End of Year Ideas and Activities for Upper Elementary Classrooms

end of year activities free digital and printables

The end of the school year is hectic and exhausting! 

The end of the school year + distance learning is even more hectic and exhausting! Take a deep breath and get ready to wrap up the year with some amazing and digital activities to end your school year in style, make lesson planning a snap, and keep your students on their toes. #teacherwin

end of the school year projects for 3rd graders

I love wrapping up the year with amazing end of year read alouds, hands-on activities, and projects to spark all the wonderful memories we made throughout the year. Here are some of my favorite projects to wrap up the year.

Keep Them Learning

End of Year Activities Perfect for Distance LearningAs the year begins to wind down, keep the routine and normalcy of learning intact. This will help students stay focused and engaged during the final weeks of distance learning. The best activities to keep students engaged and motivated at the end of the school year are projects. I love having students work independently on projects that tie together all of the learning that they did all year long! Some of my favorite independent projects for students with tasks specifically designed for students to work at their own pace independently and include scoring rubrics to make correcting a snap are:

Celebrate Students and Staff

end of the year awards for students and staff free printable and digitalI love to celebrate students and staff members at the end of the school year. I also love to help students celebrate one another and teachers, too. The year that I started teaching fifth grade, which is the last grade level in the school, I started to have my students send Staff Shoutouts. These are always a big hit with my students and my colleagues. During the last week of school, students send at least five shoutouts to former teachers and staff members who they want to thank and recognize as an important part of their lives. When we are in school, students would complete the shoutout form and then secretly tape it to the door of the staff member to surprise them. They are so much fun to send and to receive!  These FREE shoutout forms have gone digital, so you can have your students send them this year, too!

Here are some more ways to celebrate others at the end of the school year:

Bring on the Memories

end of the school year bulletin board writing projectWhat is May or June without reminiscing about the school year? I love to offer students new and different ways to celebrate memories, different from traditional memory books they may have made in the past. One way I do this is by having students write ABC end of year poems. It is a great (and challenging) way to get students brainstorming and writing about the amazing year we had together. Another one of my favorite twists on the traditional end of year activities is student expert books. For this project, students create a flipbook of all the different things that they learned throughout the year that made them expert readers, writers, mathematicians, historians, tech specialists, and team players. These are great memory books and keepsakes for students to bring home to their parents to truly show what they know!

Don't let the end of the (distance learning) school year be stressful for you, your students, or their parents. Wrap up your year with engaging activities to make the rest of the school year stress-free and extra memorable.

Looking for more ways to keep students engaged this end of school year season? Check out some of my favorite websites to assign meaningful activities to your students.

end of the school year digital resources and projects



How to Encourage Good Reading Habits at Home

reading tips for parents and teachers

Not a school year or parent-teacher conference goes by without parents asking me how they can encourage their children to read at home. I love providing parents with easy to implement reading tips and activities that will keep their child's nose buried inside a book!

At home reading of any kind can provide students with organic reading experiences while helping to strengthening young readers' skills like decoding new words, using context clues, and implementing reading strategies to help boost comprehension. Besides strengthen their skills as a reader, at home reading can help instill a love of reading for pleasure, too.

Encouraging students to read at home is not at all the same as encouraging them to read in the classroom is. Encouraging reluctant readers to read at home is even harder. These easy to implement and screen-free reading tips, tricks, and activities will help your students (and children) read at home and look forward to it, too!

These ideas are perfect for:
  • at home and distance learning
  • summer reading 
  • enrichment reading activities
  • extra practice for students of all levels
  • or any time for any reason!

Below is my go-to, tried, and tested at home reading activities that I always share with parents to get kids reading at home...and loving it! All you need to implement these reading at home ideas is a good book a few common household items. Read more about each idea below and grab a FREE printable list of these activities HERE.

Create an At-Home Reading Nook

At school, students have special spots to read. It is highly motivating and students love to get to their spot and dive into a book. By creating a spot at home, too, students can "get away" in a place all their own to read. Ideas to put in their special at home reading nooks include, pillows, blankets, a book box, bookmark, and flashlight for nighttime reading!

Set Specific Family Time to Read

Modeling reading at home is so important! Carve out time every day for family reading time. This can be a short amount of time (15-20 minutes) where everyone in the family stops what they are doing and reads. It can be anything from a book to a magazine. When children see the important people in their lives reading, they will want to read even more!

Set a Goal and Track It

How to Encourage Good Reading Habits at HomeEncourage reading at home by setting simple goals! Simply challenge students to read a certain amount of books and track what they read. Writing about the book is not necessary. Use the FREE bookshelf book tracker below to encourage reading at home. Just simply color in one of the books on the bookshelf to keep track of the books that they are reading.  When kids fill up the bookshelf with books that they have read, reward them! Keep the rewards simple and fun like having a little extra time to play outside.

Find a Character They Love

When children connect with characters that they love, especially characters in book series, they will want to read an entire series! Encourage children to try different books until they find characters that they connect with and love! Those characters will become their best friends and they will devour the books in the series. Some series and books that I always recommend to parents include:

Use Student Interests and Allow them to Read Anything

Make a day of heading to the book store and library and spend some time finding books about the child's specific interests. This can include sports, science, any hobby or craft, funny books, going on vacations, anything that will hold their interest and keep them reading! Do not hold students to just reading chapter books. They can read nonfiction books and magazines, how-to books, cooking books, picture books, anything that is appropriate for their age, and keeps them reading is just what they need.

Get it in the Mail

My own children always loved getting books and magazine subscriptions in the mail! The day that a Highlights, National Geographic, Brainspace, or Sports Illustrated Kids magazine arrived was always so exciting for them. There are so many magazines that kids can get a subscription for that will keep them reading and anticipating the latest issue. Magazine subscriptions make a great holiday or birthday gift from family members, too!

Read with a Purpose

Model with kids how reading is not just for pleasure, but for purpose, too. If you are looking up a recipe, how to fix something, or even just something that you are curious about, share that information with the kids. The next time that they have a question, help them look up how to find the answer in a book or online. Kids love to solve their own problems, so encourage them to read to solve them!

The next time a parent asks you how they can help encourage reading at home, share these ideas and give them this FREE print out of at-home reading tips. Download the simple reading goal page below to provide parents with even more resources to encourage reading at home, or use them in your classroom with your students. If you get asked about writing at home, grab this FREE printable to share with parents.

Looking for digital resources for reading practice anywhere? Click HERE.

at home reading tips and strategies for parents and teachers

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reading tips for parents pdf printout free

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)



Must Watch Memorial Day Videos for Upper Elementary

Must Watch Memorial Day Videos for history lessons elementary grades

If you follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, then you know that I truly respect American holidays like Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Flag Day and love to bring the patriotism behind them into the classroom.

When the calendar is turned to May, Memorial Day is front and center in my upper elementary classroom. You can find my students knee-deep in learning about this important holiday through close reading, content writing, and critical thinking activities, such as comparing and contrasting Veterans Day and Memorial Day.  I love teaching students how to differentiate between American holidays and understand the history behind each.

No matter how you involve your students in learning about Memorial Day, these FREE Memorial Day videos will inspire, educate, and motivate your students to learn more about our American holidays. And bonus...you can grab a set of note-taking graphic organizers for free at the bottom of this post, perfect to help your students take notes as they watch these educational videos.

Note: As with any video, website, or resource that you bring into your classroom, be sure to preview each video before sharing with your class to make sure that they are appropriate for your cohort of students.

History of Memorial Day PBS Kids 1 min 40 seconds

This quick, fast-paced video is the perfect introduction about Memorial Day for upper elementary students. The history and origin of the holiday are included, making it a great jumping-off video to watch before your Memorial Day lessons even begin.

Must Watch Memorial Day Videos for Upper Elementary

Why Do We Celebrate Memorial Day? by Clarify by PlayBac 4 mins 38 seconds

IClear and easy to follow, this video reminds students WHY we celebrate this holiday. This video ends by reminding students this is an important holiday that is more than just BBQing. Lesson complete!

Social Studies Memorial Day History Lessons for kids

Why Do We Celebrate Memorial Day? by Xsploor 11mins

This is the longest video and explains in kid-friendly language why Memorial Day is celebrated. Students will learn a lot from this video.

BrainPOP and BrainPOPJr varied times around 5 minutes

While Brainpop and Brainpop Jr are {amazing} subscription websites, they do offer free videos of the week. When May begins, they usually have free videoes of the week related to America and Memorial Day. Be sure to check their sites weekly to see what free videos they are offering that week. If you are unfamiliar with these sites, Brainpopjr is geared towards grades 1-3 and Brainpop is geared towards 4th grade and older.

BrainPOP does have a video specifically about Memorial Day, while BrainPOPJr offers videos related to America and US Symbols that are usually FREE during Memorial Day Week.

Must Watch Memorial Day Videos for Upper Elementary

No matter how you decide to bring Memorial Day (and other American holidays) into your classroom, include these videos. Search through these websites to engage students, too.  Have students take notes, summarize, discuss, or just enjoy the information they are learning in different ways to honor our soldiers and learn about important American history.

You might be interested in these activities:

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memorial day activities upper elementary

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