Fall A Great Time for Teaching with Thematic Units
September, October, and November are great months for inspiring creativity with all of the colors and fun stuff like pumpkins, apples, bats, owls, spiders and black cats. And why not let some of those Halloween-ish animals help teach animal facts and other concepts for early learners. Art projects and other learning activities go hand-in-hand with these Fall thematic lessons for elementary students.
Thematic units are an excellent way to get kids involved in learning content across the curricula. Lessons and activities revolve around one central theme to teach reading, writing, language arts, math and science skills and concepts. Here are a few ideas for teaching a fall thematic unit for the beginning of September all the way to November.
Apple Thematic Lessons
Graphing Favorite Apples
The kids will love sampling apples and voting on their favorite. Have slices of yellow, red and green apples in paper cups. They take turns coloring in a block under their favorite apple and writing their name. They can compare their responses by interpreting the information on the bar graph, an important skill. It reinforces counting, number recognition and color words. It’s a fun way to talk about the beginning of the harvest season.
Parts of a Plant
What better way to teach that new plants grow from seeds and are the same as the parent plant than examining the seeds of a juicy apple that you just ate? Show students the inside of an apple with a cross section. Dissect them and remove the sees with plastic tweezers.
This is a good activity to combine with a simple lesson on the parts and functions of plants. For a math/art project to match, make apple “cores” out of small paper plates for students to color. Have them glue seeds in the middle of the cores.(Use seeds you save from the graphing activity).
They can be used with a variety of math skills from just matching seeds to numbers for PreK to multiplication arrays for older elementary students.
Reading Johnny Appleseed
Introduce students to American folklore and heroes by reading Johnny Appleseed. It will open a plethora of ideas for reading and writing activities like the following you can find at Kinderart.com. September 26 is the legendary Johnny Appleseed’s birthday and October is National Apple Month.
Fall Leaves and Creative Writing
Brainstorm phrases associated with the sights,sounds, smells and activities of the season. Write them on a chart for younger students. Have them create acrostic poetry using letters F-A-L-L. Make leaf patterns for students to trace and color. Display these with their poems.
Owls, Bats, Spiders and Cats Thematic Lessons
Now is the perfect time to learn some fun, interesting animal facts about owls, bats, spiders and cats. This will help set the stage for oral expression, reading and writing activities. After learning about them from books, videos, and websites, it is time to organize the information with thinking map graphic organizers, writing activities and cute art projects.
Graphic organizer: Can-Have-Are Facts. Do as a whole group Activity. Then students can write their own Can,Have,Are sentences in the writing center.
Label the parts of the owl. Use in the writing center to help write descriptive paragraphs.
Art project-Trace and cut out owls from construction paper. Add wiggly large yellow circles and googly eyes, beak, and feet. Color feathers with crayons.
Graphic Organizers-Can-Have-Are Facts. Students use this to write descriptive sentences about bats in the writing center.
Thinking map-Bubble Map-Compare and contrast bats with birds. Students use these in the writing center to write informative paragraphs.
Art Project- Trace patterns on construction paper and cut out. Use black for the body and legs and purple for the wings. Add a red mouth, white fangs and googly eyes.
Graphic Organizer-Can-Have-Are Poster. Students use in the writing center to write sentences that begin with Can, Have or Are.
Art Project- Trace and cut out from construction paper. Add eight legs and eight small googly eyes.
Graphic Organizer-Can-Have-Are Poster. Place in writing center for students to write sentences and informative paragraphs about cats. Older students can write paragraphs that compare cats with bats. Are are these two mammals alike and different?
Art Project. Use paper plates to cut out the arching cat’s body. Trace head pattern, cut out and attach. Add chenille stem whiskers, a pom-pom nose and a pink half-circle mouth.
Abstract Leaf Art Project
The autumn color is peaking during October. Celebrate the beautiful colors of the season with this cool abstract leaf print and sponge painting project. Go outside and collect leaves. Brush with white paint and press onto black paper. Carefully lift and discard the leaf. Now sponge paint on some pretty fall colors for an interesting effect.
Candy Corn Numerical Expressions
Students can trace candy corn patterns to add different ways to express numbers in the three sections and then color.
Haunted House Fact Families
Kids love this one. So much fun to put related facts in each window of the haunted house. Use construction paper and have students design their own haunted house. This doubles as a great art project! 6=4=10, 4+6=10, 10-6=4, 10-4=6.
The harvest is in, and it’s time to give thanks for the bounty. Collect more leaves and trace onto colored construction paper to make a Thanksgiving tree. Students write things they are thankful for. Make one as a whole class or have each student make one of their own.
Art Project- “Stuffed Turkeys” After learning about The First Thanksgiving, compare and contrast the food to that we traditionally eat. How did the turkey become the center of the meal? Then stuff a brown paper bag with shredded newspaper. Tie at the bottom with a rubber band. Attach to an orange craft foam base cut to look like feet. Add the turkey’s features with googly eyes and pompoms. Trace and cut around real leaves in fall colors for his feathers. Attach the paper bag turkey to poster board with hot glue for balance. (Adult will need to do this step).