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
All Summer Long – Kid Rock
The Boys Of Summer – Don Henley
Summertime – Kenny Chesney
Summer Love – Justin Timberlake
Summer Nights – Rascal Flatts
Beat This Summer – Brad Paisley
I Know What You Did Last Summer – Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
My personal favorite – Summertime by Bon Jovi!

Wondering when Polk County Schools go back in Fall 2020? Click here to see the school calendar for 2020-2021.

If you enjoyed this list of Fun Ways to Celebrate the end of school, be sure to sign up for our weekly email Fun-Letter for even more summer fun in the Lakeland area!

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Lakeland Summer Activities for Kids

Be sure to check out our Summer Fun Guide for Summer Camps, FREE Movies, FREE Bowling, FREE Library Events & Activities, Swim Lessons, 4th of July Events, Reading programs, Online Camps, and much more!