End of the Year Gifts

Meaningful (and Inexpensive) End of the Year Gifts for Students

5/5

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What do you give students at the end of the year?

My favorite, unique, student gifts that make them feel special and won't end up in the landfill.

The most meaningful end-of-the-year gifts my students love.

I remember trying to find the best end-of-year gifts for my students. I’d scour through Pinterest and TPT, but I struggled to find something I really wanted to give my students.

I’m one of those teachers who tries to steer clear of buying things that I know will likely end up in the landfill after a few days. I also love giving my students something special and personalized, rather than a generic gift for everyone.

So I needed a unique end-of-year gift for my students that was special and didn’t take tons of time or break the bank. And guess what? I figured out the perfect gift.

I started creating end-of-the-year word clouds for my students based on classmates’ compliments, and it’s been my go-to for the past six years.

How to create end-of-the-year word clouds for students?

How it all started… and feel free to use this idea for another time!

About 10 years ago, I initiated an activity where each student wrote their name at the top of a blank piece of paper.

Students remained in their seats and passed their paper to the friend next to them. The recipient looked at the name at the top of the page and wrote a compliment about that person. After a few seconds, the papers were passed again to the next person.

We continued passing the papers and writing compliments until the students received their own back. What they found was their paper filled with almost 25 sweet comments.

Talk about a mood lifter. I still remember the smiles that appeared on my students’ faces as they read through the compliments.

A year or two later, I had my students create word clouds on their computers using words that described them. It dawned on me that I could combine these two ideas for an awesome end-of-the-year gift. And so, the end-of-the-year word clouds were born!

An end of the year gift completely comprised of compliments from classmates

The premise of this activity is the same as the paper one above, except it’s digital, and students type only one word to describe each of their classmates instead of an entire phrase.

To keep everything organized and easy to use for both my students and myself, I utilize this Google Form where I create a “section” for each student. Each “section” contains the student’s name and a character trait cheat sheet that I insert as an image to assist them in coming up with words beyond just “cool,” “funny,” and “awesome.”

If you’ve used Google Forms before, you know that all the responses are automatically compiled into a Google spreadsheet. This allows you to easily copy and paste your students’ responses into a word cloud generator.

The benefits of doing this activity digitally, instead of passing around a paper:
  • Students get to take their time completing the Form to ensure their responses are meaningful. There’s no pressure to hurry and write something while papers are getting passed. You’ll receive more authentic responses when students have the time to think about the best word to describe each of their classmates.
  • You can assign it however you want! I’ve given my students a week to complete it. I assign the form in Google Classroom and provide students with a due date. You can offer it as an at-home activity, an early finisher activity, or during a selected class period.
  • You don’t need all of your students to be present on the day you do it. Everyone gets to participate since it’s digital, and students can fill out the Form anytime.
  • Student responses automatically get organized into a Google Sheet, saving you hours of inputting their written responses into the Word Cloud generator. Just copy and paste!
  • Papers can’t get lost; it’s digital and automatically saved.
  • Spell check is included! Students don’t have to worry about knowing how to spell words. Spell check is available in Google Forms, and you can include a character trait “cheat sheet” for even more support.
  • Let’s be honest, students love digital activities! And this one adds a bit of mystery too. They don’t know what’s going to happen with their responses 🙂
How to create your end-of-the-year word clouds gifts:
  1. Create a Google Form or use my template. In the form, create a section for each of your students’ names. In each section, I also like to include a list of character traits to help students come up with adjectives that go beyond ‘cool,’ ‘funny,’ and ‘smart.’ (Believe me, this list helps!)
  2. Send the form to students and have them go through, typing ONE WORD in each section to describe the friend that’s listed.
  3. When students are finished, open their responses as a spreadsheet. You can click on this option right from the Google Form.
  4. For each student, you can copy and paste all of their words in a couple of clicks into a word cloud generator like WordArt.com.
  5. You can make certain words stand out by adjusting their size (like their name, for instance). I also like to add my school’s name and the grade level. Find step-by-step instructions here.
  6. Save the word cloud as an image and insert the image onto a Google Slide (with 8x10in dimensions) along with that student’s picture if you choose!
  7. Print and frame them (you can find frames for $1 at the Dollar Tree!) or just use cardstock, and present them to students at the end-of-year celebration in your classroom.
Personalize your word clouds even more with student photos

You can create word clouds for your students with only text, or you have the option of personalizing the word clouds even more by adding your students’ photos to them.

I started doing this a couple of years ago and really like how they turned out, but you can decide. Both options look awesome!

Because I use the square word cloud design in WordArt.com, the photos of my students have to be taken vertically, so there’s enough room for them on the side of the word cloud.

I like compiling all of the finished word clouds and photos in a Google Slides presentation, changing the slide layout dimensions to 10×8 inches so they’re easy to print and have the option to be framed. (If framing them for your students is too costly, still print them as 10×8 because parents can choose to frame them as well.)

Download each word cloud as an image and insert it onto a slide along with that student’s photo. Here, I can make any adjustments I need to before I print.

After everything is set, I download the slideshow as a PDF and print them in color, usually at Office Depot or Staples when I don’t have access to my own color printer.

End-of-the-year gift ideas for volunteers and school workers

You can also use this same tutorial to create word clouds to celebrate other people at your school at the end of the year. Just insert the volunteer or student teacher’s name on a Google Form and send it to your students. Here are some ideas of who to create them for:

All you have to do is create a Google Form with that specific person’s name and send it to your students. They’ll do the same thing as above, typing one word to describe the adult helper.

When you go to create the word clouds, add extra words that also describe that person or their role in your classroom. For example, if a parent volunteer worked as reading support with students, also include ‘volunteer’ and ‘reading’ in the list of words before generating the word cloud. I like making these words a little larger by adjusting the font size in the word cloud generator.

Want step-by-step directions for customizing your end-of-the-year gifts?

If you want me to walk you through creating your end-of-year word clouds, I’ve crafted a step-by-step tutorial where I demonstrate how to achieve the same word clouds I use in my classroom. Pause and play it while you create your first word cloud. Then breeze through the rest of them.

I’ll show you exactly how to:

Want this tutorial along with our other must-haves for the end-of the-year? Grab our end of the year bundle which includes our student-created slideshow, research projects, awards, and more. Grab this 50% off BUNDLE here.

5/5

This was the perfect end of year gift to each student. I did include a photo and the students were so excited to read all of the things their classmates has to say about them. This will be something I use every year!

Megan, 5th Grade Teacher
5/5

My students enjoyed using the Google Form to write a positive comment about their classmates. The directions were helpful and easy to follow. The finished product was wonderful!

Sandra, 3rd grade teacher
5/5

Super cute! Excited to give these to my kids 🙂 They were super excited to present the ones they made for the principals and the counselors at our school I can only imagine how the will react. I may only laminate my students and give it to them, because giving them all picture frames towards the end of the yr is tough on my pockets! I love this though and plan to do it for years to come! 🙂

Ashley, 2nd Grade Teacher
5/5

This resource is fantastic! I had my students fill out the Google form for each classmate. Then I could put the word art project together. It takes some time to put the project together for each student, but well worth the time. These end-of-the-year gifts for the students are beautiful and I can’t wait to give them to them in a couple of days!

 

Jennifer, Teacher
5/5

I needed a quick to make and cute gift for my students at the end of the school year! I purchased this item & was able to create all of my student word clouds within an hour or so. The students enjoyed their part when they took the class survey to collect the words for their classmates. I will absolutely use this again!

Kimmie, Teacher
5/5

This was just what I was looking for. I was able to make a meaningful and personal end-of-year gift. The survey saved so much time and the creation process was very straightforward. Will save for next year!

Carolina, 4th and 5th Grade Teacher

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