Each year, I like to come up with a special something that students can take with them as a memory of 5th grade. I have done pictures on CDs, my picture with a special note, etc. But each of these activities were never something that the students necessarily took part in creating.
Last year, Scholastic offered an opportunity for teachers to create a collaborative class book with their students and the company would officially publish it with a hardback cover and all! Because that year, I had a group of students that were such avid writers and LOVED books, I thought this was an excellent idea. Scholastic provides a free copy of the book to the teacher and the students have to purchase a copy if they would like one. Each one of my students ended up choosing to buy a copy. (If this were not the case, I would have bought them one on my own, but because of the culture of my school, I sort of knew they all would get their own).
We decided that the topic of the book would be all about 5th grade. The plan became that I would read the book on the first day of school the following year as an introduction to 5th grade to my new students! It ended up being a really fantastic activity in a lot of different ways!
Each student was given one page to illustrate and one page to write their story. Students chose something they might always remember from 5th grade (a field trip, project, etc) and some students chose to write about something that is special and unique to 5th grade (weekly newscasts, creating a magazine or the "State" Fair). The pages were collected and sent off to Scholastic (postage included) and within a couple of weeks, the books were sent back to us in hardback, published form! I couldn't wait until the last day of school to give them to the students, but we read it as a class on the last day and it was really touching!
I think this is a great end-of-school year activity because it allows the students to create something that is special and will last forever. The only drawback is that they have to pay for the book if they want it. In some schools, that isn't an issue, in others, that might not be ideal. However, even if you can't give students their own copy of the book, you (as the teacher) get a free copy whether students purchase them or not, so it could be a special book that stays in your room and the students have to visit you the following years if they want to read it - wink, wink.
If you are interested in doing this with your class, you can go to the website Scholastic Student Treasures for more information!