End of the Year Activity: Keep Your Students Engaged! - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

End of the Year Activity: Keep Your Students Engaged!

March 27, 2019 5 min read

End of the Year Activity: Keep Your Students Engaged!

March 27, 2019 5 min read

With summer approaching, we wanted to share the best end of the year activity for keeping students engaged.

We’re all dreaming of those carefree summer days of sleeping in, binge-watching BRAVO shows, and laying out by the pool, (Who are we kidding? More like entertaining our own kiddos who still wake up at the crack of dawn!) but before we get there, we need to cross one of the biggest hurdles of the school year -keeping our students engaged in learning and not checking out before that final bell rings!

End of the Year Activity to Keep Your Students Engaged: Camp S’More Writing

Today, we’re letting you in on the absolute best activity to do in the final days of the school year. We’ve created a surefire way to get our students excited about coming to class, eager to work, and challenged with rigorous learning opportunities up until that final day. Yes, you read that right!

Here’s the exact activity that we do at the end of every school year and it is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

First, Set Up Camp S’More Writing

Once we’ve wrapped up our final unit, and while there’s still several days left in the school year, we tell our students that we’re getting a jumpstart on summer and headed off to camp.

We decorate the classroom with simple “camp-like” decor: a play fire pit from Jessica’s boys’ room, some signs pointing to the “lake,” cut-outs of trees made from green construction paper, etc.

If you try this in your own classroom, you could go all out and dress up like a camp counselor or show the camp arrival scene from The Parent Trap to get students even more amped up about camp (we’re talking the original 1961 version with Haley Mills, NOT the Lindsay Lohan one!). The point is, get the kids curious and motivated, telling them that they will be on teams and competing in typical camp games. The excitement will already be building … we promise!

Prior to the first day of camp we do the following:

  • We organize our students into several teams and assign them a camp color and pennant.
  • We then select the writing skills we want students to review and turn them into fun camp games.
  • We also throw in a few “just for fun” games like the Sandman (anyone ever play that at camp? So fun!!). But, the main focus is either reviewing grammar or writing skills or challenging students with activities that help them practice new ELA standards.

End of the Year Activities in Camp S’More Writing

To review stronger word choice in writing, we have a “watermelon eating” contest, and students must come up with unique synonyms for worn-out words. They must list as many words as there are “seeds” on the watermelon “slice” we given them. For every word a team has, that no other team has, a point is earned.

We then move on to “archery” and practice throwing darts at a bullseye. In this game, depending on which part of the target you choose, students must create a simple, compound, complex, or compound-complex sentence. (In case you were wondering, we’re NOT actually eating watermelon and throwing darts. We’ll save that for the actual summer camps.) Points are given for correctly written sentences.

Next comes a scavenger hunt for figurative language. Here teams compete to find examples of similes, metaphors, etc. in a short story. We like to use “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros since it is filled with an abundance of figurative language. Points are given not just for the team that completes this activity in the shortest time, but also has found all the correct examples of figurative language.

After the scavenger hunt, teams compete in a “tug of war” game. In this game, students “pull”/expand  a sentence using adjectives, adverbs, independent and dependent clauses, and prepositional phrases. Again, points are earned for meeting the criteria we set forth at the beginning of the activity.

Finally, what camp experience would be complete without some ghost stories told around the campfire? Teams put everything they have worked on at “camp” and craft a ghost story to share with the other campers. Points are awarded based on criteria that we assign before students draft their story.

Of course, we bring in graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows for students to make s’mores as we listen to all the stories.

We use a tally sheet to keep track of all the points teams earned in each round and declare the winners on the last day of camp. We also pass out camp awards to individual students who stood out:

  • Happy Camper – for the student who always had a smile on their face
  • Team Player – for the student who made sure everyone in their group was heard
  • Busy Beaver – for the student who was constantly engaged
  • Extra Miler – for the student who went above and beyond
  • Stick With It – for the student who never gave up
  • Crazy for Camp – for the student who loved every minute of camp
  • Exceptional Storyteller – for the students who crafted the most creative ghost story

Our students LOVE participating in these activities, and we love how focused they are on learning while still having fun!

Standards Addressed with this End of the Year Activity

Here are just some of the standards the games address, keeping the rigor high, but fun-filled for those last few days of school!

  • “Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.”
  • “Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.”
  • “Demonstrate command of standard English grammar and usage when writing and speaking.”
  • “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.”

We love that everyone is engaged in the activities, while students remain accountable for high level work. It is such a fun way to end the school year and transition to summer, and we look forward to this unit every year!

We’ve gathered all our camp resources for you (just click here) if you’re interested in doing these activities with your own students. Everything’s included from the games to the decor to the awards. You supply the s’mores. 🙂

Looking for more end of the year ideas? This end of the year descriptive writing activity is always a student favorite!

Save this post for later!


All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

Caitlin + Jessica

Your 15 Free Resources Are Waiting!

Immediately receive access to our
Free Resource Library

We promise we won't spam you.

Let’s Connect

Popular Posts

Our Latest Posts



  • But really, please do this for all of your students ♥️⁣⁣
Let each and every one of them know that you love them. That you care about them. That you are a person who has their best interest at heart. That you want to see them succeed. And that you will love them. ⁣⁣
I loved today’s podcast episode because pieces of advice like this one and the other two quotes included in this post are going to help you find success this year. ⁣⁣
Just little pieces of advice we would have loved to have told our first-year teacher selves before that first day of school. ⁣⁣
Pieces of advice that would have maybe made teaching easier, and if not easier, more meaningful for us that first year. ⁣⁣
And since we can’t go back in time, we’re sharing our advice with you today, so you can hopefully take some of these and make them into a mantra of sorts for your school year. ⁣⁣
At the end of the day, it’s about the kids. Love them, and love them with your whole freaking heart ♥️♥️⁣
You can listen to our podcast by going to the link in our profile or sending me a DM, and I’ll get the direct link right over to you 😘
  • Hard to believe I married my husband, Bob, 9 years ago today!! I’m not going to post a sappy love story post because that’s just not my MO ... what I will do instead is tell the truth ... and that is that marriage is hard. There are so many challenges that arise, but when you find someone who is willing to work with you to create a beautiful life together, something magical happens. This guy is everything to me, and I really could not be more thankful that he walked into the restaurant where I was working 12 years ago and gave me his phone number 😂♥️ Happy Anniversary to my incredible life partner!
  • Let’s talk classroom design for a bit ... over the last two years, I’ve learned SO much about the physical classroom environment from two of my most amazing friends @coreinspiration and @researchandplay ♥️ What used to be a need for all kinds of crazy bright colors and tons of stuff on the bulletin boards changed to calm colors and far fewer items on the walls. These pictures are of my favorite classroom to date by far!

And I have to say that it made a difference even for ME. If you’d like to learn more from them, they both have stories shared to their profiles about their thoughts on the physical classroom environment!
  • How many more days do you have left of summer? (Or have you already gone back?) For the remainder of the summer season, I’ll just be sitting here dreaming about this view in Hermosa Beach 🏖 (@researchandplay and I walked into an open house where we proceeded to take a picture as though it was ours 😂). Hope you guys have been enjoying your weekend!
  • This is SO, so difficult for me, but it’s something I try to remember often ♥️ My friend Kim from @believetheycan always shares posts that make me stop, think, and reflect, and I so appreciate that about her ♥️ Hope you guys are loving your life this weekend 😘😘
  • Double tap if you’ve used sketchnotes before! ♥️🤗 I hadn’t ever used them in the past, but I’d be curious to know your experience with them. Will you share in the comments? Would love to get a discussion going! Also, these sketch notes are from my friend Amanda @mudandinkteaching ♥️ She has them in her store for ELA if you’re interested!

Follow @ebacademics