End of Year Smorgasbord & FREEBIE

Welcome to the last.week.of.school. {for me anyways!}  We have finally made it!!

Today was our Class Awards Party.  In the past, our school has always done grade level awards ceremonies, but with 860+ kids this year, it just wasn’t practical to do it that way…imagine telling 175 first graders to sit completely quiet and still after they’ve received their exciting awards! *wink*

So, this year, our principal asked us to do our awards in our classroom.  I think this worked out great! I’ve seen ideas on Pinterest in the past of people doing awards in their own classroom and I was excited to be able to make our awards celebration a little more personal!

I set up our room by making a “red carpet” right down the middle of our carpet area…

I made a backdrop for our Promethean Board that I thought would be fun and be a good backdrop for parents’ pictures. {I took the red carpet picture before I had turned on the back drop…}

The kids sat on either side of the red carpet facing the carpet and I called out each kid and their awards.  Since it was just our class, I was able to add a few personal comments that I wouldn’t have been able to add at our grade level celebration.  In addition to their award certificates, each firstie got their finished memory book we have worked on during our writing time the past two weeks or so.  I have always made some sort of scrapbook for my kids.  The first several years my kids wrote a narrative story about a school event each month and I bound those together. It was an awesome collection for the kids and a great way to show their growth in writing.  BUT…because my school is so highly mobile, some of my kids ended up with only 2 pages in their book.  So, when I found this adorable and **FREE** memory book, I knew it was just what I needed!  We work on 1-2 pages a day.  I only do 10 pages of the memory book.  Then, I make a cover and back page with card stock, stamps, and scrapbook paper.  The front page has a class picture and titles.  The back page has each student’s picture {although that hasn’t been added in this pic yet…it will be on the top left corner.} We get free sticker pictures from Lifetouch, our yearbook photography company, and I use those!  I also type a personalized note to each of my kids and then decorate it with a few stamps!

And while it turns out so SOOOOO cute, it takes a lot of time.  Like hours.  Over a few days.  So this year, while I was putting them together, I decided that next year, I will be making a digital version of the cover and back page so that I can just update information and print!  I use MPix to print a lot of my color pages because it’s fast, super cheap and on thick paper.  That’s what I plan on doing next year.  They are customizable with step-by-step instructions on how to customize them. Here’s one design I’ve already worked on that matches our school colors…

I think the digital version is just as cute, if not cuter…and I will get back TONS of hours in May!

One way I was able to make our awards celebration more personal this year was by doing a “I’m proud of myself for…” award.  I wanted to be able to say something special about each kid and I thought it might be special if part of that came from the kids! So, this morning before our awards, the kids reflected on our year and wrote about one thing they have accomplished at school that makes them proud.  I told them it could be a project they completed that they weren’t sure they could do, or even a character trait that they worked hard on this year.  We also brainstormed encouraging phrases to write on the “award” on their paper…. some of our ideas were: I rock! First grade rules! #1 first grader! And the list goes on….they had a blast coming up with encouraging phrases!

Download the “I’m proud of myself for” award for FREE here:

I got so busy getting our party ready that I forgot to take pics of some of the awards kids wrote for themselves.  Boo! There’s always next year though…

After all the kiddos got their awards, they took their parents back to their desks and showed them their IB portfolios.  Part of our school being an IB school is keeping portfolios on kids from kindergarten through 5th grade.  The portfolios have writing samples and work samples from each of our 6 units we teach throughout the year.  The kids love getting to show their parents their hard work!

Then, it was time for cookies and punch! Since my room is decorated western, I just decided to do a western celebration this year!  I brought some burlap from home and resused some bandanas to decorate my back kidney table with punch and cookies.  No fancy punch recipe…just ginger ale and strawberries!

Before I sent my sweeties on their merry way home, I gave them one last end-of-the-year gift.  This is a new one for me this year and one of those ideas that just literally popped in my head in the middle of wal-mart.  The problem was, I was already in the parking lot headed home, so I had to make another trip.  Darn, my poor timing issues!! 😉  But I think it was totally worth the extra trip!

Hop on over to my store to get the labels to make your own!

It really has been a “Rootin’ Tootin'” year and I’ve had a blast with this sweet first graders.  Sure will miss ’em!

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