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

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



  • Give me a double-tap if you’re a 1st or 2nd year middle school ELA teacher asking, “Does this ever get easier?” ⁣⁣
You might feel like you’re drowning and struggling to grasp for air. Grades are due, weekly lesson plans were supposed to be turned in already ... To top it all off, you’re in grad school and the yearbook moderator! ⁣⁣
Like I said yesterday. I get it. I was you!⁣⁣
And I just want to tell you with 100% honesty that YES! It does get easier! ⁣⁣
But if you’re feeling like you’re drowning RIGHT NOW, I want to urge you to take an hour out of your day for yourself to join me in a free online PD that is going to start changing everything for you! ⁣⁣
In our hour together, I’ll be sharing with you how to take back your weekends and weeknights and save yourself hundreds of hours in planning this year! ⁣⁣
Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to send you a DM with the link to grab your free spot! 😘♥️
  • Is this you? 🤪⁣
You’re half watching episodes of Below Deck (yes, my guilty pleasure) while scrolling through Pinterest searching “engaging short story ideas for middle school” and then hopping over to another site to find a unit or an idea, and then somehow you find yourself on a blog about how to make a graham cracker cheesecake crust without a springform pan ... 🤦🏼‍♀️⁣
At this point, you have 10+ different tabs open, and you’re piecing together this week’s lessons while asking yourself, “Is THIS what I signed up for?? When is teaching going to stop taking all of my free time?!”⁣
Well, I’m telling you that I WAS that teacher. That 100% was me for the first 3-4 years of my teaching career. I. GET. IT. ⁣
But, I will tell you that I DID make a change. And that frantic teacher who was wasting hours of their time online is no longer me 🎉 I was able to figure out a way to stop doing that every night and every weekend. And it all boiled down to one thing:⁣
Effective lesson planning ✅ ⁣
And what I want to tell you, is that ...⁣
YOU can make a change RIGHT now because I put together an entire FREE Online Masterclass PD where you are immediately going to learn strategies for lesson planning that will give you back your weeknights and even your weekends!⁣
Let me know in the comments if you want me to DM you the link to register, or you can click on the link in our profile to sign up!⁣
Spots are LIMITED, so I’d suggest reserving your spot ASAP!⁣
See you guys there!! 🥳😘
  • Give me a ♥️♥️♥️ if you had a chance to listen to last week’s episode of The Teaching Middle School ELA Podcast with Ashley from @buildingbooklove !! If you didn’t get a chance to do so yet, DEFINITELY head over to the podcast to give it a listen!⁣
Ashley shares ... ⁣
🎧 the research behind WHY we should be using podcasts in the classroom ⁣
🎧 how to get started with podcasts in the middle grades ⁣
🎧 and even some AMAZING podcasts and episodes you could use RIGHT now with your kiddos!⁣
If you were able to listen, I would love, love, LOVE to know what one of your takeaways was from the episode! Please take a moment to share in the comments with me 😘⁣
If you haven’t had a chance to listen, but would love for me to DM you the link, just let me know in the comments below, and I’ll get our info over to you!⁣
You can also search for us wherever podcasts can be found (for the most part!): Teaching Middle School ELA ✏️
  • Double tap if you already have our FREE ebook Your Balanced Year! It’s all about finding balance in your teaching life ♥️🍎⁣
We’ve included over 25 pages of content that includes tips, strategies, structures, free lesson plan ideas, activities, and links to even MORE free content! ⁣⁣
... plus a special link to our Balanced Teaching Approach Facebook Group where we have ANOTHER free resource download for you as well ♥️ ⁣⁣
Come join us on this journey to find more balance in your teaching life 😘 ⁣⁣
LMK in the comments if you’d like me to DM you the link!
  • Double-tap if you are a lover of Poe like I am 👻 Old picture from last year, BUT ...! Jessica and I are working on something FABULOUS that has something to do with one of my favorite short stories ever! AND ... I’ll be letting you know how you can get it for free ... in like 3 weeks! Lol 😆 But it’s coming, I promise ♥️
  • Give me a ♥️ if you’re a podcast listener? ⁣
This is a quote from last week’s episode of our podcast, The Teaching Middle School ELA Podcast, where I shared a bunch of easy and engaging ELA games that you can infuse into your curriculum. ⁣
Now, I’m not talking CRAZY things here. Just simple games that have a big impact on student learning and engagement. ⁣
If you haven’t listened yet, head over to wherever you can listen to podcasts and search for us!⁣
Next week, we’re talking about actionable ways to incorporate mindfulness into YOUR life as a teacher. I’m so excited to have Kailey from @educalme with me to share her brilliant insights and ideas with you!

Follow @ebacademics