4 Spring Learning Activities for Upper Elementary

4 Spring Learning Activities for Upper Elementary


By the time spring arrives in the classroom, suddenly students are independent!


It is my favorite time of year!


My teacher heart goes pitter-patter just watching students get excited about new things, work together, and take the reins on their own learning. 


Spring is definitely the time of year when projects like math projects and research projects are front and center in my upper elementary classroom!


There are so many fun and relevant topics to explore with students once spring rolls around! I love to use seasonal topics and projects to engage students and harness the excitement that comes with spring fever. The list below includes my favorite topics and projects to do with students during springtime to keep them motivated and knee-deep in authentic learning.



Changing Seasons


The arrival of spring is the perfect time to learn about the changing seasons. Comparing spring to winter is a great way to kick off learning about the seasons. With winter and spring being so different, students will fill up their Venn diagrams in no time. Be sure to go a step further and have them turn their notes into a paragraph!


Grab this free print and digital activity below {at the bottom of this post} to get your students comparing the seasons!


spring and seasons activity


Upper elementary students are ready to go a bit deeper and understand the science behind how and why seasons change. Following this comparison activity, my students love learning about the spring equinox and why it is such an important day!


Get learning about the spring equinox in your classroom with these:


Bring all things spring to life for your students with these high-interest spring picture books...and bonus, grab the free teacher resources to go along with them!



Earth Day


There are so many different topics to learn about when it comes to Earth Day! The kids always love reading about recycling, pollution, rain forests, and how to do their part to help keep the planet healthy!  Not sure where to get started? The list below includes free videos and engaging activities to help you get started.



Another lesson we dive into during our Earth Day investigations is all about harnessing solar energy! After we learn about different types and forms of energy, the children work to create ways to harness solar power. Students also create solar energy homes that can turn the energy from the sun into energy to run their homes. 


earth day writing activity



Endangered Species


My favorite spring project is focusing on endangered animals! During this unit, we spend a lot of time discussing the difference between extinct and endangered species, as well as the different levels of endangerment that can be found on the endangered species conservation list. 


Students love to research different endangered species! To make this research project manageable for students to work independently, I break down each step of the process for them, assigning them one component each day. This allows them to be independent while doing the research but they are still guided in how to collect and compile the information that they learn.


Once students have collected the information, they write their endangered species essays. Students are responsible for presenting what they learned to the class. I give them a variety of options for presenting. From posters and handouts to slideshows and persuasive speeches, each student can find the presentation format that is just right for them!


Get started on an endangered species project with these resources:


 


endangered animals activity for kids



Poetry and National Poetry Month


April is National Poetry Month! I love bringing poetry into my classroom every day, but I sure don't mind having a reason to read and write even MORE poetry! 



There are so many reasons why I love using poetry in the classroom! Here are some:



Poetry truly engages all levels of readers and writers! You will see a huge increase in participation when your reading and writing lessons are focused on poetry. Students love to read aloud poems because of their easy-to-follow rhyme and rhythm and they love sharing the poems that they wrote too! 


One type of poem that I LOVE writing during the spring is a Bio Poem. These are so much fun to write about towards the end of the year because they truly show how much students have grown! 


Teacher tip: Have your students write bio poems at the start of the school year to help you get to know them, and then again at the end of the school year. You and the students will be amazed at how much they have grown as writers and as students. I love adding these to their writing portfolios!


poetry month activities for kids



When spring fever is in the air...engage your students in high-interest activities that will promote their love of learning and get them independently researching, reading, and writing! From the spring equinox to Earth Day and everything in between, your students will learn so much and enjoy every minute of it!


Happy spring teacher friends!





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    Nonfiction Teaching Ideas and Activities to Hook Readers

    Nonfiction Teaching Ideas and Activities to Hook Readers


    When it comes to engaging students with nonfiction reading, simple strategies can make a huge difference!


    I have always found that students either love or hate reading nonfiction informational texts. And those students who do not love it, need some creative ideas to hook them into reading AND enjoying informational texts.


    When planning out my nonfiction reading units and strategies, I break it down into three different mini units to help the students digest all of the different elements of nonfiction reading.


    1. Nonfiction Structure: how the informational text is organized {think cause and effect}
    2. Nonfiction Text Features: features found in the text to help students digest the information that they are reading {think captions and headings}
    3. Nonfiction Reading Strategies: reading strategies that help the students understand the text more deeply {think questioning and visualizing}


    While teaching each of these nonfiction mini-units, I use different engagement strategies specifically created for nonfiction reading to engage and hook my readers. Here is a list of the six different engagement strategies that I use to engage ALL readers in nonfiction reading:


    1. Allow Student Choice
    2. Brain Dump
    3. Draw It Out
    4. Make an Achor Chart
    5. Be Detectives
    6. Game Time


    These strategies are much easier to explain in person! That is why I created a quick video you can watch all about my favorite reading strategies to hook your students in reading nonfiction.


    Want to learn about each of these easy-to-implement strategies that will surely yield high engagement? I created a completely FREE 20 minute PD session all about these 6 nonfiction reading strategies to help you hook your students, too!


    Grab it right here! 



    Calling All Upper Elementary Teachers!

    Subscribe to get the FREE teacher professional development about teaching nonfiction reading delivered right to your inbox!

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      Remember teaching students to understand nonfiction reading is different than reading strategies to help students comprehend a chapter book, picture book, or short passage. 


      Teaching nonfiction reading strategies and structure require different engagement strategies. By mixing up your instruction, lessons, and activities your students will strengthen their understanding of nonfiction reading in no time at all!




      Looking for Nonfiction Reading Strategy Activities
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      reading strategy activities for upper elementary










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      Spring Picture Books for Upper Elementary

      Spring Picture Books for Upper Elementary


      Spring fever is a real thing!


      Especially in the upper elementary classroom!


      Why not harness all of that excitement about the changing seasons with meaningful reading and writing activities all focused on engaging spring-themed picture books!


      No matter how old students may get, they still absolutely LOVE celebrating all things related to seasons and holidays! And so do I! There is something about a new season that refreshes all of us with new opportunities, especially the arrival of spring. We are all instantly refreshed and recharged and ready to take on the rest of the school year.


      These spring picture books and activities are the perfect way to welcome springtime into your upper elementary classroom while providing opportunities for meaningful discussions, content-based lessons, and addressing your grade-level standards.


      Here is my list of favorite springtime picture books. They include new and older titles across many different topics, allowing you to engage a wide range of students. Be sure to grab the FREE student activity pack that coordinates with these books at the bottom of this post. 




      Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring written by Kenard Park



      Spring Picture Books for Upper Elementary


      I love the entire series of these seasonal books written by Kenard Pak, but this one may be my favorite as we say goodbye to winter and hello to the long-awaited season of spring! This book is perfect to explore repetition in written pieces and poetry, as well as the use of vivid word choice and figurative language to make writing come alive. Have students take what you discussed about making writing come alive by writing springtime poetry.





      It's An Ant's Life written by Steve Parker


      insect picture books for kids



      When spring returns, so do the insects! Students are always so engaged when it comes to insects! This book is a fun one to share as it is written in a journal format from the perspective of an ant, making it a fictional book, chock full of facts and information about these pesky insects! A fun follow-up activity would be for students to pick a different insect or animal, research it, and then keep a journal as that creature!




      How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball written by David Shannon




      baseball read alouds for kids


      You do not have to be a baseball lover to love this book! This book is perfect to practice just about every reading strategy including questioning, predicting, inferring, visualizing and finding the theme. Following a read-aloud of this baseball-themed picture book, and some reading strategy work, have students write about their favorite spring activity. It can be a full narrative piece or a simple paragraph, either way, students will love sharing what they love to do with their peers! 




      Down Came the Rain written by Franklyn M Branley




      rain and weather picture books for kids


      Even though this book is labeled at stage 2, it includes so much information and scientific explanation about the water cycle and how rain is formed! Before reading this book, have students create an illustration of what they think is included in the water cycle and how rain is formed. Then dive in! Have students compare their drawings to the labeled illustrations found in the book. Following a reading, have your students make corrections to their drawings as needed. My kids love to borrow this one from our classroom library and read all the interesting precipitation facts over and over again!



      Harlem Grown written by Tony Hillery



      garden read alouds for kids



      Harlem Grown is one of my new spring favorites! This picture book is based on a true story about Tony Hillery, the founder and director of Harlem Grown, a community garden in New York City. I love this book's message of identifying a problem and working together to fix it. It pairs perfectly with almost any unit: reading strategies, biographies, nonfiction reading, and procedural writing to name a few! I love using this book to write literary essays comparing and contrasting books and themes with the book The Curious Garden (spoiler alert it is the next book on this list!) You and your students will love this book and the note to followers at the end by Mr. Hillery.




                         The Curious Garden written by Peter Brown



      spring read alouds for kids


      As mentioned above, this book pairs perfectly with Harlem Grown. Bust out your Venn diagrams and compare and contrast every element of these two books! This book makes almost every one of my picture book lists because it can be revisited over and over all year long for different objectives. This book, loosely based on a true story, follows the main character as he works endlessly to bring a garden back to life. He ends up completely changing the community that lives in. Must read for spring and a must add to your classroom library!



      How to Find a Bird written by Jennifer Ward



      birds picture books for kids


      This fun new picture book makes my spring read-aloud list for its amazing illustrations and clearly written procedural writing text. I love that so many different birds are included in this book AND clearly labeled to help students learn so much about birds. From common birds to bluebirds to extinct birds like the dodo, your students will ask you to stop on each page to see the illustrations! Follow up a read-aloud of this book by having your students write their own procedural writing piece on their favorite springtime activity or head outside and go on your bird walk! 

      Bonus Teacher Tip: Have Owl Moon? Have your kids compare and contrast this book to that classic and get ready to hear some amazing discourse among your students!


                               Nesting written by Henry Cole



      april read alouds for kids


      This springtime book's pages are as beautiful as the cover! The black and white pages help the beautiful turquoise robin's eggs stand out. There is so much learning that takes place with just one read-aloud of this book. From how birds build nests, to migrating in the winter and everything in between, this book will motivate each of your students to find robins and their blue eggshell pieces on their next spring hike! This book also has an author's note with facts about these amazing creatures, lending itself to having your students research a bird or animal of their choice.



      Miss Rumphius written by Barbara Cooney



      free miss rumphius activities for kids



      A read-aloud of this all-time favorite is perfect to welcome spring! This book is truly perfect for any lesson character analysis and finding themes in literature. Miss Rumphius is given the task to make the world a more beautiful place, which in turn becomes her life mission. This book also lends itself to discussions about kindness, doing good, and how every person can play a part in changing and helping the world. Have your students take a blank piece of paper and create an illustration to represent how they can make the world a more beautiful place.

      Bonus Teacher Tip: Read this book in April to help kick off your Earth Day celebrations and learning!



      Spring After Spring written by Stephanie Roth Sisson



      april read alouds for kids


      Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement is a great book to pair with the fictional read-aloud of Miss Rumphius. It is also perfect to read around the time of Earth Day.  This biographical picture book tells about the life of Rachel Carson and how she loved and cared for the environment. Even as a child, she would observe, draw and write about the creatures she found in the environment. She grew up to and worked as a scientist studying how chemicals and pesticides hurt the delicate balance of nature. This book will surely bring out the ecologist in each of your students!


      Is spring fever running rampant in your classroom? Harness that energy and excitement with reading to students and engaging them in meaningful discourse. These books and activities are just what you need! 


      Happy spring and happy reading friends!



      Looking for engaging Spring Activities
      ? Try These!


      spring activities for kids







      insect reading activities for kids




      spring activities for kids





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