It’s the end of the year! Keep your 2nd and 3rd grade students learning with these theme week celebration ideas. Teachers can use each of these 10 classroom theme weeks to integrate a variety of subject areas and classroom activities for end of the school year FUN (and actual learning)!
It’s that time of year when testing is over and we’ve become so accustomed to review, review, review that once testing is done, it takes a moment to get our bearings and realize we actually got into teaching so we could, you know, teach things. It might be the end of the year, but we can still teach! Mixing it up is the name of the game!
If you’re in the “What shall I do with my days?” boat, Here are 10 themes you can use as a way to integrate a variety of subject areas. Using theme weeks to review grade level standards is a fun way to keep students engaged during those last weeks of school. The kids LOVE the novelty, and you’ll love that you can actually teach something meaningful at the end of the year.
Because each theme can be integrated with a number of subject areas, I would not recommend trying them all in a “theme days” format. Rather, choose one as your last week hurrah, and integrate it with as many subject areas as you can. A number of activity ideas for each theme can be found below.
In this post you will find links to Teachers Pay Teachers products and freebies, Pinterest, and Amazon Affiliate links to books and games.
End of the Year Theme #1: Wonka Week
Reading: Read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of course! (Plus, you should probably watch both movies and compare/contrast them for good measure.)
Writing: Create and present advertisements for a brand new Wonka candy.
Math: Use this set of 42 Wonka and candy themed math problems. There are problems on a variety of levels, so all students can find something that’s an appropriately fun challenge.
Science: Kids love anything where candy is the centerpiece of the experiment. Check out my WONKA pinterest board for candy themed science ideas.
Art: Create a new floor for Wonka’s factory with this Wonka Floor Design project. There are 2 differentiated versions + an editable document so you can customize it as many times as you’d like. The kids LOVE coming up with their own ideas for rooms (Marshmallow Mountain! Soda Fountain Waterfall!) and you’ll love how engaged they are with this multi-day project.
Use the grid enlargement technique to create “Blown Up Candy Bars”. You will need candy bar wrappers cut into 1-inch squares. Then give every student a 1′ x 1′ piece of white art paper. Their job is to recreate in the enlarged 1 foot size, exactly what is on their 1 inch wrapper square. Then, put all the squares together to create 1 giant candy bar. You can even get fancy and put backing on these, stuff them with paper, and make truly giant 3-D candy bars. This is a fun fast finisher you can use for a very long period of time!
More Resources: Wonka Week is my very favorite way to end the year! If you want more info about how to set up Wonka Week in your own classroom, visit this blog post for more Wonka Week details and freebies!
End of the Year Theme #2: Camping
Reading: Read around a classroom campfire or bring in flashlights and sleeping bags for “lights out” reading. Use Summer According to Humphrey as a read aloud. (My 2-3 kiddos absolutely love this book!)
Writing: Write daily letters home from camp to parents.
Math: Use these Camping Math Challenges and Brainteasers as fast finishers, choice work, or number talks. These are perfect for “cabin group” work, since they are meant to be a challenge for 2nd and 3rd grade students. You can try a camping math challenge for FREE HERE.
Science/Social Studies: Nature walks, leaf rubbings, compass reading & map making all lend themselves to your camping theme.
Art: Anything art can be used for “Arts and Crafts” time. Create cabin team name signs, team flags, camp tee-shirts, yarn art, line art, leaf art, so many choices!
Other: Make yummy trail mix, microwave s’mores (just be careful with those marshmallows!), and use them for campfire reading treats.
Need more print & go resources: This Camp End of the Year pack from Math Mojo saved me an insane amount of time and sanity (Oh, how I wish I would have created it!). It includes daily activities in each subject area for a week of camping themed fun. My students LOVED these activities and I barely skimmed the surface of what she has in this pack. 4 stars!
End of the Year Theme #3: Author Week (Books, books, books!)
Reading: Have students bring in their all-time favorite books to read during silent reading time. Choose a read aloud by one of your favorite authors to finish out the end of the year. I vote The Boxcar Children. It’s a classic!
Writing: Have an Author Celebration where students share their favorite writing pieces from the year. Write book reviews for next year’s students to display in your classroom library, or write book reviews and publish them online at Amazon.
Art: Students create their own book covers for their favorite pieces of writing to take home with their end of year portfolio. Making new writer’s notebook covers is another great art activity that can double as an end of year gift. Students make the covers, and you (sneakily) tape them on brand new composition notebooks to be given away on the last day of school.
Other: Invite parents to your special author day and provide hot chocolate, comfy seating, and relaxing music to create your own coffee shop-like atmosphere.
Have gung-ho (always need a fast finisher) students work on organizing your classroom library by genre during your readers & writers week, or choose 10-20 books a day to organize as a class. This is a great time filler and review of genres.
End of the Year Theme #4: Hollywood Red Carpet
Reading: Read a book on which a movie is based, with the intention of watching that movie later in the week. I used to recommend The Witches, but then some students got scared, so I switched to Matilda. Use your best judgement. 🙂
Practice inferencing skills. Have students draw or bring in an item that represents their favorite movie. Then have other students guess what their favorite movie is based on the clues from the drawing or object.
Writing: Compare and contrast a book with the movie version, writing opinion papers about which one students prefer.
Students can create individual top 10 lists of favorite movies with reasons for their opinions. Then, look for similarities in the lists and come up with a top 2 or 3 (acceptable to watch at school) class favorite movies.
Art: Create movie posters that go along with students’ favorite books or their own writing from the year.
Create a “Star Work” bulletin board that is ready to go for next year’s class. Students can choose their favorite activity or assignment from the year and create a poster advertising what they created or learned. Then you can display these as teasers at Back to School Night next fall.
Other: A movie/Hollywood theme can align perfectly with an end of year awards ceremony. Instead of the regular candy bar awards or achievement award certificates, use this Oscar Awards Pack to make your end of year awards assembly extra special! This Kids’ Choice Awards idea from The Primary Peach is also fantastic!
Create a movie theater environment with comfy seating and treats for an end of year viewing party. You can watch a movie or two based on what you’re using for read aloud, your class’s favorite movies (as determined above), or watch end of year slideshows created from photos of your class you’ve taken throughout the year. (See theme #10 for PowerPoint photo yearbooks.)
End of the Year Theme #5: Fun & Games
“Fun & Games” is a specifically vague theme that can include math games, board games, water games, and all sports. Sometimes you have a sporty class and sometimes you just don’t. The “Fun & Games” theme can be used with or without the sports included.
Reading: The Westing Game is more advanced, but if you create a character map it’s a doable read aloud for your 3rd graders. Chasing Vermeer is a fun mystery with a connection to pentominoes (my very favorite math fast finisher game/puzzle!)
Writing: How-To writing is perfect for fun and games week! Students write up how to pieces based on how to play their favorite games. Bonus points if you can create photo how tos, where students create photo collages to enhance their how to writing.
Math: Play your class’s favorite math games as year end reviews. Pentominoes and tangrams are perfect for this! You can read more about pentominoes at this blog post HERE.
Art: Students can create and then play their own board games.
Other: Have game afternoons where you practice cooperatively (key word cooperatively) playing games.
End of the Year Theme #6: Travel/Around the World
Reading: 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones is a mystery/around the world treasure hunt the students love. Plus, if a few of your little guys fall in love with the series, they’ll have a great set of books to continue as summer reading.
Writing: Have students research states/countries/landmarks/wonders of the world. They can then create travel brochures, day trip itineraries, or posters to advertise their chosen location.
Math: These Travel Math Challenges & Brainteasers include general travel themes like packing, sunscreen, and photographs as well as problems focused on specific landmarks like The Eiffel Tower, The Parthenon, and Big Ben. You can try a travel math challenge (with a Statue of Liberty theme) for FREE HERE.
Social Studies: Create maps, make passports, create travel brochures, or day trip itineraries.
Art: Through Google Arts & Culture, you can explore famous sites, art museums, and natural wonders right from your classroom. This an amazing resource!
Other: As a culminating activity, have students bring in traditional foods from their families for a Feast of Traditions. This one takes some planning and parent participation, but if you have those things, this can be a great way to spend an afternoon on the last week of school.
End of the Year Theme #7: Animals
Reading: If you have not read Me . . . Jane to your class, now is the time! This lovely picture book about Jane Goodall is a darling (quick) read, and can be a great jumping off point for animal research or writing about hopes and dreams for the future (or just the summer).
The One and Only Ivan is also an excellent read that my 2nd graders were wild about, but if you’re an animal lover, the plight of those sweet (fictional) animals can take a toll on your emotional well-being. Be warned!
Writing/Science: Animal research! Without fail, 2nd and 3rd graders are obsessed with the platypus, red panda, and shark. Use the book O is for Orca as a mentor text to introduce animal ABC books. Then have students create their own, or create a class animal ABC book together.
Math: These Animal Math Challenges & Brainteasers are my favorite animal themed math activities. After doing a few of these together, have students research interesting animal facts and turn them into their own math challenge problems and/or brainteasers. For this particular set of math challenges, the size of the ostrich egg and the length of an alligator were 2 animal facts turned math problems.
Other: Zoo field trip anyone? If kindergarten or 1st grade hasn’t already called this as their traditional field trip, make it yours!
My fave brain break with an animal theme comes from the Brain Break Bucket from 3rd Grade Thoughts: Zoo Freeze! Choose a very quiet student to pick an animal. Then, all the students in the class can act like this animal until you (the zookeeper) say “Freeze!” Then, you choose the best freeze-er to choose the next animal. Second and third graders seriously love this one. Just make sure you make it a point to choose the best freeze-er, because if you don’t, your class will quite literally turn into a zoo.
End of the Year Theme #8: Super Heroes
I may be a bit partial to this theme due to my love of dressing up like a Super Teacher (thus the blog name). Who doesn’t love wearing a cape and specialty iron-on tee? You can get 3 FREE super teacher iron-ons at this blog post HERE and have your outfit planned all week long. Super Teacher tees go best with jeans. 🙂
Reading: Biographies fit perfectly with a super hero theme. Try the “Who is . . . .” series. This one is about Jane Goodall.
Writing: Students can write thank you letters to everyday super heroes (think janitors, secretaries, teachers, parents). If you’re reading biographies, students can interview a classmate and create a simple biography page or poster about them as an end of year memento.
Math: Create Array Cities with superheros flying overhead.
Art: Have students create comic books or comic strips for next year’s students showing them details about routines in your classroom. Jeepers Batman! That’s how we use bathroom passes in Mrs. Smith’s room. Kapow!!!
Science/Social Studies: Try one of these Superhero science activities.
Other: These paper capes are to die for! These could be great team builders: every student thinks of a sincere compliment or chooses one positive word to describe every classmate and writes it on their cape.
These awards are pretty darling if you’re thinking of going the super hero route.
End of the Year Theme #9: Beach, Water
Reading: Apologies for overusing my friend Humphrey, but my 2nd and 3rd graders seriously love him. Humphrey gets into some boaty fun in the classic tale: Adventure According to Humphrey. Boats float on water, so you can certainly use this (very darling) book during beach/water week.
Writing: Students create “bucket lists” of things they want to do this summer or next school year. Want to see a Bucket List craftivity? Check out this one on Pinterest.
Math: Try these Summer themed Math Challenges & Brainteasers, which include math problems focused on themes for June and July including: sun, swimming, the beach, Father’s Day, 4th of July, ice cream, water park, 10K race, & barbecues
Science: Any experiment using water, buckets, water guns or sand is fair game. These ocean themed science activities look amazing!
Other: Water day/pool party anyone? Throw in a park field trip and add some water games to align it with your beach/water theme.
Pirates sail on the water, right? Connect pirates to your watery beach theme and now you can justifiably take part in a treasure hunt! This Story Problem Treasure Hunt is my go to. Just know that it does require a bit of cutting and organizing, but you can work on it for at least 2 days, so the prep is worth it!
These sand pail student gifts go along perfectly with a beach/water theme. If you don’t have the moolah to buy buckets for 30+ kiddos, try these water bottle/straw/Kool-Aid gifts. Cute and cost effective!
End of the Year Theme #10: Experts/Hobbies
Students are now experts at being 2nd graders/3rd graders, so why not harness these feelings of moral superiority into some good old fashioned learning?!
Writing: Have students write and present something they are an expert on. This can be school related, or you can host a “Hobby Days” activity where students create a short “how to” presentation about a hobby they enjoy.
Students can also write letters to next year’s students. I prefer a “fill in the blank” template for this rather than letting them just go for it. The finished products (you can make copies of the best examples) are perfect to have on students’ desks when you meet your new class after the summer (but let’s not think about August just yet).
Reading: Students can read the written portion of each others’ expert/hobby day writing assignments. For a read aloud, try something school or grade level related. The Day I Lost My Class Hamster is a cute compilation of school memories by a variety of children’s authors.
This set of May Math Challenges & Brainteasers includes problems with end of the school year themes like: field day, ice cream, awards assemblies, talent shows, class parties, field trips, Mother’s Day, and desk cleaning. You can try one of these May Math Brainteasers (with a field trip theme) for FREE HERE.
Social Studies: Have students create classroom maps for next year’s students. They can create possibilities for new seating charts, or make maps of the school with tips and tricks they’ve learned from their 2nd/3rd grade experiences.
Art: Create advertisements for next year’s 2nd graders/3rd graders. Not only does this take up a nice chunk of class time now, but these are also perfect to use as hallway decorations for Meet the Teacher or Back to School Night in the fall. 2 birds, 1 stone. Plus, all you need is time and white art paper.
Other: Do you take an obscene amount of photos like I do? If so, PowerPoint yearbooks are the best (very long) project! A PowerPoint yearbook is simply a number of PowerPoint slides with pictures and possibly text boxes about the school year. Use a shared folder so students can access the photos and create a simple PowerPoint Yearbook “master copy” for students to use as a model to create their own PowerPoint photo yearbooks. Students love these and as long as you can schedule computer lab time daily, this can be a project that takes as long as you would like.
Do you have any other classroom themes you’ve used with great success? Do you have any activities you’ve used that would fit with one of the 10 themes above? Tell me about them in the comments.
Have a fab day (and end of the school year!) Super Teacher,