One of the toughest parts about the end of the year is keeping students engaged in all subjects up into the very end. I have found that it is often the most difficult to keep students engaged in normal literacy activities. They often have more energy and are more talkative at this point in the year. Since I have always taught literacy at the end of the day, and this makes it even more of a challenge to keep them engaged. Today I want to share some of my favorite end of year literacy activities and ideas that are engaging and easy to implement.
Buddy Reading with Younger Students
My students love this activity so much. I partner up with a primary teacher (usually below 2nd grade), and my students read books to them one day a week.
To prepare for the buddy reading activity, I do mini lessons on how to keep their buddy engaged, how to check for understanding, and how to ask questions as they read. For the actual buddy reading time, we spend about 20 minutes reading the books that the buddies have checked out from the library.
I love seeing my big old fifth graders reading to the little kids and being so patient and kind with them. This is by far one of my favorite end of year literacy activities (and also a great behavior motivation: if they don’t behave, they lose the opportunity to read with their buddy).
Write a Letter to Your Future Students
I get a kick out of this writing activity every year. I use this free template to have my students write a letter with tips and advice for my future students. Before we begin writing, we brainstorm different things that could be included in the letter. Here are a few ideas:
- how to stay out of trouble
- tips for passing tests
- tips for homework
- some of the skills the students will learn
This activity doubles as a beginning of the year activity. I save the letters and put them on the desks of my next year’s students to read as their morning work during the first week of schools.
Click here to grab the free letter template.
Museum Walk with Favorite Books
Museum walks are often used for science and social studies projects, but I love doing these with books as well. The students can create posters, dioramas, trifolds, or dress up as a main character. Whatever they decide, their project should provide a sneak peek or trailer of the books. Have them create their projects at school or at home. Then have them spend at least a day practicing presenting their books to their classmates (perfect chance to work on speaking and listening skills).
When the students are ready to present their favorite books, invite another class or grade level in to view the “museum”. For the grade level, I recommend 2nd or 3rd graders. They are the perfect age for students to feel comfortable speaking to and they will be avid listeners.
No Prep End of Year Literacy Activities
My favorite end of the year activities are definitely those that are low to no prep and super easy for me to explain and implement immediately. For these type of activities, I use my End of Year Literacy Activities for 4th and 5th Grade.
These are rigorous literacy activities with an engaging theme of either end of the year or summer vacation. They work well for:
- Whole group activities
- Partner activities
- Small group reading work
- Literacy centers
Here are just a few of my favorite literacy activities:
End of the Year Class Awards
For this end of the year activity, the students read fictional stories about students and then assign a class award based on what they know about the student. They then cite text evidence to support their answers.
Make a Reading Game
My students love playing games so why not let them make their own games? This end of the year literacy activity has the students reading a text (fiction or nonfiction) and then creating questions that can be answered using the text. Then they create and design their own game boards, using provided templates or their own creativity (my favorite is to give them small posters or large pieces of white paper and let them have free reign of the design).
Color by Text Structure
My favorite end of the year activities are those that require no prep and involve students coloring. My end of the year literacy resource contains two different printables for text structure that has the students reading texts on the same topic (ice cream and summer camp), determining the text structure, and then coloring in the graphic to match.
- Click here to see these No Prep End of Year Literacy Activities in my TpT Store. There are over 20 activities and printables included!
I do still want my students doing lots of authentic reading the final month of school. To make it engaging (and keep them motivated), I usually do a lot more partner reading than at other times of the year. My students enjoy reading with partners and having the chance to talk about what they are reading. Allowing them do it more often is a win-win. They are engaged and motivated to read. I do check in regularly with the partners for accountability.
Some years, I do need to add in a bit more accountability than check-ins. I do this through my partner reading choice board (shown below). Click here to download a copy of the choice board.
Create a Class or Individual ABC Booklet
Another activity that we love is creating an ABC booklet with memories of our time in fifth grade. This can be done whole class (with each student being assigned a letter) or individually (the pages can be adjusted on a copier or printed two to a page to save paper).
For this activity, the students use the letters of the alphabet to write about memories they have or skills they have learned during the school year. If you want to keep this more academic, you could require that it be all skills they have learned.
CLICK HERE TO GRAB A DIGITAL VERSION OF THIS ACTIVITY!
Each page has a place for the students to write what the letter stands for and write a paragraph briefly describing the memory or topic. Under the text is a place for them to illustrate the memory or topic. I usually make them do all of the writing (and proofreading and editing) before they can illustrate. This helps to sure they get the content done.
Click here to grab a FREE copy of the ABC Memory Booklet.
End of the Year Literacy Activities Involving Movement
My biggest tip to keep your students engaged and learning when summer break is on the horizon is to keep them moving. Incorporate as much movement into your lessons and activities as you can.
Here are some ideas that work specifically well for literacy end of the year activities:
Finish the Stories – Have the students start a story and then leave it on their desks. Rotate the class at your signal and allow them to read the stories and add to them.
SCOOT or Around the Room – Using task cards or even cut up worksheets, have the students move from desk to desk or around the room reading and answering questions.
Outdoor Activities – Up the engagement even more by taking the students outside to complete their literacy work. Click here to read my favorite outdoor learning activities for 4th and 5th graders and grab several freebies.
Find Someone Who Review – My students enjoy this interactive activity during back to school time, so why not incorporate it during the end of the year to review reading skills (+ engage the students and get them moving and discussing)? Click here to grab a FREE Find Someone Who printable that reviews 4th and 5th grade reading skills.
End-of-Year Read Alouds
Picture books with related literacy activities are another perfect end of the year activity. Click here or on the image below to read more about my favorite end of the year read alouds AND grab free printable activities.
My students absolutely love plays and reader’s theater. The last month of school is the perfect time for them to engage in reader’s theater. My personal favorite scripts can be found on TpT from Eddie McPherson. In particular, I love the Civil War themed ones. His scripts allow me to incorporate literacy, social studies, and super high engagement. The scripts are also humorous and my students love them.
We don’t do a big display with costumes and extreme props, but sometimes the students like to use simple props that the students make (often at home). We usually get through a few scripts in the last month of school. This activity is also great for practicing speaking skills and some of my reluctant readers usually thrive with this type of activity.
Those are some of my favorite end of year literacy activities that I use each year with my students. Do you have any activities or ideas that you do each year and love? I would love to hear about them in the comments.
If you are interested in math end of year activities, click here to check out my favorite activities for ending the year in math.
I love these free activities! Thanks for sharing!
Ebony Frey says
Great ideas! Thank you for sharing!
Jenny van der Vinne says
I love all your resources and suggestions and this section on readers theater is no different. You’ve helped my teaching so much.
I was wondering if I could pick your brain. For my masters thesis (I am 43 and teach grade 5 full time and now completing a masters in international education) I want to link literacy and critical thinking. There are two specific areas I’d love your insight in:
1. Would you know of a woman that researched or published things about critical thinking or something similar? There is Bloom, Di Bono, Marzano, Webb, Benzanilla, but those are all men. I am looking for a woman that I’d like to use for my masters thesis.
2. What more can you tell me about readers’ theater? I mean I use it in class a lot and I love it, but do you have resources or materials or suggestions regarding the background of readers’ theater, and/or the science/research related to it?
Thanks in advance, kind regards,