5 Tips for Hosting an End of the Year Student Awards Ceremony in ELA

By Presto Plans 

The end of the school year is well in sight and it calls for celebration.  One of my favorite ways to end the year in my ELA classes is to host a student awards ceremony with some literary touches to make it specific to English.  A little commemoration goes a long way to acknowledge students for their personal qualities, interests, or growth.  Below are some tips for pulling it together! 


First things first, make your awards ceremony official by giving students an invitation or a ticket as they leave the classroom the day before! You might consider making the invites or tickets include a literary element with images of books or imagery from texts you read throughout the year.  Download a free ticket template here!  Giving students invites or tickets can add a fun layer of formality to your award ceremony and build anticipation. 


You'll want to put some thought into the types of awards you will give out at your ceremony, and in an ELA class, using literary terms to your advantage is the way to go.    Here are a few ideas for incorporating awards that are themed around a particular literary device: 

Idiom Awards

You can give your students poignant and meaningful awards while simultaneously teaching them about idioms—phrases whose established meanings are not deducible from their individual words. 

It can be a good idea with the idiom awards to include a short explanation of why the student is receiving the award to avoid any chance of confusion.  For example:

  • The Social Butterfly Award goes to a student who easily makes friends and loves to socialize.
  • The Class Act Award goes to a student who displays excellence. 
  • The Down to Earth Award goes to a student who is realistic and practical person who is sensible in all situations.
  • The Tough Cookie Award goes to a student who is self-confident, strong-willed, and resilient. 

Not only will students feel recognized, they will also learn a variety of idioms that they can incorporate into their speech and writing.  This is particularly useful for students who are learning English as an additional language.

Pun Awards 

Pun awards a are sure way to get your students to roll their eyes, but they're also a sure way to make them smile, however reluctantly. You'll be smiling, too, as you assign these to them.  Each award includes a funny pun that relates to the student's traits.  For example: 

  • The Donut Award goes to a student who is determined.  They donut give up, no matter what.
  • The Taco Award goes to a student who you can go to when you need to taco-bout something.
  • The Ice Cube Award goes to a student who always remains cool in all situations. 
  • The Sunshine Award goes to a student who lights up the classroom with positivity. 

Alliteration Awards

Alliteration awards are particularly fitting for the ELA classroom. These awards use the same consonant sounds to form the award title .  For example 

  • Fantastic Friend
  • Talented Techie 
  • Sensational Speaker
  • Remarkable Reader 

Metaphor Awards

Metaphor awards use a metaphor (direct comparison) to describe a student's personality. For example

  • The Puzzle Award goes to a student who is a problem-solver.
  • The Yoga Award goes to a student who is a flexible thinker. 
  • The Butterfly Award goes to a student who has transformed or changed this year.
  • The Balloon Award goes to a student who lifts others up when they are down.


Student awards are tokens of recognition. Above all, they should serve to make your students feel special and recognized by their peers. The award selections should aim to get at the heart of your students' distinct personality traits. They should also be lighthearted and entertaining.

Whether you choose to make your own awards from scratch, or you use end of the year student awards that are ready to use, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind:


These awards should not be an opportunity to poke fun at any individual students. Give out awards that will genuinely make the recipient feel special and appreciated. It's ok to be a little cheesy, but make sure that the award is not a way of poking fun at students, but rather celebrating their unique positive qualities.


Try to make each of your awards are personable enough that they resonate with the recipient, but also broad and concise enough so that creating and assigning the awards doesn't overtake the whole event planning process and you can use the awards from year to year.


This is an optional step, but you might consider having students review the list of awards that are up for grabs (and what the awards mean if an explanation is required), and have students vote on who is the best recipient.   This will make your job simpler with choosing students while also making students a part of the selection process.   Doing it this way does take away a bit of the fun with explaining what the awards mean as students would have previewed the awards in advance, so this is a personal preference.  


Consider allowing your recipients to give a short acceptance speech (less than 1 minute), but I would suggest that you do not make this a requirement if it is an impromptu speech.  Some students might feel uncomfortable and nervous about receiving the award if they know they must follow it up with a speech without any preparation, but allow those who are willing to jump in and say a few words to do so. Your event will benefit from the social energy of your more outgoing students who are willing to participate in that way.   If you want all students to share a speech, you might consider doing a short mini lesson on writing an acceptance speech prior to the awards ceremony to give students some tools to use.  You could allow them to bring up one cue card to use while they share their short acceptance speech.  


Make the event extra special by having entertainment included in the ceremony.  To continue with the literary theme, have a student volunteer to read an original poem or sing or perform a song with original lyrics.   This works best if it is a student in the class, but if you can't find anyone willing, you can always ask someone outside the classroom as well!  

You might also consider having a surprise guest come to share a few of the awards or give a short speech!  Try reaching out to an author that you studied during the year to see if they would be willing to pop in via Zoom to give a few awards out.  It never hurts to ask!  If you come up empty there, you might also invite the principal, the librarian, or the administrative assistants to come to give out an award.   Is there someone linked to your school or local community who your students would all be happy to see? Maybe it's a retired staff member or a sports coach. Whoever it is, just make sure they are on board with the sincere nature of the event and invite them to participate.

Teaching online?  All of these tips will still work, but you may want to check out this post on how to share student awards digitally.

Preparing for the end of the school year and need some resources to help you through?  The bloggers at the Secondary English Coffee Shop have you covered: 

End of the Year Memory Book by Tracee Orman

End of the Year Activities by Addie Williams

End of the Year Puzzle Card Student Gifts by Nouvelle ELA

Awards for English Class Bundle by Secondary Sara

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