The fall mood can be inspiring, and you can use that mood to incorporate some middle grade fall-themed reflection, writing, and celebratory reading into your classroom or library.
As a society, haven’t we fallen quite in love with fall in recent years? Perhaps our interest in fall stems not only from warm weather, football games, and favorite fall foods, but also from the incredible array of emotions that come with fall. It’s a strangely paradoxical season when you think about it: the end of summer, the beginning of school; energetic colors that burn fiercely before fading quickly; the beginning of the end of another year.
No matter the weather, the temperatures, or the number of pumpkins in the nearby fields, fall in our hemisphere signifies the passing of time; so all those fall connotations can have a lot of meaning. It’s no wonder we all want to wander through the leaves and ponder with our you-know-what-spice latte in hand. Thankfully, Autumn gives us the ways and means to consciously reflect on seasons and transitions. For example, we might have a little more time indoors with longer periods of darkness. Families settle deeper into the routine of the school year. And a cold air helps a more meditative feeling as we bundle up in hoodies and fleece.
High school students are at an excellent developmental age to take on some of that conscious reflection. They still have a festive appreciation for the turning of the leaves and the upcoming vacation, but they are also developing their sense of how time passes on a daily basis (as evidenced by their connection to school planners and bell schedules).
For all of those reasons, the atmosphere associated with fall can be inspiring, and you can use that vibe to incorporate some celebratory middle grade fall-themed reflection, writing, and reading into your ELA or homeschool classroom or your classroom. library.
- If their educational setting allows, students could benefit from experiencing a guided walk outdoors looking for evidence of the changing seasons.
- Otherwise, consider videos and audio that encapsulate images of seasonal changes relevant to your region, or explore what fall means elsewhere.
- If your setting allows for independent reading or research on thematic topics, consider researching the historical importance of the harvest to the community and society, the cultural history of Halloween, the notion of “playing” with time for the sake of more light day and why gourds hold the cultural significance of the do. Here are some readings for the interest of students:
An article with explanations and examples of hygiene ; ideas and images for autumn based on hygiene
Interesting facts and pictures of pumpkins
A discussion about why we “go back” and reset the clocks in November
An article on the origins and history of Halloween
Sensory image writing is a natural choice for fall; the weather, the clothes, the food, the appearance of the light and the landscape awaken the senses. Lead students through some imaginative activities or pose leading questions about the feel of cold air in the nose, the sound of geese flying south, the surprising heaviness of a jacket after warm days turn cold . Put the generation of imagination to work with prompts, discussions, story starters, or scenario descriptions.
Some fall-themed quotes for pointers or reflection:
- “Of all the seasons, autumn offers the most to man and requires the least of him.” – Hal Borland (American writer, journalist and naturalist)
- “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” –LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
- “No spring or summer has as much grace as I have seen in an autumn face.” – John Donne, English poet and scholar
- “Every leaf speaks to me of happiness, fluttering from the autumn tree.” – Emily Bronte, English novelist
- “Life begins again when it gets cool in the fall.” – F.Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
- “Winter is a print, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of all of them.” –Stanley Horowitz
Cozy up with a few evenings of sustained silent reading (or individual listening via an audio device) over the next few weeks in your classroom or library. If your environment allows, consider allowing students to bring blankets, hot chocolate, apples or other fall snacks, or other small comfort factors to enhance the hibernation environment (without the actual hibernation, of course!) great book could benefit MG readers ready to experience all the sensations of autumn.
Here is a varied mix to make the most of fall: some set in autumn, others featuring the passing of symbolic seasons of life, some with themes of reflection and gratitude:
Gianna Z’s brilliant fall by Kate Messner: Gianna’s chances of attending a cross country tournament depend on her successful completion of a science project that requires the collection of 25 autumn leaves.
turtle boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein – Will Levine, an introverted 7th grader, is inspired by RJ, a terminally ill boy whom Will meets during his bar mitzvah service project, and embarks on the “bucket list” of rj adventures
Stella by starlight by Sharon M. Draper – In the fall season of her eleventh year, Stella Mills confronts racism as she faces the challenges of school, family life, and friendship.
Hurricane season by Nicole Melleby – Fig, a sixth grader, grapples with her father’s mental health issues during hurricane season in their coastal town. (Scholastic notes that this book contains mature content.)
october october by Katya Balen – Autumn imagery abounds in this novel featuring an 11-year-old boy, a A girl raised in the woods by her father, but forced to join her mother in busy London after a fateful accident.
The truth told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor – Mason Buttle lost his mother, his grandfather and his family garden, along with his best friend Benny. When his current best friend, Calvin, goes missing, Mason faces loss, harassment from local thugs, and other challenges with courage and common sense.
Only by Megan E. Freeman – Twelve-year-old Maddie wakes up to find her Colorado town inexplicably abandoned. She must keep her wits about her and find the courage to survive as the months pass.
Enjoy and share your cozy and contemplative readings of MG in the comments!