By the end of the school year, both you and your students are winding down after having worked hard to meet grade level standards. But now what? If you are looking for end of the year activities that will keep your students happily engaged …
I’ve got a treasure chest full of ideas for you!
You know it, I know it…. Once the last month of school hits, both students AND teachers lose motivation to carry on the normal routine of the school year. Yet, we must keep our students engaged and learning. But how? How do we keep them motivated, getting along with one another, and focused on their learning?
If we don’t keep our students motivated the last few weeks of school, your classroom management will begin to unravel. Arguments arise and your home away from home will become chaos. We don’t want that!
End your school year on a positive, a celebratory note that will highlight all that your students have accomplished this year. The last month of school need not be a chore, or boring… nor routine! No, consider the last month of school a time to celebrate!
Right here, on this page, you will find my most favorite end of the year activities. All of which are MUST DOs to help keep your students engaged, interacting and happy up until the last days of school!
Celebrate Friendship with The Important Book Keepsake
If you are looking for a way to celebrate friendships during your end of the year activities, this class project is just what you are looking for!
You know it, and I know it… teaching is not just academics, we strive to meet the standards with vigor and engagement, but much of our time is spent creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning. We teach our children social skills, provide them with opportunities to build positive relationships with one another, we work hard to create a classroom climate that feels more like a home away from home.
These efforts, these relationships deserve to be celebrated! I created this end of the year book template to celebrate the friendships we made and to ensure that ALL my students felt appreciated.
Here is the really fun part! I have been having my students create this class book for nearly a decade now, but this year, I totally went all out and purchased super cute clip art that provides me with the opportunity to personalize the books to match the personalities of my students!
I designed book covers and matching writing pages so that my students could create a class book for EACH child in our “home away from home”. You can read more about The Important Book in this blog post or find the writing templates HERE. It’s great for the beginning of the year too!
Celebrate Fluency with Reader’s Theater
Reader’s Theater is an excellent choice for an end of the school year activity. And it is simple to prep for! You won’t need a script, in fact we abandoned the one you see in the photo above. I’ll explain that in a bit…
How to Include all Readers of Diverse Reading Levels
In our first grade classroom we have a diverse group of readers at different reading levels, but everyone can read Dr. Seuss! Even your struggling readers will be able to read their lines once they have rehearsed them repeatedly! You can also allow them to take the book home to practice their assigned pages with their families.
Days 1-3 Building Fluency and Expression
If you have access to multiple copies of Dr. Seuss books simply provide each student a copy of the same book. Have the children read and reread the book; building and improving on their fluency and expression. Have them sit elbow to elbow, knee to knee in a circle. Each child will take turns reading a page.
Provide your students with sticky notes to mark their assigned page. For example, in a group of 4 children, “Student 1” will read aloud pages 1, 5, 9, 13, etc.). “Student #2” will read aloud pages 2, 6, 10, 14, etc. Have them practice for several days. They will begin to get bored if you have them practice for more than 2-3 days, you want to keep them engaged, so it’s time to step it up a notch…
Days 4-5 Adding Drama and Flair
Talk to your students about how actors and actresses read with expression not only with their voices but with gestures, and facial expressions. Show your students examples of how they can incorporate this into their read aloud. For example, have your students stomp their foot when they read “Why did they put me out this way, I should be in, I want to stay!” when they read from Put Me In the Zoo.
Days 6-7 Getting Creative with Props and Scenery
Your students will love this step most of all! Seeing as it is the end of the year, use up the rest of the glue sticks and glue bottles! Let them COLOR with their markers and use up what is left in the Scrap Paper bin!
For example, my students used scraps of construction paper to create the spots for Put Me in the Zoo, and plates of green eggs and ham, along with headband hats that depicted pictures of the characters in the book Are You My Mother.
Days 8-9 Rehearsing and “Setting the Stage”
On these last days it all just comes together! The kids know their storybook inside and out and are ready to put on their show. You will love their excitement!
Help your students by setting the stage. I printed out large “Reader’s Theater” letters and hung them on a clothesline. I also asked the music department if I could borrow 6 of their music stands so that my students could prop their copies of the books as they performed.
The children practiced an intro, reading their pages with expression and gestures along with coordinating the display of their props. We also rehearsed how to smoothly transition from one read aloud group to the next. They were so happy with their results.
Day 10 Celebrating Fluency Performances
On this day, invite other classes (or parents) to enjoy the show! I pushed aside our tables and desks and arranged our chairs for the audience to sit in rows.
Now you can sit back, relax and enjoy the show. It will be a #proudteachermoment for sure!
Celebrate Reading by Setting Summer Reading Goals
I absolutely love having my students make these Summer Reading Goal paper chains! It is definitely a Must Do item on my End of the Year to do list! You have got to try this.
Let Me Count the…
I start by talking to my students about how proud I am of how far they have come in their reading this year. We begin to brainstorm a list of our favorite books. We start by counting them by hand, then since we run out of fingers we start using tally marks.
But what about the books they read with their reading partners? Or how about the books they read independently on their own during Read to Self? Oh my! That is a ton of books. It was time to stop recording the tally marks because it would take all day! The kids loved that, they begin to feel so proud of their reading for the year.
Introduce the Phenomenon: “The Summer Slide”
Then, the conversation turns more somber. I tell the children that I am worried! I am worried that they will be part of the “summer slide”! With this statement, they are stumped! They begin to question…. The summer slide? But that sounds like fun….how can it be a sad thing? What is a summer slide?
I then begin to explain that when children forget to read over the summer, they do not grow, in fact, they may even slide back a reading level because they forget what they have learned. And all the work we have done in first grade may be lost!
Their little faces become worried and sad like mine. Some girls reach for each other and some of the boys look mad. I hear “No, not me, not us!” “Never!” and “We can’t let that happen!”
Yes! #teacherwin…. They get it and so I continue…
Setting Summer Reading Goals
I ask the children, how can we make sure that this does not happen to us? What could they do to avoid such a phenomenon? I happily received the answer I was looking for: READ during the summer! Woot!
At this point, my students began making statements that they were going to read EVERY day. But then others piped in and said they may not be able to do that because of family vacations and of course some of my firsties have a summer birthday so they would be too busy to read on that day (they are too cute).
This led to count the days of summer break. We counted 76! We had a serious discussion of what was an acceptable number of days to read since summer was a busy time with their families.
NOTE: At the primary level, I found it best to measure reading by days rather than by the number of books since there is a great variation in their reading levels. Some students are reading chapter books while others may still be approaching grade level standards.
They then began to set realistic reading goals for themselves and recorded them on a Summer Reading Goal Sheet (available HERE).
Games Chain-Making Begin!
I provide my students with strips of construction paper and they create one link for each book they plan to read this summer. When they read one book they can tear off the chain. How satisfying!
I told the children, if they tear off ALL the links on their chain by the end of the summer and are left with their goal card (and parent signature… a-hem), they can return it to me the first week of school and visit our treasure box for a reward! Squeals of delight along with promises to meet their summer reading goal were music to my ears!
Let me warn you, at the start of the school year, I have quite a few visitors, so be sure to stock up at the Dollar Store this summer because you will be pleased with those that return!
Celebrate Writing with Writing Portfolios
During our Daily 5 centers my students wrote EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! We needed a special place to house all their writing pieces, so we began writing portfolios at the start of the year. Well, they filled up pretty quickly!
I cannot say enough that creating a writing portfolio is definitely worth the time and energy spent creating and organizing them. It is such a wonderful sight to peruse their journals to see how much they have grown since the start of the year.
My first graders were delighted to see how “fat” their writing portfolios were at the end of the year. And…it was eye-opening for them to see how much they had grown in 10 months! They were able to observe that their writing pieces were short, some letters were reversed, words were misspelled, and their sentences lacked detail.
You can read more about how I differentiate my writing program in this BLOG POST or you can find the writing portfolio HERE in my TpT shop.
Celebrate with a Treasure Chest to Store Souvenirs
Think about it! There are so many artifacts and treasures that you send your students home with at the end of the year. Yet they get lost amongst the other “less important” materials you send home (workbooks, supply boxes, etc.)
My students created these treasure boxes in 10-15 minutes. It is a super easy craft and aren’t they adorbs?
- Ask your local grocery store to donate the paper grocery bags
- Cut the yellow strips for the children ahead of time
- Have the children glue the strips down (as seen in the photo above).
- The kids then used up the last of the ink in our dry erase markers to create the studs
- Fold and add the key. Voila!
What treasures did we put inside?
The Important Book
our Word Detective Badges
and miscellaneous artifacts from our school year!
I do hope you have found my treasure chest of end of the year activities helpful! I couldn’t survive the last few weeks of school without these Must Dos! If the school year has already ended for you, be sure to…
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