Classroom Beach Day Ideas and Activities for Upper Elementary

Classroom Beach Day Ideas and Activities for Upper Elementary

The summer is within beach days on your mind? Whether you are wrapping up your school year, planning for summer school, or looking for summer-themed ideas for tutoring, these classroom beach-week activities are just what you need!

Living in a beachy area definitely makes my May and June daydreams lead to the beach. Chances are that our students also have visions of visiting the beach right about now, too! So why not bring all of that excitement for summer and the beach into your upper elementary classroom this end-of-the-year season with a beach day {or week}!?

I love themed days, yes, even with big kids! Our upper elementary students love a good-themed day just as much as primary students do. The only difference when it comes to hosting a Beach Day in upper elementary versus hosting them in primary classrooms is that the activities take a little longer with the big kids. So, set aside a few days during the last week of school and dive into all things beach-related!

Here are six of my favorite activities and projects to use with students as we dive into a beach-themed day/week in the upper elementary classroom!

1. Visiting the Shoreline

Build background knowledge and have students learn new information with a mix of nonfiction reading passages and videos. Start by watching the videos as a whole class, discussing the key elements of each video. Encourage students to take notes about something that they learned as they watch each video.

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

🌊 What are Waves? (Mystery Science about 4  minutes)

🌊 Why is the Ocean Salty? (Mystery Science about 6 minutes)

🌊 Ocean Habitat (Ocean Life Education about 4 minutes)

🌊 Ocean Animals (Learn Bright about 9 minutes)

Now that you have provided background knowledge for your students engage them in reading and presentations all about different aspects of the beach! Use engaging nonfiction passages to help them learn and think critically about different beach topics.

One way you can use these nonfiction passages, especially at the end of the year, is to assign groups different topics to read and present to their classmates. Try this jigsaw learning idea! Break your kids into five different groups. Give them each a different passage about the following:

  • What is an Island?
  • What lives in the Ocean?
  • Living on the Shoreline
  • Endangered Ocean Animals
  • Beach Safety

Have each group of students read the passage, take notes, and create a list of the big ideas or takeaways that they learned. Allow the kids to get creative about presenting what they learned to their peers. They can make a handout, slide show, or just speak using notes on index cards. Since each group will be presenting, all students will learn about the different topics even though they only read one article!

πŸ‘‰ Grab the print-and-go Beach Close Reading pack, filled with extras to keep your kids engaged for days!

ocean animal and beach reading activities

2. Swimming with the Sharks

Nothing says end-of-the-year engagement more than learning about sharks!

Shark Week on television may not be until after school gets out, but that doesn't mean you can't make your own Shark Week! When it comes to sharks, we love to dive in with shark-focused nonfiction reading and engaging picture books. After reading about different types of sharks, the kids get creative with tasks like:

🦈 compare and contrast different types of sharks

🦈 create a migration map/cycle of sharks' patterns

🦈 design a meal for sharks on a dinner plate

shark week activities for upper elementary classrooms

Looking for shark picture book read-alouds? You will love these:

🦈 I am the Shark by Joahn Holub

🦈 Shark Lady by Jess Keating

🦈 National Geographic Five Minute Shark Stories

3. Let's Build a Sand Castle

I love this independent task that gets creatively thinking and writing about how to build a sand castle.

Have your students follow the procedural writing prompt of how to build a sand castle. To get started, before students even write, have them create a detailed illustration of a sand castle. This will get their creative juices flowing AND help them remember all of the important steps needed to build a castle made of sand. These illustrations also look amazing on a bulletin board alongside their final writing pieces!

Teacher tip: Bring in real sand or kinetic sand and let the kids dive in! You can rotate the sand among different groups of kids or just give each kid a small cup full to get into the spirit. The more they play with the sand, the more descriptive their writing will become!

beach day writing activities and ideas for upper elementary classrooms

4. Grab a Beach Ball and Review

All you need is a beach ball and these ideas to take your end-of-the-year review to the next level! 

✅ Math Toss: Write different numbers on the beach ball. When a student catches the ball, they must multiply the numbers closest to their thumbs.

✅ Spelling Catch: Write letters, blends, or digraphs on the beach ball. When a student catches the ball, they need to come up with a word that starts with the letter or letters under their right thumb. Then they spell that word. Add bonus points for students who come up with vocabulary words related to content you learned during the school year!

✅ About You Ball: Write various questions for students to answer about themselves, like, "What is your favorite book?" on the beach ball. When a student catches it, they answer the question closest to their left thumb.

✅ Story Starter: Write different words or phrases on the beach ball, like "Once upon a time...", "In a faraway land...". When a student catches it, they start a story using the phrase closest to their right thumb. Then, have the student throw a blank beach ball to another classmate who will continue the story. Continue throwing the ball until each student has had a turn and the story is finished!

✅ What We Learned: Write various questions that relate back to specific topics you learned during the year on the beach ball, such as, “What is one step in the water cycle?” When a student catches it, they read and answer the fact or question closest to their left thumb.

✅ Synonym/Antonym Throw: Write words on the beach ball. When a student catches it, they must say a synonym or antonym for the word closest to their right thumb.

✅ Compliment Ball: Write positive adjectives like "kind", "smart", "helpful" on the beach ball. When a student catches it, they must give a compliment to someone standing next to them using the word closest to their left thumb.

✅ Keep it Simple: You can use a plain beach ball with nothing written on it, too! Just toss between students as you ask any question you want! You can also encourage students to ask their own questions for their classmates.

Don't forget about math-themed fun, too! Grab FREE beach-themed math activities below!

5. Ocean Animal Research

Get focused on specific animals with a research project that allows student choice and promotes independence, two critical elements needed for end-of-the-year success!

I love this Ocean Animal Research project because students truly become experts about the animal that they research, and their research and informative writing skills improve greatly! I like to encourage students to select an animal to research that they do not know a lot about to help them learn as much as possible. I also limit repeating animals in the classroom. To do this, I simply have the kids select an ocean animal, write it on a sticky note, and hand it in with their name. No two students can research the same animal. When there are duplicates, the student presentations become boring for the audience. 

Since this project is broken down step by step, there is no confusion about what to do next. It is a true independent project, perfect for the last week or two of school!

ocean animal and shark research activity for upper elementary

6.  Don't Forget to Decorate

I know, I know, it is the end of the year, and you do not want to do more work and decorating! But these are quick and easy ways to add a little beach to the classroom add a little beach to the classroom and help to set the mood!

🌞 Summer Kindness Posters

🌞 Lei Necklaces

🌞 Beach Wave Table Cloth

🌞 Bulletin Board Borders

🌞 Seashell Decor

🌞 All the Beach Decor

classroom beach day decoration ideas

So, as you flip your school calendar to June and prepare for summer break and those glorious beach days, why not infuse your classroom with the excitement and wonder of the beach? Your upper elementary students will love diving into these themed activities, making the end-of-the-year season both fun and educational.

beach day themed posters and bulletin board for elementary classrooms

You will also love to read:

Looking for more beach-themed activities that kids love? Head HERE.

shark and ocean animal research project for upper elementary

                 LOVE these ideas? Pin to save!

Classroom Beach Day Ideas and Activities for Upper Elementary

*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)

End of Year Classroom Beach Day Ideas 3rd 4th 5th grade


Last Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary

Last Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary

Getting ready for the last day of school? It is stressful and emotional, I know!

The last day of school can sometimes feel awkward. Many of the school and class materials have been packed up, and student desks are usually cleaned out! It can leave both you and your students feeling like you do not know what to do.

No worries, I can help! Add these five ideas to your last day of school lesson plans to keep your sanity and fill your time together in meaningful and fun last time!

1. Last Day of School Coloring 

This past year, coloring pages have been my go-to for brain breaks, fast finishers, special day activities, and time fillers! So why not on the last day of school, too?

Each page also includes wordwork and written reflections about the school year! These are a must, just print, copy, and have them in your teacher toolbox for the end of the year and the last day of school.

Last Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary

2. Take a Walk Down Memory Lane

Did you snap a million pictures throughout the year of special days and moments? Turn them into a slideshow! If you are short on pictures, ask your students' parents and families to send some to you if they have some from school events.

If not, you can still create a slideshow! Create a special page about each student and share it on the last day. This template pack has all the pages that you need!      

last day of school slideshow template for the classroom

3. Read One Last Picture Book

I love to read non-traditional last day of school picture books! Books that focus on friendships and memories are a great topic to focus on as the year comes to a close.

Try these...

πŸ‘‰Read this post with my favorite last week of school read-aloud!

last week of school picture book read alouds

4. School Reflections with a Friend

Nothing says it is the last day of school more than reflections with a friend! Help celebrate friendships with these task cards that you can post around the room! Have kids work with a partner and reflect on the year. You can set these up with chart paper at each station. Give each pair of kids their own color marker to use at each station. Have the kids write their responses with their color maker at each station on the chart paper. Share all the responses once the kids have made it through all the cards.

last day of school scavenger hunt for 3rd 4th 5th grade

πŸ‘‰Grab a free friendship activity here!

5. Clean Up!

There is always something to clean on the last day of school! Have the kids clean out their desks, cubbies, lockers, and personal spaces. When they are done, enlist their help to clean up common areas, too! Assign different kids to different clean-up areas like the classroom library, paper closet, and shared supplies.

last day of school activities upper elementary

The end of the school year can be an emotional day for both staff and students. Keep the air of the classroom light and filled with fun activities to make the most of your last day as a class. With these five tips, your students will be smiling and enjoying the class during their last day in your classroom!

Happy summer!

You will also love to read:

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

End of the year activities upper elementary

                       LOVE these ideas? Pin to save!

Last Day of School Activities for Upper Elementary

*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)


End of the Year Bulletin Board Idea for Elementary

End of the Year Bulletin Board Idea for Elementary

The end of the school year in the elementary classroom is crazy enough without having to think about and plan an end-of-the-school-year bulletin board! I know, I know, you want to end the year with a cute bulletin board to say goodbye, and your school may even have an end-of-the-year bulletin board contest that you want to win, but you do not need any more stress when it comes to the end of the year!

That is why you will LOVE my go-to end-of-the-year bulletin board that is simple to create and student focused! Plus, when you bring the end of the school-year theme "Bugging Out for Summer" into your classroom to go along with the end-of-the-year bulletin board display, you will have your kids focused, working hard, and enjoying the last week of school!

So, let's dive into how you can create a simple, meaningful, fun, student-centered bulletin board for the end of the school year with the theme "Bugging Out for Summer!"

1. Brainstorm Summer Activities

Since this bulletin board focuses on student excitement for summer, get them brainstorming about all of the things that they are excited to do when the summer finally arrives..from family trips to just sleeping in late, get them brainstorming! They do not have to write about a big trip or anything costly, even running around outside catching fireflies is a good topic to write about!

Once they brainstorm, have them select one of the things that they are excited about for summer. Students should write a short paragraph including a few reasons to support why they are excited about that summer event.

End of the Year Bulletin Board Idea for Elementary

2. Use a Ladybug Template

Once student's work has been edited, use a ladybug template for students to write their final copy. I have students write on lined ladybug templates and create an illustration on a blank ladybug template. After students have written the final copy of their summer writing and completed a colorful illustration page, follow these directions:

To assemble the ladybug...

✅cut out writing ladybug template

✅ cut out illustration ladybug template

✅ staple both together, with writing on top

✅ have students create a border with red or black paper by tracing the ladybug on construction paper, leaving about an inch border, and staple or glue together 

End of the Year Bulletin Board Idea for Elementary

3. Use Pipe Cleaners to Pop

Since the heading of the bulletin board is "Bugging out for Summer," you can create the bugs to look like they are moving around with excitement by using pipe cleaners. Simply cut one pipe cleaner into six pieces for each of the legs. Then, tape the piper cleaners down, bending them up towards the bug to make it look like the ladybug is moving with excitement. Now, they are ready to add to the bulletin board.

End of the Year Bulletin Board Idea for Elementary

Now that your bulletin board is complete try these ideas to take the buggy theme even further to make the end of the year engaging!

4. Grab a Buggy Read Aloud

You will love these buggy read-alouds that pair nicely with this themed bulletin board and writing project...

end of the year read aloud for upper elementary

5. Make an Independent Packet

There is no better way to manage your students at the end of the year than by providing a packet of fun, independent work that students can work on throughout the day, especially on days when your schedule is crazy! Tie in the bug theme with nonfiction reading passages, poetry, puzzles, a word search, math practice, and anything that goes with the buggy theme works!

I love to add a coloring cover page to staple to the top of the work packet to give the students an extra brain break as they work through the packet!

end of the year independent packet of activities upper elementary

6. Create A Game

Once we have completed the writing and illustrating for the bulletin board display, I have students use that same theme to create their own math game! This project is called Bugging Out for Math! The kids LOVE this activity! 

There are no strict rules or directions, except the students need to create a math game based on one skill that they learned that year. You can have them pick a skill like multiplication or assign each group or pair of students a skill to avoid overlap. The kids work in pairs or in small groups and create their game using one of the given spinners or game boards. Once all groups are done, we have a game day. I call it Bugging out for Games Day. The kids take turns playing each other's games. It is a lot of fun and a memorable activity for the last week of school! You will be impressed with the games that the students create!

end of the year create your own math game project for upper elementary

Grab this done for you set and print and go!

Reading passages, fun independent packet activities, bulletin board kit, AND math game project in one place!

End of the Year Bulletin Board Idea for Elementary

The end of the year does not have to be crazy and stressful! This bugging out for summer theme is fun and engaging and will have your students focused and working hard as the year winds down and summer approaches! And since this bulletin board kit is done for you, all you have to do is print and go! Happy summer!

You would also love to read:

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

End of the Year coloring pages for the last day of school upper  Elementary

                 LOVE these ideas? Pin to save!

End of the Year Bulletin Board Idea for Elementary

*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)


End of the Year Management Tips and Ideas Upper Elementary

End of the Year Management Tips and Ideas Upper Elementary

Looking for end-of-the-year management tips and ideas for your upper elementary classroom to use as the year winds down? These tried-and-true end-of-the-year management tips are just what you need!

As the end of the school year approaches, maintaining a positive and engaged classroom environment can present many challenges; I know firsthand! From lack of motivation to recess issues, end-of-the-year events, Field Day, and parties, there is always something that causes behavior problems or gets students off task. With students excited for summer break and energy levels running high, effective classroom management becomes more important than ever. 

When you have high expectations of continued work and expected positive behavior, students will follow your lead...even at the end of the school year!

You will love these simple-to-implement classroom management strategies that I use with upper elementary students. From fostering student engagement to promoting responsibility and teamwork, these ideas will create a positive learning environment where both teachers and students can thrive, even with the excitement of the end of the year in the air!

1. Bring the Class Community Together

I love creating a positive classroom community built on positive behavior and teamwork. While students are certainly responsible for their behavior and choices as individuals, I have found that they make better choices when they work together as a team towards a common goal or reward.

The end of the year is the best time to have the students work together towards a common goal or reward based on their good behavior! 

That is why I use this simple color challenge behavior system as a quick, easy, and visual way to keep track of the class' behavior as a whole. The kids love it, and I love how simple it is to use. Simply print and grab a crayon!

It is as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Set up the expectations that you want your students to work towards. {Like working quietly}
  2. Decide on a whole class reward that students can do together. {Like bonus recess or PJ Day}
  3. Print the coloring page and keep track of their amazing behavior!

Each time your students display one of the expectations you decided on, color in a piece. Once the whole page is colored in, the class earns the reward! For the last few years, I have been using this color-tracking behavior plan to monitor student behavior and it works! The kids love working together to get a piece of the coloring page colored in.

Love bringing in the community aspect of your classroom? You will love to read about these End of the Year Friendship activities!

2. Always Have Something on Hand

The end of the school year is absolutely crazy! With standardized testing, end-of-year assessments, field trips, Field Day, assemblies, and everything else that gets squeezed into the last few weeks, having something engaging for students to complete on a whim is a must!  The busy end-of-year schedule usually takes up different periods each day, leaving you with an off-schedule day and awkward chunks of time with your students. 

That is why I LOVE to have meaningful tasks on hand for students to complete that do not require a lesson for them to do. Enter coloring activities!

We love color-by-code activities because they are engaging, and the students can self-correct their work using the coloring image as an answer key.

The kids are also loving these Doodle Thinker activities! These allow students to color in the doodle images in any way they like. When the images are colored in, the students complete a word work task, list task, and then write to a given topic that is related to the images that they just colored.

Both of these coloring activities are a great thing to have students have in their desks or for you to pass out when you have a weird chunk of time!

You would love these to add to your toolbox:

🌞 Summer Color by Code

🌞 Summer Doodle Thinkers

🌞 End of the Year Doodle Thinkers

3. Brain Breaks

I find that the best brain breaks are simple games that require no materials! Sure, I do love to throw on a book video like one from Storyline Online every now and then, but when I find that the kids need a break and to have a little fun, I try to stay away from turning on a screen and instead play a game together.

These classic games are a great way to get your kids up and moving, critically thinking, and having fun in a managed and under-control way!

✔ Hide the Thimble - This is an old Colonial game that the kids still love! It is based on a game from one-room schoolhouses where kids of all ages could play the same game. Back in Colonial times, the game worked like student would step outside and cover their eyes. Another student would hide a thimble in the classroom. It has to be in somewhat plain view without being obvious, not buried in a drawer. The student who was outside comes back inside and begins to walk around the room, looking for the thimble. The kids in the classroom raise their arms based on how close the seeker is. If they are "cold" or far away, their arm is resting on their desks. As the seeker gets closer to the hidden object, the students raise their arms up slowly. If the seeker is very "hot" or close, their arms are fully raised in the air. All arm movements should be silent, making this a quiet game! : ) Since a thimble is small, I also use a small object like a pattern block. You will be surprised how much your students will love this game!

✔ 21 - All students stay at their desks for this one, but it is a lot of fun to play! The goal of this counting game is to never have to say 21. I usually begin as the teacher saying, "1." We go around the room, and one at a time, each student can say 1, 2, or 3 numbers, counting up from whoever went before them. Whoever says 21 is out, and then the next player starts back at one. This continues until there is only one winner. I love this one because it makes the kids really strategize!

✔ Who is Missing? This game always makes me giggle! Select one student to go out to the hallway and cover their eyes. Select one student from the classroom to hide somewhere in the classroom out of sight, perhaps in a closet if you have one. Have the remaining students move around the room and find another desk to sit at, not their own. Call back the student who was in the hallway. That student has two tries to figure out who is hiding. This one is fun at the beginning of the year, too!

✔ 20 Questions - This game is fun, especially when you tie in some topics that you learned about throughout the school year. For example, if you studied the Statue of Liberty, you can say, I am thinking of a landmark. Then allow the students to ask yes/no questions to see if they can figure it out before 20 questions are asked.

✔ I Spy - This classic game is one that almost every student knows how to play. For an end-of-the-year twist, head outside for a break and play out there!

✔ Around the World - This is fun to do with spelling words or basic math facts. To play, have the kids sit at their desks. Select one student to move to another student's desk. Both students stand behind that desk. Ask a question, for example, 5 x5. Whichever student answers correctly first moves on to the next student's desk. Whoever got it wrong sits down at that desk. The goal is to make it all the way around the "world," aka your classroom!

4. Keep Them Engaged

Engaging projects = amazing behavior!

The kids want to be working and engaged with meaningful and creative tasks, yes, even at the end of the school year! Give them something that they can dive deep into and take charge of their own learning, and you will see them work hard!

When it comes to picking the perfect end-of-the-year project, be sure that it offers students some form of choice. If you are studying biographies, allow students to select who they want to study. If you are researching National Parks, allow students which park to research. This is just one of many ways that you can make sure that your end-of-the-year project is successful!

πŸ‘‰ Read my best project tips for the end of the year success HERE.

πŸ‘‰ Select a project topic that will engage your students HERE.

5. End of Year Reflection Projects

A great way to keep students working hard is by creating expert books. Expert books are like memory books but relate to the content students learned all year long. These are not only fun for students to complete, but they are also a great book to show off everything that the students learned over the year...parents love them, too!

When students are given a project of expert books, memory books, or end of year reflections, they take pride in their work and spend time planning, creating, writing, and illustrating...all independently! I love memory projects because they combine writing and art work. Plus they allow students to work at their own pace.

6. Countdown to Summer

Let's face it, kids are excited for the summer! We teachers are excited for the summer! So why not countdown to what everyone is waiting for...summer!

I love doing an academic countdown because it provides independence and accountability for students during the last few weeks of school! We have twelve themed activities that I start when we have three weeks left. This allows for us to miss a day, or if students need to catch up on a day's assignment that they missed.

The twelve-day sun color tracker page helps the kids see which countdown activities they have already completed and which still need to be completed. Since all of the activities are content and academic related, it provides a great review for the kids in reading, writing, and math!

7. Have a Themed Day

Themed days are not just for primary grades anymore! Themed days are fun to do because you get to pick how many or how few activities you want to do based on the theme! 

Try including these ideas to any topic:

✔ Build background knowledge on the topic through informative kids' videos

✔ Read aloud a picture book or nonfiction picture book about the topic

✔ Use close reading passages to have students learn independently

✔ Assign a writing project about the topic

✔ Get creative with art-infused activities!

These ideas and activities will get you started planning a themed week for your students:

😊 Beach Week

😊 Shark Week

😊 Pirate Week

😊 Lemonade Week

These ideas for classroom management do not have to be limited to just the end of the school year! Take these ideas and use them all year long to promote a positive and hard-working classroom environment!

Don't fear the end of the year; get ready for it! Your classroom can run smoothly with high student engagement and positive behavior when you plan for it using these tips. Make the rest of the school year the BEST of the school year!

Happy teaching! 

You would also love to read:

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

                 LOVE these ideas? Pin to save!

End of the Year Management Tips and Ideas Upper Elementary

*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)


Back to Top