The crunchy, colorful leaves, the cozy cardigans, the slight nip in the air, the warm caramel apple cider…all these elements make us so happy. We are team fall all the way! Here are 5 fall activities for the upper elementary & middle school classrooms.
The span between September to October is our favorite season for teaching. There are boundless opportunities to incorporate all aspects of autumn into the classroom.
The beautiful fall weather in all its splendor makes for a spectacular backdrop for descriptive writing. Students can take a fall stroll and complete a scavenger hunt looking for specific autumn elements. They can observe the fall landscape and weather first-hand and use their findings to write the perfect descriptive essay. We have a blog post detailing how to complete a fall descriptive writing unit in your classroom. Check it out here:
In addition, here is another perfect fall fun writing activity that incorporates using that spooky holiday of Halloween. Students can write stories with spooky elements or their own version of a scary story. I have assigned basic spooky stories to elementary students and high schoolers. Both the young and old students love it. The best part is to play a spooky ambiance video on the projector while sharing those stories. It makes writing come alive!
Scary Story Halloween Book Writing Activity
A favorite spooky writing unit I have used for elementary to middle school is our Scary Story Halloween Book Writing Activity. In the Scary Story Halloween Book pack, your students will choose a spooky writing prompt, utilize protagonist and antagonist character analysis sheets, a spooky setting map, and a story plot map, all essential prewriting tools for any young writer. My favorite part is the haunted house writing papers students can use to publish their work. Check it out here!
Procedural Writing Prompts
Fall also paves the way for various procedural writing prompts. After teaching students how to write a procedural piece, there are a variety of how-to topics they can tackle. Here are some ideas:
- How to Rake the Leaves
- How to Carve a Pumpkin
- How to Choose a Halloween Costume
- How to Bob for Apples
- How to Make S’mores
We love s’mores so much that my mother, Tami Parker, wrote a children’s book on how to microwave them! This book is just perfect to teach students how to write a procedural piece.
In addition, here is a Procedural Writing unit written specifically for the picture book above.
A priceless way to incorporate fall into the classroom is using ever-popular pumpkins.
Pumpkin Math Day
When teaching elementary, we had a pumpkin math day in which we would learn all about estimating. We would make predictions as to how many seeds were in a pumpkin. Each group received a pumpkin and with some help from me, we would carve them and scoop out all the seeds. Next, we’d group them into 5’s and practice our 5’s multiplication tables by counting. We’d compare our estimates to our actual totals. Students would find the differences in the comparisons. We’d regroup the seeds into 2’s and 10’s and practice counting that way. Using the seeds, we would also graph our findings across the classroom into a cute pumpkin pictograph and bar graph.
Decorate a Pumpkin like a Book Character
Another simple but pleasant pumpkin activity is to have students decorate a pumpkin like a book character from an independent novel they’ve been reading or they can decorate their pumpkin as a nonfiction character or scary animal. These always turn out so interesting.
Students can explore symbolism by decorating a pumpkin template on a piece of paper. Ask your students to decorate the pumpkin symbolically based on a character they are currently reading. Students can even apply symbolism to decorate a paper pumpkin to describe themselves.
There are countless wonderful picture books to relish in the fall season. Here are our favorites:
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
Pak’s series of books celebrate saying goodbye to one season while welcoming another. His illustrations are the cherry on top of the peaceful and perfectly described fall season.
Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland
This picture book is best described as a beautiful poem that sticks with you. This book portrays how fall is the lead way into winter, while appreciating autumn in its splendor.
Where’s My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi
This cute picture book is best for kindergarten-4th grade with its friendly creatures and premise of a kid mummy wanting to play with his mummy. We have a full unit and adorable craftivity with this book.
Here is a FREE onomatopoeia game perfect for grades 2nd-4th for Where’s My Mummy?
The Dark by Lemony Snicket
This picture book has been a favorite among my middle schoolers. It does a beautiful job teaching personification, foreshadowing, and imagery. Utilize this book to help teach writing as well as reading elements.
Some awesome spooky short stories for middle schoolers specifically are:
- The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
- The Californian’s Tale by Mark Twain
- The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
- The Tell-Tell Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
4. Fall & Spooky Art
Autumn and art go together like pumpkin spice and coffee. I love to incorporate fall arts and crafts into writing and reading units. Here are some ideas I have used in the past:
Students complete a watercolor painting of fall and write an accompanying poem.
They can also complete a watercolor painting to illustrate a fall descriptive essay or to illustrate a fall simile or metaphor.
Furthermore, students can make a leaf collage and complete a personification writing piece in which they give names, personalities, and conflicts to their leaf personas.
Halloween Writing Craftivity – Students design a monster inspired by paint chips and then write all about their creature.
Snowmen at Halloween Writing Craftivity – After reading Snowmen at Halloween by Carolyn Buehner, students design their own spooky snowman craft and write an accompanying story.
5. Fall Figurative Language
There are countless opportunities to pair fall and figurative language together. Here are some simple ideas!
a. Challenge students to write and illustrate fall idioms.
b. Challenge students to write and illustrate fall/Halloween similes and metaphors.
c. Students create pumpkin “pun-tastic” alliteration examples.
d. Explore onomatopoeia using spooky sounds! Check out our FREEBIE here:
Fall makes teaching so fun, and it sets the stage for many lively learning opportunities. From exciting writing units to beautifully-written picture books, fall can awaken a love of learning in your students. We hope you’re able to use some of these ideas in your classroom in the next two months. Your lessons will be “un-be-leaf-able!”