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Classroom Activities: End-of-School Award Ideas

Janelle Cox

A popular tradition among elementary schools is to have an end-of-year awards ceremony. This ceremony is a special way to recognize student achievement that was made above and beyond a student’s report card.

However, there are other accomplishments that merit appreciation as well. You can use classroom activities to honor success in attendance, behavior, character, athletics, and personality.

Here are a few end-of-year award classroom activities to help you recognize your students’ achievements.

Classroom Activities: Academic Awards

The easiest awards are the ones that highlight a student’s academic performance. All you have to do to figure out who deserves which award is to look at that student’s grades. While you may choose winners such as the “Super scientist” and “Super reader” by looking at their test scores and how many books they read, you can also select some other awards a little more subjectively.

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For example, if you see that “Brady” has improved tremendously in math, consider recognizing him with the “Most improved” award. Or, if you have a student who can quickly recall any multiplication fact, then you can award them the “Math facts” award. While the students with the top grades will be awarded for their efforts, individual recognition for the talented writers and budding artists can help foster their talents as well.

Attendance Awards

One of the most common and often sought after award is for attendance. A student can be rewarded for the semester, the quarter, or the entire school year. This is one of the most popular awards because anyone is able to receive it, and all students have a chance at winning it. Students who are not good academically or athletically have the chance to receive this award because all they have to do is show up for school every day.

Character Awards

Honoring a student based upon their character is another way a student can receive an award regardless of their academic achievement. You can award for trustworthiness, citizenship, responsibility, or even kindness. Many schools follow the “Character counts” program, which recognizes students based on the five pillars of kindness, honesty, responsibility, integrity, and respect. However, you can add as many more traits for the awards as you see fit.

Behavior Awards

School provides students the opportunity to demonstrate positive and respectable behavior. Some end-of-year awards can be designed to recognize those who have exemplified these important characteristics. Single out students who are leaders, students who demonstrate positive respectful behavior, and students who make an effort to help their fellow students without being asked. Reward and recognize these students for their civic contributions and show the students that their respectable behavior has not gone unnoticed.

Extracurricular Awards

Extracurricular awards recognize students’ accomplishments based on their participation in school sports, clubs and afterschool activities. These honors may go to the “Awesome athlete” or the “Most valuable player.” Students who are in student council may receive the “Leadership award” or students who keep the hallways safe from bullies may receive the “Hero hall monitor” award. These awards are meant to pay tribute to the students who go beyond academia and are dedicated to their school.

Humorous Awards

Recognizing serious student achievements is inspiring, but not all teachers feel that this is all they have to honor. Some teachers prefer to award a few humorous awards as well. Consider recognizing students for their personality quirks. Perhaps you have a student who always has a permanent grin on her face, or a student who you just know will be a lawyer some day because he is always negotiating. Simply print out an award for the biggest smile and the best negotiator. These awards aren’t motivated by the students’ accomplishments, but rather a fun way to celebrate their individual and unique personalities.

Recognition Ideas

End-of-the-year awards can come in many shapes and sizes. You can choose an award certificate that you create yourself and print out, you can have certificates that you buy, you also have the option of presenting students with a trophy, a medal, or even a gift card or flowers. The options are really endless. If you want to keep with the traditional award ceremony then it’s best to stick with a certificate or a trophy. If you are considering a tangible prize, it may be a good idea to tell the students well in advance (like in the beginning of the school year) because this can be an incentive for them to work toward. 

Another thing to consider is if you want the ceremony to be public or private. Do you want parents to come or do you just want it for your class or multiple classes? Some teachers prefer to keep it simple and just have it in the classroom with the students, while others prefer to invite parents and make it a big to do. Whichever you choose is up to you, and what suites your classroom wants and needs. You may find that this changes from year to year.

All students deserve to be recognized for something. A creative teacher will have no problem coming up with a way to honor each and every one of their students, either based upon their academics, character, or unique personality.

Do you have an award ceremony for your students? If so, what types of awards do you give? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear how recognize your students’ accomplishments.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.