One challenge they don’t mention before you become a teacher is how it can feel saying goodbye each year. After spending months with students you have bonded with and cared for, it’s so bittersweet! There is a reason you might refer to your students as your “kids” – they compose your at-school family.
As the last day of school draws near, memory books can help your class family close out the year in a reflective, meaningful way.
Why create end of the year memory books?
When you are in the midst of learning and growing, it’s easy to forget how far your class has come. Making end of the year memory books is a great way for students to look back at the fun moments that have taken place, the growth that has occurred, and the new things students have learned.
It is worthwhile in that students are able to relive exciting moments with one another and bond as a class over their shared memories from the school year. It gives them a special keepsake to remember their school year by. Their parents and families love having this memento as well.
For many students, this wrap up and reflection of the year can also help them mentally prepare for the new school year to come. And it can give them a positive sense of closure with the current one.
What goes into a memory book?
There are all kinds of end of the year memory books out there. In fact, a quick Google or TPT search will produce a ton of great options. The particular memory book I’ll be sharing with you here emphasizes the theme of being a class family.
If you’re familiar with the book Our Class is a Family, this memory book pairs well with it. If you didn’t read the book at the beginning of the year – it’s not too late! This read aloud fits into any point in the school year, and can even take on new meaning toward the end of it. Students will feel the strong sense of community that your class has built together throughout the school year.
After reading (or rereading because, why not?) you could have students create a memory book that reflects on moments they have shared with their class family.
I have a pre-made memory book template (available in my web shop and on TPT), which I’ll share in more detail below! This is a great project for the last month, last week, or the last day of school. Here are some of the items included in this memory book:
It comes with multiple grade level options, so you can select the cover that fits the grade you teach.
Students could glue their cover onto a construction paper of their choice. It adds some sturdiness (and a pop of color) to the book. Choose a large piece of construction paper that can be folded in half. Then, you can staple everything together into a book by placing the additional pages inside the construction paper. Another option is to use a 3-hole punch and tie the book together with yarn. You can even get fancy and give it a plastic spiral binding with a book binding machine, if you’d like.
After the cover page comes the title page. This is where students will write their name to show the book belongs to them. They can also color the cover and clipart to personalize the book and make it their own.
It’s likely that throughout the year, you shared many authors and books with your students. Through this end of the year activity, students get to be the author of their own book!
The “about” pages give your students space to share about themselves, and also the people that were a big part of their lives this school year. Here are a few of those types of pages you could include in your students’ memory books:
- Me: Have students draft a self portrait (or include a picture) and write about their favorite things.
- My Friends: Students tell about what they like to do with their friends and list adjectives that describe their friends.
- My Teacher: Students share their favorite thing about their teacher, something their teacher always says (these are fun to read!), and one thing their teacher taught them.
Class Family Pages
The class family pages are the parts of the memory book that coincide most with Our Class is a Family. Maintaining that strong sense of class community still applies at the very end of the school year! The terminology of “class family” will let your students know that you’ll always still be connected even after the school year ends.
Here are a few ideas for your class family pages (all of these pages and more are included in the pre-made memory book):
- Class Content – Have students draw a picture or write about what they learned in each subject throughout the school year. Students could brainstorm together as a class first, and then write their final ideas down in their memory book.
- Capture the Moment – As a class, brainstorm some of the most fun, exciting events that have happened during the school year. Then, have students choose one event to illustrate in their end of the year memory book.
- Autographs – Give students a or two in their memory book to collect signatures and notes from their peers!
More resources to go with Our Class is a Family
In case you might be interested in more extension activities for the book (not just for the end of the year), a Class Family Album is a favorite among many classes!
To start, your students can talk about what it means to be a family and create their class information page. Each student also gets a family member page, where they write about themselves and what family means to them.
This resource can be used throughout the entire school year. As your class has special events or learns about exciting things, have students document it in their family album (this works great as an ongoing writing center)! The album can be kept in your classroom library for students to look at during independent reading time. It often becomes one of the most popular, “most read” books in class, and students can be proud of the fact that it has been authored by them.
Another idea is to give each of your students a special Our Class is a Family bookmark to celebrate their accomplishments as a family this school year!
These printable bookmarks are free to download. I hope your students love them if you decide to grab them. They make for a super simple, yet super special, end of the year gift (or any time of year)!
As the school year comes to a close, remember to take a moment for yourself as well. We spend lots of time preparing our students for the summer and reflecting on their progress, but don’t forget to do some positive self-reflecting too. You have worked hard to make your class a family and help your students grow, and that is definitely something to be celebrated!