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100 Educational Pumpkin Activities

100 Educational Pumpkin Activities
It’s fall and that means it’s time for… pumpkin everything. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, visiting the pumpkin patch, carving pumpkins, and more. Since pumpkins are already all around you, why not make them a part of your lesson plans too? We’ve rounded up 100 activities you can use to bring pumpkins into the classroom.

Math

  1. Bring a set of pumpkins into the classroom and have students order the pumpkins from smallest to largest by size, stem height, weight, or another attribute.
  2. Give each student a pumpkin and have students measure the pumpkin. How tall is it? How wide is it? What is its diameter? How much does it weigh? Practice estimation skills by having students how much it will weigh before they weigh it.
  3. Use a balance to compare the weight of a pumpkin to other objects in the classroom. For example, how many counting bears does it take to equal the weight of the pumpkin?
  4. Practice counting skills by counting pumpkins. You can count the number of pumpkins you see at the pumpkin patch or bring in small pumpkin candies for children to count and group.
  5. Sing the “Five Little Pumpkins” song (“Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate, the first one said, ‘Oh my, it’s getting late…’”)
  6. Most pumpkins have seeds inside. Place students in groups and give each group a small pumpkin. Cut open the pumpkins and have students count the number of seeds inside. Then each group can add their results to a graph. Practice estimation skills by having students predict how many seeds they will find before they look in the pumpkin.
  7. Make a pumpkin seeds counting book. Wash and dry pumpkin seeds and have students glue the correct number of seeds to each page of a counting book. You can also use dried pumpkin parts to make a book about the life cycle of a pumpkin.
  8. Did you know that the largest pumpkin ever grown weighed over 2,000 pounds? Research the largest pumpkins in history, compare their characteristics, or create a graph to see how much they would have to grow a day to reach that size.
  9. Turn a pumpkin into a geoboard. Add push pins to the pumpkin and stretch rubber bands around the pins to make different shapes.
  10. Bake a pumpkin pie (or something else with pumpkin in it) or make a no-bake pumpkin recipe to help students work on measuring and reading directions.
  11. Make a shape-o-lantern. Cut out different shapes (circles, triangles, rectangles, etc.) in different colors of construction paper and have students glue them together to make their own shape-o-lantern.
  12. Play an online pumpkin math game, such as Farmer Fred’s Pumpkin Patch or Pumpkin Multiples.
  13. Determine how much a pumpkin will cost by setting a price per weight, weighing a pumpkin, and determining the final total.
  14. Find two sets of three pumpkins that are nearly identical in size and color. Make a grid on a large piece of cardboard or by placing tape on the ground and play a game of pumpkin tic-tac-toe.

Science

  1. Study the life cycle of a pumpkin. How does a pumpkin grow from a seed to a full-grown pumpkin?
  2. Create a diagram of a pumpkin and label the different parts (stem, seed, vine, etc.)
  3. Conduct a pumpkin investigation. Have students analyze the pumpkin and describe the outside, the inside, how many seeds it has, how many lines it has, and other important features.
  4. Discover what happens to a pumpkin when you drop it from different heights. Does it break apart more when dropped from higher heights? What factors cause it to break apart or stay together?
  5. Use candy pumpkins and toothpicks to create bridges and other amazing structures. Talk with students about what makes one structure sturdier than others.
  6. Get a large tub of water and predict whether a pumpkin will sink or float. Place it in the water and see what it does. Try different sizes, shapes, and varieties of pumpkins. You could also empty out a pumpkin or poke holes in it to see if that changes the results.
  7. How long does it take a pumpkin to decompose? Place a piece of pumpkin into a container of dirt and regular monitor it. How long does it take the pumpkin to completely disappear?
  8. Monitor a rotting pumpkin by having students keep a pumpkin outdoors. Have students regularly go outside to observe the pumpkin. In a journal, students can draw a picture of the pumpkin and write a brief description.
  9. Grow a plant inside a pumpkin. Open it up and leave some of the guts inside, add some soil and a few plant seeds, and wait for your plant to sprout. Discuss with students what elements of the pumpkin might help a plant grow inside it.
  10. Create a pumpkin elevator. Challenge students to build a structure they can use to lift a heavy pumpkin. Reward students who can lift the heaviest pumpkin and lift a pumpkin the highest.
  11. Make a pumpkin volcano. Scoop out a pumpkin, put in some baking soda, add a bit of vinegar, and watch the pumpkin erupt. To make it more fun, add a few small holes for the foam to seep out of.
  12. Roast some pumpkin seeds with students. Have them look at the seeds before they are roasted and after they are roasted and note how they change.
  13. Dissolve candy pumpkins in different liquids (water, oil, vinegar, and soda). See how long it takes the pumpkin to completely dissolve.
  14. Empty a pumpkin, light a candle, and put it inside. Then put the lid on the pumpkin. Talk to students about why the candle goes out. Carve the pumpkin, light a candle, and put it inside. Talk to students about why the candle stays lit.

Language Arts

  1. Write an acrostic using the word PUMPKIN. Have students come up with a word or sentence related to pumpkins for each letter.
  2. How many words can you make from the letters in the word PUMPKIN? Challenge students to come up with as many words as possible. To make it easier you could add another word, such as PUMPKIN PATCH or PUMPKIN PIE.
  3. Have students draw and write a description of the ultimate jack-o-lantern. How big would it be? How would they decorate it?
  4. If a pumpkin could talk, what would it say? Have students write a short story about a talking pumpkin.
  5. Read a fiction book about pumpkins. Good books to start with include Spookley the Square Pumpkin and Too Many Pumpkins.
  6. Have students look at the inside and outside of the pumpkin and describe both with adjectives. Is it slimy on the inside? Bumpy on the outside?
  7. Create a recipe for a sweet treat using pumpkins or pumpkin candy. Students’ recipes could be something they could actually try to make or something crazy.
  8. Write pumpkin metaphors and similes, where students compare themselves or other objects to a pumpkin. For example, I am like a pumpkin because sometimes I feel bumpy.
  9. Write a poem on a pumpkin. Give each student a pumpkin and a permanent marker and let them write poems about fall or pumpkins right on the outside of the pumpkin.
  10. Create an advertisement for a pumpkin. Have students try to persuade others to buy their pumpkins (or pumpkins from their pumpkin patch) by creating a poster to advertise them or create a make-believe commercial.
  11. Research the largest pumpkins in history, pumpkin festivals around the world, or another element related to pumpkins and write an informational report.
  12. Organize nouns related to pumpkins based on whether they are a person, place, or thing. For example, “farmer (person), pumpkin patch (place), seed (thing).”
  13. Learn vocabulary words related to a pumpkin patch. Some words include: vine, seed, tractor, pulp, tendril, hay, pick.
  14. Write the letters of the alphabet around the edge of a construction paper pumpkin. Call out a letter of the alphabet. Using a hole punch or dot marker, have students find and mark the letter.

Social Studies

  1. Visit a pumpkin patch and talk about the role the pumpkin patch plays in your community.
  2. Create a map that shows how to get to a local pumpkin patch or have students create a map after they visit the pumpkin patch. Students can also follow a map through a corn maze at the pumpkin patch.
  3. Discuss with students the path a pumpkin takes to get from a seed to a pumpkin pie on the dinner table.
  4. Did you know that 90% of pumpkins grown in the United States come from a 90-mile radius around Peoria, Illinois? Do some research on the state of Illinois and its pumpkin crop.
  5. Do some research to figure out the top 5-10 pumpkin producing countries in the world.
  6. Decorate pumpkins to represent different flags of the world or different states in the United States.
  7. Paint a world globe onto a pumpkin. Use it to talk about concepts such as the equator, longitude, and latitude.
  8. Why do people put out jack-o-lanterns on Halloween? Do some research to figure out the reason behind the tradition.
  9. How have pumpkins been used throughout history? Have each student find one use and write a report on it.
  10. Eat pumpkin like the Native Americans by cutting it and roasting it over a fire.
  11. Read the book The Pumpkin People and talk about different personalities and types of people that exist in the world.
  12. Play a game of pumpkin trivia. Put together a set of historical questions about pumpkins and see how much students know.

Music

  1. Sing the song “5 Little Pumpkins.”
  2. Sing the “I’m a Little Pumpkin” song to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.” (I’m a little pumpkin, orange and round)
  3. Use two paper plates taped together with beans inside and painted orange to create pumpkin tambourines.
  4. Use soft mallets to tap on pumpkins and see what sounds they make. Do they make different sounds once they have been cut open?
  5. Replace the black dots on music notes with tiny pumpkin pictures on a silly tune about fall or Halloween for beginning learners to play.
  6. Make up a clapping or stomping rhythm as kids spell out the word pumpkin.
  7. Fill a plastic tube with dried pumpkin seeds to make a musical shaker.
  8. Play a game of musical pass the pumpkin. Have students stand in a circle and pass around the pumpkin while music plays. Whoever is holding the pumpkin when the music stops is out.
  9. Say a rhyme such as “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” while having students clap along. Try to say the rhyme faster and slower.
  10. Have students make up a pumpkin dance, a dance that they think a big, round pumpkin might do or a dance they can do while holding a pumpkin.
  11. Play students part of the soundtrack from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and talk about the different sounds you hear.
  12. Sing the song “Where is Thumbkin?” but insert pumpkin and pull out a pumpkin or two as you say the lines.

Physical Education

  1. Play a game of PUMPKIN instead of HORSE. Students shoot baskets and try to avoid getting the letters in “PUMPKIN,” earning one letter for each missed shot.
  2. Set up a hopscotch game using construction paper cutouts of pumpkins instead of squares.
  3. Create a pumpkin workout where each letter of the word PUMPKIN stands for a different activity. For example, “P” could stand for 10 push ups.
  4. Hold a pumpkin rolling challenge. Give each student a pumpkin to roll from one end of the room to the other. See who can roll his/her pumpkin first.
  5. Hold a pumpkin lifting challenge. See which student can lift the heaviest pumpkin or carry the most pumpkins at once.
  6. Play a game of “Steal from the Pumpkin Patch.” Give each student two flags to hang out of their pockets and have students try to steal the other team’s pumpkin from the patch without getting their flags stolen.
  7. Play a round of pumpkin bowling. Set up empty soda bottles and roll a pumpkin to try and knock them down.
  8. Follow the pumpkin path by laying down construction paper pumpkins around the room. Challenge students to walk around the room by only stepping on the pumpkins.
  9. Have students try to walk around the room while balancing a pumpkin on their heads.
  10. Pass a pumpkin around the room, but don’t let students use their hands. A smaller pumpkin works best for this game.
  11. Go on a walk through a pumpkin patch.
  12. Play pumpkin ring toss and have students try to land a cardboard ring on a pumpkin’s stem.
  13. Hold a pumpkin relay race, where students must race while holding a pumpkin, and pass the pumpkin to a different team member at certain points in the race.
  14. Have a pumpkin toss. Let two students toss a small pumpkin back and forth. With each successful toss, they take a step back. The pair of students who toss the pumpkin back and forth the longest win.

Art

  1. Get out the finger paints and let students paint their pumpkins however they want.
  2. Use yarn or string and have students wrap their pumpkins to create fun designs.
  3. Blow up an orange balloon and wrap it in yarn coated in glue. Once the glue dries, pop the balloon and remove it. Add a stem and leaf to complete the pumpkin.
  4. Cut an apple in half, dip it in orange paint, and stamp it on paper. Add faces and stems to create pumpkin faces.
  5. Tear up pieces of orange tissue paper or construction paper. Have students glue them onto a pumpkin shape.
  6. Remove and dry the seeds from a pumpkin. Have students glue the seeds to construction paper to create patterns or fun pictures.
  7. Place a piece of construction paper on a pumpkin paper and rub a crayon on it to create a fun pumpkin rubbing.
  8. Make construction paper pumpkins with a variety of different faces which will also help students learn about emotions.
  9. Cut out construction paper shapes and tape them to pumpkins to make different pumpkin animals.
  10. Cut strips of orange paper and arrange them to create a pumpkin shape (gluing them at the top and bottom of the pumpkin. Add a construction paper stem and leaf.
  11. Make a thumbprint pumpkin patch, by having students put orange thumbprints on a piece of paper, and then drawing in stems and leaves.
  12. Sponge paint a white paper plate with orange paint. Add a construction paper stem and let students draw or glue on construction paper shapes to make a face.
  13. Practice mixing red and yellow paint to make orange, and then use the orange paint to paint a picture of a pumpkin.
  14. Glue googly eyes and stems onto orange pom poms to make a pom pom pumpkin patch.
  15. Have students make construction paper pumpkins and cut out pictures from magazines to glue on for the facial features.
  16. Have students make a fence out of construction paper strips and glue on five construction paper pumpkins to accompany the song “Five Little Pumpkins.”
  17. Have students create a square pumpkin to go along with the story Spookley the Square Pumpkin.
  18. Paint rocks orange and paint on faces with black paint to make small jack-o-lanterns.
  19. Make pumpkin sculptures by stacking pumpkins in unique ways and gluing them together with hot glue (used with teacher supervision).
  20. Let kids use a hammer and a nail or a drill (with supervision) to make holes in a pumpkin. Add a candle to see how the light shines through.

Have more pumpkin ideas? We’d love to hear them. Share them in comments. Visit Help Teaching for more fun fall activities and printables. Happy Fall from Help Teaching!

5 Parent Tips for a Successful School Conference


Parent-teacher conferences can make parents, students, and even veteran teachers feel like they are on pins and needles. As parents, we want our children to be successful and happy. We love to hear about their accomplishments and it can be challenging to accept feedback on areas needing improvement. Developing a strong partnership with your children’s teachers is essential to ensuring academic progress. Enter your next parent-teacher conference prepared, with an open mind, and ready to collaborate with these five tips.

Involve Your Child

While some teachers invite students to sit in on parent meetings and some schools have moved to student-led models, many still offer traditional parent-teacher only conferences. Yet, this doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t be part of the conversation. After all, the meeting is about her success! Chances are your child will have some apprehension and curiosity about what goes on during the meeting. Alleviate the stress by talking with her beforehand. Ask your child if there is anything she would like you to share with the teacher. Maybe there is something she has enjoyed about being in class that the teacher would appreciate hearing. Or, if there is a concern she isn’t comfortable voicing on her own, this is an opportunity to bring it up. This is also a good chance to look over student work together. After the conference, reassure your child that you and her teacher as working as a team to help her succeed. Emphasize the positives that came out of the meeting as well as share any strategies that will be implemented going forward.

Do Your Homework

Your child has been working away at school and doing her homework. The teacher has pulled together student work samples, gathered data, and discussed your child’s progress with other teachers and specialists involved in her education. Now, it is your time to prepare for parent-teacher conferences! Start by looking over some of your child’s work. Read a writing sample. Try a few of the math questions from the last test. Develop a solid sense of the work your child is doing.

Next, write a list of questions you want to ask during the conference. The teacher may answer many of your questions during the natural progression of the meeting, but having a checklist will help prevent you from wishing you had remembered to ask about something. Some questions to consider include:

  • Is my child performing at grade level?
  • Is my child making sufficient academic progress?
  • Where does my child sit?
  • How is my child’s individualized education plan (IEP) being followed?
  • Do you have any concerns about my child’s social-emotional development?
  • How much time should my child spend on homework?
  • What can I do at home to better support my child’s learning?
  • Does my child show strong interest in any topic or subject?
  • Is there anything I should share with next year’s teacher?

Finally, jot down about what you would like to share about your child with her teacher. Perhaps your child is passionate about a particular sport or book series. Sharing this information may help the teacher better connect with the student. If there are changes in the home environment or medical concerns that may impact your child’s performance at school, let the teacher know. Include information from last year’s teacher on strategies that helped your child succeed in class.

Respect Time Limits

Whether your conference time is set for ten minutes or thirty minutes, be mindful of time limitations.  Show up ten minutes before your allotted meeting time. Use that time to look over your prepared questions. Spend a few minutes admiring the student work displayed in the hallway. During the conference, the teacher will most likely have an agenda and keep the conversation moving forward. If a topic comes up that needs to be discussed in more detail, make a note, but allow the conversation to progress. While discussing your child’s academic progress is the purpose of having a parent-teacher conference, it should not be at the expense of another family’s conference time. When you reach the end of your time, leave things on a positive note and exit the room. Doing so allows the teacher to make her own notes about the conference, prepare for the next meeting, and keeps things running on schedule.

Have a Conversation

A parent-teacher conference should be a conversation rather than a confrontation. Both of you share a common goal, the academic success and well-being of your child.  View the meeting as a collaborative session between teammates. Like any productive conversat5 Tips for a Successful School Conference Listion, a good conference should involve both participants listening and speaking. The teacher will most likely lead the flow of the conversation. Listen actively to what the teacher says. Take notes that you can refer to later and record actions items that you need to follow through on after the conference ends. Ask questions and share information about your child where they naturally fit in the conversation. Towards the end of the conference, read through the notes you prepared ahead of time and bring up any items that were not mentioned. Don’t forgot to discuss anything your child asked you to share with her teacher!

Make a Plan

The final couple minutes of the conference should be spent developing an action plan for how you and the teacher will best support your child going forward. This may include scheduling a follow-up meeting to further discuss anything that came up during the conference which couldn’t be fully covered in the allotted time. Review the things that you and the teacher will do to support your child as well as any expectations that need to be communicated with your child. Make sure you know the best method of contacting the teacher and determine a timeframe for when you will next check-in on your child’s progress.

Family engagement is vital to student success. Your parent-teacher conference attendance shows your child that you care about them and what goes on at school, as well as opens a dialog with the teacher. Share your tips on how to have a successful conference in the comments.

If you enjoyed this article, read 7 Tips for Learning with Kids. HelpTeaching.com also offers free, printable study skills worksheets to help promote effective learning strategies.

A to Z: The Best Books for Teens

A to Z: The Best Books for Teens
Step into the young adult section of your local library or bookstore and you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of books written just for teens. From paranormal romance and dystopian tales to stories of identity and social justice, there are plenty of options. The problem is, most teens aren’t reading them. To help teens wade through the masses, we’ve rounded up some of our top picks.

How’d we choose the books on our list? We looked for books that were exciting, books that teens could connect with emotionally, books that told about real-life teens, and books that would encourage teens to think a little deeper about the world. Some are fun, some are serious, and all are great reads.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is a graphic novel that focuses on Jin Wang, a Chinese-American student who just wants to be an American boy. It’s a quirky story that deals with identity, disaster, and The Monkey King.

Blubber by Judy Blume is one of those classic novels teens have loved to read for decades. It takes on bullying and asks teens to consider how far is too far when it comes to making fun of someone.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is a slightly odd, but enjoyable book about a character name
Christopher John Francis Boone. He is intelligent, but very little, and has no real understanding of human emotions. The novel was recently adapted into a Broadway musical.

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick is one of Amazon’s 100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime. The book tells the story of Steven, whose younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia, and how he and his family navigate life in the wake of the diagnosis.

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler has a humorous title, but it takes on very important issues that teens face, such as eating disorders, self-esteem, and rape.

Feed by M.T. Anderson, which is set in the future, imagines what would happen if televisions and computers were implanted into everyone’s brain. Teens will be able to connect many of the novel’s events with today’s focus on technology.

The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian introduces readers to a teen prophet, Larry. In a humorous way, this book discusses issues of self-identity, popularity, and what it takes to conquer the masses.

Hoops by Walter Dean Myers is a great book for teen boys. It follows Lonnie Jackson who dreams of being a big-time basketball player one day, but must deal with the pressures of life that get in the way.

For a bonus H pick, check out The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas which tells the story of an African-American girl who witnesses the shooting of her childhood best friend.

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman shows a teen standing outside her body and considering her life up until that moment. It’s a powerful story that will encourage teens to consider what makes their lives worth living.

Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume is a story of friendship. Stephanie and Rachel have been friends forever, but their friendship is altered by the addition of a new friend, Alison, and by life changes, but they learn to navigate it all together.

The Kill Order by James Dashner is part of the popular Maze Runner series. This prequel provides teens with a welcome introduction to the events of the series and helps them learn more about Mark, Thomas, and Teresa.

Looking for Alaska by John Green is an award-winning book from one of young adult literature’s hottest authors. This particular story deals with sexuality, fitting in, grief, and controversial life choices.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers is written as a screenplay mixed with journal entries that detail Steve Harmon’s life in prison. Is he really he monster he sees himself as?

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer is part of the infamous Twilight series. Like it or not, many teens love Twilight, so that earned this book a place on our list.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is one of those classic novels that every teen, especially teen boys, should read. It tells the story of the Greasers and the Socs and shows how they navigate some of life’s toughest moments.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a coming-of-age story that was turned into a major motion picture. It is written as a series of letters from a character named Charlie who must handle a whole host of social and psychological problems.

The Quiet Sky by Joanne Bischof tells the story of two teenagers, one with a fatal illness, who learn major lessons about life and about love.

Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper takes the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet and sets it in Cincinnati, Ohio. The couple, from two different cultural backgrounds, must fight their families and their friends to maintain their relationship.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson follows Melinda, a formerly popular girl who has become an outcast. Readers will learn a lot about high school, the power of rumors, and what it means to stand up for yourself.

Tears of a Tiger by Sharon Draper is part of the Hazelwood High Trilogy, a series of books about a group of African-American teenagers and the struggles they face. In this book, Andy deals with guilt after his best friend is killed in a drunk-driving accident.

For a bonus T title, check out To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, a story about a teen girl whose high school existence is turned upside down when letters are secretly mailed to her five crushes. It was also made into a movie for Netflix.

Uprising: Three Young Women Caught in the Fire that Changed America by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a historical fiction novel that centers around a fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City. The book helps teens learn about the Industrial Revolution and its effects on many different types of Americans.

Very Far Away from Anywhere Else by Ursula K. Le Guin focuses on two friends, Owen and Natalie. Near the end of their senior year in high school. Owen narrates the novel as he figures out what their friendship means and whether he really knows as much as he thinks he does.

WTF by Peter Lerangis is an edgy book that tells of two parties from six different points of view. It’s a high energy, action-packed story that focuses on some of the worst-case scenarios that can happen to real teens.

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon that tells about Malcolm Little’s younger years. The book, which was co-written by Malcolm X’s daughter, helps explain the life decisions that he made before becoming the famed civil rights leader.

YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright and William Shakespeare takes the tale of Romeo and Juliet and puts it into terms teens today can understand. While it may seem a bit crazy, it’s actually a very clever take on classic literature that can help get teens hooked on the Bard.

Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts shares the story of two teens who meet in the pediatric cancer ward of a hospital. Both have very different personalities and perspectives on their illness, which means they each have something to offer the other.

We’re sure many of your favorites didn’t make this list. What do the teens you know love to read? Share them in the comments and encourage teens to pick up a book and get reading this week! Also don’t forget to check our our printable worksheets based on popular young adult novels or create your own literature quizzes using our Test Maker and Online Testing options.

Fun Daily Activities for Earth Science Week

Fun Daily Activities for Earth Science Week (Oct. 13-19). Some contests deadlines are coming up!
Earth Science Week is October 13-19, and it is the perfect time to show our appreciation for our home planet! Each day of the week focuses on specific geoscience-themed celebrations. To help you and your students partake in this year’s events, we have put together a list of activities for each day of Earth Science Week.

Contests

STEM contests and competitions are a fun way to engage students in learning. The American Geosciences Institute offers several contests as part of Earth Science Week. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade may enter a visual arts contest, while an essay contest is open to students in sixth through ninth grade, and a photography contest and a video contest are open to all ages.

International EarthCache Day – Sunday

What better way to kick of Earth Science Week than with a scavenger hunt? EarthCaching is geocaching with a geoscience twist. Gather the kids, their phones or any portable devise with GPS technology, and head outdoors to find some educational treasures.

EarthCaching – An Educator’s Guide
The EarthCaching Educator’s Guide, put out by the Geological Society of America, provides all the background information, tips, and lesson plans required for parents and teachers to get their students started with earthcaching.

EarthCache Listings
Ready to find an earthcache? Consult this searchable list to locate a nearby earthcache.

Earth Science Literacy Day – Monday

Earth Science Literacy Day focuses on the “Big Ideas” that we should all understand about earth science. Start by watching the Big Idea videos by the American Geosciences Institute. Then, why not take the opportunity to hook children on learning about our planet through reading? Below are a few of our favorite fiction books that feature geoscience themes. Most of these books complement Big Idea 6: Life Evolves on Earth and Big Idea 8: Natural Hazards Affect Humans!

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp by Carol Diggory Shields
Young children will enjoy the creative rhyming and variety of dinosaurs dancing it up at the dinosaur stomp. Adults will enjoy the way geologic time is interwoven throughout this rollicking story.

Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne
The beloved Magic Tree House series begins in the prehistoric past with Dinosaurs Before Dark. Early readers that have already started the series can skip the later geo-themed books, Vacation Under the Volcano or Earthquake in the Early Morning.

I Survived the Destruction of Pompeii, AD 79 by Lauren Tarshis
Older elementary students who are fans of adventure and historical fiction will flip through the pages of this story about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Related books in this series include, I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 and I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
What better way to appreciate what the earth’s surface offers us than to take it away? Middle school readers will want to keep the lights on and find out what happens when the power goes out in the underground city of Ember.

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
High school students who enjoy disaster fiction will be drawn into the post-apocalyptic world of Ashfall. However, in this novel, the force that destroys the earth as we know isn’t aliens or governments, it’s our very own Yellowstone supervolcano.

No Child Left Inside Day – Tuesday

Time to go outside! Geoscience happens outdoors, so take advantage of this day and get your students and children outside with these activities.

Outdoor Education Stations
Coordinate an outdoor geoscience activity with a local earth science organization or setup education stations in your own backyard or school grounds.

Every Kid in a Park
If you teach or know any fourth grade students, take this day to get them signed up for the Every Kid in a Park program. The pass allows all U.S. fourth grade and home-school equivalent students and their families to visit hundreds of national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges for free. Bonus, the pass is good through the end of August, making it the perfect motivational tool for getting outside all year long!

Earth Observation Day – Tuesday

Take advantage of Earth Observation Day by engaging your students in practical applications of Earth Science data. Introduce your students to remote sensing with one of these lessons or activities or connect with a remote sensing scientist. Visit the Earth Observation Day website to get started!

National Fossil Day – Wednesday

If you are fortunate enough to have fossils on-hand for students to examine, then today is the day to do so! If not, don’t worry, students can still participate in National Fossil Day with these activities.

Online Fossil Activities
Take students on an interactive adventure to the past without leaving the classroom with the Fossil Mysteries interactive. View fossils on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History with the NMNH virtual tour. Explore online paleontology games and activities from the American Museum of Natural History. Try our free Fossils online lesson too.

Art and Photography Contest
Get creative by entering the National Fossil Day Art Content. The winning submission for each age group will be featured on the official National Fossil Day website.

Geoscience for Everyone Day – Thursday

How do we manage our mineral resources? Can we predict natural hazards? Could we survive on Mars? These are all issues geoscientists grapple with on a daily basis. Geoscience for Everyone Day is set aside for students to learn about geoscience careers.

Career Exploration
Allow your student to explore future career paths today. Science Buddies offers a great collection of job overviews and education and training information for those interested in Earth and Environmental Science careers.  PBS’ Dragonfly TV features videos about Real Scientists, including an ocean scientist, meteorologist, marine geologist, and paleontologist.

Geologic Map Day – Friday

Geologic Map Day is dedicated to the important role geologic mapping plays in society. Geologic maps tell us much more than the location of roads and landmarks. Instead, they tell us about the history of the earth below our feet – the types of rocks and their ages, fault lines, and folds, all essential information for land-use planning.

Learn About Geologic Maps
For those unfamiliar with geologic maps, a primer is in order. Start by reading the Geologic Maps site by the US Geological Survey and the National Parks Service, then, explore the One Geology Portal.

Interpret a Geologic Map
Get hands-on and try interpreting a geologic map. Okay, it’s not quite that simple, but there are some excellent tools and lessons available. Start with the Visible Geology interactive, What’s Under My Feet, Geologic Maps and Groundwater, or Geologic Maps & Earthquakes.

International Archaeology Day – Saturday

Earth Science Week wraps up with International Archaeology Day, the perfect opportunity for families to experience the real-world intersection of geoscience and history.

Attend an Archaeology Day Event
The Archaeological Institute of America’s website has an interactive map and searchable database of Archaeology Day events happening around the world. Chances are there is a family-friendly tour, open house, fair, or exhibit near you.

Join a Dig!
Some archaeological sites allow volunteers to join in the dig free of charge. Search for potential volunteer opportunities here. If you and your students can’t participate in a dig, then go virtual with InteractiveDigs.com.

Looking for more ways to learn about planet Earth? Visit HelpTeaching.com and try our free Earth Science printables and lessons.

15 Engaging and Educational Activities for Fall

The words “fall” or “autumn” may bring visions of colorful leaves, falling temperatures, and apple picking, but many students are still lamenting the loss of summer and the beginning of the school year. The fall season is perfect for getting students out of the back-to-school slump and engaging them in themed learning activities that span the curriculum. Whether you are a teacher looking to enliven your fall curriculum or a parent wanting to spend quality time with your children, these activities will help you and your students celebrate the season and hopefully learn something new along the way.

Language Arts Activities

1. Write about Fall. Writing about fall is a great way for students to get back in the habit of writing every day while developing sensory writing skills. Take your students outside and encourage them to write about the sounds and sights of fall. Challenge them to describe the tastes and smells of their favorite fall foods. Use our fall writing prompts, fall haiku, or autumn acrostic to get started.

2. Fall into Reading. Summer reading has passed, but that doesn’t mean that students shouldn’t continue to read throughout fall! Younger students will enjoy autumn-themed picture books like Fall is Not Easy, Leaf Man, and The Little Yellow Leaf. Students of all ages should read at least one piece of literature honoring Hispanic Heritage Month which begins on September 15. Help Teaching offers fall reading resources including this rebus story and fall reading comprehension passages.

Social Studies Activities

3. Recognize Constitution and Citizen Day. The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787. Use this important date in history to discuss civics and citizenship with your students. Get started with these activities for Constitution and Citizen Day.

4. Contemplate Columbus Day. Columbus Day is a federal holiday that doesn’t come without controversy. Take the opportunity to broaden your students’ knowledge of the holiday beyond the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria with one of these Columbus Day activities.

5. Be a Historical Detective. Autumn is harvest time. What better way to celebrate the harvest, than to step back in time and learn about what happened during the first Thanksgiving with this historical interactive by Plimoth Plantation.

Math Activities

6. Measure Earth’s Tilt. The Earth’s 23.5o tilt is largely responsible for the changing seasons and offers a perfect opportunity to connect geometry and measurement concepts with real-world learning.  Elementary students can first learn about measuring angles with protractors then use their new skills to measure shadows on the fall equinox with this lesson. Middle and high school students can further investigate the impacts of Earth’s angular tilt on the seasons with the PBS LearningMedia lesson, Seasons on Earth.

7. Tell a Math Story. Once upon a time there was a lonely even prime number named Two. Math Storytelling Day falls each fall on September 25 and is a great way to combine math and literacy skills. Read a math-themed story to your students or have them write and share their own stories. Find more ideas for Math Storytelling Day in this article on celebrating math holidays.

8. Collect Fall Data. From kindergarten on, today’s math students must learn how to collect, represent, and interpret data. Take advantage the autumn’s offerings and have your students work with real data that comes with the season. Count and graph the number of acorns that fall off an oak tree each week. Plot and track hurricane paths. Measure morning air temperature at the same time each day and calculated changes in temperature over the season. Estimate then measure pumpkin weights. Ask your students to brainstorm ideas of fall data they would like to collect, represent, and interpret!

Science Activities

9. Dispel Student Misconceptions. The seasons are caused by the changing distance of the Earth from the sun. It is the same season everywhere on Earth. These are a couple common misconceptions about the seasons. Take a few minutes to watch ‘Tis the Season for a Reason by the Smithsonian Science Education Center to learn more on student misconceptions about the changing seasons and tips on improving instruction.

10. Learn about the Autumnal Equinox. The official first day of any season is an astronomical event. The autumnal equinox falls around September 22-23 each year and is one of two days a year with almost equal amounts of daylight and darkness. Assign students this self-paced lesson on Solstices and Equinoxes so they can explore the astronomical science behind the changing seasons.

11. Keep a Weather Journal. Recognizing patterns in the natural world is an essential skill for today’s science student. Young students can keep a daily weather journal by drawing pictures of the weather they see each day. Have elementary students make qualitative observations in weather patterns during the fall and draw connections between daily and seasonal changes in temperature. Try our printable on investigating daily temperature changes. Middle school students can take quantitative weather measurements and analyze patterns in data.

12. Observe the Night Sky.  Clear, cool fall nights are ideal for getting children outside to observe the sky. Folklore names each full moon, so make an effort to get out and see the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to fall equinox. Students can learn about the moon’s surface features before going out, then try to locate maria, highlands, and craters. Be sure to also encourage students to watch one of the fall meteor showers.

General Activities

13. Compose a Fall Song. What sounds do you associate with fall? Maybe you think of rustling leaves, rumbling harvesting machinery, or honking geese migrating. Challenge your students to work in groups to compose original songs featuring the sounds of fall. Encourage them to use not only instruments, but also leaves, acorns, and other natural materials of the season. Use this lesson on parts of a song to help get students started.

14. Go to a Fair. Each fall, farmers and artisans gather at traditional fairs to display their best produce, animals, and creations and to participate in good-natured competition. Take your children and see how large a pumpkin really can grow, watch a livestock show, and see modern and antique agricultural machinery in action. Kick off your trip by having your child complete this lesson on fair vocabulary words.

15. Get Crafty with Nature. Mother nature supplies an abundance of nature materials to create with in the fall. Try one of these nature crafts using pinecones, apples, leaves and other fall finds. Explore our Ultimate Guide to Crafts for Kids for more crafty ideas.

What are your favorite fall learning activities enjoyed by your students and children? Share them in the comments! Be sure to visit Help Teaching and check our library of seasons worksheets.