End of year celebration ideas for elementary students

End of Year Celebration Ideas for Elementary Teachers

May 18, 2022 • By Debbie Bagley

After the hectic testing windows have passed, the end of the school year can be a wonderful time to celebrate camaraderie, hard work, and accomplishments.

Celebrating during your final days together will leave students with stronger feelings of self-esteem, self-worth, connections, and happiness. Activities that bring everyone together to share memories and have some fun will create these important memorable moments and leave your class feeling loved.

Here are some favorite end-of-year celebration ideas:

Throw a Class Party

It’s been a year of learning and growth, and that is reason to celebrate in a way that is extra special for the students.
Have students vote on what type of class party they would like to do.

Some may choose classics like ice cream parties, while others may vote for theme parties like a Luau with shaved ice and a lei, a Game Day or Field Day where they play games outside, or an in-class campout where they can bring a blanket from home and have a picnic or BBQ outside.

Paint the Playground

This fun end-of-school activity creates a satisfying feeling of belonging by allowing students to “leave their mark” on the school playground (at least temporarily). Provide chalk or chalk paint and have students each pick a place to paint or work together on colorful masterpieces.

Chalk Paint is inexpensive, easy, creative, and fun. Here’s a recipe if you want to make your own:


    • 1 part cornstarch (1 c.)
    • 1 part water (1 c.)
    • food coloring (we used neon colors)
    • sponge brushes

Mix cornstarch and water. Add food coloring and mix.

*Use a muffin tin for extra-large muffins to hold the paint. One cup of cornstarch and one cup of water filled them about halfway.

The paint stretched further than I thought. I also included a sponge brush for each color – just simpler. Be sure to use a lot of the paint on the brush for the best color.

Build Class Community with Goodbye Stars

Celebrations mean more when students get to celebrate and complement each other. This is an excellent opportunity to unite your classroom in supporting one another and solidifying connections.

According to Elyse Rycroft at Proud to Be Primary, using Goodbye Stars at the end of the year is a “great community-building activity that helps students further their social-emotional development. Saying goodbye is hard for some, and this helps them say it to their peers before summer vacation. It helps them reflect on past experiences and from the year together as a class.”

You simply cut out a star shape, put the child’s name on it, and then pass it around like an autography book. Students can write kind messages of goodbyes and well-wishes to each other on their stars. This helps promote feelings of caring and can be a wonderful keepsake for the year.

Create Memory Books

One way to celebrate the end of the school year is by having students complete a memory book. Students are able to think back on all the things they learned and what they are most proud of. They can create drawings and write about their favorite things and favorite memories with friends.

It’s also fun to have a page where students can sign or write a goodbye note to each other like in a yearbook. For my students, I liked adding a class picture to the front cover and a couple pictures of each child on the inside of the books as an extra special touch.

As your students get older, they can look at their memory books and remember what was most important to them at that time in their lives.

Hand Out Award Certificates

Awards are some of my favorite ways to celebrate the end of school and show students how proud I am of their hard work and efforts.

When students receive an award, it lets them know that they are a special, valued part of your classroom community. A simple way to do this is to print award certificates (many of them are free on Teachers Pay Teachers), write their names in, and add a note describing the student’s achievement or special contribution.

It is important that every student receive some type of award. These can be for academic achievements, personal goals, or good character traits such as resilience, respect, empathy, good listening, and growth mindset.

When handing these out, I always read them out loud to each child and shared why they were special to me. We all cheered for and celebrated each other.

I wanted each child to know I was proud of all their hard work, that I cared about them, and wished them happiness and success as they continued on in their education journeys. The ultimate goal was for each child to leave my class feeling good about themselves and our time learning together, with hope and joy for their future.

Make Keepsakes

Memory keepsakes are a marvelous way to remember all the good times together. Here are a couple ideas:

1. Class Slide Show

Make a slide show with pictures of your class taken during the school year and set them to meaningful songs. Perhaps you had a class theme song or other songs you played often that had meaning. I liked to include songs about friendship.

Play your slide show on the last day of school. If possible, make a copy for each child to have as a keepsake of their year together.

2. Memory Gift Books

Create a collection of items in a 3-ring binder that students have made over the the school year such as: art work, writing, and pictures. Add a poem and a picture of you and your students together to make a very personal, meaningful gift.

Give Students End-of-Year Gifts

Bubble Over With Fun: The perfect sweet and simple end-of-school gift tag. Pick up some bubbles at the Dollar Store, add a cute note on the tag, and you are good to go!

Smart Cookie: Customize this adorable end-of-school-year gift with a cookie and a note along the lines of “You are one smart cookie!”

Balloon Straws: Purchase silly straws, cut out balloon shapes to tape to the end of them, with a phrase like, “Happy last day of school!” Can you imagine the smiles you’ll get from your kiddos with this end-of-the-year surprise?

I hope these end-of-year celebration ideas help inspire you to think of ways to celebrate with your students! Whatever you end up doing, it’s sure to be a memorable, fun, and very special time for them.

With Love,


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