End of the Year Activities for 5th Grade

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

The end of the school year is an exciting and a stressful time! This lesson will offer some effective ideas for closing the year with your fifth graders and sending them to middle school on a strong foot.

End of the Year

Ms. Adams has been teaching fifth grade for more than a decade. She understands the importance of a strong start to the school year, and she knows many ways to keep momentum going as the year progresses. Her biggest source of pride, though, is her understanding of how important it is to end the year well with her fifth graders, who will graduate and go on to sixth grade in the fall. Ms. Adams believes that ending the year is a matter of combining closure, or a strong sense of completion and fulfillment, with cultivating a sense of excited anticipation over what comes next.

Celebrating Community

When it comes to closure, Ms. Adams is quite sure that one of the most important things she can do with her students is celebrate the community they have become over the course of the year and, in some cases, their elementary school career. The following activities help Ms. Adams do this sort of celebrating:

  • Appreciation Cards

Write the name of each student in your class on a slip of paper. Have students pick each other's names from a hat. Each student should make a card showing something they appreciate about the classmate whose name they drew. Bring students together to ceremoniously gift one another with the cards.

  • Invite Former Teachers to the Classroom

Too often, Ms. Adams hears her students talk about missing their first grade teachers and not getting a real chance to say goodbye. She has begun inviting teachers to share their memories of the graduating fifth graders. This also gives students a chance to reminisce and celebrate their personal and collective growth.

  • Field Trips

Ms. Adams thinks that there is no better way to close a year than through a really good field trip with her class. Each year, she tries to plan a capstone trip, whether it's something big like a museum or amusement park, or just a local picnic. She encourages families to join and spend the day celebrating their fifth graders and all they have accomplished.

  • Making a Mark Together

As Ms. Adams begins packing up her own classroom for the summer, she asks her class to work together to leave some sort of mark behind. This may be a mural they create together to hang on the wall, a letter to next year's class, or anything else the students come up with. Working together to leave their mark is a wonderful way to help with closure and celebration of community.

Setting Goals

In addition to working on a sense of closure, Ms. Adams knows how important it is for her students to look toward their future. As the year draws toward its end, she asks each student to write a list of three summer goals. She puts these goals in sealed envelopes and sends them home with her students so that they can hold themselves accountable.

Ms. Adams also has her students write letters to their sixth grade selves. In these letters, she asks her students to be honest about things they hope to remember as they embark on their next journey. Ms. Adams collects these letters and sends them with families or, when possible, to sixth grade teachers, for her students to read at the beginning of the following school year.

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