7 Ideas to Celebrate Reading Week with Upper Elementary

7 Ideas to Celebrate Reading Week with Upper Elementary

When March rolls around, it means one thing...time to celebrate all things reading!

Whether you celebrate Reading Day, Read Across America Day, or Reading month at your school, I have some simple and fun ways to make celebrating reading with your upper elementary students a week to remember!

By March, my students definitely have come to learn how much I love reading aloud, sharing my favorite books, and how much value I place on reading and reading instruction. Even though reading is always an important part of our day, I love to set aside classroom time for special books, projects, and activities during our Reading Week.

Here are 7 easy-to-implement ideas that will make a BIG impact on your students as they reflect on themselves as readers during your reading celebrations.

 1. Celebrate your students' favorite books with a poster!

free reading poster for read across america day

I love sharing my favorite books, heck I share a favorite picture book each week, but when do your students get to celebrate their favorite books? Grab this FREE download and have your students reflect on their favorite book that they just loved! It can be a book they just finished reading or one they read last year that they still think about. Use this free book share page to allow students to get creative about their all-time favorite book. These also make a great bulletin board display for the hallway so that your students can inspire other readers in your school!

And don't forget to share about your favorite book, too! It can be from your own childhood, something you are currently reading, a book handed down from a family member, a cookbook, or a chapter book you love to read each year with your students. This allows your students to get a peek into your own reading life, too and they just love it!

2. Share your favorite read-aloud book about...READING!

picture books about reading and readers

What is more fun than reading a book about reading!? Especially during reading week! Read about my favorite picture books that celebrate reading and readers. These picture books are great kick-offs to discussions about the kinds of books your students like, where they like to read, and how important picking the perfect book really is! 

3. Have a reading challenge this month!

I love individual reading challenges! They are so motivating for the students! Use this FREE reading challenge to hold your students responsible for reading a certain amount of books or pages this month to celebrate reading! Your students will LOVE keeping track of what they read and coloring in the books on the shelf. These are perfect for school or as an at-home connection activity. Since it is easy to manage it is a win-win for both students and teachers! 

4. Create Student Reader Cards

celebrate reading reader card project

My students always wow me with their work when completing this reader card project! Students create a self-portrait, complete their reading stats, work on reading goals, and then recommend a book! I love how these turn out when displayed on our bulletin board and it always ends up being my kids' favorite project of the year!

5. Watch a book and dive deep into the plot!

I love reading a good picture book to students, but sometimes changing things up a bit to hold students' attention spans is a must! That is why when I need a change, but still want to share a meaningful book, I head on over to Storyline Online and we watch a book! I love posing a question before pressing play to give students a focus as they watch and listen. During the video, they jot down ideas that they have that correlate with the question so that they are prepared for the discussion we have after the video. Because there are so many books to pick from on this free site, you can pick the book and question that meets the needs of your own students and relates to what you are learning as readers.

6. Get weekly book talks going! 

book talk activities for kids

I love going beyond just sharing students' favorite books with book talks! These persuasive speech activities are just what your students need to practice their reading, persuasive writing, and speaking skills.

There are so many benefits of holding weekly book talks in your classroom and they are perfect for all year long, not just during Book Week celebrations! 

By bringing book talks into your classroom you are encouraging your students to:
  • Read a variety of books, genres, and authors
  • Recommend books to their peers
  • Engage in meaningful discourse about books
  • Practice persuasive writing skills
  • Strengthen speaking and listening skills
  • Participate in group discussions regularly and appropriately
  • Prepare, practice, and deliver a presentation

Read the blog post about book talks hereGet Started with Book Talks

7. Share words of wisdom to inspire readers!

reading bulletin board of inspirational reading quotes

Nothing is more powerful than words of wisdom for young readers that they can take with them that will motivate them even when you are not around! I love displaying reading quotes all year long in our reading corner to motivate and inspire my budding readers. 

To give students an extra dose of motivation, I print these reading posters four to a page to create instant note cards. I use these cards to celebrate students during reading and motivate those who may need a little push. These cards are perfect to share out during Reading Day or Week.

When it comes to celebrating reading this month or anytime, make it BIG! The bigger the better! Better memories you make with your students about reading and the bigger impact you have on how important reading each day really is! Remember, grab YOUR favorite book, celebrate your students' favorite books, and create an inspirational display to celebrate reading and motivate your students! 

Happy Reading Week!

You will also love reading:

Check out my favorite reading activities HERE.

and be sure to display these

 Motivational Reading Posters:

reading quotes on bulletin board for any classroom

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7 Ideas to Celebrate Reading Week with Upper Elementary

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)


3 Must Try President Day Activities for Upper Elementary Students

3 Must Try President Day Activities for Upper Elementary Students

I love taking time each February to celebrate Presidents' Day! It gives us the opportunity to get in some Social Studies activities, which are oftentimes cut out of our day due to time constraints. 

Celebrating Presidents' Day not only gives the students an opportunity to learn about the past, but to also celebrate the current President in office, and think about the future, too. One of our country's future Presidents is sitting in your classroom right now!

While I know that holidays do not always make the cut in everyone's lesson plans, teaching lessons that incorporate the holidays and seasons is totally my thing! Here are three activities that I love to do to celebrate Presidents' Day in the upper elementary classroom. And since they are all reading and writing based, they are the perfect way to weave the holidays and social studies into your ELA lesson plans!

1. Compare and Contrast Washington and Lincoln 

how to teach about presidents day compare and contrast Washington and LIncoln

Reading and analyzing paired passages and comparing and contrasting informational passages are two activities that we do anyway, so bringing in President Washington and President Lincoln to compare and contrast is easy and effective!

Get started by having students watch these quick videos, take notes with the FREE organizers below, and then put their close reading strategies to work by reading and comparing the paired passages about Washington and Lincoln.

Kindly Note: Please preview the videos to make sure they are just right for your class!

2. Studying the Past and the Present

Teach Presidents Day with Research Biography Projects and Close Readings

When Presidents' Day rolls around in February, we are knee-deep in nonfiction and informational text studies during both reading and writing.  We focus on nonfiction structure and biographies. Studying both United States Presidents of the past and present is a great way to study both history and current events while supporting both reading and writing standards.

When it comes to research and writing biography reports, I make sure to:

  • have students brainstorm who they want to study 
  • approve who each student researches to avoid duplicates in class
  • breakdown what needs to be in a biography research project (see tips HERE)
  • give students specific tasks each day so that they are focused and organized
  • have students present projects, creative tasks, or speeches about their research

Teacher Tip: Use the current President in Office to write a class biography to serve as a model for student work. This helps students learn about who is currently in office, and see a model in action before beginning their own research project. We also take this time to make sure that we know the difference between fact and opinion so that our research projects can be factual!

We also take our informational reading skills and use them to read, annotate, and reflect on a wide range of U.S. Presidents from the past.

Try these U.S. Presidents reading passages!

3. When I Am President...A Look Into the Future!

Presidents' Day Class Presidents When I am President Activity

Presidents' Day is a great day to spend learning about Presidents of the past. After all, the holiday of Presidents' Day came from the original holiday of Washington's Birthday. However, after we study the U.S. Presidents of the past and the present, we look ahead to the future!

What better way to look into the future than to see what the current generation thinks about how they would run the country! My students always love to learn about the responsibilities of the United States President and then reflect on what they would do as the President of the United States. This is such a high-interest activity for the kids and it makes a great bulletin board display, too! #teacherwin

When it comes to celebrating Presidents' Day in your upper elementary classroom, tie your studying into your ELA lesson plans simply and seamlessly! Focus on reading, research, writing, and projects. Your students will love to learn about the past, present, and future of the Unite States Presidency with these engaging activities!

Grab highly engaging President activities HERE.

3 Must Try President Day Activities for Upper Elementary Students

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Teaching About Presidents Day for 3rd 4th 5th Grade students

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)


9 Valentine's Day Picture Books for Upper Elementary

9 Valentine's Day Picture Books for Upper Elementary

When it comes to February in the classroom, especially the upper elementary classroom, love is definitely in the air!

That is why I like to fill the month of February with love, kindness, and friendship-themed read alouds that are just perfect to bring Valentine's Day into the classroom. It is the perfect time to introduce or review themes in literature while reading a variety of books. These books can be used to celebrate Valentine's Day, discuss themes and other reading strategies, and engage students in meaningful book talks.

Read this list of my favorite picture books that I love reading in February with my upper elementary students. Plus, grab the free printables at the bottom of this post that go along with these books!

February read aloud for kids

1. Yuck, A Love Story by Don Gillmore

This is my favorite story to read during February!

I love the specific details included in this book which make it perfect for visualizing lessons. This story follows two young friends as they develop a friendship, one going out of the way to give his new neighbor the moon. In the classroom, I read this story one time through without sharing the illustrations. Instead, I have students draw quick sketches of what they visualized every few pages. Then we reread the story, this time I share the illustrations, and the students compare what they visualized to the illustrations. It is a great lesson to encourage students to visualize as they read to increase their reading comprehension.

February read aloud 3rd 4th 5th graders

2.  Porcupining by Lisa Wheeler

This story is a fun read as the author enjoys using a play on words. Before reading this story, discuss what the word pining means as it comes up throughout the story and is one part of the play on words as the Porcupine is porocupining for a wife. Throughout the story, the Porcupine sings a song with a rhyming pattern. A fun follow-up activity would be to have your students write their own Valentine's Day poem using the same pattern.

This story follows the same theme as found in the book, Nobody Hugs a Cactus (number 9 on this list) making it perfect for comparing and contrasting themes, characters, and basic literary essay writing pieces.

february read aloud picture book

3. Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I love this sweet simple story and how the kiss is a metaphor for kindness! Kindness can and should be shared everywhere. This is a fun one to read and then brainstorm with students all the ways that they can spread kindness in the classroom, around the school, and around their community. Get started with this free kindness calendar.

milton hershey read aloud for kids

4. On the Corner of Chocolate Avenue by Tziporah Cohen

We cannot go through February without a little discussion on chocolate and what better person to read about than Milton Hershey! I love reading this book, as it is the perfect mix of nonfiction and biography with a main idea and topic perfect for Valentine's Day...chocolate! The best part about this book is about Milton himself and what a philanthropist he was. This leads to wonderful classroom discussions about doing good things for others, kindness, and showing your love and how much you care, again perfect timing for February!

valentine's day read alouds

5. Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

This is a quick and fun read-aloud that truly encompasses the theme of love, perfect for Valentine's Day and February. This quick story is the perfect opportunity to introduce, practice, or review character analysis. Be sure to show your students the checklist found on the inside cover and the completed checklist on the backside cover, the kids love checking it by revisiting the story. 

february read aloud for 3rd 4th 5th graders

6.  Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds

Want to get in a little social-emotional learning this month? Read this book and have a discussion about self-love! My students LOVE this activity! This book is written in a fun format, each page filled with phrases and illustrations encouraging the reader to just be themselves...an important message we want our kids to hear again and again. Follow up a read-aloud of this book with a little self-love activity to display to remind your students how awesome they are! Print out the heart and have the students fill it with all the things that they LOVE about themselves. Grab the free activity that goes along with this book at the bottom of this post.

read alouds for february for 3rd 4th 5th graders

7.  Nobody Hugs a Cactus by Carter Goodrich

This sweet story tells the story of Hank, a cactus that no one wants to hug. If you are reading this one alongside a read-aloud of Porcupining, you can compare and contrast the two story's story elements, characters, and each main character's feelings and emotions. The illustrations in this book provide great support when discussing character feelings and emotions and how feelings and emotions can change throughout a story.

valentine's day reading books 3rd 4th 5th graders

8.  Love, Z by Jessie Sima

This unique book tells the story of Z, a robot out on a mission to find out what love really is. Throughout the robot's journey many things are learned and many people are met, but by the end Z realizes home is where he or she needs to be! I love this classic story with a fun twist.

somebody loves you mr hatch reading activities

9.  Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli

February cannot come and go without at least one reading of the book, Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch. This is one of my all-time favorites! It is perfect for discussing gratitude, friendship, and feelings of loneliness. This touching story tells about Mr. Hatch who feels alone and sad until the day he thinks that is loved when he gets a large box of chocolates. Unfortunately, it was delivered to him in error, but with a theme of friendship and kindness, it all works out for Mr. Hatch. this story is also perfect to analyze characters and discuss how characters change throughout the story. This is a must-read! 

valentine's day read aloud

BONUS Valentine's Day Read Aloud: Love from the Crayons by Drew Daywalt

If you are looking for a book to review or practice figurative language, this is it! This book is filled with similes and metaphors for the different colors in the crayon box...all representing love for a different reason. Before reading this book, have the students make predictions about how each color represents love. After reading the book, come up with different colors that are not in the box and have students work with a partner to write similes and metaphors about those colors.

When it comes to celebrating Valentine's Day in your upper elementary classroom books that go beyond just Valentine's Day is a must for February! The books in this list are filled with themes that you will want to bring into the classroom and continue discussing throughout the year!

You will love reading these related posts:

Looking for more high-interest February activities? Click the HERE.

Valentine's Day activities for 3rd 4th 5th graders

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9 Valentine's Day Picture Books for Upper Elementary

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)


5 Ideas and Activities to Celebrate the 100th Day of School for Upper Elementary

Activities to Celebrate the 100th Day of School for Upper Elementary

Being an upper elementary teacher is hard! There is always the struggle between the fun of wanting to celebrate the holidays and seasons in the classroom and making sure you get in the challenging expectations and standards of your grade level.

Kids are kids no matter how old they are and they love celebrations of any kind! I have found that my upper elementary students LOVE to celebrate each and every holiday throughout the year...even the 100th Day of School! The holidays are a great way to increase participation and engagement from your upper elementary students.

You may gloss over the 100th Day of School, thinking it is a day for the primary grades, but don't! Celebrating the 100th Day of  School is an instant motivator for your upper elementary students and a great way to engage students in the middle of winter, just when they need a little boost!

Of course, when it comes to celebrating the holidays in my classroom I always infuse critical thinking, and rigorous activities that get students thinking...not just celebrating!

Here are my favorite ways to celebrate the 100th Day of School with my "big kids" who love celebrating as much as any other kid!

1. Start with a Read Aloud!

100th day of school read aloud upper elementary

The Hundredth Day Disaster is a perfect read-aloud for upper elementary classrooms! It is super fun to read since it is written in rhyme.  It is easily relatable too, as the teacher miscounts and does not have 100 days of school on her chart. The kids band together to help their teacher figure out how she miscounted. (Spoiler alert, don't blame the teacher, our days are quite hectic!) With larger vocabulary words included and a theme of a strong community, this story is one that I definitely feel is a good fit for upper elementary classrooms!

Since it is written in rhyme, challenge your students to create a list of 100 rhyming words! Grab the free printable below.

Other Fun 100th Day of School Reading Ideas:

  • Challenge to read silently for 100 minutes on the 100th Day of School (or during the 100th Day week)
  • Word Challenge: Give a specific direction and challenge kids to brainstorm as many as they can in a small group or with a partner. Combine all student ideas to see if you reach 100. For example: Let's list 100 compound words.
  • Sentence Challenge: Give a specific topic and challenge students to write one hundred sentences about that topic. This is a perfect tie-in to any nonfiction topic you are studying.

2. Play up 100!

100th day of school reading activities for big kids

When it comes to the 100th Day of School, you can do more than just count 100 things! Leave that for first graders. Go beyond the counting of 100, and dive deep into learning about things that are related to 100. My two favorite "play on 100" topics to learn about are inventions that took place 100 years ago and Benjamin Franklin, who appears of course on the $100 bill! 

By taking the number 100 and relating it to the last century, upper elementary students can take part in exciting 100th Day of School lessons.

Try these "Big Kid" 100 Ideas:

  • Have students research and write a persuasive piece about which invention they think is the most important one that was invented in the last 100 years
  • Have students create a list of 100 endangered or extinct animals and create a presentation on one of them
  • Bring 100 into their world by having students work with a partner to create a list of 100 different ways to do something that directly relates to their world, like 100 Different Ways to Practice Multiplication Facts
  • Have students count out 100 days and find the date. Have students write a letter to the teacher explaining what they hope to learn and experience in the next 100 days of learning.

3. 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge

100 random acts of kindness challenge for kids

In my school, the 100th Day of School falls in February. And let's face it, February is one of those months that has SO MANY THINGS TO CELEBRATE...like:

So why not do a little double-dipping and tie the 100th Day of School into another special day that you celebrate! I love using the 100th Day alongside Random Acts of Kindness Week and challenging the students to complete 100 random acts of kindness around the school. They love this challenge! Year after year I love to watch my students come together as a class to meet this goal. It truly is inspiring!

Try these 100th Day + Other Holiday Ideas:

  • Have students create a list of the United States Presidents that held office in the last 100 years. Go further and have groups of students research and present information about one of those US Presidents.
  • Have students as a class write out 100 Valentine's Day cards and leave them around the school
  • Have students research and list 100 different places where groundhogs live

4. Community Building 

100th day of school community building activities

There is nothing I love more than completing community-building activities throughout the year! It is a welcome change of pace when the lesson focuses on strengthening our classroom culture and atmosphere. Community building activities are especially fun when it is tied into the 100th Day of School right in the middle of winter, just when we need a little refocus on our classroom family!

This activity is simple yet powerful and you will find you will want to do an activity like this each month!

  1. Have students write their names with a pencil on a small piece of paper and fold it into fourths. Place all the names in a bucket or bowl.
  2. Have students one at a time randomly draw a name from the bucket or bowl, making sure that they did not pick themselves. If they pick themselves, have them show you before selecting a new name.
  3. Students then write a letter to the student whose name they picket. Their letters should be positive, upbeat, and include specific examples of why they are happy to be that person's friend and classmate.
  4. For the 100th Day of School, we use the theme...100 Words to Describe YOU! The kids love it! They write a letter for their classmate AND fill a "100" with positive words about their classmate.
  5. When all students are all done creating the cards for their classmates, they deliver them. They really love both giving letters and receiving them!

Try these community-building ideas:

5. Math Fun with 100...of course!

100th day of school math for 3rd, 4th, 5th graders

What is the 100th Day of School without a little, or a lot of math fun? When I taught fifth grade, I had to get creative on how to celebrate the 100th Day that went beyond the number 100. So, instead of focusing on the number 100, we focused on math activities around "hundredths." The kids loved it! We use these spinners and practice adding and subtraction decimals. Before students add or subtract, they must round the decimal to the nearest hundredth.

We also did activities like these:

If you teach third grade or fourth grade, you can do these same spinner games and activities but focus on 100.

Try these 100th Day Math Ideas:

  • Have students figure out different ways that 100 days can be measured. How many hours is it? How many minutes? How many seconds?
  • Give students the probability challenge of flipping a coin 100 times, will it be 50 heads and 50 tails? Have them predict, flip a coin, gather their findings, and be ready to share with a mini presentation.
  • Have students work backward from the number 100 and write a word problem where the answer is 100. Students can write addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and two step word problems. Have students create an illustration to match their problems. This is always a class favorite! 

When it comes to celebrating the holidays and seasons in your upper elementary classroom, don't leave the 100th Day of School out! It is the perfect opportunity to get in some fun, community building, critical thinking, and rigor in the midst of winter. 

You will love reading these related posts:

Looking for print-and-go 100th Day of School activities? Click the HERE.

Activities to Celebrate the 100th Day of School for Upper Elementary

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Activities to Celebrate the 100th Day of School for Upper Elementary

*affiliate links: “Think Grow Giggle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.” (source: Section 5)

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