April is nearly here and spring has sprung! With the arrival of warmer weather, I love to add some spring fun into my classroom routine. Keep reading for a few great April-themed activities you can do in your upper elementary classroom.
Celebrate Poetry Month with Spring Poems
Poetry writing is one of those topics students really love or just don’t dig. However, I discovered that providing a framework and focusing on one type of poem at a time has really helped my students engage with poetry in a fun and creative way. For the past several years, I’ve incorporated this great Spring Poetry Craftivity into my April lesson plans. With each poem focused around a different spring topic, you can focus on building the vocabulary of poetry(alliteration, for example) throughout the month.
In this activity the kids learn about six different types of poetry and create their own poetry pocket to collect the poems they create. The activity includes a template to create the display pocket making it perfect for an interactive spring bulletin board that can be set up and added to all month long. Each poem template also includes the definition of the poem students wrote with any identifying characteristics, which makes it a great review later.
Before we do any writing, I typically spend some time creating an anchor chart with spring vocabulary. We add to this over the entire month, and it becomes a great reference for the students as they look for just the right words for their poems. I focus them on thinking about the descriptive words that go along with spring since many times they focus on nouns. This helps make their poems much more appealing to the reader as we progress through the process.
Each time I introduce a new poem (typically 1-2 per week depending on how the students are progressing in their other writing projects…I like to make this a Fun Friday writing project), and we talk about the special features of the poem. Then I work to generate a shared writing example to help students see the process. For some poems, I take the class on a “field trip” outside to our playground to be inspired by the nature around us or show a short video to get them excited and engaged about the topic (bugs, anyone?).
Students work to generate a draft in their writing notebook, and we do some brief editing throughout the next week before completing our final draft on the square poem paper, adding color, and placing it in our poetry pocket bulletin board.
Earth Day Craftivity: Spring Science & Social Studies
I am not sure about you, but our state standards require us to teach about renewable and non-renewable energy. This is the perfect tie in for Earth Day on April 22nd. Since I’ve typically finished up my unit on renewable and non-renewable energy and Earth’s resources by this point, I love to use Earth Day as a little refresher. I typically show the Bill Nye episode on Garbage (because who doesn’t LOVE Bill Nye?!?), and we have a little refresher on the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.
My students do all their science work in their science journals. You can see a sample of what my science journals look like here. The students and I work to keep these up-to-date, and we refer to them regularly as we work through different science labs and activities. Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to add our reduce, reuse, and recycle vocabulary to our journals while we brainstorm how we can help protect the earth. As we glue down each tab, I have students record the definition of that term and think-pair-share how they can implement it in their own lives. When we finish, they have three tabs that they can flip up for a review of the vocabulary and a reminder of an easy way to help our planet. This also serves as their brainstorming for our craftivity project.
Typically at some point during the day, we head outside to do some trash pickup around our school. When we come back we talk about all the things we noticed in nature that could be impacted by the trash we collected. I love to wrap up the lesson with this fun Earth Day Craftivity, where my students have a chance to document all the great ways they can protect the earth so it is clean and healthy for generations to come.
These make a fabulous bulletin board and are super simple to create. I have them use their science journal page from above and select one of the three ways they brainstormed to help protect the earth. Their job is to expand one of the ideas into a full paragraph by adding important details. For example, if a student said they could reduce the amount of water they use, the details of their paragraph should encompass different ways they plan to do this (shorter showers, turn off the water to brush teeth, etc.). They color and glue the top flap on and these simple projects are beautiful and ready to display. Easy-peasy!
If you are looking for more fun April ideas, check out this Pinterest board for a collection of great Spring ideas!