It's hard to believe April is right around the corner. The flowers are blooming and spring fever has hit. You're probably knee-deep into test prep at this point, but the end of the school year is coming! As you head into April, I wanted to share some of my favorite classroom activities and teaching ideas to keep students engaged and ready to learn during this often challenging time.
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Holidays & Events to Engage Learners in April
If you're looking for April teaching ideas, look no further than the many holidays that arise during the month. Here are just a few of the best holidays and special events to include in your classroom:
April Fools' Day – April 1
This is the perfect day to play tricks on your students and have a little fun. Just be sure that your pranks are all in good fun and don't cross any lines. You could do something as simple as hiding their pens and pencils or you could go all out like the ideas shared here by WeAreTeachers.
Here are a few ways fun tricks you may want to play on your students:
- Change the name tags on their desks or turn the desks backward
- Give them a surprise “test” with funny questions and answers
- Turn the clocks in your room upside down.
- Bring in a plate of “brown Es” for the students to enjoy.
National Library Week – Starts April 3
National Library Week is a big one, and if you've got a school librarian, you might want to coordinate to help plan some lessons that will help your students become pros at navigating the library.
Even if you don't have a school library, taking time to teach students how to navigate the public library is an important life-long skill that can help all learners gain access to books. Many libraries would be happy to send a librarian to your campus to talk to students and, with parent permission, you can even help your learners register for their own library card.
Here are a few more ideas for ways to celebrate National Library Week:
- Plan a field trip to the local library.
- Have students create posters or bookmarks to advertise the library
- Complete a Dewey Decimal System Webquest
- Create librarian appreciation cards for your campus librarian
You might also consider these fun activities for teaching your students more about how their library is organized by doing a mini-unit on the Dewey Decimal System.
This fun resource includes:
- reading passage with comprehension questions
- a creative banner craft activity
- book sort activity
Together these activities will help students learn more about the history of the library organization system and how they can use it to improve their research skills.
National Park Week – starts April 16
National Park Week is a great opportunity to introduce students to the many different types of parks that exist in the United States. You can visit a local park, take a virtual field trip to a national park, or even have your students create their own mini-parks.
If you're looking for ideas, be sure to check out these fun and educational activities that you can do with your students to celebrate National Park Week:
- Get outside and enjoy nature by taking a walking field trip to a park or enjoying extra time on the playground.
- Make a nature journal. Students can collect leaves, rocks, and other natural objects to draw or write about.
- Create a mini-park. Students can design and create their own parks using recycled materials.
- Get hands-on. Make a difference by participating in a park or playground cleanup day.
You might also decide to visit a national park virtually. The National Park Service has many different resources that allow students to explore parks from their computers. They've even got an option that allows you to take a ranger-guided virtual field trip.
I've created this free virtual field trip reflection sheet that is a great way to help your students reflect on their journey and consider what else they might like to learn. Just enter your information below to gain instant access.
Grab the free Virtual Field Trip Reflection Sheet
Earth Day – April 22
Earth Day is a great opportunity to teach students about natural resources and how we can protect our planet. You can have students complete environmental service projects, learn about the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), or even make their own green thumb pledges.
I love incorporating picture books into my Earth Day lessons. They offer a great opportunity for us to model our love of reading while helping students learn more about environmental topics.
Here are a few of my favorites:
You can also use these engaging Earth Day writing crafts to help make connections and build more understanding about natural resources and how your students can take an active role in protecting the earth.
These make a great April bulletin board display where you can share a sample of your students' writing. Under the flap, you can have students respond to how they can protect the Earth. It's a great opportunity to practice the formal paragraph format with a topic sentence, details, and a conclusion.
In addition, this resource has some fun interactive notebook templates to help students master the vocabulary associated with natural resources, making it a great addition to you science lessons during Earth Day or anytime in April.
Poetry Month – all month long
April is also Poetry Month, which makes it a great time to get students excited about reading and writing poetry. Bringing in seasonal themes is a great way to keep poetry writing low-stress and engaging for learners. If you're looking for a fun way to make the most of the beautiful weather, you might consider writing some spring poetry.
When it comes to April teaching ideas, getting outside is at the top of my list. Allowing students time to observe nature gives you a great chance to talk about sensory language, and you can have them build these experiences into a variety of different poetry types.
I created a Spring Poetry Unit where students brainstorm and draft a variety of spring-related poems to create their own poetry pocket.
Throughout the unit, they learn about different types of poetry including haiku, diamante, shape poems, and acrostics. They also learn about the importance of word choice and creating a visual for the reader through words.
Spring Break – varies by location
April is also a time when many schools go on spring break. While you might not specifically plan lessons around this weeklong vacation, you can use it to your advantage when it comes to getting students excited about writing.
As you're welcoming students back and re-establishing your routines after spring break, one option is to have students do a spring break writing craft.
Having students write about their spring break activities – whether the ones they actually did or the ones they WISH they did – is a great way to get students back into the habit of writing after break.
Click here to grab my Scoop about My Break Writing Craft.
Other Great Themes & Teaching Ideas for April
Of course, many of your April lesson plans relate to units that arise on your curriculum map this time of year. When it comes to science and social studies, you'll find opportunities to bring the warmer weather into your classroom with April teaching ideas related to habitats, adaptations, and life cycles.
Here are a few other popular themes often studied this month.
Habitats & Adaptations
Students are often discussing the animal habitats and adaptations this time of year. One commonly studied biome is the rainforest, which offers a plethora of animals and plants to choose from.
Reading books about the rainforest, like Magic Tree House #6: Afternoon on the Amazon, can help students build background knowledge prior to beginning your unit. The companion Fact Tracker titled Rain Forests is also a great tool for helping students make connections between fiction and nonfiction.
You might also like to try one of these activities:
- Create a diorama of a rainforest habitat.
- Design a shoe that would be comfortable to wear in the rainforest.
- Make a book about animal adaptations.
Life Cycles the Butterflies
Another commonly taught unit this time of year is the butterfly life cycle. If your playground is anything like ours, you're likely to have students trying to sneak wriggling caterpillars into your classroom all month long.
You can easily bring hands-on lessons about their life cycles into your classroom without needing much space. You might consider having a butterfly habitat in your classroom for students to observe. These are inexpensive and easy to maintain, and they don't take up large parts of your classroom.
In addition, the butterfly lifecycle only takes about two weeks, meaning you can incorporate the lessons into a unit that can be wrapped up with a butterfly release party all before the end of the school year festivities approach.
Making April more than just test prep…
I hope these ideas gave you some inspiration for your April lesson plans. While this time of year can be challenging as spring fever hits hard, it is also full of opportunities for fun and engagement.