How to Celebrate the Last Day of School

School's out for summer! Parents share how they celebrate the start of summer with their kids. 

Backpack off to the side with two roller skates under the sun Illustration by Orlando Hoetzel

The end of the school year is a big deal in a kid's life—they can officially look forward to backyard pool days, mid-day ice pops, and no more alarm clocks. For parents, it's a milestone worth honoring: Your little one is growing up! Whether he's just stepping up from third grade to fourth, or actually graduating the school he's been in, here's how families are celebrating the occasion.

Plan a day of fun

Together, the kids and I make a list of fun things to do on their first day of summer break. Then from the list, I compile a surprise itinerary. Last year's was chocolate chip waffles for breakfast, playing in the park that afternoon, then ice cream and a beach walk at night. They still reminisce about their perfect day.

Anne Koch
Stevensville, MD

    Throw a Sweet Party

    We have a neighborhood s'mores-making party with fun fixings. It's a great way to start the summer.

    Shannon Dodds
    Eagle, CO

    Have a Water-Fun Fight

    All the moms in our neighborhood fill wagons with water balloons and water guns. We hide at the bus stop and ambush the kids as they get off!

    Nicole Merenda
    Andover, MA

      Skate in Summer

      My kids and I go roller-skating since another year has skated by.

      Allison Cockrill
      Austin, AR

      Summer fun iStockphoto

        Mark the Finish Line

        We hang a hand-painted "Welcome, Summer!" banner on our front porch. When the kids get out of school, they run right through it.

        Teresa R. White
        Canton, MI

          Give a Useful Gift

          For my 6-year-old, MaKenzie, I assemble a "welcome to summer" kit with outdoor toys and coupons for trips to a museum, the zoo, and the movies.

          Victoria Rizzi
          Indianapolis, IN

          Invite Friends Over

          We host a last-day-of-school sleepover party. The kids play flashlight tag and sleep in tents in our backyard. There's usually a whipped cream fight involved, too.

          Susie Christiansen
          Lenox, MI

            Leave a Trail of Surprises

            Before class gets out, I write chalk messages on the sidewalk all along the route to school. During the car ride home, my daughter reads them out: "Yahoo, school's out!" and "Summer's just a few steps away!"

            Daisha Chase
            Salem, OR

            Hit the Open Road

            We leave for a weekend getaway straight from school. Making it all the more exciting for my daughter is that she doesn't know where we're going.

            Angela Chandler
            Covington, LA

              Turn up the Tunes

              When we end a homeschool course, we play "Another One Bites the Dust," by Queen—very loudly.

              Lisa Klink
              Milliken, CO

                Set Up a Scavenger Hunt

                My kids, Matthias, age 8, and Maddie, 11, go on a scavenger hunt when they get home. They both find summer toys, such as sidewalk chalk and jump ropes, at the end of it.

                Cheyenne Allan
                Wahiawa, HI

                  Share Vacation Plans

                  My husband and I reveal our summer vacation destination when our four kids get back from school. Each of them gets an envelope with a clue, and they have to work together to figure it out.

                  Amber Gabriel
                  Melbourne, FL

                  Begin a Countdown

                  We tear off the first link of our summer vacation countdown chain. Every few links has a special activity written on it: "hike," "drive-in movie," and so on. For the last day of school, it's always "ice cream sundaes."

                  Sherry Kelley
                  Coweta, OK