5 Activities for October in the Upper Grade Classrooms

17 October 2021

Activities for October in Upper Grade Classrooms

I love everything about the Fall.  It's the perfect combination of weather, beauty, and all things cozy.  It's also one of my favourite months in the classroom.  We're starting to get our routines down pat, beginning of the year assessments are complete (or almost ... haha), and our classroom community vibes are pretty strong.  We can start to handle some more engaging and hands-on activities ... and in my opinion, there is no better month to do it.  

Falling into Poetry Writing and Figurative Language Activities
1.  Fall Poetry Books
- Falling into Poetry is easy with this resource that's perfect for the beginning of the year when the leaves start to change.  Students get an introduction to many different forms of poetry, as well as figurative language.  There are examples of each type of poetry and figurative language device, as well as space for students to complete their own examples.  Completed pages turn into a beautiful poetry mini book.  Each poetry form also has a leaf outline so students can copy their best poems onto the leaf and colour for display.  There is a branch included for each student to make their own little poet-tree, or individual leaves could be added to a bulletin board, kraft paper tree in the classroom, or REAL branches for a gorgeous autumn display.  

I have also integrated this into an art activity, where students paint a Fall background on a page, then choose 2 -4 completed poem leaves to glue down onto the background for a beautiful writing and art piece.  Click either picture to take a closer peek at this resource in my store.

2.  Clay Sculpted Leaf Art - Every year I look forward to decorating my classroom with gorgeous Fall Leaf Art.  For these beautiful Fall Leaf bowls, we used air dry clay.  I had students pick a real leaf from the school ground (a fallen leaf, of course) - one they felt they could trace.  Students were each given some air dry clay to flatten out to about 1/4 of an inch thickness (and just slightly larger than the leaf they chose).  Note - be sure to have them work with the clay on some type of paper, it's no mess that way.  Students then used a pencil to trace around their leaves on the wet clay, and then used a plastic butter knife to "cut out" their leaves and draw on the veining (copying their real leaf).  When done, we put them vein side down, over some crumpled up paper to sort of form the leaves into a slight bowl shape.  It takes about 3 - 4 days to fully dry.  Once dry, paint (we used acrylic paint) the leaves in gorgeous Fall colours.  Experiment a bit with this.  Using a toothbrush to splatter some of the paint on top makes very realistic spotting on the leaf - and practice mixing and blending with colours.  We sealed our leaves with a spray varnish when complete, but you don't need to do this step.

Fall Leaf Art Lesson

3.  More Leaf Art -
This Fall Leaf Art Lesson is perfect to study line, shape, form, and colour with the elements of design.  Students will trace 2 - 4 leaves on their page, then fill the rest of the page with concentric circles (if you're brave you can have students use a compass, or use the page I included with the circles already drawn).  Choose 3 or more warm colours for the leaves, and colour each section made (by the circles) in a pattern.  When the leaves are coloured, choose 3 or more cool colours for the background, again alternating colours in a pattern.  The leaves look like they're falling against a beautifully windy sky backdrop, or falling into a pool of water.

October Literacy 3D Activities

4.  ALL the Craftivities
- While I do love to sneak in my 3D craftivities at different points in the year, I have to admit, all the Fall ones top my list.  These activities make the perfect station activity, or independent work activity so you can meet with small groups or get some assessment done while students are hard at work.  Each one takes approximately one week.  I usually have students finish 2 questions (2 panels) from Monday - Wednesday.  On Thursday they colour all the panels, and then Friday is assembly day.  I have craftivity packages for both literacy and math.  The October Literacy 3D Craftivities Bundle has two different book report resources covering story elements and reading comprehension (the pumpkins and the ghost), as well as a fun one for synonyms and over-used words.  The Fall Math Review 3D Activity Bundle has a candy corn place value review, as well as a pumpkin pie shaped activity with word problems (about pumpkin pies, of course).  Click on either title or picture to the right to see these resources in my TpT store.

Fall Math Review 3D Activity Bundle

5.  Fall Drama Circle
- You can't have all that Fall beauty without a little drama. ;)  A drama circle, that is.  This is a new drama circle with a Fall theme - make a circle, hand out the cards, and have some fun.  If the weather is nice, this one is even better outside!  All drama circles now contain colour and black and white copies, and a observation rubric for assessment of drama skills.  Click HERE or on the picture below to take a peek.

Fall Drama Circle
Fall Activity Bundle for Upper Grade Classrooms

You can find all of these Fall-themed resources in one bundle that can take you through the month of October in your classroom.  You can out my Fall Activity Bundle HERE, or by clicking the picture on the right.

Candy Corn Decimals Printable
And lastly, if you made it all the way to the bottom, reward yourself with this little Candy Corn Decimals Place Value Printable.  Just click on the picture to the right to grab a copy for yourself.  Happy Fall, Y'All!


Skip Counting Your Way Through Art

08 October 2021

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween
These Skip-Counting Spiderwebs are one of my best Halloween tricks (tips?) to keep your students focused and busy on Halloween day.  Seriously.  Let's face it - the excitement in the room makes it hard to settle, so it's not the time to start a brand new concept.  A few years ago I started to do this activity in the morning on Halloween, and we get in a great skip-counting practice and create an awesome art project with lines, shape, and repetition.  It's calming and mindful, and will take around an hour to complete.  Put on some low spooky music in the background, and your students will be engaged, working, QUIET, and learning.  

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

Integrating math and art isn't scary on Halloween.  To start these spirographs, you need a circle divided into an even number of numbers (make a dot and write the number) around the ouside (1-18, 1-24, 1 - 30, etc.)  The higher your number of dots, the more intricate the pattern.

You have to use a ruler for this activity - if the lines aren't straight, it won't look right.  Also, I would usually get students to work first in pencil in art activities, but not on this one.  They will be drawing so many lines, they will have no desire to trace back over every line when they are done.  We use extra fine tip sharpie markers, but any extra fine pen tip will work.

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

Starting at 1, skip count by 1 (dot to dot style), around the whole circle.  When you get back to the top (dot 30), start over, but this time skip count by 2s (join every second dot to dot).  Continue in this pattern, skip counting all the way around the circle (until you get back to the starting dot for every time around the circle).  

You can skip count all the way up to the twelves times table, or even further for a challenge.  Cut out around the circle (cutting off the numbers) when complete and glue your spiderweb down on some contrasting paper.

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

To add a little extra Halloween flair to our spiderwebs, you can buy some spiders at the dollar store, or make them with pipe cleaners and googly eyes, and glue the legs down so that they are crawling across the webs.  These make an awesome Halloween display of learning!

Runde's Room Skip Counting Spiderwebs for Halloween

This art project isn't limited to Halloween though - brighten up your webs by using a different color for each skip count around the circle for a bright and beautiful spirograph!  Or start with an oval instead of a circle and create a gorgeous Easter Egg!!!  (I'm going to try this one next!)   Students can even color inside the little shapes made within the spirograph.

Click on any of the pictures in this post to take a peek at this Skip-Counting Halloween art lesson in my TpT Store.


Collaborative Resources as Important Discussion Starters

05 October 2021

With disrupted school years a few years in a row now, I noticed a few important conversations we needed to have much earlier than previous years.  These conversations have focused on being kind, showing our positive character, social media use, and using mindfulness.  Each of these resources or ideas gets your students reflecting on their opinions, feelings, or self-awareness of different attributes and once completed, are the perfect starting points for initiating whole group discussions.  Because students have already reflected on, tried, or talked about the activity, their discussions have been much richer and deeper ... and rewarding.

Runde's Room

My students have spent too much time online - for school AND social media.  I've been trying to reduce or balance the amount of technology my students are using in the classroom at the moment - instead choosing to complete more activities together, through discussions or with good old paper and pencil.  They are also talking about social media WAY more than they used to before.  What they saw, or did, or posted, or watched, or liked ... or whatever.  This Stick-It-Together Collaborative Activity for Social Media will help me start those important social media and internet safety lessons with students ... and will get them sharing their opinions and feelings in small groups, and in writing.  There are over 30 different social media reflection questions (on pros and cons of social media and different apps).  Each student will answer the question on a sticky note independently at first, then groups of 4 students will "stick" their answers together to build their best possible collaborative answer.  When groups are done, allow them some time to share their answers with the whole class - the perfect way to start an important conversation and let students share or defend their opinions.

Some days, thankfully not too many, I also have wondered if my students have completely forgotten ALL their positive character traits, and what makes them the fabulous students they are.  We have gone back to discussing exactly what the positive character traits look like, and how they can show how they are demonstrating them.  This Building Character Stick-It-Together Resource is another way you can have your students working collaboratively to reinforce their good character skills, and brainstorm ways to demonstrate these skills around the classroom and school.

As we have been discussing how important is to BE KIND ALWAYS, I also introduced some kindness rewards into the class.  I purchased some vinyl laptop stickers on Amazon, and added them into my pocket chart for some "Kind Sticks" rewards.  We have a daily kindness challenge posted on the board every morning, and when students complete the challenge, they initial the board.  Right before our last recess, I ask students to share what kind act they did, and how it made them feel.  Sometimes I post individual challenges like, "Do a favour for 3 classmates today", and sometimes it will be a whole class challenge, "Do something well as a class to earn a compliment from a different staff member (not me)".  They are loving these stickers, and are using them to cover their notebooks, folders, binders, and water bottles.

And lastly, I'm not sure if it's just my class, but the ENERGY these kids returned to school with is amazing.  I am exhausted!  They seem like they can just keep going and going and going.  Our energy is usually quite high after we come in for recess or after lunch, and it's taking a bit to settle after transitions.  I knew I wanted to start some mindfulness activities in the classroom, so I created a Cursive (and Printing) Writing Practice Mindfulness Activity (because multi-tasking is my life ... even during mindful moments).  The resource also contains all the same sheets for regular printing practice as well). These pages will give your students explanations for mindfulness as well as many short mindfulness tips and activities they can try in the classroom and outside of it.  With so many of our students needing a little extra mental health self-care, using mindfulness is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety, stress, and learn to self-regulate better.


Truth and Reconciliation Week in the Classroom

03 October 2021


This week was Truth and Reconciliation Week in Canada.  Although officially recognized over one week, these are conversations and teachings that should happen throughout the school year, not just one week, or one day.  Reconciliation is about building relationships and respect, and that just cannot be reduced to a week.

I wanted to share some of the activities, readings, and discussions I had with my Grade 5/6 class this year, mainly inspired by this resource, Every Child Matters.  After reading the book Trudy's Rock Story, and discussing how Trudy uses rocks to relieve her anger and release her feelings, we decided that making our own Resilience Rocks could help us process some of our feelings about Canada's history, mainly anger and confusion, and by placing them back on the Earth, we could release some of the feelings and remember to act.

Tuesday we started painting our rocks orange while I read the story, I am Not a Number.  (We used acrylic paint - I would suggest spray paint - we had to do many many coats of acrylic paint, and them still seal them).  We also watch a video from residential school survivor, Lillian Elias, and then used orange sticky notes to send her a message.

Wednesday we sealed the rocks with an outdoor mod podge.  We did this BEFORE they wrote on them, otherwise the sharpie marker would pull the paint off when we wrote.  We read the story, When I was Eight, and wrote some more reflections on sticky notes.

Thursday was Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day.  For art in the morning, we looked at beautiful examples of Indigenous Art and Artists - current and past.  We worked on Canada Goose Drawings, inspired by Benjamin Chee Chee.  We chose the Canada Goose because we liked how they inspired flight - and they may have to move or leave for a bit, but they always come back, stronger. I let the students use their laptops to look at different images while they drew their own.  These turned out stunningly.  Even mine - and I usually struggle with a stick figure.

We had been talking about what message we wanted to share on Orange Shirt Day on our Resilience Rocks, and had brainstormed a long list over the week.  Some students wanted to apologize, others wanted to send a word of support or strength, and some just wanted to share their beliefs that every child really does matter.  We knew we would placing the rocks around our school yard and school community and we wanted to choose something that would inspire continuing to spread this message - that every child matters and why we need to understand why.

In the afternoon we took a 2.15 km walk (for the 215 children found in Kamloops) and placed our Resilience Rocks around the school community.  As we walked in our orange shirts, we were careful to spread them out around our route so we could share our messages with our small community.  I told my students that if they were able, it would be nice to bring their grown-ups to where they placed their rocks earlier, and tell them about our learning and their reflections from the week.

Our last day was spent working on the writing reflection, "If I was given a $1000 budget to plan an Orange Shirt Day event at my school, this is what I would do."

Again, this was our week of Truth and Reconciliation activities in the classroom, but our conversations won't end at the end of the week.  This acknowledgement and promise to learn the truth will continue throughout our whole year of curriculum.

If you are looking to add more indigenous-themed books and authors to your classroom, HERE is a good place to get started.

How were some ways you observed Truth and Reconciliation week at your school?