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 this...one 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!

👉 Read my best project tips for the end of the year success HERE.

👉 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:

😊 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.

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End of the Year Management Tips and Ideas Upper Elementary

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