There is something about the change from winter to spring that is different than the other seasonal transitions. Flowers blooming, gardens growing, and sunshine aplenty bring with it a vibrancy that is beautiful to behold.
We can share this beauty with our students by reading books about spring and spending time outdoors with them to explore nature.
Below you will find 4 3-5 spring read alouds for upper elementary and activity suggestions to go along with each selection!
Do you teach K-2? See your spring read-aloud recommendations here!
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Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
In this beautifully illustrated picture book the author uses lyrical lines to show what happens in the garden and down under the dirt during the spring and summer months. In the story a little girl and her grandmother are beginning to prepare their garden for planting and the grandmother explains what is happening both above and below ground: Up in the garden they are wheeling away weeds and spreading compost while down in the dirt insects are starting to stir and move the soil around. Up in the garden seeds are spread, watered, and begin to sprout while down in the dirt earthworms tunnel deep. Up above the garden is watered and plants begin to flourish while down in the dirt a bird searches for worms and a garter snake snags a cricket for supper.
Have students draw and label a two-part/split-screen picture showing what happens above the ground and below the ground based on what they remember from the story. An alternative activity would be to have students make a how-to list (or write a paragraph) of each step for planting and growing seeds.
Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor
This fun picture book is a great option for younger and upper elementary! The star of the show is a brave kingfisher bird who decides that she is finally going to fly from her nest. The spine of this book is the top, so the illustrations show the bird falling as she takes her first leap into the air. As she falls, she meets lots of other different critters that also live in the tree (a family of owls, squirrels who try to save her, a bee hive full of bees, a spider, a slug who tries to be helpful, and a ladybug). Once she reaches the bottom of the tree, Mel falls/dives into the water. At this point the book is spun around as Mel catches a fish and then leaps out of the water. Fish in beak, Mel flies out of the water past all of the critters she saw on the way down and back into her nest.
Have students research and learn about kingfishers (or one of the other animals/insects passed in the tree) using a graphic organizer such as this one. This book also incorporates a lot of onomatopoeia words and students could make a list of those as the book is read aloud.
Hike by Pete Oswald
In this wordless picture book, a father and daughter wake early in the morning to head out for a hike and explore the outdoors. The first few illustrations show the father and daughter getting out of bed and packing for their hike. They then drive to the hiking trail and embark on their adventure. They observe many different animals in the forest, come across a pond, and log bridge that they must cross to get to the other side of the river. They sit for lunch by a waterfall and then do a little rock climbing after their break. Before leaving they plant a tree and celebrate their accomplishments with a soda once they are back at their car and ready to head home.
Discuss with students why the author may have chosen to not use words in this picture book + talk about whether they liked experiencing the book this way. An alternative activity: Pick a page spread and have students write words to go with the pictures.
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring by Kendard Pak
This book is also appropriate for upper and elementary students and is a favorite for discussing the transition from winter into spring. In Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring, Kenard paints a vibrant picture of how winter fades into spring using beautiful illustrations and poetic lines. At the beginning of the book the character experiences a winter night by saying hello to snow falling, a frozen pond, bare trees, an empty nest and a howling winter storm. The following morning the sun comes up bright and beautiful and starts to melt the last snow of winter. The character then says hello to the winter thaw, new leaves, waking animals, sunshine, flowers blooming, birds returning, etc.
Have students create a field-notes journal by stapling a few pieces of paper together in the middle and folding. Then head outside and have them make notes and illustrations about the different seasonal changes they notice as winter is transitioning into spring. Once inside, have them add color to their illustrations and share 1-2 of their pages with the class.
Additional books to consider for Spring:
- We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines, illustrated by Julianna Swaney;
- What if There Were No Bees by Suzanne Slade;
- City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
Teacher tip: This post had many activity suggestions. Once you have the books, get a sticky note and write down the activity and stick it on the inside cover of the book. Any time you do the read aloud, you can remember the easy no-prep activity!
This post was written by my friend Erienne Jones. She is a former school librarian turned entrepreneur who continues to immerse herself in the world of books!