10 End of year celebration ideas and activities for students

May 9, 2024Darri Stephens

Why should schools celebrate the end of the year?

While the sentiment of the traditional rhyme, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks,” can be traced back to the late 1800s, I’m guessing that kids have been rejoicing about the end of the school year since schooling began!

Yet, it’s not a fault of “dirty looks” from the educators, but rather that this is the time of year that earmarks an opportunity for all to celebrate kids’ accomplishments, milestones, and growth over the past 10 months. What are the ways that you can earmark the occasion with end of year celebrations or activities?

10 End of year celebration ideas and activities for students

While your students may lament the end of one school year, they also eagerly anticipate the advancement to a new grade. So, how best to host an end of year celebration across your school community?

Consider recognizing individuals’ progress as well as the group’s overall progress. How can you revisit the start of the year to underscore the growth at the year’s end? Take some time to reflect back on the start of the year and the expectations and goals you set forth for the class—were those goals met?

Below are 10 ways to celebrate the end of this school year with your students, their families, and the school community.

New to Nearpod? Teachers can sign up for a free Nearpod account below to access these resources, interactive activities, and engaging lessons. Administrators can schedule a call with an expert to unlock the full power of Nearpod for schools and districts.

1. Reflect on the past school year

Does your school have a yearbook? If not, there are many free digital solutions for you to capture students’ thoughts while compiling reflections and stories from the past school year. Even if your school does have a yearbook, you can create your own fun end of year activities for your class specifically.

Use a Nearpod presentation and Open-Ended Questions to have students write their contributions and post multimedia; they can include everything from images and videos to playlists. Alternatively, engage your students in one of these end of the school year activities to share their favorite memories:

Memory wheel

Use a Memory wheel template so each student can jot down 6-8 poignant memories from the past school year. You could use the Draw It Tool to capture words and illustrations. Students can curate their own list, or you can provide prompts like special events, student activities, new friends, etc.

Memory Wheels activity from Cognitive Cardio Math
Memory Wheel example from Cognitive Cardio Math
Memory Wheel activity on Draw It for end of year celebration
Memory Wheel activity on Draw It

Skittles end of year writing activity

Give each child a fun-size bag of Skittles to sort by color. Then, ask them to write a specific number of memories or stories based on the color-coded prompts. For a drawing alternative, create a template background with the color-coded prompts and upload it to a Draw It activity. Students then respond by drawing about the memory or story. Compile these stories together to create a digital memory book and share it with students!

End of school year Jenga

Use colored Jenga (or other multi-colored) blocks to play an engaging game of swapping memories. Have kids share a memory related to a color-coded reflection prompt.

3-word summary

Use Nearpod’s Collaborate Board to give each child three descriptive words to summarize this past school year. Ask students to explain their word choice to draw out specific memories. Create columns to make different categories and have students submit their responses using text, images, videos, or GIFs.

3 Word Summary for the end of year celebration using a Collaborate Board activity

2. Have a social emotional learning (SEL) check-in

The end of the school year can be a mix of emotions, which can be confusing for kids and adults alike. Gauge how your students are feeling and any emotions they might have as a result of school winding down. 
Support their self-awareness and self-management skills by checking in on students’ social and emotional wellness with these SEL activities:

  • Share Your Mood (Grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-12): In this Collaborate Board activity, students “like” a color based on their feelings and share how they feel. They can comment on posts as well.
  • *Words of Encouragement (Grades 2-12): Students practice social awareness, and more specifically empathy, by completing a Collaborate Board activity to encourage one another.
  • *Share Your Worries (Grades 2-12): Students practice self-awareness, and more specifically, identifying emotions, by completing an Open-Ended Question activity to share some of their worries with an educator.
  • *Thinking Positive (Grades 2-12): Students practice social awareness, and more specifically perspective-taking, by completing a Collaborate activity to identify positive events in their lives.
Words of Encouragement Collaborate Board example

*This lesson is only available on Nearpod’s 21st Century Readiness Program. This program provides an easy way to integrate SEL practices like positive interactions, gratitude, and reflective moments into daily learning to help create safe, inclusive, and effective classroom environments. Schedule a call to learn more.

3. Pass out end of year awards for students

Everyone likes to be recognized, and your school may already hand out end of year awards for students. But what can you do at the classroom level that is inclusive of everyone, yet takes a personalized approach? Can you riff off of the old-school superlatives idea and laude those traits and skills that are less typically praised? Best laugh … Most inquisitive … Most resourceful … Most creative chops … Try to think of accolades your classroom and school promote beyond the more typical academic and athletic accolades.

Kick off the end of year celebration and make the voting process easy by digitizing it! Use Nearpod’s Open-Ended Questions, Collaborate Board, Polls, or a combination of these activities, to have students submit and vote for their picks for student awards. Teachers can hide voters’ names so that these end of the year activities are done anonymously.

4. Create end of year certificates

Piggybacking on the idea above, if you’re looking for the last day of school activities, use Nearpod to create a template to personalize certificates for each student. Add copy, design elements, and even a class photo. Once printed, customize each with a handwritten note and signature. While it is “just” a piece of paper, I bet you all can remember holding onto a similar piece of recognition of your own as a child!

Download these customizable Nearpod and Flocabulary certificates to celebrate the work everyone has been so resilient with the past school year!

Certificate templates for end of year awards for students
Certificate templates for end of year awards for students

5. Go on an end of year Virtual Reality (VR) Field Trip

While logistically, it may be hard to arrange an end of the year field trip, with Nearpod’s Virtual Reality Field Trips, you and your class can take one last memorable trip together. Use Nearpod to poll your students about which global destination they want to visit. Have them compile a list of questions they can search for answers to while “traveling.” You could even send out digital invitations and encourage the kids to dress for the big last hurrah. Then, share these virtual reality student choice boards for students to continue their “globe-trotting” over the summer break months.

Virtual Reality (VR) Field Trip choice boards for end of year party
Virtual Reality (VR) Field Trip for end of year school activities

6. Throw a themed party as an end of year celebration

As you look towards the last day of school, brainstorm with your students and parent volunteers to come up with a thematic end of year party. Here are a few clever ideas to help tie together the activities, decorations, and even food choices:

  • This Year was a Ball, or Have a Ball This Summer!: Embrace anything round, from beach balls to balloons, for decor. Consider “round” food like a sundae bar with scoops of ice cream. You could also go all out on the beach theme, with decor and activities like Frisbee, limbo stick, cornhole, badminton, or spike ball.
  • The Future is Bright!: Order a class set of sunglasses and bring out the neon decorations like glow sticks. Recommend that students come in crazy, bright attire to the party. Kids love these themes!
  • That’s a Wrap!: Check with your school on your food policy, but you could choose a burrito bar, a candy bar, or individually wrapped snacks for a bit of a surprise.
  • This Year was Poppin’!: Host an afternoon or after-school movie party with a backyard screen and streaming device for an end of the year party. Arrange for popcorn as an extra treat.
  • What a Cool Year!: Go with a “stay cool!” theme and bring in ice cream or popsicles. Arrange for end of year class party games like pass-the-water relay races or water balloons/sponge tosses for some friendly summer fun.

7. Host a book party

Wrap up the school year with a book party as an end of year celebration. All ages can benefit from a good read-aloud of a children’s book. Choose one of the following titles to share:

Then check out the following activities to capture your students’ hopes, dreams, and memories. You may also want to encourage your students to bring a book to the party for a book swap. Such recommended titles are a great way to encourage the start of tackling summer reading lists.

8. Say “Thank You”

While the art of letter writing isn’t as prevalent today as it used to be, writing thank-you notes is always a good skill (and habit!) to develop. Use Nearpod to create a presentation of individualized thank-you slides. Have students individually contribute by deciding who within the school community they’d like to acknowledge. The recognition may be for an office staff member, the school nurse, the lunchroom staff, or a classroom aide. Share this compilation schoolwide to encourage a culture of gratitude throughout these end of school year activities.

9. Create summer bucket lists

Summer is a time for students to continue growing in their personal development. Have students create personalized bucket lists about what they’d like to accomplish within the next two months or so. Encourage them to think about how such short-term goals can ladder up to longer-term goals and dreams. For instance, maybe they want to practice their photography skills with the hopes of becoming a journalist one day. Or perhaps they want to improve their volleyball skills with the goal of making the school team next year.

Goal Setting video lesson on Flocabulary

Remind students that strong goals are SMART* goals (*Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound). Capture these summer bucket lists so kids can reflect on their progress at summer’s end. In this Flocabulary video lesson, teachers introduce setting and reaching goals using the SMART acronym. Learn how to combine the power of Nearpod and Flocabulary with these tips.

10. Avoid the summer slide and summer slump

Research shows students can lose some ground over the summer months when it comes to academic achievement. Check out these helpful summer learning activities to prevent the summer slide during summer school. Also, consider sharing these resources with students and their families as ways to keep their minds active during the summer months.

Host an end of year celebration with Nearpod!

Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back, too, for another year of teaching and supporting students. Use the next couple of months to bask in the sun and some self-care so you can recharge and start the next school year off well. Enjoy these next few weeks and find time to have more than one end of the year celebration with your high school, middle school, and elementary students. Congratulations to all!

New to Nearpod? Teachers can sign up for a free Nearpod account below to access these resources, interactive activities, and engaging lessons. Administrators can schedule a call with an expert to unlock the full power of Nearpod for schools and districts.

Prev Post Next Post