Fall is officially here! While we've officially moved out of the Back-to-School season, October is still a time where we're building the foundation for the skills students will need to be successful throughout the year. Not only that, it's a month filled with fun holidays and events your students will love. As you start outlining your lessons for the month, I wanted to share some of my favorite activities and teaching ideas to keep students motivated, engaged, and excited about learning.
Popular Holidays & Events to Engage Learners in October
When it comes to October teaching ideas, you won't need to look much further than the many holidays that arise in the month to get your lesson plan inspiration. Here are some of the most popular October holidays and events, along with a few ideas on how you can make them relevant to your students' learning.
National Bullying Prevention Month
As October ushers in National Bullying Prevention Month, it's the perfect time to reiterate those beginning-of-year lessons you taught your students about respect and kindness. Incorporating this into your language arts lesson can be an easy to offer cross-curricular SEL instruction while still targeting those important ELA standards you need to be covering this time of year.
Consider starting an October Kindness Challenge in your classroom to get students thinking about and practicing acts of kindness.
I've created a great no-prep 2-day lesson plan for this using Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. It includes opportunities to teach important reading comprehension skills, like summary and character development.
In addition, I've added a component that focuses on the SEL aspects of the book. The lesson looks at how we can show kindness to one another. Students set a goal for themselves and work to show kindness toward others in the classroom and out. You can hand out kindness tickets to reinforce those you “catch” being kind. In addition, this lesson can easily be extended to fill an entire week or more.
Fire Prevention Week- Week of October 9, 2022
As October begins, so does Fire Prevention Week. This year's theme is “Fire Won't Wait. Plan Your Escape.” Providing your students with fire safety tips and facts is a great way to help keep them safe at home and school.
One of my favorite ways to do this is with my Fire Safety Week Editing Scoot Game. It's a fun, active way for students to move around the room and review fire safety tips. Plus, it's a great way to sneak in some editing and grammar practice!
If you're looking for some great Fire Prevention Week resources and lesson ideas, you should check out the National Fire Prevention Association's website.
Indigenous Peoples' Day – October 10
In October, we also celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day. This is a day to remember and honor the significant contributions of Native Americans to the history of our country.
There are a lot of great books you can use to teach about Indigenous Peoples' Day. One of my newer favorites is We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom.
This book follows a young girl as she stands up to protect her water source from an oil pipeline. It is a great way to teach about Indigenous Peoples' Day and ties in nicely with environmental science lessons.
After reading the book, students can participate in a whole-class discussion or write a persuasive letter about why water is important and what we can do to protect it.
If you've already read this book or just want more to choose from for your read aloud, here are 15 more options to consider:
15 Picture Books for Indigenous Peoples Day
- The People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz
- Mission to Space by John Harrington
- When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
- Sharice's Big Voice by Sharice Davids & Nancy K. Mays
- At the Mountain's Base by Traci Sorell
- Jingle Dancer by Cynthia L. Smith
- A Man Called Raven by Richard Van Camp
- Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson & David Shannon
- We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell & Frané Lessac
- Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard
- The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble
- Nimoshom and His Bus by Penny M. Thomas & Karen Hibbard
- Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child
- SaltypieL A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light by Tim Tingle & Karen Clarkson
- I am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis, Kathy Kacer, and Gillian Newland
Alternatively, if you're working with older students and you're looking for a great novel study that students can connect with this holiday, consider Apple in the Middle. It is the story of a young girl trying to find her place in the world as she deals with the challenges of being biracial and reconnecting with her family's roots.
No matter what you choose to do, October is a great month to teach about diversity, equity, and inclusion in your classroom!
Red Ribbon Week – Week of October 23
Red Ribbon Week is a time to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and to promote drug-free living. Since it occurs the same week as Halloween, many schools go all out and include dress-up days and other fun activities.
I've shared some great low-prep options for including Red Ribbon Week in your lesson plans in this blog post: Engaging Red Ribbon Week Ideas for the Classroom
Halloween – October 31
Halloween is, without a doubt, one of the most popular October holidays. And while some teachers may feel hesitant about incorporating it into their lessons, there are so many great ways to use Halloween to teach important academic skills.
One way is to use Halloween-themed picture books to teach reading comprehension skills like retelling, sequencing, and character development. Older readers often enjoy jumping into their first book clubs or novel studies this time of year. I've compiled a list of Halloween books for upper elementary and middle school students that might be a great starting point for planning these lessons.
Since we all know students tend to be a bit wild this time of the month, there's all the more reason to get into the holiday spirit and just go with it. Plan some Halloween-themed math and literacy stations. Get creative with a pumpkin STEM challenge. Or have some fun with some Halloween brain breaks!
Other Great Themes & Teaching Ideas for October
Of course, many of us try incorporating seasonal fun into the pre-existing curriculum map this time of year. When it comes to cross-curricular connections, you'll find lots of opportunities to bring October activities into your classroom with teaching ideas related to these popular themes:
What would October be without pumpkins? You can use pumpkins to teach everything from math concepts – like estimation, measurement, and fractions – to literacy skills like descriptive writing and alliteration.
Check out these pumpkin activities:
October is also the perfect time to teach about bats! These nocturnal creatures are so interesting, and there are lots of great resources available to help you teach your students all about them. Introduce echolocation as part of a unit on the five senses or adaptations. Teach students to compare and contrast using Venn diagram by comparing bats to birds. There are many ways to include bats in your October lesson plans!
Here are a few free resources to get you started:
- Reading Passage – The Amazing World of Bats (ReadWorks.org)
- Bat Lifecycle Worksheets
- Easy Bat 3D Art Project
Autumn Weather & Seasonal Changes
Many areas of the country experience a shift from warm, sunny days to cooler, wetter weather this time of year, making it the perfect opportunity to introduce key science concepts like temperature, precipitation, and the water cycle.
Check out this fun video to see how you can make a cloud in a jar with your learners to model how the water cycle works right before their eyes.
October Teaching Ideas: Keeping students focused & having fun
I hope these will help inspire your fall lesson plans this October. While things can get hectic with so much going on, incorporating some fun into your October lesson plans can be a great way to make things a little less stressful when you're juggling parent-teacher conferences and the other activities on your plate this month.
These are just a few of the October teaching ideas I wanted to share with you. I hope you find them helpful as you plan your lessons for the month!
Happy October teaching!