10 Classroom Activities to Reflect on 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, it’s a great time for your students to pause and reflect on their past year. It’s fun to think about the memories they have made, accomplishments they are proud of, and even consider lessons they learned. There are countless fun ways to encourage your students to reflect on their past 365 days. 

Select your favorite of these ten ways to reflect on 2023. Watch your student’s eyes light up as they remember their triumphs, shake their heads at their tragedies, and perhaps even laugh at their missteps. Reflection on the past will help your students learn from and look forward to an even better 2024!

Top Ten List

Encourage your students to reflect on the year by making a “Top Ten” list of their choice. They can choose their top ten favorite memories, lessons learned, accomplishments, or even restaurants they’ve dined at this year!

If you want to elevate this list from pencil and paper, consider having your students use Canva to create their top ten. Canva has countless infographic templates that students can use to list their top ten, add a written description to accompany each entry, and add images to enhance the project!

Gold, Silver, Bronze

Nothing inspires student confidence like remembering their recent accomplishments. Print out an Olympic medal template that has a gold, silver, and bronze medal on the paper.

Ask students to fill in their top three accomplishments of the past year, then color and decorate the medals as they see fit. 

As an extension, students can share their “gold medal moment” with the class or a small group! Enjoy seeing your students light up as they remember and share their finest moments of the year. Your class will likely learn some new facts about one another!

Snapshot

Equipped with phones, iPads, and devices, students always snap digital photographs! Using their school-approved devices, allows students to access their favorite images to create a digital collage.

Remember – the photos must be from 2023! See the milestones of each student come to life as they collect moments in time into one visual “snapshot.”

Students can write a reflection on the “snapshot” of their life from the past year, and share their favorite moments from the collage with the class or a small group. 

Write a Letter

If your students will be in the same school building next year, consider having your class write a letter to the 2024 version of themselves! Students write a letter about their lives to their 2024 version of themselves to see how much they have grown in a year.

Consider suggesting that your students write about the following topics:

  • Goals for 2024
  • Current hobbies and interests
  • Friends and family
  • Future aspirations

Next, save the letters in envelopes that students address to themselves. The following year around the same time, give each student back their letter. They will be thrilled to read what life was like for them the year before, and surprised at how much growth they have made in only a year!

News Story

Over a year, there have been countless attention-grabbing headlines in the news. Some stories are especially memorable! Students can do some research on kid-friendly news archives such as CNN10 Student News to find the most eye-catching stories.

They can then curate a “Best of 2023” news story featuring their favorite clips from the news! 

Students can work in pairs or teams to write a script. If your school has a Green Screen, students can appear as though they are in a news studio! Students can record using free digital platforms such as FlipGrid. Don’t forget to have a viewing party to share these final memories of 2023 as a class!

Podcast

Let your students take the lead! Have your students brainstorm questions they would like to ask one another to curate an end-of-year interview. Next, students can take turns interviewing small groups of students and record in a podcast! 

Most devices have an app that allows students to learn to create a podcast easily. This activity doubles as a great way to learn a new tech skill. Make sure to have students practice asking questions and providing an answer fluently with a conscious effort to eliminate long pauses or filler words such as “like,” or “um.” The recording will not be perfect, but it will be fun!

Next, send the podcast out to the families of the students so they get an inside scoop of what school or life was like in 2023 from the perspective of their students! 

Memory Jar

Creating a memory jar is a special way to share collective memories. To create a memory jar, select a large glass mason jar so that the trinkets can be displayed.

Next, encourage students to select a trinket that represents an important moment from 2023. Another way to enhance a memory jar would be for students to jot down a story from the year that mattered to them. 

When creating a memory jar, it’s fun to establish a ritual. Perhaps you could place the memory jar in the middle of a class circle. Individually, each student gets to approach the jar, share why they chose the trinket or read the story – and select a piece of candy from a bowl next to the jar in exchange for their contribution. Such a ritual will be a memorable way to close out the year and draw closer as a classroom community.

Playlist

Nothing brings people together quite like a good song! To play a 2023 Playlist, each member of the class selects a clean and age-appropriate version of a song that they love. The catch is, the song must have been produced in 2023! 

Together, with the help of the teacher, the class can create a playlist using the streaming source of the teacher’s choice. Once the playlist is compiled, students can introduce their song and explain why they selected it. To celebrate, the class can have a dance party!

Memory Book

A Memory Book is a classic and individual time for quiet, guided reflection on who a student is at this particular moment. Memory Books can prompt students to write and illustrate about their past year, favorite moments, and most memorable lessons.

Teachers have access to a wide variety of Memory Book templates on Canva, Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and more. Select your favorite template and offer it to your class! Students can make the Memory Book as colorful as they can imagine with colored pencils, markers, and more to transform it into a creation that reflects their true selves.

One alternative to offering students individual Memory Books is to have each student fill out the same page and combine the pages into a collective Class Memory Book. Each student in the class receives a copy and a cherished memory of their class of 2023!

Memory Game

This memory game is not like the one of your childhood! The main supply needed for this reflective memory game is index cards. Before the game, a teacher will jot down prompts on index cards, such as the funniest moment, the most delicious meal, the best field trip, and more.

Students take turns pulling cards, reading the prompt, and answering. The card is passed in a circle until all have answered the question. 

For students not to repeat a lot of the same shared memories, this game could be played in small groups. Groups can then either shuffle themselves or switch prompt cards and repeat.

Students will surely share lots of laughter and memories in this memory game, creating a new memory in and of itself! 

During the days leading up to a school break, students have extra energy. Using this time to reflect on the year in fun ways can be a centering activity for your class.

Hearing what moments stood out to the students also gives you feedback as to what activities mattered to them! Comment below with your favorite ways to finalize the year! 

F.A.Q.s

Q: How should I include a student who just moved to the school where I teach?

A: Even though this student will not have these same shared memories as the rest of the class, they would still likely enjoy sharing fond memories of the home and school they just left. Allow them to share the memories that they have had of 2023, even if it’s been in a different school. It might be a cathartic way for them to process their move and feel included in a new place.

Q: How do I approach a student who experienced a particularly difficult year?

A: I applaud you for being so attuned to the lives of your students. In this case, I would recommend selecting one of the more lighthearted options such as the ‘Playlist’ that can keep the mood upbeat. Perhaps even the ‘Gold, Silver, Bronze’ activity would help the student focus on the highlights of the year. 

Q: What if a student does not bring in a trinket for ‘Memory Jar?’

A: Consider having a variety of backup trinkets on hand that students can select from if they forget to bring an item from home. This will allow all of your students to be included and feel a part of the community!

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