7 Activities for the End of the Year in Upper Elementary

7 Ways to Celebrate the End of the Year

There is nothing like the excitement found in classrooms at the end of the school year! 

It even begins to build weeks before the year actually ends! I love celebrating the end of the school year with a mix of projects and reading activities to keep the students learning, but also creative activities that help them to share all of their memories of the year and excitement for what's to come!

It is all about balance during the last few weeks of school! Not sure where to begin when it comes to planning for the end of the school year? I can help! Here are my tried and true ways to celebrate the end of the school year!

Project Time! 

end of school year celebration and project

The end of the year means project time in my classroom! From research projects to real-world math performance tasks I love ending the year with independent projects that allow choice and give students a chance to shine! When it comes to bringing projects into your classroom, organization is key to truly allow for students to be independent as they work. 

Project working time includes two main parts: students working independently to complete the project and project presentations. Be sure to plan for both when deciding which project you do with your students. You want to make sure you have enough time left in the year to do both! Want to get started planning projects in your classroom? Read this blog post with all of my best tips to make project time a success!

High Interest Project Topics Kids Love:

Grab this engaging set with a bulletin board, writing task, reading passage, and a math project to keep your students learning as the year winds down.

End of Year Read Alouds

end of school year read alouds picture books

If you have followed me for any amount of time, you know that I love reading aloud to students. No matter how old students are, they love to get cozy and listen to a good book! From picture books to chapter books, and even poetry read alouds, my third and fifth-grade students always loved to be read to.

Try ending the year with a read-aloud countdown! Select how many days you want to have in your end-of-year reading countdown, set aside the same time every day, and then get reading.

For end-of-year reading countdowns, I usually pick ten days to countdown with books. That means for the last ten days I pick ten picture books and then read them the last twenty minutes of the day on each of the last ten days. If you pick a chapter book to read a chapter or two a day, you may have to use more than ten days! Be sure to plan it out.

Looking for some good end-of-year books to add to your countdown? Try these!

Community Building

end of school year celebration and community building

Community building is such an important part of the year for me and something that we continue to build all year long, right up to the last day of school! I use a wide range of activities and read alouds to strengthen student relationships throughout the year. At the end of the year, we have one last project to celebrate each other that the kids love!

The last community-building project of the year involves rock painting, friendship letters, and a whole bunch of smiles. Students randomly draw names from a bowl and write letters, poems, and create illustrations about one of their classmates, celebrating all the amazing things about them! They also fill in the You Rock page with all the things that they love about their classmate. The end of the year community building is all about how friendships rock! It is a powerful way to end the year celebrating each other.

Reflecting on the Memories

end of school year projects

I love having students brainstorm their favorite memories of the year! They all have different memories that make their top ten list and it is so much fun to remember each and every one! There are so many ways for you to help students celebrate the good times of the year. Here a few of my favorite ways to celebrate the end of the school year:

  • Memory Jars: Have students fill a jar page with all of their favorite memories of the year! They can just jot down the topic of their memory and share more details aloud with the clas. You can also get a large jar for this activity. Have students write one favorite memory on a strip of paper and put it in the jar. When you have collected everyone's strip of paper, pull them out one at a time to take a stroll down memory lane!
  • Top Ten Lists: I love top ten lists! They are simple and yet such a powerful way to have students share all of their favorites from the year! Try these: Top 10 List of Books We Read, Top 10 Moments of the Year, Top 10 Games, Top 10 Recess Moments, and also allow students to create their own top ten list ideas!
  • Snapshots of the Year: Bustout the colored pencils and have students create colorful pictures of their favorite two memories. Once they have completed their illustrations have them write a paragraph to describe each. These make an adorable end-of-the-year bulletin board.
  • Memory Posters: Let students be the artists and get creative by creating their own end-of-year memory poster. Leave it open-ended for students to come up with what they want to include in their poster.

You've Come A Long Way

end of school year celebrations

The end of the year is the perfect time for a little self-love! Let students celebrate themselves and all that learned during the school year! Kids need reminders to see how far they have come and remember all of their accomplishments throughout the year!

To help students celebrate themselves and their own accomplishments, have students create their own top ten list about what they learned this year! We celebrate the end of the year by celebrating our "Amazing Feets" of the year, filling in different rulers with the different accomplishments of the year. Students love this play on words and get excited to fill in each ruler! Be sure to discuss that students can celebrate any accomplishment of the year, big or small!

Another way to celebrate student accomplishments is to have them create an acrostic poem for the word ACHIEVEMENTS or MEMORIES. Students then complete the acrostic poem focusing solely on everything they succeeded at during the year.

Do you want to help share the love of student accomplishments? Try these:

Shoutouts and Thank Yous

end of school year ideas upper elementary

Have your students celebrate the staff during the end of the school year season! These are always a huge hit each year.

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 to celebrate all the teachers that they worked with over the years before they headed off to middle school.

Here is how I organized this activity.  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 and experience at the school. Students 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 and truly makes the last week of school something to look forward to!

You can use these with any age students, they all love completing them and sending them!

These FREE shoutout forms are both print and digital, so you can have your students send them remotely, too!

Summer Reading

summer reading ideas for upper elementary

Before the school year ends I love helping students get excited about summer reading! While many districts use state-run programs to track summer reading, or the reading programs at the local library, getting them excited to read over the summer is still my job!

Here are few different ways that we share books and talk about all things reading and summer reading in my classroom as the year begins to wind down.

  • Summer Reading Kick-Off Program: Welcome visitors into the classroom to share a few chapters of their favorite chapter book to get kids excited to read the rest over the summer. Find out how I organize this right HERE.
  • Student Book Talks: I love, love, love using book talks in the classroom all year long! But we turn up the notch to get excited about summer reading. Have one or two students complete a book talk leading up to the last day of school and keep track of all the books shared by creating your own list of class recommendations for the summer. Find out how I use book talks right HERE
  • Reading Bulletin Board and Notecards: Create an eye-catching end-of-year reading bulletin board to show kids the reading is truly an adventure! Bonus, print the posters four to a page and you have instant reading notecards to send home with your students to motivate them all summer long!
  • Reader Reflections: My students love creating these reader self-portraits and filling in all of their reading stats! This is a fun one to complete the last week of school as you celebrate all your readers!

Help students shine at the end of the school year! There is no better feeling than having students leave for the summer knowing that they had a successful year academically and socially. No matter which way you choose to end the school year, your students will love to celebrate all the big and small moments of the year. Happy summer break teacher friends!

You might be interested in reading:

Check out my favorite end of year activities
right HERE

Like this end of year writing project!

end of year projects upper elementary

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7 Ways to Celebrate the End of the Year

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