Fun End of Year Activities Celebration Ideas for Upper Elementary Classrooms

10 Easy and Fun End of Year Celebration Ideas for Upper Elementary Classrooms

The end of the school year is a super busy time for teachers. From managing summer-hungry kiddos to finalizing last-minute grades and report cards to cleaning up the classroom and getting organized, there really is no tired like end of the year teacher tired!

That is why when the end of the year comes around, I am always torn between being too exhausted to do anything, yet wanting to do all the super fun end-of-the-year activities with my kids. #teacherproblems

10 Easy and Fun End of Year Celebration Ideas for Upper Elementary Classrooms

But over the years, I have found the perfect blend of easy to prep and fun activities that wrap up the year positively, making the end of the year enjoyable! 

I have compiled a quick list of 10 easy and fun celebration ideas for you to use in your upper elementary classroom, perfect for the end of year celebrations, last day activities, or anytime during your countdown to the summer!

1. Make a Memory Slideshow

It sounds like a lot of work to make an end of the year slideshow, I know, but it really isn't! And the best part about end of the year slideshows is the kids will want to watch whatever slideshow you create for them over and over again! #teacherwin

To make your slideshow of the year even easier to create, gather some ideas and pictures from your students, their families, and staff. Just email student families and your staff and ask them to share photos of the class that they may have from the year.

Then enlist the help of your students by having them share favorite activities and memories from the school year. You do not have to do anything fancy here, simply give students a blank piece of paper and ask them some basic questions like:

  • What is one activity that you loved and remember doing?
  • What was your favorite project of the year?
  • What is your favorite memory of the school year?
  • Tell me about your favorite recess game.

Limit the questions you ask to about 5 and make sure that the questions you ask do align with the slideshow headers that you use in your presentation.

Personalize the slideshow with student spotlight pages that recognize each student as an individual and add jazzy music to really get celebrating!
end of the school year memory slideshow

2. Community Service Project

Whether you use end-of-the-year class time or your end-of-the-year party time, doing community service activities with your students is a great way to send them off with the message that yes, they can make a difference and kindness counts!

Not sure what type of community service project to do this end of the school year season? These ideas can help you get started!

  • Create pictures, crafts, cards, joke books, or anything fun for the local senior center or veteran center
  • Write thank you cards for important staff members that are often forgotten like cafeteria staff, custodial staff, and front office staff. Grab these free thank you templates to get started!
  • Head down to a younger grade classroom to help younger students clean out their desks and cubbies, or just have your "big kids" read and hang out with the younger kids
  • Have students create colorful bookmarks with scraps and odd-shaped construction paper you have leftover from the year to be given out in the local library or school library.
  • Go all in and have your students organize a "drive" like can food drive for a local pantry or a pet supply drive for the local animal shelter. Students can plan the event, create colorful posters to put around the school, and then sort the items collected. 

3. Word Cloud Project

This project has been around forever, but honestly, the kids love it so much that is really worth doing every year! It is also super easy and inexpensive which is why it made my top ten list!

Here is how to put this project into action:

  1. Make copies of a generic class list for your students. I have a two-column class list that I use throughout the year. One column has student names and the other column is empty.
  2. Give each student a class list. Instruct students to write a word or two that comes to mind about each student in the class. Give students examples of positive and acceptable words like helpful, kind, and thoughtful. Other ideas include: good at math, always smiling, love legos, really anything positive!
  3. Collect the class lists. Now you will have many words that describe each student.
  4. Head over to one of the free websites below to easily make student-specific word clouds.
  5. Print.
  6. Go one step further and add a photo of the student on their word cloud.
  7. Laminate or put in a Dollar Store frame and wrap for students.

The kids love getting these word clouds. It is an easy and inexpensive end-of-year gift that reflects the school year and classroom community that you built!

end of year teacher gift idea for your students

Try one of these sites to create, save, and then print the word clouds you create for your students! 

4. Autograph it all!

Nothing says end of the year like autographs! This can be as easy or elaborate as you want. I have used school yearbooks, beach balls, and just plain paper that had the word "Autographs" and the year on it. No matter what you use, students love giving and getting autographs and messages during the last days of school. 

Here are some ideas of things to autograph during your the end of the school year celebrations:

  • Beach balls
  • Journals
  • Have each student bring in a white t-shirt
  • Have each student bring in a white pillowcase
  • Type Autographs and the year on a piece of paper, make copies and create 2 or 3-page books for students to collect class autographs. 

Teacher tip: Be sure to have fabric markers for this activity if you use shirts or pillowcases!

5. Hula Hoop Contest

On the last day of school every year, we have a hula hoop contest! It is so much fun, easy and so memorable for the kids! For this, my teacher bestie from across the hall (same grade) and I would head down to the gym and borrow some hula hoops from the PE teachers.  We would head outside with the kids and get started.

Here is how it worked:

  1. Each class lines up and then sits down, with the two lines facing each other. In between the two lines of students are two hula hoops on the ground.
  2. Each student is given a number.
  3. Pick a number. The student who is that number gets up and has a hula hoop face-off with the student in the other class with that number. The winner goes to the winner's circle. (Just a spot off to the side with a fancy name.)
  4. Once each student has a turn, the winners from the winner circle all face off. The last student hula hooping is crowned the winner.
  5. Get in on the fun by having a hula hoop face off with your teacher bestie, too! The kids love to cheer for their teacher!

Don't have another class to compete against? That is ok! Just divide your class in half and have the two groups face off!

end of the year party game upper elementary

6. Make a Photo Booth 

Photo booths are so much fun to use any time of the school year, but especially to capture the memories of the end of the school year season!

I suggest creating your end-of-the-year photo booth during the last week of school, that way you have enough time to print and share the pictures you take before the kids say goodbye for the summer.

Create a fun backdrop by having kids decorate butcher size paper or just shine a fun background on your smartboard.

These Print and Go Photo Booth Props are easy to use and colorful! Photobooth done!

7. Game Time

Are your kids buggin' out for summer, too? Harness that excitement and energy by having them create bug-themed math games. I love having the kids use their creativity and the math skills they learned all year to come up with their own math games. Two heads are better than one for this project, so pair your students up and set them off to create math games.

When all students are done, create a math game day! Set up the games around the room and have students rotate through to play each game. Grab a timer and bell to make the time at each game equitable.  The kids LOVE this project and I always enjoy seeing what creative ideas they come up with, too!

Grab the FREE Math Game Activity Project below and put it into action this end of the year season!

free end of the year activity for upper elementary

8. You Rock, Friend

I love doing community-building activities all year long! And since it is commonplace to celebrate students in my classroom, writing appreciation and positive letters to students during the last week of school is a great way to wrap up the year! 

Send your students off for the summer feeling good about themselves with a community-building activity like this one! 

This You Rock, Friend activity is simple yet powerful and oh so memorable!

  1. Have students write their names with a pencil on a small piece of paper and fold it into fourths. Place all the names in a bucket or bowl.
  2. Have students one at a time randomly draw a name from the bucket or bowl, making sure that they did not pick themselves. If they pick themselves, have them show you before selecting a new name.
  3. Students then write a letter to the student whose name they picket. Their letters should be positive, and upbeat with specific examples of why they are happy to be that person's friend and classmate. I also encourage students to include favorite memories of their friend throughout the year since we are celebrating the end of the school year!
  4. For the end of the year we use the theme...You Rock, Friend! The kids love it! They write a letter for their classmate AND decorate the rock page with positive words about their classmate.
  5. When all students are all done creating the cards for their classmates, they deliver them. They really love both giving letters and receiving them!
last day of school activity for kids

9. Yes, you are the expert!

Kids love to show what they learned, so countdown the school year with an activity that helps students show everything they learned this school year!

Instead of creating memory books, I have my students create expert books, and they are always a hit year after year, with the kids and their families!

The concept is simple, students create scrapbook pages of memories of what they learned throughout the year. This makes a great ten-day/two-week countdown to the last day of school because students complete one scrapbook page a day. At the end of the two weeks, compile them in a book and the kids have a memory book with a unique twist!

end of the year memory book upper elementary

10. Welcome to the Real World

When it comes to the craziness of the end of the year, there is nothing better than a project to keep students engaged, working hard, and independent! During those last few crazy days, having students work on projects keeps the class managed, under control, and allows you time to organize the classroom.

My favorite projects are ones that engage students in real-world problem solving, like this Save the Waterpark Math Project.  Think performance-based learning meets the Apprentice TV show. Students must work together as a team to come up with a way to save the waterpark financially while promoting it and getting it back on its feet with new attractions. The kids LOVE these types of projects and I truly enjoy seeing them work hard, show teamwork, and get creative. 

end of the year last week project for upper elementary

This project definitely celebrates the end of the year as kids put all of the skills you taught them to work!

I hope you can use some of these ideas to help make the end of the year, the best of the year! You are amazing, teacher friend, you got this! Happy {almost} summer!

You would also love to read:

Looking for more end-of-the-school-year activities that kids love? See more HERE.

last week or month of school activities for upper elementary

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10 Easy and Fun End of Year Celebration Ideas for Upper Elementary Classrooms

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