Spring has sprung! With warmer weather and brighter days, now is the perfect time to integrate science and literacy into your spring activities. However, with so many cute spring themes to choose from (just ask Pinterest), it can be tempting to let academic rigor fall by the wayside in favor of adorable spring crafts and projects.
Well, the good news is you can actually have the best of both worlds—fun and engaging spring activities that also meet Common Core standards—by incorporating science and literacy into your thoughtfully chosen spring themes. In this post, I’m going to show you my recipe for spring success and also hook you up with access to my free resource library at the end!
When planning your spring activities, stick to a simple format:
- Read aloud
- Reading response
- Extension activity
With this formula, you’ll save time, meet standards, and make learning hands-on, while also celebrating spring in meaningful and memorable ways. Some of my favorite spring activities that also lend themselves well to science and literacy integration are ants, bees, earthworms, the life cycle of a butterfly, the life cycle of a frog, the water cycle, the life cycle of a flower, and types of clouds.
Here are the details for planning each component.
Once you have chosen your spring theme, look for nonfiction read-alouds that support your topic. A great nonfiction read-aloud will use simple language and will introduce and define key terms. It may also contain some sight words and decodable words that match your students’ independent or instructional reading levels.
Most importantly, your great read-aloud will have excellent color photographs that will captivate students’ attention and demonstrate important aspects of the topic. Your students will enjoy pouring over every inch of high-quality photographs such as the inside of an anthill or a pollen-dusted bee flying from flower to flower.
If your nonfiction book is in digital format, you can easily print multiple pages to a single page and create mini-books for your students. You can use them in guided reading or whole class lessons, and students may enjoy highlighting sight words or vocabulary words in their own copies as a literacy center activity.
Nonfiction books often have new vocabulary words that require explicit instruction for students to understand. Before starting a read aloud, you can introduce key vocabulary words on index cards along with a matching picture. For example, if you’re reading about the water cycle, you can introduce words such as evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Afterwards, post the vocabulary words in your writing center for students to use and reference.
To help solidify the new vocabulary words, teach a hand motion to accompany each new word. This is especially helpful for English language learners and is a kinesthetic way to commit science words to memory.
For example, for the water cycle, you can wiggle your fingers and move them up for evaporation, swirl your hands together above your head in the shape of clouds for condensation, move your wiggling fingers back down for rain, and join your hands together in a circle for collection.
Nonfiction Reading Tips
Reading a nonfiction book as a read-aloud is different than reading a traditional story. Think of it as being on an educational road trip with your students and plan on taking lots of stops along the way. You’ll want to pause frequently, sometimes after every page, to make sure students are understanding key concepts, are able to ask questions and make connections, and are noticing nonfiction text features such as diagrams, labels, and photographs.
You may even want to read the book multiple times to ensure students are grasping the new ideas and vocabulary. On a second or third reading, you can start reading a sentence aloud and then pause before saying the last word to see if students can identify it.
For example, you might read, “At 12 weeks, the tail is shrinking and is only a stub. It is a _____?” Students can raise their hands and say “froglet.”
After the read-aloud, your students can create a reading response craft to reinforce the new concepts. This is a great way to integrate literacy, science, and art into your spring theme. There are many options for nonfiction reading response craftivities including labeling a diagram, recording facts and observations, and creating a life cycle.
If you use interactive notebooks, you can have students complete the projects in their notebooks and display them at Open House. Or, the reading responses can be stand-alone crafts that can be used to create a cheerful bulletin-board display. Either way, students will be proud to share their work with their parents and the school community.
Diagrams with Labels
After discussing diagrams as a special nonfiction text feature during your read-aloud, you can have students create their own. Spring themes that work well for diagrams are the body parts of an ant, the parts of a flower, the water cycle, and types of clouds. With all four of these, you could create an amazing bulletin board with ants and flowers on the ground, and water and clouds in the sky.
With this ant diagram, students will label the parts of an ant. They cant attach this in a notebook or they can attach it to a sheet of paper.
Writing craftivities are another great way to supplement a read aloud and celebrate spring. You can do these craftivities as a whole class or put the materials and a sample in a center for students to complete on their own.
After reading about bees, you and your class can do a shared writing activity and create a list of bee facts on chart paper. Students can then work independently to make their own craftivity full of their favorite facts about bees. Worms are another small creature that students love learning about. Students can record their worm observations and create a simple accordion book.
For learning about flowers, students can create a book with a colorful flower as the cover. On the inside, students can describe the life cycle of a flower. Adding a writing-response component to your spring theme is a great way to integrate writing and science and demonstrate student learning.
Create a Life Cycle
After reading about the amazing transformations of frogs and butterflies, students can create their own interactive life cycles.
For the butterfly life cycle, students can cut and paste the four stages of a butterfly and hide them behind flaps on the butterfly’s wings. Using flaps can also serve as an assessment tool. Students will enjoy testing each other and their parents on the butterfly life cycle and revealing the correct answer. They will become butterfly experts!
For the frog life cycle, students can use a lily pad spinner to reveal each life stage. Matching up each picture with the correct description will be a worthwhile challenge for students and they may need to consult the book for help.
There are many fun extension activities that you can do to celebrate spring and extend the learning for your students. If you are studying ants, buy an ant farm. If you are learning about worms, start a worm-composting bin in your room. Learning about clouds? Simply go outside, lay on the grass, and identify the different types of clouds in the sky. Of course, the most well-known spring extension activity is raising caterpillars and watching them transform into butterflies. If you time it right, you can release them during the last week of school or even during your graduation ceremony.
If you are looking for a comprehensive resource for spring, check out my Spring Activities Bundle here. It includes 8 nonfiction read-alouds that use high quality, professional photographs, and 9 reading-response crafts that can be used on their own or in an interactive notebook.
Also, how would you like free access to a teacher resource library full of quality freebies? Gain access when you sign-up for my free newsletter here.
I hope this spring success guide helps you make your spring activities interactive, artful, and academically challenging for your students. Science and literacy can easily be integrated into any spring theme, and by following these three steps your spring topics will never be the same!
Thank you so much for stopping by The Candy Class! Happy Spring!