We learn about the different types of trees that grow in our area, and study the leaves up close. Students also keep a “tree journal” — we choose a nearby tree and watch it change as the weather gets cooler. Of course, we wrap up the unit by playing in the fall leaves!
–Patricia Slater, Andover, MA
Host a “Pumpkin Party”
I invite parents to donate pumpkins and spend the afternoon exploring with us. We have four learning stations: measuring, weighing, estimating and counting seeds, and sink-or-float predictions. It’s great for math and science, and students and families love it!
–Sarah Wilson, first grade, Casselberry, FL
A “Hands-On” Halloween Spider Activity
First, students make a web by dipping a marble in paint and rolling it across construction paper. When the webs are dry, I let them dip their hands in black paint to create handprint spiders on top. (If students curl in their thumbs, the spiders have the right number of legs.) The finishing touch is a pair of googly eyes: Boo!
–Patricia Robl, kindergarten, Newtown, PA
Much more than “costumes,” masks are an important part of the heritage of many different cultures. As part of our unit on Africa, we made tribal masks from stiff manila folders and construction paper. The project gave students a real appreciation for African artistry and workmanship — and they’ll always remember that masks are used for more than trick-or-treating!
–Stephanie Harker, second grade, Springville, UT
An Owl Unit That's a Real Hoot!
After researching different species of owls, students make their own out of egg cartons. Eight cups form the body, and we use two cups each for eyes and feet. Students use their research to decide what colors to paint their owls. Then I have them write owl questions that begin with the word “Whooo” — and use the facts they learned to answer them!
–Jackie Howes, second grade, Weatogue, CT
Take the Focus Off Halloween
I like to remind kids that this month is special for many other reasons. I create a “Pumpkin Patch” bulletin board with a different October subject written on each pumpkin, such as “Columbus,” “The Great Chicago Fire,” “The Demonstration of the Electric Light,” “National Fire Prevention Week,” and “The Dedication of the Statue of Liberty.” Students “pick” a pumpkin and write a short report. They’re always surprised to learn that October is about much more than costumes and candy!
–Cornelia Brown, third grade, Chicago, IL
Practice Symmetry All Year Round
To reinforce the concept, we do at least one project per month. I tie the activity into seasonal themes and holidays. In October, students fold orange paper circles in half and cut out shapes to make jack-o’-lanterns!
–Ellen Javernick, Loveland, CO