Theme Days in Upper Elementary: Bats

Theme Days in Upper Elementary Bats

Theme days are a great way to create cross-curricular connections and spark higher interest in lessons through the day. This is one of the ways I keep students engaged during any holiday season without excluding others.

Halloween is one of those holidays not everyone celebrates. In the past few years, I’ve had students who’s parents would rather pull them out of school than have them participate in anything Halloween related. As someone who really strives to promote inclusivity, I started to create different theme days that tie in different standards. For October, Bat Day has become the perfect fit!

My inspiration came from science, because we study plant and animal adaptations. At the beginning of our animal unit, we do a skeleton guessing game, which my classes LOVE to do and it gets them talking about vertebrates vs. invertebrates. The bat is one every kid recognizes! Bats also come up for their nocturnal habits, weak eyes, and their hearing. They’re also borderline scary-cool, which is perfect for keeping kids interested.

What do we do for the official “Bat Day”?

Math: Crack the Code Task Cards (Addition & Subtraction) –> Reviewing addition and subtraction is always helpful, so I made these to use as an around-the-room activity. The answers are connected to letters to answer a batty riddle. Bonus activity: Use these bat facts to make a “Bats by the Numbers” statistics board.

Writing: Jarrett Lerner is a great writer! He shares activities for kids to use on his website. I copied the bat-themed ones to let my students create bat comics and also doodle bat expressions when they finished. It was a fun switch from our regular writing project.

Read Aloud: Stellaluna is a sweet picture book to read, even if your students have read it before. If you have time to start a novel, A Boy Called Bat is one my students have liked reading (although it has nothing to do with bats, but is about wild animals and a boy who is on the autism spectrum). It’s also available for free on Epic. A nonfiction book that’s fun to share is What if You Had Animal Ears. We usually read this whole series (or parts of it!) during our science unit.

Reading/Science: This is an easy combo. We start with a KWL chart to fill in what we know about bats. Then we write questions to research. We use this collection I made on Epic and also this free bat close reading resource from the 247 Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers. The different levels make it easy to differentiate for my students. After reading, we wrote down our new information in the L column of our KWL.

This could easily be turned into an informative or opinion writing piece about bats! Students could answer a question like:

  • What makes bats unique animals?
  • How do bats’ adaptations help them to survive?
  • Are bats interesting creatures to learn about? Why or why not? (If a student says no, then maybe they can come up with a better animal to support their argument!)

Bonus Science: Magic School Bus “Going Batty” Episode –> Ms. Frizzle invites the parents of her students to see what they’re learning about bats. The class starts to think Ms. Frizzle is a vampire!

Wrapping Up Activity: Close out the day by asking students what their favorite activity was. See if they have ideas for other theme days! I love to hear what they’re interested in so I can build more theme days around what they like. You could also use a Google Form to easily check in about their day.

Have you ever tried a theme day? What’s your favorite?

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