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15 ways to finish a preschool English lesson

1. Something happy This is to make them go away with a good feeling about the class, as at this age their memories are short and they might not remember 25 minutes of fun by the time they speak to their parents if the last 2 minutes were boring. Possibilities include upbeat songs (if possible, […]

1. Something happy
This is to make them go away with a good feeling about the class, as at this age their memories are short and they might not remember 25 minutes of fun by the time they speak to their parents if the last 2 minutes were boring. Possibilities include upbeat songs (if possible, ones that actually include the word “happy” and exaggerated smiles like If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands) and lively and loud songs, games and chants (including ones that get faster and faster or louder and louder).

2. Holding hands song
Another way of being positive at the end of the class is emphasizing the togetherness of the class. There are nice songs about us all being friends in the class/ the world etc, but with classes with a low level of language it is much easier to show this by joining hands in a big circle and doing a song like Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush or Hokey Cokey (= Hokey Pokey). For a variation, in future weeks the students can do it in small circles of three to five students instead.

3. Go out on a high
The ideas above are one aspect of this, but it could also consist of giving lots of praise, congratulating the winning team (or congratulating both teams because you have sneakily managed to make it a draw again), finishing the last game with lots of vocabulary they already know so that they get it all right, or building the tower of blocks you are all counting up to an impressive height and carrying it to the desk without it tipping over.

4. Bring it to a natural close
The complete opposite idea to going out on a high also works, for example finishing with a song that gets slower and slower (preferably exaggeratedly so to add to the amusement value) until you come to a stop, realise the class has also come to an end, and say goodbye. There are other examples of this below, obviously not including ending the class with a storybook with an unhappy ending!

5. Story with a quiet ending
One example of students naturally getting a feeling that things are coming to end is using stories that end on a suitably final note. Examples include the characters falling asleep, arriving home (safely), the monsters disappearing, the main character stopping being naughty, and finding people you have been searching for.

6. Story that finishes with saying goodbye
Another similar ending is a book where the characters say goodbye either to each other or to the readers, e.g. stopping Where the Wild Things Are at the point where he leaves the island (as long as the students don’t know the rest of the story and demand to see it).

7. Story that finishes on a positive note
If you don’t have the kinds of stories mentioned above, at least try to use one that ends on a positive note such as all the little ducks coming back to their mother or a little girl who finally finishes clearing up her room just before her mother comes home.

8. Goodbye song
Many kindergarten textbooks and collections of songs have some kind of song for saying goodbye, often with packing up your books, “See you next time” etc. If you don’t have any of these and don’t have the confidence to sing or chant one that you find on the internet yourself, well-known songs can be adapted to end with a goodbye verse such as “this is the way we wave goodbye” in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush or “if you’re happy and you know it wave goodbye” rather than or after “…say ‘we are’”.

9. Hand back their stuff
This is an example of something I like to include at least once in every kindergarten class, even ones with 30 or 40 students, which is to have a one to one interaction between the teacher and every student. Students can hand back: their name badges; plastic fruit or animals they have been given to play a game; flashcards they have been given to represent points because they guessed them or remembered the name in English; or something they have helped clear up such as blocks they collected off the floor after the column the teacher and/ or students built to practice colours collapsed in a dramatic conclusion.

10. Attendance list/ prizes
Another nice and positive way of interacting with the students is to ask their names and mark them present on the attendance list in an obvious and colourful way such as putting a cute sticker in the relevant box. Alternatively, you could let them put the sticker there. A step up from that is to have enough special prizes for best effort, best behaviour, most points etc. that each student gets to win one of them at least once a week, month or term.

11. Say goodbye to the puppet
This can work even if you haven’t used it for most of the class, as you can sit it somewhere “watching” the class then pick it up to say “goodbye”, “see you soon”, “good night” or “go to sleep” at the end of the class (the last two if you are going to put it away in a box).

12. Exit drill
The students line up near the door and have to say something and/ or pass a challenge to be let out, with people who fail in any way having to go to the back of the queue to try again. See the accompanying article 15 Ways of Starting a Preschool English Class for more details on how to do an entrance/ exit drill.

13. Give me five
One thing the kids love doing as they file out, whether you do an exit drill or not, is to slap the teacher’s open palm. You can add to the fun and language input of this by teaching them to “give me five”, “give me ten” and to do it “harder!”, “up above”, “down below”, “to the side (too slow!)” etc. This can also be done without the exit drill.

14. Revision of everything in this class
Some teachers seem to feel subconsciously that they are cheating by doing this as it is so easy, but young children can gain from and enjoy doing exactly the same language again in the same class, sometimes even with as simple as a brief reprise of exactly the same game or song.

15. Something familiar
As with the activity at the beginning of the class, the end is no time to be risking a failure or trying to teach them something new when their minds are half elsewhere. At the end of the class there is also the additional risk that something might have to be explained again and so make you run over the allotted time for the lesson. This means that if you have a particular game, story or song in mind to use at the end of a future lesson you will need to introduce it in an earlier lesson at a better time for new content or activities such as just after a warmer.

Written by Alex Case for TEFL.net November 2008
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic.


  • Winnie Valera says:

    Thank you for your wonderful ideas..as a preschool teacher, sometimes i get burned out and run out of new ways to enhance my teaching skills and better approach to kids. I’m so glad to be a member of your site. More power to your site!

  • mehrdad Tavakoli says:

    that’s cool ! u know m a teacher , use your advice in the class, wow ! made a lot of progresses. tanx

  • Delilah says:

    I am not a preschool teacher yet I took the time to read the suggestions and I find them very good. I could even imagine how eager the children want to go back to school the next day. I only wish there’ll be suggestions like these that I could read and make use of, that could “work wonders” for my high school students. Thanks.

  • Meena Kalyan says:

    I can’t believe this! I have been doing all this for the last 8 years without referring to your site. Nice to know that i’ve been doing the right things – all based on my own instinct and no formal training to run a play-group. Thank you for validating my ideas and actions.

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TEFL.net : ESL Lesson Plans : Classroom Ideas : Young Learners : 15 ways to finish a preschool English lesson