Last fall, you welcomed a classroom of students through your door. You created lessons that were age-appropriate, content driven, and fun. You survived the holidays that usher in the winter season. You excelled through those winter months with no real break, and your lessons were still on point (although the details in your lesson plan book may have been a little more sparse). Now, you are welcoming spring and have started your countdown to spring break!
There are only a few days left before that well-deserved break. You are a teacher and you are looking for some great spring themed books and activities that will keep your class engaged, but not be too stressful to plan. I am here to help you with five great spring books that your students will love, and five great activities to keep them learning.
Read The Looking Book by P.K. Hallinan, illustrated by Patrice Barton
This rhyming book tells the tale of Kenny and Mikey, two boys who are forced by their mother to turn off the TV and head outside. They resist at first, but then she pulls out the “lookers” (glasses with no lenses) and the exodus begins. After being cooped up with indoor activities at home and indoor recess at school, kids need to breathe in the fresh spring air and feel the sun on their skin. This is a great read-aloud to share before heading outside to let your students do some exploring on their own.
For an activity: Print each student a pair of their own “lookers” and take them outside to explore for 20 minutes. Each child needs a way to document what they find while exploring. When the class comes back together in the classroom, have each student read their list of discoveries and compare them to not only the other students, but also to what Mikey and Kenny found the in book. This provides a great reason to practice recalling from a book and connecting text to the world.
Read Everything Spring by Jill Esbaum
This nonfiction book is beautiful. The pictures alone will draw the students' attention and keep them hooked as you turn the pages. The text provides great vocabulary for the season of spring. My favorite part is where the piglet goes “squeet” because my kids always pick up on the fact that they know pigs to say, “oink.” At the end, when I ask if this book is fiction or nonfiction, I always have a few votes for fiction because of what the pig says. I love this because I can easily explain to my class how piglets make sounds that are a little bit different. While I know that my class truly understands the difference in the two types of text, I love the deep questioning of what they heard that these learners are showing with their answers.
For an activity: Point out how the book uses different fonts to make the sounds of spring stand out. "Splish-splash!," "Peep! Peep! Peep!," and "Plip-plop-plip" are a few examples of the sounds that look different in the book. Have your students think about the different sounds of spring and come up with a fun way to write them. It’s a fun way to use art while working with literature.
Read Math in Nature: Sorting through Spring by Lizann Flatt, illustrated by Ashley Barron
I have to start out by saying that I love book illustrations that look like someone used construction paper to create the visuals. Ashley Barron did a beautiful job with these spring pictures. The colors and the attention to detail are superb, and yet appear simple enough to inspire students to create their own pictures. The rhyming text informs and offers a fantastic avenue to work on different math skills such as identifying patterns, collecting data, and gathering data from graphs. Sorting through Spring is a truly inspired text for including math in your spring theme.
For an activity: Use the math problems in the book. You can take this book and do two to three math problems a day to practice math facts previously learned. This is a great book that you need in your library. If you are using guided math, this text is perfect for a center one week.
Read Mouse’s First Spring by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Buket Erdogan
Mouse is adorable. This is a text that includes rhyming words, but not in the typical ABAB stanza rhythm that teachers and students are use to in read-alouds. My favorite part of this book is the repeating text, “Then whoosh! blew the wind…” After I read it aloud twice, I begin to pause and my students begin to say the repeating phrase as a choir. The other fantastic aspect of this book is that you can use each page as a class riddle. If you don’t show the class the pictures as you are reading, you can stop and have them guess what Mouse has found. An example is, “There on a branch, Mouse found something feathery and plump. 'What can it be?' wondered Mouse.” What a great place to stop and explain the word "plump," and ask for the class to predict what Mouse discovered. Don’t forget to ask them why they are making that prediction. Making that connection back to the text is a vital piece of this read-aloud.
For an activity: Place the class into small groups and have them create their own spring riddles. If they have their list from The Looking Book “lookers” activity, they can write riddles about those discoveries. Instead of switching riddles, have each group determine their best two or three riddles and read them to the rest of the class. This activity allows the students to be creative and produce a product (the riddles) and then evaluate their work (narrowing their riddles down to the best two or three).
Read and then it’s spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
My favorite book on this list! I am usually so loud and animated when reading books to my class that I find books with a quiet tone a real treat. The cover of the book uses muted colors and none of the letters in the title are capitalized. The illustrations are simple yet detailed in just the right places. I love the crook in the wagon’s handle and the underground view where the mouse’s ear is pressed up to the dirt because he can hear the worm digging. The beautiful illustrations are the perfect companion to the simple text that flows with repeated colors and passing time. As the main character makes his way through spring we watch as the wonder of the season unfolds before us as the gift each season truly is.
For an activity: The activity for this book is to build excitement and suspense. I always reveal that we will be planting our own seeds. This book is the most perfect transition from a spring theme to our plant unit that you could ever find. I read this book right before spring break each year and when we return from school we begin planting our seeds and reading all my plant books. The students then make predictions about what kind of seeds we may plant.
Happy spring break! I hope that you enjoy these books as much as I do, and that you will share your best spring book and activity with me.
I can’t wait to see you next week.