Pulling Off An Amazing Kindergarten Graduation

Graduation was one of my favorite parts of being a kindergarten teacher. The celebration was always filled with pride and joy and so many happy tears. For me, just as much as the kids and parents. 

As a teacher, it can also just be one more big thing on our plates. There are so many elements to prepare for...besides the actual academics to finish kindergarten!

I taught kindergarten at a private school, where graduation was a big deal. The kids put on a performance complete with songs, memorized poems and Bible verses, and even a play that we spent months preparing for.

Graduation was always such a big project, that often took months to pull together. For years, I have wanted to compile a resource with all the elements I used to make graduation go off easier, and after about 5 years of piecing it together, that resource is finally completed! I hope this blog post helps you as you prepare for graduation, and if you want a bundle that includes ready made/easily editable files for all the elements that I reference throughout this post, you can find them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE.

So let's get started!

If I do not write things down, I will not remember them. Sometimes it feels like my lists have lists. So it's no surprise that I am a big fan of brain dumps. To do this, sit down and make a list of all the things that you think you will need to do, and keep it handy for if you need to add or remove items from it. Include things such as: 

🎓 Decide What Activities You Want to Include 🎓
Do you just want to simply hand out diplomas and be done, or do you want to put on a full performance? 

🎓 Volunteer Task Ideas 🎓
What tasks can you pass off to parents (or even students) to take a load off of you?

🎓  Paperwork 🎓
Are there any forms that you need to fill out, such as facility use forms, AV help, chair set up, etc? Do you need to submit a budget request? Do you need to to order any supplies, such as tassels, caps, or gowns?

🎓 Other Items to Consider 🎓
What things do you need to prep ahead of time? Do you want to prepare a performance with songs or memory work? Do you want to create a slide show? Do you want a program for parents to look through? Do you need invitations? Do you need decorations? Are you going to have refreshments?

Grab a FREE sample checklist like the one that I use HERE.

A well-known fact about me...I have a hard time delegating tasks. I do not do well at asking for help, but when it comes to putting on an event like this, I cannot emphasize this point enough...ASK FOR HELP. Not only will you feel less stressed about it, but you will have parents feeling excited about helping. Remember that brain dump from earlier...figure out what steps can be delegated, and don't be afraid to pass them off to volunteers! Parents are usually more than happy to volunteer their time and resources! Have a parent that's a baker? Don't be afraid to ask them to donate cookies! Have a parent who is a photographer? Don't be afraid to ask them to take some informal picture for decorations. Have a parent who just wants to help in any way possible? Don't be afraid to ask them to help with menial tasks like setting up chairs, picking up balloons, ironing gowns, or even practicing parts of the performance with kids who need extra practice!

🎓 Volunteer Thank You Notes 🎓
Writing notes to parent volunteers is a non-negotiable for me. I am grateful for any help I can receive, and make writing a thank you note a priority. Don't forget this step when it comes to volunteers!

I am a big fan of the idea that "an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure." Create a plan for what you want to do for your graduation ceremony, then start preparing for them. Here is an example of the activities that I have performed during our kindergarten graduation, which usually lasts about an hour. 
🎓 Pledge of Allegiance 🎓
🎓 Alphabet Song 🎓
🎓 Skip Counting Recital 🎓
🎓 States Song 🎓
🎓 Poem Recital 🎓
🎓 Bible Verse Recital 🎓
🎓 Three Little Pigs Play 🎓
🎓 Special Announcements 🎓
🎓 Giving of Diplomas 🎓
🎓 Look Out First Grade Song 🎓
🎓 Closing Announcements/Prayer 🎓
🎓 Dismissal of Graduates 🎓
🎓 Refreshments and Photo Booth 🎓

Your specific school and culture may be different. I recommend utilizing things that you have been doing in your class all year long. For example, my class learned this alphabet song, so it was the song we performed at graduation. Other poems and Bible verses were ones that we had learned throughout the year. This helped ensure that I wasn't having to cram extra activities in at the end of the year when it was already busy.

Snag my invitations and programs HERE.

I love a Pinterest perfect decor setting, but what I love more is when a decor is student centered and student made. Decor should be intentional, memorable, and reusable

A couple ways I love to decorate for graduation: 
🎓 Diplomas 🎓
We always handed our kids a "real" diploma. This is a fun keepsake for parents! I have one that I created and love that you can find HERE.
🎓 Student Bio Posters 🎓
 I make this a classroom activity. Let students complete a bio-and make it fun! (I have templates included in my TpT bundle, but you could definitely give kids blank paper and creative freedom!)
🎓 Student Slide Show 🎓
I try to keep this extremely simple. It just features student names, a photo (I try to include a photo of students dressed in their caps and gowns), and either a silly quote from them or what they want to be when they grow up. These are not elaborate, but they make a fun display while students are getting their diplomas.
🎓 Reusable Banners 🎓
I print a banner and use it year after year. Usually, I do not include the year, because I don't want to have to remake it every year! 
🎓 Balloons 🎓
Balloons are cheap and easy to acquire. You can purchase foil balloons at the Dollar Tree or purchase a Balloon Time helium tank and fill them up yourself.

Snag my printable decor items HERE.

None of the following are required for a successful graduation, but they are things that I love to include: 
🎓 Invitations 🎓
I have my kids invite their parents and family to graduation. Be sure to include if there is a limit to how many guests that can attend, times to arrive, etc.
🎓 Program 🎓
Our school required a program to give out to guests. We included a list of activities, graduate names, and thank you on this. 
🎓 Photo Booth Area 🎓
I love setting up photo booths. I usually do them several times a year in my class. They are a fun way for parents to take pictures of their babies in their caps and gowns. Years ago, I bought some cheap fabric from the store, and use that as a backdrop. I actually drape the fabric over my pocket chart rack and extend that bad boy as big as it can go. I add a few props to make it extra fun, and call it a day! Parents love this and the photos are priceless.
🎓 Refreshment Table 🎓
We had a local bakery that would donate cookies to our event. This was such a gift. We set up a refreshment table with cookies and water for guests and graduates to enjoy. Plan ahead if you are going to have refreshments so you can order them with plenty of time.

Ready to add extras? Grab my ready to print files HERE!

Remember that this event is meant to be fun. Try not to stress yourself out too much over it! :) 

I hope that you found this post to be helpful in wrapping your mind around the things that you need to do to prep for graduation. All of these things talked about in this blog post are included in my Graduation Decor Bundle. You can find that bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers HERE.

If you found this blog post helpful, I would appreciate you pinning the image below and helping me spread the word. 

If you have read this far and want a funny graduation story...here is mine!

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I was due on the last day of school...Kindergarten graduation day! That year, I was the only returning kindergarten teacher, so I was put in charge of kindergarten graduation (which in hindsight was a terrible idea, but at the time it seemed completely rational). Guess what happened at 8 p.m. the night before?!

If you guessed that my water broke and I went into labor, then you would be spot on the money! 🤣 I had stayed at the school late finishing up a few last minute details. Then I made a stop at Trader Joes to grab flowers for my parent volunteers, and headed home. I was in the middle of putting flowers in the vases when all the sudden I could not stop peeing myself...

My contractions didn't progress for quite a few hours, so I was literally in the hospital barking orders over the phone to parents and co-workers in between contractions the following morning. I even had my father in law deliver those flowers and vases so that my wonderful mamas could get them!

My son was born about an hour before graduation started, and word on the street is that my students screamed wildly when they heard he had been born (I obviously wasn't there to witness it.

I missed graduation, but becoming a mama was definitely the perfect alternative!