Looking for some fun, low-prep end of the year activities to fill the last few days of the school year? You know, that awkward dead time when grades are in but school is still in session? If you have a few blank days on your calendar, here are a few easy but meaningful end of the year activities you can do with your students. Along with each idea are a few extension activities if you have extra time to fill. 🙂
1. LEARNING REFLECTION
One of the most practical and powerful end of the year activities you can do is a classic learning reflection. Give students a list of questions, a simple reflection worksheet, or a Google form. I highly recommend modeling the process of reflection and asking students to share answers with the class for an easy reflective question. This will show students what you’re expecting when you ask them to reflect. You’ll be surprised at how insightful and honest students will be when you give them an opportunity to reflect. Better yet, your students’ reflections will help you reflect and improve as an educator, too.
Extension Ideas: After students complete their reflection, ask them to get in partners or small groups and share some of their reflection answers. Then, facilitate a whole-class discussion, and discuss what parallels or themes students notice in their peers’ answers.
2. #BESTBOOKEVER ACTIVITY
Celebrate students’ reading progress and see what books were popular among your readers with a fun #bestbookever activity. Ask students to nominate their favorite book of the year. Then, give your students a template like the one pictured below or a blank piece of paper and have them create a mini-poster. When students finish the posters, hang them up around the room or compile them into a book recommendation book so next year’s students can start the year with even better book recs.
Extension Ideas: See #14! For extra fun, hold a competition and let students vote on their favorite books for a chance to win true bragging rights for the #bestbookever.
3. THANK YOU NOTES
Keep the reflection going by asking students to practice gratitude by writing a thank-you note to someone who has supported them. You can give students a simple pre-made card template or let their creativity run wild with some blank paper.
Extension Ideas: Ask students to write a thank-you note to a favorite book or author, too! Students can express a theme they learned from reading, how the book impacted their understanding, what they’ll remember from it, etc.
4. CLASS EVALUATION
If you’re asking students to reflect on their learning, you might as well reflect on your teaching. And what better way to do this than asking students to complete a class evaluation form to give you the kind of feedback you need? A class evaluation does not need to be complicated or lengthy, so feel free to adapt your eval to what YOU value. For example, think about what you worked on this school year…and then ask your students about it. Did you work hard to cultivate a community of readers? Or did you focus on giving students more choice and freedom? Maybe you tried to improve your feedback and grading process? Think about your goals, and then let your students give you feedback on how well you accomplished them.
Extension Ideas: After students complete their reflection, ask them to share answers to selected questions. Unless you’re really brave, you can focus on the positive questions and reflect independently on other questions. Plus, you want to focus on the positive at the end of the year, so this will double as a nice bucket-filler for you!
5. TO-READ LIST
Help students keep up their reading momentum as they head into summer by giving them a chance to build a to-read list. Give them a top 10 list, a book spines template, or a blank piece of paper, and ask them to use their favorite resources to find a collection of books they’d like to read next. Their “resources” can be their peers, you, the classroom library, Goodreads, Overdrive, the school/public library catalog, or any other online tools. This kind of activity will spark great conversations about how to find books, which is an essential skill for lifelong reading.
Extension Ideas: Give students some time to sample the first few pages of each book with Overdrive’s “Read a sample” feature. Allow students to share the books on their to-read lists with their peers or the whole class.
6. FAVORITE MEMORY ACTIVITY
Celebrate the end of the year by asking students to illustrate a favorite memory from the school year. The fun part of this is that you’ll be able to see what moments stand out in students’ memories and end the year remembering all the good times instead of the difficult ones.
Extension Ideas: Ask students to describe their memory using figurative language, such as imagery. Then, give students a chance to share their memories with their peers or the whole class.
7. END OF THE YEAR STATIONS
Combine all of the above end of the year activities–or your choice of others–into a set of engaging end-of-the-year learning stations. If you’re wondering, I do have a package of student-ready stations for you if you need them. Click HERE to check them out and keep reading for more end of the year activities.
Extension Ideas: Add any of the following activities to the stations, stretch out the stations over a few days, OR take an extra day to review the stations with students.
8. BLACKOUT POETRY
The end of the year is the perfect time to give your students a chance to unleash their creativity, and blackout poetry is a great way to do just that. If you’ve never tried blackout poetry, it’s a unique form of poetry in which the writer blacks out words in an existing text to reveal a final, spare, and poetic text. For inspiration, search “blackout poetry” on Google Images or Pinterest.
It’s especially perfect when teachers are weeding out classroom libraries, getting rid of old books, and clearing out clutter. If you keep your eyes peeled or send an email out to staff, you just may stumble upon the perfect blackout poetry material, whether it’s books, newspapers, magazines, or even copies of short stories/excerpts from what you’ve taught. If you can’t find old books or papers to use, you can always make photocopies of pages from different books.
Extension Ideas: Ask students to connect their blackout poetry to a class novel or independent reading text. Students can create one poem for theme, another for setting, one for character development, etc.
9. SPEED DISCUSSION
Looking for a fun, easy, and meaningful end of the year activity to channel your students’ energy? Try a “speed dating” style discussion. Speed dating” is an engaging, student-centered discussion model that is low-prep & high-impact. During speed discussions, students rotate through different peers and discuss different topics. The best part about speed discussion is that you can do it with just about anything! Here are a few examples:
- End of the Year Speed Discussion: Reflective prompts to wrap up the year and some fun summer-themed “this or that” debate questions
- Speed Debating: A super fun way to practice students’ persuasive skills and get them fired up on debatable topics
- Speed Dating for Any Novel: A unique and low-risk way to practice essential literary analysis skills during a whole-class novel, lit circles, or independent reading unit
- Speed Dating for Any Topic: An engaging alternative to those whole-class discussions where only a few students raise their hands
For more information on facilitating speed dating discussion in your ELA classorom, check out the following blog posts:
Extension Ideas: Let students create their own speed discussion questions and do another round of it, just for them!
10. BOOK TRAILERS
Get your students hooked on books just in time for summer reading by showing them some book trailers. While I love to do Book Trailer Tuesday every week, it’s fun to “spoil” students with extra book trailers when we have spare time, and the end of the year is perfect for that. With a little bit of creative thinking, you can easily create a whole lesson out of a few book trailers. Here are a few ideas:
- Review literary genres by showing a book trailer from each genre and asking students to identify the genre based on what they see in each trailer.
- Watch a set of book trailers that relate to a whole-class novel and ask students to compare/contrast.
- Practice essential reading skills by showing book trailers and asking students to inference, predict, and question based on what they see.
- Scaffold literary analysis skills by asking students to analyze “director’s choices” in book trailers. (Example: Why do you think the director included this music, that scene, this text, etc?)
Extension Ideas: Ask students to create their own book trailers for a favorite book. If you don’t have time for a full project, ask students to storyboard a book trailer like a director.
11. BOOK TASTING
Jumpstart students’ summer reading with a fun book tasting activity. If you’ve never tried a book tasting, it’s an activity where students can sample a variety of different books. Each round (or however you structure it), students “taste” a different book: they check out the cover, blurb/summary, and first few pages/chapter. Then, they record their observations and thoughts, as well as how interested they are in reading the book. The best part about book tastings is that while they’re great with physical books, you can open up new (and low-prep) possibilities with digital book menus!
You can check out the following book tasting activities. Each book tasting includes print resources and interactive digital menus AND versions for middle and high school readers.
- Mental Health Awareness Book Tasting
- Novels in Verse Book Tasting
- Strong Women Book Tasting
- Book Speed Dating/Tasting
Extension Ideas: Give students time to read the first chapter of the book they are most interested in. Then, give them time to talk to peers, share their first impressions, and discuss book recs.
12. ABC BOOK
Give students a chance to show off everything they’ve learned in a creative way with an ABC book assignment. You can keep instructions simple and open-ended: Write one thing you’ve learned for each letter of the alphabet, and find a picture for each letter/what you’ve learned. You can set this up in Google slides (one per letter) or with sheets of printer paper folded into a book. If you don’t have time for students to complete this individually, it makes for a great group assignment. You can even assign each student a different letter of the alphabet and create a collective class book via Google slides!
Extension Ideas: Ask students to present their ABC books. Students can present in front of the whole class, within small groups, or through screen-recorded virtual presentations.
13. NOVEL IN VERSE READ ALOUD
If you have a few extra days or even a whole week, consider a read aloud of a short novel in verse to keep students fully engaged in the final weeks of school. Yes, even if you’re a middle or high school teacher! After all, there’s nothing better than gathering ‘round and listening to a good story! Here are a few recommendations and audio times/page counts to give you an idea of how much time each text will take:
- Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson: 2 hours & 14 minutes
- Rhyme Schemer by KA Holt: 176 pages
- Starfish by Lisa Fipps: 3 hours & 28 minutes
- Me (Moth) by Amber McBride: 3 hours & 26 minutes
- Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: 1 hour & 43 minutes
- Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds & Jason Griffin: 37 minutes
Extension Ideas: Let students read a novel in verse, graphic novel, short story, or other short text in book clubs/literature circles.
14. IMPROMPTU BOOK ADVERTISEMENTS
Whether you do this with the #bestbookever or as a standalone activity, host a day of impromptu “book advertisements.” In other words, give students 60 seconds to give ultra-persuasive book talks designed to convince their peers to read their book. It sounds simple, and it totally is! But your students will get into it, especially if you model with a particularly passionate, goofy, and fun book talk. You’ll get silly, serious, and everything in between, but the best part is that you’ll get to celebrate your reading community and end the year with some fun memories.
15. SUMMER- OR BEACH-THEMED READING DAY
Out of end of the year activities? Free reading never fails, so throw a fun summer- or beach-themed independent reading day with your students. Let them bring in beach towels or pool floaties to lay and read on. If you’re feeling especially wild or generous, bring in popsicles, ice cream, Koolaid, or some other treat – or allow students to bring in their own snacks!
Extension Ideas: Give students time to share what they are reading and what books they’ve enjoyed throughout the year.
I hope this list of end of the year activities has given you a few ideas for fun, meaningful, and easy lessons to make it to the finish line! If you need ideas for projects and mini-units that will take up a bit more time, head to this blog post: 5 ENGAGING ELA PROJECTS FOR THE END OF THE YEAR
If you love these ELA-themed end of the the year activities, you’ll love these other blog posts: