February is full of special occasions and the month is filled with a lot of fun celebrations that also invite unique learning opportunities. Groundhog Day, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, Black History Month, and the 100th Day of School are just a few of the celebrations you may be gearing up for in February. There are so many meaningful books and activities to share with your upper elementary students throughout the month. Here are some of my favorite books and activities for February.
1. The Lunar New Year
The date of the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, changes each year but it always falls in January or February. The celebrations usually last about 16 days and end with the Lantern Festival. The Lunar New Year is celebrated all over the world and there are so many amazing books to read with your students to learn more about the traditions of the holiday.
- Read “Ruby's Chinese New Year” and discuss.
- Have students complete a foldable book with writing prompts about Chinese New Year traditions.
Check out a few favorite books about the Chinese New Year:
Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Chinese New Year | This Next New Year | Bringing in the New Year | How to Catch a Dragon | Lunar New Year (Celebrate the World) | Celebrating Chinese New Year: History, Traditions, and Activities | Ruby's Chinese New Year | Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
2. Groundhog Day
Your kids will love sharing their thoughts about Phil and his shadow! Groundhog Day is a fun day to break the regular morning routine in your classroom; it is not a holiday that kids get *too* wild and excited about and once the fun of the shadow-watching is over, your day can move on. It's really a great school holiday to share memorable learning moments!
Foldable books are a favorite for special occasions such as Groundhog Day because students can easily complete a foldable book as a bell ringer or morning work and share it during morning meetings. A short but sweet activity like a foldable book gives kids a chance to make a prediction, write about Phil, and more.
- Have students complete a Groundhog Day foldable book.
- Share predictions and ideas from their books during your morning meeting.
- Read “Grumpy Groundhog.”
- Watch a short, kid-friendly video all about Groundhog Day HERE.
- Or watch a replay or live streaming video of Punxatauney Phil's prediction if you are able to.
Here are more Groundhog Day books that you and your kids will love:
3. World Read Aloud Day
One of my very favorite things in the world is reading aloud…so of course, there is a lot to celebrate come on the first Wednesday of February each year with World Read Aloud Day.
There are so many great things that you can do to promote reading in your classroom, but reading aloud and sharing your love for reading with your kids is one of the most important.
You can have students share books they'd like to read, find some favorites of your own to share, pull titles out of a hat…anything to build excitement for a day that celebrates reading aloud.
- Have students share books they'd love or write recommendations to friends.
- Have students create a “TBR” list of books they'd like to read (TBR=to be read).
- Find some favorite books of your own to share and set out a basket of “teacher favorites.”
- Pull titles out of a hat and read aloud the winner. You could have kids write the titles or create a “read-aloud raffle.”
- …anything to build excitement for a day that celebrates reading aloud.
I have a collection of favorite read-aloud books for you to check out:
You can find more favorite books to read aloud HERE.
4. International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Did you know that only 35% of students that are enrolled in STEM-related fields are women? And women that are in STEM fields are usually paid less than men. Even though there may not be as many women in the field, their discoveries, inventions, and research are astounding and absolutely something to be celebrated.
February 11th is International Day of Women and Girls in Science and it is celebrated around the world in different ways, big and small. There are so many women to recognize that have had important roles in science and technology. This important day raises opportunities for you to discuss the barriers that women and girls face when it comes to science and technology education. There are SO many amazing women in science to read about, I could go on and on! What a great way to encourage and empower girls to embrace their love of science and technology!
- Read about and research famous women and their triumphs in the fields of science and technology.
- Have your students write short biography reports about a famous woman in science.
- Create a display or bulletin board to share students' biographies.
Here are a few books to read on International Day of Women and Girls in Science:
Bold Women in Science: 15 Women in History You Should Know | Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World | Black Women in Science: A Black History Book for Kids | Greta and the Giants | Hidden Figures | Counting on Katherine | Born Curious: 20 Girls Who Grew Up to Be Awesome Scientists | Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women | Grace Hopper Queen of Computer Code | Mae Among the Stars | I Am Jane Goodall | Ada Lovelace: Poet of Science the First Computer Programmer | The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Patricia Bath
5. The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is always fun, especially if you've got a favorite team that you're cheering for…or even if you just like the commercials! You can celebrate the Super Bowl in your classroom with low prep centers or activities that will get your kids excited for the big game without disrupting the regular ebb and flow of your school day.
- Have kids make predictions for the winner.
- Create commercial ads using a recent book that they've read,
- Make posters cheering on players or teams.
- Write letters to the players about the big game.
- Read all about the big game and answer questions about its history.
6. Valentine's Day
There are so many great activities that you can do to celebrate Valentine's Day, and they do not have to be crafty and cute (even though they can be if you'd like), you can still work on some fun yet challenging content!
Figurative language is always a fun concept to teach and teaching it in February is extra fun because there are so many “love” themes to use. Your students will be head over heels for these fun idioms…see what I did there?
You can use blank books to glue pages in, you can bind them, staple them together, or any creative way you would like to create Valentine's Day Idioms books. Students can create a book about the figurative and literal meanings of idioms with a LOVE theme. It's such a fun time of year and students love the silliness of idioms.
“Books We Love” Display
You can create a bulletin board display throughout the month with your student's favorite books. You can have students fill out a page after they finish books throughout the month and watch the bulletin board fill up with books that students love! This is a great way for your readers to find suggestions for their next book too!
Valentine's Day Foldable Book
A Valentine's Day foldable is also the perfect way to start the day; you can have your students work on the book throughout the day or as their morning work. It can be taken home and used as a sweet Valentine's Day Card or put on display in your classroom.
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is my FAVORITE Valentine's Day read-aloud and I love to do some fun, but still content-rich, activities to go along with it! I first heard this book when one of my college professors read it aloud to our class and I have read it every year since then. This is a true testament to the power of reading aloud! Even as a college student, I loved listening to this book and it made such an impact on me, that I in turn shared it year after year. It is powerful and touching. I know you and your students will love it.
- Have students analyze characters, synthesize, sequence, make connections, describe cause and effects, and respond to reading
- Create valentines to give to school staff that may not receive cards if they are not in a classroom.
Here are Some Favorite Valentine & Love Themed Read Aloud Books:
You! | Love Monster and the Last Chocolate | I Need a Hug | Words and Your Heart | Hug Machine | I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home | Love, Z | Robot in Love | The Big Umbrella | Love | In My Heart | The Invisible String | Plant a Kiss | Love Is
Books with “love & friendship” themes:
- “I Am Love” by Susan Verde is a favorite to talk about love and compassion.
- Read and discuss the book.
- Complete an activity about being a good listener and being the light when someone may need it.
2. “Listening With My Heart” by Gabi Garcia is another favorite and helps students understand mindfulness and self-love.
3. “In My Heart” by Jo Witek is also a beautiful book about our feelings and February is a great time to read aloud this meaningful book. Looking for activities to go along with the book? Find them HERE.
- Read and discuss the book.
- Discuss consent, friendship, how words can be hurtful, and finding other ways to show someone that you care. You can find a whole pack of activities HERE.
5, “Words and Your Heart” by Kate Jane Neal is another really amazing book to talk about your words, your feelings, and your heart. You can read more about this book HERE and find 10 activities to go along with the book HERE.
7. 100th Day of School
Another exciting day is the 100th day of school. While many think this is a celebration for primary students, your upper elementary students will love joining in on the fun too! And why not celebrate such a milestone? You've all worked hard for 100 days, it's time to shine bright!
- Set up 100th day activities as bell ringers
- Create small centers and rotations
- Allow early finishers to work on the activities
- Include 100th day activities as a rotation in reading or math workshops.
They're only little once and even though they may feel like “big kids,” they'll still enjoy some 100th day fun.
Here are a few fun 100th-Day books to enjoy:
8. Black History Month
There are so many amazing books to read throughout the month of February to celebrate Black History Month. You can visit the library to find new books and also pull from your own classroom library to have a variety of books available. Choose books featuring and written by African Americans that have shaped our country's past and present and not only books that showcase events and struggles of the past.
You can keep a basket full of books by Black authors and books about important events and people in Black History. Have this basket available for read-aloud books throughout the month, as well as for students to grab for their independent reading time. Displaying books to celebrate Black History Month really gives you a chance to showcase books and authors that celebrate Black History.
Here are some of my favorite books for Black History Month:
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race | Mae Among the Stars | Carter Reads the Newspaper | Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 | The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague | The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath | Overground Railroad | The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read | The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne | Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon | Let the Children March | Out of Wonder | The Undefeated | Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream | Who Is Michelle Obama? | The Story of Ruby Bridges | Through My Eyes | Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth | The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem's Greatest Bookstore |
More books for February:
Trombone Shorty | Malcom Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to be Malcom X | Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown | Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton | Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions | Firebird | Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present | Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History | Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History | Black Women in Science | 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World | The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop | When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop | Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix |Superheroes are Everywhere | This Promise of Change | Champion: The Story of Muhammad Ali | Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library | Between the Lines | Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten | Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe | Brave Ballerina: The Story of Jane Collins
10. President's Day
While we all may enjoy a day (or more) off to celebrate President's Day, it is important to help kids understand the holiday too.
You can watch a video all about President's Day with your kids HERE.
You can talk with your kids about what makes a good leader, write a letter to the president, create a presidential trivia game, or write “If I were President” pieces.
I hope you found some new books and activities for February and I hope your classroom is filled with lots of love and learning throughout the month!
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Read Aloud Book Companion-Listening With My Heart$3.00
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Groundhog Day Foldable Book Writing Activity$2.00
Chinese New Year Activities$2.50
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Books We Love-Valentine's Day Themed Bulletin Board Display$0.00
Valentine’s Day Activities | Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch Read Aloud Activities$3.50
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100th Day of School Activities | Digital 100th Day of School$3.75
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