10 Easy and Fun End of Year 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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Tips and Ideas for Teaching Students to Write Thank You Notes in the Classroom





I once read that one handwritten letter is equal to getting 100 emails. They are that powerful! 


Thank you notes take time and truly show that you care and are grateful for something that someone else did. And why wouldn't a handwritten thank you note hold so much power? Good manners go a long way, and after all, writing thank you notes is one way that kids can show not just good manners, but gratitude, too!

I love using thank you notes in my upper elementary classroom. Over the years, I have found that there are three major benefits of writing thank you notes. Writing thank you notes throughout the year helps to:




I make writing thank you notes a part of our classroom community common practice right from the start of the school year. We write thank you notes throughout the year for different reasons. Read on to find out why we use thank you cards, different ways we use thank you cards, and some must use tips to helping your students write powerful thank you notes!





The art of writing thank you notes is not loston me! Call me old school, but it is very important to me to teach my upper elementary students how to write thank you notes.

Why?

One reason I like to use thank you notes in the classroom is to help students understand and practice gratitude. Gratitude is one of the many positive emotions that we can express. It helps us to focus on what is good in our lives and be thankful for what we have. When students learn that expressing gratitude shows appreciate for others and their kindness, they want to do it all the time. Students learn that by expressing gratitude they can help strengthen the positive relationships that they have in their lives. Showing gratitude also feels good. Evidence shows that expressing gratitude helps both the giver and receiver feel happy. And let's face it, we can all use a little more happiness in our lives!

Teaching students how to write thank you notes not only reinforces important classroom concepts like gratitude and letter writing, but writing thank you notes is a life long skill and habit that I want my students to develop at a young age.

The best part about writing thank you notes is that it is contagious! Once we get into the habit of writing thank you notes and cards in the classroom, the kids are always looking for new ways to express their gratitude.





We write thank you notes for many reasons in the classroom. We express gratitude for both big and small things, to all of the important people in our lives. 

At the beginning of the year we have our first lesson on how to write a thank you note and what should be included in a thank you note. (See the list of tips below for ideas.) After the first few times of writing thank you notes, the kids understand quickly when a thank you note should be written, and how to write them.

Here are some times throughout the year that we write thank you notes:

✏️ Guest speaker or presenter

✏️ Teacher/Nurse appreciation

✏️ Special staff member days like: custodian, secretary, volunteer, bus drivers, or any special day that takes place at school

✏️ After special school events, we thank the organizers

✏️ To family members for special days like: Grandparents' Day, Mother's and Father's Day, Thanksgiving, holiday season

✏️ To each other in class: We like to thank each other for being helpful, good friends, and an important part of our classroom community

✏️ Student ideas: The kids come up with the best ideas for sending thank you notes, ask them to share their ideas.


Try these free thank you note shoutouts, perfect for students to give staff. 





Remind your students of the following tips when writing thank you notes to help the recipient feel special:


✅Handwrite or use cursive writing in your notes to make them personal.

✅Use eye-catching paper and neat handwriting.

✅Personalize each thank you with specific information: refer to people by name, state specifically what you are thanking them for, and include specific information about the event or item you are thanking them for

✅Try to send thank you notes right away, but sending anytime, even late, is better than not sending at all!

✅Take your time and make your thank you note special: try using the recipient’s favorite colors or draw a picture that they would love.

✅Send thank you notes as often as possible to develop good habits, even for small, kind gestures. They make both the giver and receiver feel good!

✅Have fun and take pride in the thank you notes that you write!


TEACHING TIP: Model how important it is to you to show gratitude through thank you note writing by sending your students thank you notes. You do not have to send students thank you notes just for gifts. Send thank you notes to students as a way to show gratitude and appreciation.

You can send thank you notes to students for many reasons like:

👍being organized

👍working hard

👍being a classroom model

👍showing kindness

👍helping an adult like a substitute

👍or any other reason, big or small, that you want to celebrate!


The more you spread gratitude, the more students will, too!


Own this set of thank you notes? Try this teaching tip: Print just the covers so that you have thank you cards with a blank inside.Now the cards can be cards kindness, gratitude, and be used for students to give to each other!




Dive in when it comes to showing gratitude and expressing thanks in the classroom! 


Teach students how to write thank you notes and why expressing gratitude is important. You will not only be teaching your students important skills for the moment but you will be helping them to develop important life skills that will last them a lifetime.


Want to get started sending thank you notes in your upper elementary classroom? Grab these free thank you note templates and make sending thank yous a practice in your classroom, too!





You might be interested in reading:


Looking for easy-to-use Thank You Card and Note Templates?  See more HERE.






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5 Easter Spring Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom

5 Easter Spring Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom


Celebrating special days and holidays in the classroom is definitely my thing! Using holidays, seasons, and what is happening outside of the classroom during lessons is a sure-fire way to engage students and increase their participation.


But when it comes to religious holidays, I use themes that align with the holiday rather than focusing on the religious beliefs. By taking this approach, all students can participate in the lessons, and no one is left out.


Easter is one of those holidays. It is an exciting time of the year, mostly because it is spring. The warm weather, rebirth of trees and flowers, and all things chocolate and eggs are surely on the forefront of students' minds. Harnessing that energy and excitement into content-rich activities and meaningful tasks with spring and Easter vibes is a great way to keep the students learning in your classroom all season long!


Here are five activities that I LOVE to do with students during the spring and Easter season.


1. Nonfiction Reading and Research

easter and spring nonfiction reading for kids



When it comes to bringing the holidays into the classroom, try focusing on non-holiday themes that align with the upcoming holiday but are not holiday/religious specific...like this one!

My students LOVE reading and writing about cottontail rabbits. We read this nonfiction article about these special bunnies. As we read, we focus on the facts and opinions in the article and of course, practice close reading strategies.

Following the reading, students must reflect on whether or not cottontail rabbits would make good house pets. It is a great way to tie together reading, writing, holidays, and real-world activities in one happy project!

Other non-holiday, nonfiction themes perfect for this time of year include:
  • How Chocolate is Made
  • Learning the History of Peeps
  • How Carrots Grow
  • Signs of Spring
  • Life Cycles
  • Plant Life and Adaptations
Try out the cottontail rabbit activity for FREE below.





2. Community Building

easter and spring community building activities for kids

I love using any excuse to build and strengthen our classroom community. After all, building community is an ongoing process that does not stop after the first two weeks of school!

This activity is simple yet powerful!


  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, upbeat and include specific examples of why they are happy to be that person's friend and classmate.
  4. For Easter, we use the theme...You are one of my favorite peeps! The kids love it! They write a letter for their classmate AND fill a peep 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!

Want to try this community-building activity? See it here.


3. EGG-Stra Special Self-love


student self love activities for easter and spring


In addition to spreading love and positivity with their classmates, I love encouraging students to share some love with themselves!

During this time of year, I have students reflect on why THEY are egg-stra special. I want my students to understand that taking time to feel good about themselves is important and a great habit. Students brainstorm a dozen things that they LOVE about themselves with this activity. The kids love decorating the eggs and love celebrating themselves.

I have found the key to doing self-love activities like these is to have students share their work. Having other students celebrate and listen to these self-love writing projects validates the students' thoughts. Before beginning an activity like this, I do tell students that their projects will be shared.


4. Time for Science



Grab a pack of marshmallow bunnies and have students experiment!

Before doing anything with peeps, I love having students use their observation skills and senses to describe these candies. Students observe with magnifying glasses and record their observations. They take their ideas and write descriptive paragraphs using their senses when they are done.

After that, I have students hypothesize what will happen when the candy is placed in water. We hypothesize what will happen when it is placed in vinegar. Then as a class, we decide on another liquid to place it in. Some ideas include soapy water, orange juice, and soda. I have these on hand so that we can use what the class decides.

This hands-on activity is a lot of fun and leads kids to conclude that there is a lot of sugar in these favorite treats!


5. Try a Read Aloud

easter and spring read aloud for upper elementary

My favorite chapter book read-aloud to read with students is The Chocolate Touch written by Patrick Skene Catling. This book is a play on the classic story King Midas. Instead of everything turning to gold, everything the main character touches turns to chocolate. It is a quick read, but always well-loved by the kids. The story leads to great discussions on greed, healthy eating, friendships, and family. And of course, it is perfect timing for candy overload during Easter time!


No holiday activity list is complete without my favorite picture books! These read alouds are among my favorites to share with students during the Easter season.


Picture book read alouds perfect for spring and Easter:

See the entire list of my favorite spring read alouds HERE.


When it comes to the holidays in the classroom, stick to timely themes! You may not be teaching the holiday, but the thematic fun associated with is always a crowd-pleaser. 




You might be interested in reading:



Looking for meaningful spring and Easter activities that kids LOVE? See more HERE.



5 Easter Spring Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom




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5 Easter Spring Activities for the Upper Elementary Classroom








*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)




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5 Tips to Cure Spring Fever in the Classroom

5 Tips to Cure Spring Fever in the Classroom

Every teacher knows that spring fever is a real thing! And it always seems to show its face as soon as the calendar flips to March, and gets stronger and stronger until the end of the school year! 


How can you cure spring fever in the upper elementary classroom? It's a simple equation to solve. Engage students with high interestest projects while also allowing them to have choice and independence. At this time of the year, kids are already excited for the next grade level. By giving them opportunities to shine with independent activities students are not only thankful but work harder to prove that they can do it...all on their own!


Wondering how to get started? I can help! Here are 5 tried and true ways to get spring fever under control and increase learning and critical thinking in your upper elementary classroom.


Head Outside to Learn


Grab these FREE reading, writing, and math spring activities to bring independent learning outside as the weather gets warmer.





With the arrival of spring comes the arrival of warm weather.


Nothing helps to beat spring fever than heading outside to learn. When the weather gets warmer, I invite students to bring in either a towel or a yoga mat from home so that they have something to sit on when we head outside for lessons. I also have a class set of clipboards, along with a bucket of pencils, that we bring outdoors. Not every task or activity can be completed outside, but many are perfect for outdoor learning. Remember to ask your building administrator if it is ok to head outside before you go! That way they know where you and the class are in case they need you.

Below are some ways to easily get in some outdoor time when spring rolls around.


  • Silent reading and reading review activities

  • Nature walks, seasonal observations, science activities

  • Peer editing and revising during writing time or writing tasks

  • Math practice/skill review and problem solving tasks

  • Use chalk for math practice and spelling practice

  • Anything that can be done on a clipboard with a pencil


Embrace the Season

If you have followed me for any time, you know that I truly believe that celebrating the seasons is a great way to engage students in authentic learning. So when spring rolls around, embrace the change of seasons and align it to the lessons you already have to teach for an easy way to increase student engagement. When you combine spring topics with longer projects, students become invested and look forward to working on the project each day or every week.

 

Here are some ways that I love to bring the seasons into lessons that we already have to complete:

 

Brainstorm with your students what topics they are currently interested in and build a project around their spring interests. This is a sure-fire way to increase student engagement in authentic learning.




Start a Project

national parks research project for upper elementary kids


Kids love projects! Projects are a great way to provide students with choice within a structure assignment. When kids have choice there is buy in and they take ownership in their learning. The spring is a great time to start a high interest project that lasts for days or weeks, depending on how much time you have to devote to it.


One project that I love to do with students during the spring season is a research project focused on National Parks. After we read about different parks found in our area, we branch out and read about other famous National Parks. The National Parks website is a wealth of knowledge that kids love exploring.


Once our reading and discussions are done, the students complete a research project on a National Park of their choice. They love to select a park that they have either been to and know a lot about, or that they want to visit. I especially love this project because it provides students with choice, independence, and ties together reading and writing in an authentic way.


Other research projects that are perfect for spring:



Kindness Challenge

spring kindness challenge for kids

With spring fever sometimes comes unwanted behavior in the classroom. 


It can sometimes be hard to manage students during the spring when they are excited about the change of season and all that lies ahead of them. During this time, there can be disagreement, arguments, and negative attitudes that sometimes surface when families are together for long periods of time. Since our class community becomes our families, it is no wonder this begins to happen.  


I love to give students an extra kindness challenge to combat this behavior. This challenge gives them a chance to show how kind they can be and helps strengthen our classroom community even during spring fever. Simply come up with a number of kind deeds that you think your students can do each day and challenge them to do it in authentic, meaningful ways. You can keep track with marbles in a jar, on the whiteboard with tally marks, or you can hold students accountable by having their own kindness form. This simple challenge truly works wonders in helping students fight spring fever and work together as a class.


Love this idea? Head to this blog post to read more ways that you can bring kindness into your classroom to fight spring fever or any time!



Kick-off Summer Reading

summer reading ideas for the classroom


It is never too early to start talking with students about summer reading, especially when you present it in a fun and surprising way!


I love to kick off summer reading two to three months before the school year ends, which is just about when spring fever is beginning. This summer reading kickoff is simple and a great way to get students excited about books they have not read before. All you have to do is create a schedule that includes one open 20-minute block a week. Then invite parents to come in during that 20-minute block to read the first two chapters of a children's chapter book of their choice.


Reading the first two chapters aloud makes the students hooked and always want to finish the book over the summer. It is a great way to tease a new book that they will want to finish over the summer. If you hold spring conferences, use that time to sign parents up to read during a 20-minute slot. I love using the last 20 minutes of Friday afternoon to have parents come in and read for this program. It helps us end the day and the week in a calm, reading-focused way!



Love this idea? Head to this blog post to read more to put this summer reading kickoff program into action in your classroom and fight spring fever!




Remember, don't fight or ignore spring fever in your classroom this spring! Embrace it and make the most of the final few weeks you have with your students with these ideas and tips. With fun projects, a little reading, and a whole lot of kindness, you will definitely cure spring fever this school year!



You might be interested in reading:



Looking for meaningful spring activities that kids LOVE, like this color poem activity? Click HERE.



spring writing activity for upper elementary







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Spring ideas and activities for upper elementary students




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