Every year parents ask me why their child is reading now more than ever before. They are always amazed that a simple end of the year reading party can motivate their child to read more than 40 books over the course of a school year. But it works!
Earn Your Way In
Students must earn their way into this party by… you guessed it… reading!
Throughout the year, students track the books that they read using this reading log system. In order to come to the party, they must read at least 40 books throughout the year. Books that they read at home and at school count.
I check their reading logs at least once a month to ensure that they are tracking their books appropriately and are on track to attend the party. This helps to prevent the situation where a student magically reads 20 books the night before the party!
Since my students must read at least 40 books to attend the party, I decorate the classroom with 40th birthday supplies. 5 years ago, I invested in some party supplies and I reuse them every year. Decorating the classroom helps students to feel like this is really something special!
The Photo Booth
We complete a ton of different activities throughout our party day but my favourite is the photo booth!
I use streamers and balloons to create a fun background. I also purchased a ton of fun masks, props, etc. from the Dollar store a few years ago for the kids to use in their photos.
Every kid starts by creating a sign. On the sign they write how many books they read throughout the year. Click HERE to download a copy of this FREE sign!
I start by getting a photo of each individual child with their sign to send to their parents. After all, we worked as a team to accomplish the goal of becoming voracious readers!
Then I let the kids choose groups of friends to take “fun” photos with. They can use the props, be silly, etc. It’s a super fun time. As with any other opportunity to choose groups, be sure to lay down some ground rules about choosing people to be in their photos. Remind kids that feelings are easily hurt. Another strategy that I use is to choose kids who are less likely to be chosen for a group first. That way they are guaranteed to be in a group! Also, in general it is a rule in my room that you aren’t allowed to refuse to be in someone’s photo.
Another fun activity that I love to do during our end of the year reading party is to make bookmarks. I usually just search TPT or Pinterest for free bookmarks that the kiddos can colour. This is a great activity that the class can work on independently while you call kids up to the photo booth!
It’s always fun to share some treats as part of the reading celebration. I used to do a cupcake bar that the kiddos LOVED! They would each get a cupcake and get to decorate it using icing, candy, sprinkles, etc. But because of COVID precautions, I have recently switched to doing ice cream treats. It’s not nearly as fun but they still love their sugar.
Usually during the afternoon of our party I like to show the movie version of a whole class read aloud. One of my all time favourite read alouds is The City of Ember. The movie version is really neat and not many kids have seen it before. Showing this provides us with lots of opportunities to compare and contrast the film with the book. Students are also able to practice analyzing character traits, determining theme, summarizing, etc.
No matter how you choose to celebrate your year of reading, be sure to make it special! Trust me, word gets around and eventually you will have students who are begging to talk about the end of the year reading party on the first day of school! Which is exactly what you want… students who are excited about reading!
Want to learn more about incorporating reading workshop in the upper elementary classroom? Check out this blog post all about reading routines!