Celebrating Elementary School Graduation: Teacher Tips and Resources

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little girl with braids in a graduation outfit
Emma (Teach Starter)

Written by Emma (Teach Starter)

Whether you call it elementary school graduation or stepping up, the day students officially “graduate” from elementary school they tend to be filled with a jumble of emotions. There’s the excitement that they’ve reached such a milestone, pride that they’re soon to be one of the ‘big kids’, and, of course, nervousness that the next stage of school would be scary and different to what they are used to!

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As a teacher, it’s no different. It is so touching to sit back and watch ‘your kids’ graduate. No, I’m not crying – I just have something in my eye! Honestly!

Whether you’re a parent, teacher or student, there’s no denying elementary school graduation is an emotionally charged event.

How do you make sure that elementary school graduation goes off without a hitch and is a milestone they always remember? We have got you covered with fifth and sixth-grade graduation ideas for teachers!

Elementary school Graduation Cupcakes

An Elementary School Graduation Celebration

How best do you prepare for this special day, a day that represents the culmination of efforts of students, parents, and teachers over so many years? Here’s how to make sure your final days of school are filled with elementary school graduation activities to help your students reflect on the journey they have just completed. Resources that promote a meaningful transition for your graduating students connect them to their past, help them appreciate all of the growth they have achieved, and build them up to continue their learning journey.

We have put together a list of purposeful activities and a Graduation Resource Pack for you and your students to make graduation day as memorable as possible.


 Approaching Elementary School Graduation Day

Once your students have completed their end-of-the-year projects, it’s time for fun and reflective activities. They have earned it!

It’s also time to get your students excited! Create a ‘Countdown’ display using some of our colorful pennant banners.

Help your students relax and bask in the feeling of success by getting the class to suggest songs for a playlist of music for the remainder of their lessons. Have a ‘Playlist Requests’ box in the classroom and choose a selection of songs to play throughout the days approaching the graduation ceremony (handy hint – make sure to choose ‘clean’ options for songs to avoid any accidental explicit language).

Elementary school Graduation Countdown

Create a Graduation Mortarboard

Students can create their own graduation hats to wear to their graduation ceremony! Follow these easy steps to create a graduation hat using our Graduation Hat Template and cardboard.

You will need:

  • Graduation Hat Cut and Assemble Template
  • two pieces of black cardboard or stiff felt
  • ribbon matching your school colors.
 

Students can even decorate the tops of their graduation hats to give them a personalized twist!

One Last Shared Story

When I decided to leave teaching full-time, it was a scary transition for me.

Would I fit in well to my new job?

Would I make friends?

Would I find the work as interesting and fun as teaching had been?

Your students will be thinking similar thoughts about the year following graduation, especially if they are moving schools. Help lay their fears to rest and treat them to one last shared story by reading Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go.

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

I was gifted this beautiful storybook by my class earlier in the year before I left to work at Teach Starter. It is a truly touching and inspiring story about life and all the twists and turns you’ll experience on your journey.

Encourage your students to listen to the book’s message. Why not follow up reading by asking your students to unpack the story in our Finding the Main Idea – Blank Template or Viewing Response Template?

Elementary school Graduation Activity

Reflective Activities

While they’re relaxing, your students might like to take the time to reflect on the year they’ve just had. Use our End of Elementary School Reflection Worksheet to prompt them to think about all that they’ve experienced in the past year, and what they will remember for years to come.

As your graduation ceremony nears, your students will be gearing up for an emotional day.

Ensure their nearest and dearest are there to support them by sending each family a Graduation Day Invitation. For a specifically timed occasion, we also have a Graduation Day Breakfast Invitation or Graduation Day Morning Tea Invitation.

Elementary School Graduation Letters

Ask students to use our Graduation Letter Template to write their parents a letter to give them on graduation day.

They can thank them for all they’ve done to help them get to where they are now, and tell them their hopes and dreams as they move forward into middle school or junior high.

Why not give parents the same task? Many families would relish the opportunity to write a letter to tell their son or daughter how proud they are of them.

Swap these letters as part of the graduation ceremony to help families feel like they are an active part of the day.

Sometimes saying goodbye to elementary school friends can seem an incredibly daunting task, especially if students have known each other since they started school!

Ask your students to create a beautiful double-page Final Year of Elementary School – Scrapbook Pages Template to keep the memories of their last year. Autographs and special photos will be cherished for years to come.

Take your students right back to where it all began with our My Elementary School Journey – Then and Now Scrapbook Template.

Give them the opportunity to compare their first year and their final year of school with photographs, anecdotes, and memories. They will be filled with nostalgia and delight at the thought of how far they have come!


School Graduation Day Has Finally Arrived

Elementary school graduation day can be an incredibly moving time for students and teachers alike. Your students will probably be buzzing with excitement, but there will no doubt also be a few tears.

An elementary school graduation ceremony is the perfect opportunity for your school to give back to the students, and show how much they appreciate and will miss the graduating class.

Elementary school Graduation

The Start of the Ceremony

It’s a nice touch to have a PowerPoint playing for the graduating class’s parents, friends, and peers to watch while they arrive and get themselves settled at the ceremony.

Why not use our Elementary School Graduation – Powerpoint Template, and put together a slide for each student featuring a photo from their first year and their last year of elementary school?

Students can personalize the slide with a quote, or ask teachers to volunteer a personal anecdote that each student will love to read.

Elementary School Graduation

Don’t forget, graduation isn’t complete without music!

Put together a playlist of songs that will elicit the pride and excitement that only graduation can create. You can also use your class’s playlist requests from earlier in the week to supplement the music.

Our top 10 graduation song suggestions!

  1. We Are the Champions – Queen
  2. Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  3. Fly – Avril Lavigne
  4. The Climb – Miley Cyrus
  5. Never Grow Up – Taylor Swift
  6. Graduation (Friends Forever) – Vitamin C
  7. How Far I’ll Go – Moana (The Movie)
  8. Photograph – Nickelback
  9. It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
  10. Firework – Katy Perry

During the Ceremony

If your elementary school has school leaders or a valedictorian, you may want them to present a speech on their school journey so far. Our public speaking resources can give them a few hints.

Alternatively, let Kid President do the talking!

One of the most emotional moments of the day will no doubt be the final roll call.

Call the roll for the final time, and present each student with an Elementary School Graduation Certificate.

You might like to save the foundation students for last. Have a special list to read at the end of the roll call of students who have been in the school since the start of their elementary school journey.

After the Ceremony

Put up a photo booth or graduation backdrop for students to pose with their friends and family.

Finally, make sure everyone is smiling through their tears by bringing out a graduation cake!


Elementary School Graduation and Beyond

You may think the end of the ceremony is the end of the road for your involvement in your students’ lives – not so!

As I mentioned earlier, graduation day can be incredibly emotional for teachers as well as students. It’s hard enough to say goodbye to your class at the end of the school year! When you know that you won’t even be seeing their smiling faces every day in the playground, it can really pull on the heartstrings.

As they return to the classroom one last time, it’s a great opportunity to present each student with a special gift. If you’re stuck for ideas, we’ve put together these Student Gift Tags – Elementary School Graduation with a special little message to send your students on their way with everything they could need.

Elementary School Graduation Gift Tags

You’ll have the yearly class photos, but why not take a snapshot of you and each student in their graduation hats on graduation day?

Keep these mementos in a special album for you to look back on with a nostalgic smile. Ask each student to write YOU a special note to remind you of their unique personalities and of all the good times you had together!

You might even like to suggest to your principal to create a Graduating Class Legacy Mural in your school. Each student can contribute something unique to the mural as a lasting reminder of their time at the school, and it would be perfect for a visit for graduating seniors for a clap-out ceremony!

Farewell and good luck to all of the graduates!

We’d love to hear your graduation tips. Comment below or tag us @teachstarter_us and #teachstarterus to share the love!

Banner image via shutterstock/tong_stocker

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