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!

👉 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

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Classroom Beach Day Ideas and Activities for Upper Elementary

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

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