It’s finally fall! Time to break out the Pumpkin Spice, Fall decor, and my monthly-themed activities for October. Cross-curricular learning is the next level when it comes to higher-order thinking. Here are 16 engaging classroom activities for October that I’m sure your kids will love to do in their classroom this fall.
October Classroom Activity 1. Pumpkin Math
Get your students excited about fall by bringing in real-life pumpkins for you and your students to carve. Introduce the concept of the circumference by having them hug the pumpkin to feel its size all the way around. If you have a scale, incorporate measurement and weigh the pumpkin and compare it to the weight of other fun fall produce. Finally, carve that pumpkin. Empty out its guts and get students outside to plant those seeds. Talk about an engaging activity for October! Pair this fun with a pumpkin life cycle booklet so students can read up on all of the fun things they are learning about pumpkins.
2. Pumpkin Life Cycle Labeling Activity
It wouldn’t be a list of classroom activities for October if you didn’t include the pumpkin life cycle! Once you’ve planted your seeds and read about the pumpkin life cycle, have your students work with a buddy to label the stages of the life cycle. Have them keep this in their science journal or binder, so they can record their observations for each stage as their seeds (hopefully) sprout. Then once students have labeled each stage, incorporate some writing by having them summarize the stages on their own paper.
October Classroom Activity 3. Sequencing the Pumpkin Life Cycle
Get in some reading comprehension and practice with a pumpkin life cycle sequencing activity. Have students read the story. Then, they match the pictures with each sentence. Finally, they answer the questions at the bottom. Do they like big or small pumpkins? Have they ever gone to a pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin? While we’re at it, let’s engage their creative side by having them draw a picture as they visualize what happened in the story.
4. October Math – Counting to 120
While you’re waiting for your pumpkin seeds to grow this October, tie in the pumpkin joy by having your students count to 120 using pumpkin seeds! Using a 120-counting student activity page this activity is great as a math center. Because of the continued learning gaps our kiddos have, it’s important that we differentiate our centers to meet student needs. Differentiating your centers will also lead to increased engagement from your kiddos as they continue to learn and grow with each activity you have them practice. Think about using a 120 mat, but also have counting to 100, 50, and 20 mats too.
5. Pumpkin Ten Frames
If your students need more support with counting, consider using fun pumpkin ten frames which you can pair with pumpkin-shaped erasers, or if you’re feeling extra joy some pumpkin-shaped candy. If you want to reuse this in a center, slide this page into a dry-erase pocket so that you don’t have to make multiple copies.
October Classroom Activity 6. Adding with Pumpkins
In all honesty, math isn’t my favorite subject. I was mostly taught tricks and never truly understood math conceptually. This is one of the reasons, I love having anchor charts, reference sheets, and booklets both for myself and my students. This way, we have tools at our fingertips that we can use to help us as we practice problem-solving. Have you ever thought about creating an addition or subtraction strategies booklet for your students? It allows them to record their thinking and practice using the strategy to solve equations. Pair that with a fun pumpkin addition game and you have a recipe for success.
7. Roll and Describe October Writing
After experiencing a pumpkin carving and observing their pumpkin seeds, engage your students’ writing muscles by having them describe some of the things they’ll encounter this fall. Instead of just writing sentences at a center, make it fun by pairing writing with dice and creating a roll and describe activity.
For this center, students roll a dice and then write one adjective, or describing word, listed for the noun. Take it a step further by having students write an entire sentence to describe a pumpkin, bat, scarecrow, or other fall objects. Have amazing writers in your classroom already? Have them roll the dice, write an adjective, and then write a paragraph including all three nouns and adjectives.
8. Roll and Read CVC Fluency
Since we’re thinking about engaging center activities for October, here’s a fun one to help students in the primary grades who need to build fluency with their CVC words. It’s important that students receive explicit instruction in phonics, and also that they get many opportunities to practice building their reading fluency. Don’t like the sound of small dice? Pair it with giant foam dice that kiddos get to roll and read with a buddy. Partner A rolls and reads that row. Partner B listens and provides corrective feedback. Then, they take turns.
October Classroom Activity 9. Word Mapping with Pumpkins
Another way to support students in their foundational skills is to incorporate word mapping into your reading block. Word mapping is a way to support the brain’s orthographic mapping process. Orthographic mapping is how our brain stores words. It involves the formation of letter-sound connections to solidify spellings, pronunciations, and meanings in our memory.
To map a word, you would use sound boxes as a scaffold. First, say the word. Then, tap the sounds or use a manipulative like a pumpkin or leaf eraser to help students identify how many sounds are in the word. Last, have students write the letters that spell each sound in the boxes. I’ve seen teacher friends of mine actually use ten frames for this process.
Once you’ve taught students how to map words, you can include a word mapping center in your classroom. Use pumpkin-themed word mapping activity pages for blends and digraphs as a fun classroom activity for October. Remember, digraphs are two letters that make one sound. This means, that a digraph would be spelled in one box. Blends, on the other hand, are two letters blended together that each make their own sound. Each letter would go in a separate box. The word “ship,” for example, has three sounds. The /sh/ digraph would be written in one pumpkin, the short /i/ would be written in the second pumpkin, and the final sound /p/ would be written in the last pumpkin.
10. Fall Color by Code Short and Long Vowels
Distinguishing the difference between short and long vowels can sometimes be difficult for students. Have them practice how silent e changes the vowel sound from short to long with a color by code short and long vowels activity. Pair it with a long vowels decodable or some phonics booklets for more practice.
11. Build Reading Fluency with a Wagon Ride
One of our favorite things to experience in our part of town is our Fall-Themed parade. There are wagons, pumpkins, and all kinds of fall-themed decorated floats that travel down our main street. If you have a similar community activity like that in your town, encourage students to share about it during Morning Meeting with a buddy. You can also include a fluency passage on a wagon ride to help students make those fiction and real-world connections.
October Classroom Activity 12. Fall Character Perspective Activity
Since we’re still talking about taking rides, another fun ride students can have in the fall is a hay ride. To build background, students can read “The Hay Ride”. Then, have them discuss with a buddy each character’s perspective about the hay ride. Once they’ve discussed orally, students are ready to write what they shared in each of the perspective boxes.
Extend this activity by having students share their own experiences with a Hay Ride. Simply, turn the paper over and have them respond in writing. Then, they can share what they wrote with a different buddy. What a great way to build those fiction and real-world connections, while also building community in your classroom.
13. Empathy Read-Alouds for October
Honestly, you can never do too many community-building activities or have too many read-alouds connecting to social-emotional learning. This is one of the reasons I absolutely love these Empathy Read-Alouds QR Codes activity. Funding a library and having a stock of read-alouds can get expensive quickly. With these QR codes, I can give my students the opportunity to listen and engage with quality literature, while also keeping some money in my pocket.
“I Walk with Vanessa” by Kerascoet is one of my favorite wordless picture books. It always allows for such great discussion even in kindergarten classrooms. This activity also comes with a writing page where students can write the main idea or theme of the book, describe their favorite part, and also write what they think empathy means. Extend this activity by adding graphic organizers that you’ve used in your classroom or by having them compare the themes in multiple books they listened to.
October Classroom Activity 14. Pumpkin Harvest STEM Activity
In addition to having a maker station, it’s always fun to stop and do a little Stem. A coworker of mine actually does STEM bins in the mornings and STEM Fridays where she gives her students the opportunity to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. For an engaging classroom activity in October, add a Pumpkin Harvest STEM activity, where students will use any materials that you give them to create a tool to pick up as many candy pumpkins as possible from the field. Up the excitement, by having kiddos race each other to see who can harvest the most pumpkins in a given time. I did this activity with my husband and daughter at home last year before we went trick-or-treating and it was so much fun.
15. Build a Tower with Pumpkins
Remember how I said you can’t ever have enough community-building activities? Here’s another one that’s connected to STEM. The Great Pumpkin Tower STEM Challenge is a great opportunity to have your students work together to try to make the tallest tower. Not only do they have to use their amazing, resourceful brains, but they also have to practice following directions and listening to each other. Once they’ve discussed the brainstorming questions, students come up with a group plan, draw it in the box, and then work together to build their tower. This would be a fun activity for the end of October, especially with all of the trick-or-treating anticipation.
16. October Leaf Fall Project
We don’t get many leaves falling down where I’m from, but I definitely see the potential in a fun leaf fall project with my friends up North. As students learn about seasonal changes, they can partner with a class in another state where the leaves don’t change. (A state like mine where we have plenty of beaches and shells.) My friends up North will send real-life leaves and then we get to send them something special from our state. Each student fills a baggie with a few of the coolest color-changed leaves they can find. Pair this with letter writing and you’ve got yourself a pen-pal project underway.
Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and I’m definitely excited to incorporate all of these fun, engaging classroom activities for October throughout all the content areas that I teach.
Written by: Dr. Shaime Cortes Vega, Ed. D
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