4 Great Ways to End the School Year!

How do you like to end the school year in your upper elementary or middle school class?  I aim for activities that engage my students’ imaginations and interests, while also reviewing academic content from the year we’ve spent together. 

Here are a few ideas for you to consider as that last day of school finally approaches!

Board Games

Two or three weeks before school ends, I begin a board game unit.  It takes about 11 days in all, with the end products being student-created games that review different academic subject areas.  This is one of the most successful activities I do, and students look forward to it all year!  
We start by playing and examining different board games we have in our classroom or from home, looking at:
  • how instructions are formatted
  • types of different game boards
  • types of playing pieces (ie. dice, cards, etc.)
Students then get into groups, with each group choosing a different academic subject. Then day by day, with structured support, they create a board game that can be played by their peers and by next year’s students.  

My students have so much fun with this unit that I’m not sure they realize that they are actually reviewing the full school year.  If you would like to check out the board game I created for my TPT store, click here!


Another great activity that grabs students’ attention are class debates.  To help them meet with success, I:
  • show online videos of student debates.
  • carefully teach the formal structure of a debate.
  • put students in teams of 3, with each team debating against one other team.
  • demonstrate how to research and prepare for a debate.
  • involve students not directly in a particular debate to become “shareholders” in the debate topic, allowing them to assess each debate team using specific criteria
If you would like a free debate schedule/organizer, click here!  I also have a full class debate unit available in my TPT store.

Book Swaps

At the end of every school year my classroom library always requires some “weeding” and reorganizing. Long ago I realized that  I could involve my students in this task, and from that initial thought I developed my annual “book swap” event.

My process for this book swap is:
  1. Review characteristics of each literary genre (ie. adventure, historical fiction, etc.) and each type of non-fiction texts. As our class library was set up by students back in September by genre, they are brought back full-circle!  
  2. I assign pairs or groups of students to each genre, and have them go through that genre’s book bins to ensure that each book belongs there.  Students also look for books that we have more than two copies of, or that are no longer in prime shape, and set those aside for our book swap.
  3. All extra copies and outdated books are put in a box.
  4. I send a letter home to parents explaining that we will be having a book swap day coming up. I invite students to bring in a book or two that they no longer need or want with their parents’ permission.  For each book they bring in, I give them a “book swap ticket”.
  5. The day before our book swap day, students sort ALL the available books (books students previously weeded from our class collection + books they brought in), and create labels for each genre.

  6. Book Swap Day:  students exchange their “book swap tickets” for new-to-them books.  Students who were unable to bring in books from home also have an opportunity to select books from the extras from the classroom.  
Now all students have some new reading material for the summer!

Get your FREE Book Swap Planner here!

Clear Out the Classroom Day!

In addition to extra books, which I deal with through our annual book swap, I usually find myself with tons of items that can easily be given to students.  (NOTE:  I make sure I have checked with my principal before doing this activity.)  Those items can include:
  • extra freebies included in Scholastic Book orders throughout the year.
  • posters I will no longer need.
  • extra craft supplies that will not be needed in the future
  • books left over from the Book Swap or from Scholastic orders
  • leftover “rewards” from our classroom reward program.

I tie this “clearout” in with our class reward program,  which you can read about in this blog post.  I fill our token bucket with ALL of the students’ tokens, and gather it together with all the items I plan to giveaway.  We settle into a nice shady spot on the playground,  and I randomly reach in and grab a token.  That student gets to choose one item to keep, and then s/he reaches into the token bucket to choose the next token/student.  We keep going until all the items have been given away. 

What is YOUR favourite end of year activity?  I’d love to hear about it!

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