End of the Year Activities for Upper Elementary
By Mary Montero
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It’s here! It’s here! The end of the year is here! Now, I always vacillate between being terribly sad the year is over and being so excited for a fresh start come August. My first few years teaching, I always scrambled the last few weeks trying to find engaging but still meaningful activities for my students to do those last couple weeks of school. I wanted it to be EXCITING and FUN, but I still wanted to maintain control of my classroom and keep them learning. It was always a challenge. I figure there must be other people in my same boat– searching endlessly for the perfect end of the year activity– so I compiled a huge list of the best end of the year activities (and books!) I have found and use every single year.
This compilation of end of the year activities is specifically geared towards keeping bigger kids (grades 3+) engaged the last few weeks of school. I hope you can find an idea or two!
I shared this letter board image several years ago showcasing out last month of school activities. These were ALL activities we did from April onward that really kept the focus on academics, but students were having SO much fun. We did so many math projects (including the end of the year project I mention below), STEM sports from The Science Penguin, played games with task cards, and honed our math skills with Error Analysis.
Memory Book Task Cards
I made these end of the year task cards years ago to use as our morning work during the last two weeks of school. Each day, students picked a new task card to use to create a memory project for the school year. Some cards took kids just one day to complete whereas others spent a good chunk of time on their task. I always love the variety of displays I get out of these memory task cards!
Update: This year, each student selected a memory task cards and created a page. Then, we compiled each page into a book and turned it into an AMAZING end of the year memory book! I have also updated this to include a digital version, which makes it SUPER easy to compile multiple students’ slides into one fantastic digital memory book for the end of the year.
I blogged about this Three Words idea years ago, and it remains one of my favorite end of the school year traditions. We do this as an entire school and then make a big end of the year slideshow to watch as an entire school. When I moved to a school that didn’t have this specific school-wide tradition, we made it into an end of the year anchor chart instead. So sweet.
I can’t find an original source for this idea, but I love it! Here is what the original pinner wrote: “I created a basic newspaper template and then had my students write mini-articles on what the fifth graders can expect when they come to sixth grade next year. Students wrote a brief bio on about the teacher and then articles about tips to surviving sixth grade, favorite memories, sixth grade camp, etc. We then passed them along to the fifth graders so they could read them and get an idea for what sixth grade is about. This was a really fun activity!”
I know my students would be so excited about taking a field trip to their next grade, and they would be equally excited to host kids coming to 4th grade next year! SUCH a brilliant idea.
We always make an ABC book for one of our novels, so this would be a fun activity, too! They can create a memory book based on their school year. She includes a free template and lots of other great end of the year ideas in this post, too!
This End of the Year Reading Activity was created because my kids LOVE their yearbooks so much! I thought about creating a comprehension sheet to go with our yearbook, but then I realized how time intensive that would be and that I wouldn’t be able to use it from year to year. So I created this fictional, 8-page yearbook with a super fun scavenger hunt to go with it. It can be used in printable form (as shown), or you can make it into a center activity with the task cards that are included.
Described as book speed dating, this activity could truly be used any time of year, but the end of the year– after all the books kids have read– would be the perfect time to host this book tasting party! I have blogged extensively about book tastings HERE.
Engage your upper elementary students with these 6 high-interest End of the Year context clues reading activities that are fun and easy to prepare! No prep required, just print them out and use the context clues activities as literacy centers, or break them up into several engaging reading lessons that align to Common Core Standards!
For inference review, students will become investigators tasked with solving the ‘Case of the Mystery Pen Pal’ – finding clues and making inferences along the way with this set of end of the year inference centers.
Plan a Fun Fest Reading Project
This project reviews reading, writing, and grammar skills! Your students will dive into planning the perfect ‘Fun Fest’ in this activity that is rigorous and FUN! The “Fun Fest” theme makes it the perfect project to finish the school year. I included a wide variety of tasks for your students to complete with one goal in mind: to plan the best Fun Fest the school has ever seen!
My students absolutely LOVE reader’s theater, and these end of the year scripts are so fun! I set out to create a set of reader’s theater that helps students practice their reading comprehension skills, gives them plenty of opportunity for oral reading fluency practice, and provides accountability to both the readers and the audience.
When I started creating math projects, I realized how engaged my students were with every new one that I pulled out. That meant I needed one for the end of the year! I created this End of the Year Party Planner to review all of the math skills we had worked on but also to let their creative juices flow. I always love seeing the games they come up with, how they lay out their field for the party, and more.
Road Trip Math
This year, I had three weeks at the end of the year after I had finished all of our math standards. I decided to pull out my Road Trip math project which I originally created to review skills at the beginning of the year. It has been PERFECT for the last few weeks of school. It reviews so many math skills, and I’ve been so impressed at the critical thinking my kids have shown. Since it’s road trip themed, my students have really been getting in the summer mood, too! Keeping with the road trip theme, we also used these FREE road trip math task cards.
So, I will openly admit that I completely stalk The Thinker Builder. He has amazing ideas, and this paper airplane one is no exception. I can’t WAIT to do this activity this year. I know the kids are going to flip out over it!
Our science kits are headed back to our district science center, so these STEM Sports challenges are PERFECT for the end of the year. I plan to do these challenges the entire last week of school.
Kelsey has some awesome ideas for keeping students engaged right until the very end. Since we just finished our study of fossils, I know they would love these salt dough fossils!
What a great collection of ideas for using the iPad at the end of the year! She has included so many wonderful ideas.
If you have iPads in your room and a little bit of time, you absolutely MUST do this claymation project. Seriously. How cool is this!?
Wrapping Up The Year
My VERY favorite end of the year activity happens in the last few minutes of the last day of school. End of the Year Awards! I start thinking about who will get what awards toward the middle of April and always have such a fun time choosing the perfect one. As a result of having SO many different personalities over the years, my End of the Year Awards have grown into a HUGE bundle of more than 80 editable awards! I truly can’t wait to hand these out.
Have each student hold a dry erase board with what they want to be when they grow up. Then, turn it into a bulletin board with their graduation year. What a GREAT send off for an entire grade level– especially 5th graders! (Source unknown)
If you do portfolios, you HAVE to see this blog post. They are some of the most gorgeous portfolios I have ever seen!
End Of The Year Books
Here are a few Amazon affiliate links to books that are perfect for wrapping up the year.
Ten Beautiful Things: This is the perfect book to read as the school year is winding down. It encourages students to find the beauty all around them. This would offer fabulous extension opportunities, where you could encourage students to write their own list of ten beautiful things they see over the summer (or out the window!). The writing in this book is stunning, too!
On Account of Gum: This one checks the box for just a GOOD, FUN read aloud. Nothing too deep. Nothing too serious, just a funny book!
And Then Comes Summer: This is a sweet, sweet summer book to add to your book list! I love this one as a mentor text to have students write about their hopes and dreams for their summer… no matter how big or small!
A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee: Name a picture book you have read at least 20 times. For me, this one makes that list! Ever since it arrived on our doorstep a couple months ago, it has been ON REPEAT so often that my 3 year old has nearly memorized it and my 9 year olds are still eagerly cozying up with us every time I pull it out. You should definitely add this to your reading list over the last few weeks of school.
Looking for more end of the year activities?
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I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.