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Teaching in October: What Elementary Teachers Need to Know in 2022

The secret to teaching in October and keeping students engaged and learning is integrating holidays and special days into your instruction. There are so many holidays and special days in October to celebrate with your elementary students. Some of the more popular ones are National Bullying Prevention Month, Halloween, Indigenous People Day, National Fire Prevention Week, and National Pumpkin Day. You’ll find the full list of October events, holidays, and special days teachers can celebrate and use as teaching topics and themes below!

ideas for teaching in October

October Holidays and Special Days

As you starting planning for teaching in October, add these October holidays and special days to your teacher planner.

October events to teach about in October

Month-Long October Events

Below are month-long October events you can use as topics and themes for teaching in October.

National Hispanic Heritage Month Activities

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th every year in the United States. It’s a time for Americans to recognize and celebrate the contributions and influence that Hispanic Americans have made to the country. This month-long celebration is a great time to explore geography, culture, and history.

If you need resources to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre, My Papi has a Motorcycle, Where Are You From?, Dreamers, and Carmela Full of Wishes.

Carmela Full of WishesPlanting Stories book companionWhere Are You From? book companionMy Papi Has a Motorcycle book companionDreamers book companion

National Bullying Prevention Month Activities

National Bullying Prevention Month is celebrated all throughout the month of October and continues every year in the United States. This month is recognized as a time to understand and think about the effects that bullying has on many individuals, specifically children. This month-long prevention mission is a great time to talk about these difficult topics and educate your students on the negative effects that bullying causes and ways to respond to it.

If you need resources to celebrate National Bullying Prevention Month in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Chrysanthemum, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, Nerdy Birdy, Hooway for Wodney Wat, The Recess Queen, Macca the Alpaca, Rulers Of The Playground, and The Juice Box Bully.

The Juice Box Bully book companion
The Recess Queen book companionStand Tall Molly Lou Melon book companionRulers of the Playground book companion
Macca the AlpacaChrysanthemum book companionSpaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun book companion

Week-Long October Events

Below are week-long October events you can use as topics and themes for teaching in October.

National Fire Prevention Week Activities

National Fire Prevention Week is observed the week where October 9th falls in the United States and Canada. This date was chosen to commemorate the devastating Great Chicago Fire in 1871. During this week, people learn about fire safety, so they know what to do in case of a fire. This week-long observance is a great time to discuss topics such as fire prevention, escape route planning, and stop, drop, and roll.

If you need resources to celebrate National Fire Prevention Week in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: A Chair for My Mother and Dot The Fire Dog.

Dot the Fire DogA Chair for My Mother

Red Ribbon Week Activities

Red Ribbon Week is observed each year on October 23rd till October 31st in the United States. This week is designated to prevent students from using drugs in harmful and negative ways. Red Ribbon Week is specifically meant to address K-12 students and is celebrated in the form of spirit days, guest speakers, motivational contests, and wearing red. During this week, it’s a great time to bring up difficult topics in your classroom and educate your students on the harsh reality of drug abuse. You can find great resources for this week in our Choices SEL unit.

Choices SEL Unit

October Holidays

Below are October holidays you can use as topics and themes for teaching in October.

Indigenous People’s Day Activities

Indigenous People’s Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October each year. On this day, Americans honor the cultures and contributions made by Indigenous communities and recognize the negative impact of colonialism. This holiday is a great time to teach about Native American history, culture, and the tribes that continue to exist today.

If you need resources to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Thunder Boy Jr., When I was Eight, When We Were Alone, Fry Bread, We are Water Protectors, The Rough-Face Girl, and Bowwow Powwow. You may also find our Pilgrim and Wampanoag resource helpful as well!

Fry BreadThe Rough Face Girl book companion coverWe are Water Protectors book companion
Bowwow PowwowThunder Boy Jr.When We Were AloneWhen I Was Eight

Columbus Day Activities

Columbus Day is celebrated on October 10th each year in the United States. On this day, the United States celebrates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. Columbus Day is a great time to teach students about an important date and individual in American history through videos, activities, and fun read alouds!

Canadian Thanksgiving Activities

Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on October 10th every year in Canada. On this day, Canadians come together to appreciate and give thanks to the important people in their lives through a yummy feast. This holiday is a great time to have your students show appreciation to the important people in their lives and could even help you encourage developing a better class community and family. You can find great resources for this celebration in our Gratitude SEL unit.

Gratitude SEL Unit

Diwali Activities

Diwali is celebrated on October 24th every year in India and is known as the festival of lights! This day of the year is India’s most significant and biggest holiday celebrated. This festival and holiday is known for their clay lamps which are used to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. Indians light these clay lamps outside their homes which presents a row of lanterns lighting up the sky which is where the festival got its name…(alali) meaning row and (deepa) meaning clay lamps. This is a great day to teach your students about an important holiday in a different culture through videos, readings, and maybe even a fun lantern making craft!

If you need resources to celebrate Diwali in your classroom, check out the book companion we have for the book Binny’s Diwali. You may also find our India unit within our Holidays around the World collection helpful as well.

Binny's Diwali

Halloween (10/31) Activities

Halloween is celebrated on October 31st every year and originated from an ancient celtic festival where people wore costumes and had bonfires to ward off ghosts. This holiday is celebrated through spooky and festive activities such as scary movies, dressing up in costumes, trick or treating, and haunted houses! Halloween is a great day to celebrate fun activities with students such as a class party, costume contest, read alouds, and movies creating a positive memory for your class.

If you need fun and engaging activities to celebrate Halloween in your classroom, check out our Halloween Math Activities, Halloween Reading Comprehension Activities, and Halloween Activity Packet.

halloween activity packetHalloween-themed math graphing activityPumpkin-themed math rounding activity
authors who have birthdays in October

Authors’ October Birthdays

Below are a list of authors with birthdays in October. Share their children’s books when teaching in October.

David Shannon’s Birthday (10/5) Activities

David Shannon is a children’s book author and illustrator. He wrote popular books like No, David!, Duck on a Bike, and A Bad Case of Stripes.

Duck on a Bike

Andrea Beaty’s Birthday (10/7) Activities

Andrea Beaty is a children’s book author. She wrote popular books with fun rhyming titles like Ada Twist, Scientist, Iggy Peck, Architect, Sofia Valdex, Future Prez, Aaron Slater, Illustrator and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

Aaron Slater Illustrator

Steven Kellogg Birthday (10/26) Activities

Steven Kellogg is a children’s book author and illustrator who has created 90+ popular children’s literature. He wrote books like Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, Mike Fink, and Johnny Appleseed.

Johnny AppleseedMike FinkPecos BillPaul Bunyan
special days to teach about in October

October Special Days

Below are special days in October that you can use as topics and themes for teaching in October.

National Hair Day (10/1) Activities

National Hair Day is celebrated on October 1st every year. It’s a day dedicated to celebrating all of the different hairstyles and hair types people have, the products and tools they use, and the barbers and hairdressers who help us care for it. It’s a great opportunity to discuss diversity, confidence, and personal hygiene.

If you need resources to celebrate National Hair Day in your classroom, check out the book companion we have for the books: Hair Love, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, Bedhead, and Bippity Bop Barbershop.

Hair Love book companionBedheadCrown An Ode to the Fresh CutBippity Bop Barbershop book companion

National Custodial Worker’s Day (10/2) Activities

National Custodial Worker’s Day is celebrated on October 2nd every year. It’s a day dedicated to celebrating all of the custodians who work so hard everyday to keep our workplaces clean, specifically our schools! These individuals are often ignored and not thanked for how hard they work so this day is a great opportunity to show a little more appreciation towards them and encourage our students to thank their custodians when they see them in the hallways!

If you need resources to celebrate National Custodial Worker’s Day in your classroom, check out the book companion we have for The Paper Kingdom.

The Paper Kingdom

National Taco Day (10/4) Activities

National Taco Day is celebrated on October 4th every year. This day is dedicated to… TACOS! On this day people can appreciate soft or hard shelled tacos filled with all their favorite toppings. This is a great day to discuss the history of tacos and have a class taco party!

If you need resources to celebrate National Taco Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for Dragons Love Tacos and Dragons Love Tacos 2.

Dragons Love TacosDragons Love Tacos 2

World Animal Day (10/4) Activities

World Animal Day is celebrated on October 4th every year. This day is dedicated to bring action for the rights and welfare for animals. This is a movement to encourage people to treat our animals with care and respect to help make the world a better place for everyone, including all animals. This is a great opportunity to teach your students about the importance of taking care of our world’s animals and conducting an animal research project.

animal research project activities

World Teachers’ Day (10/5) Activities

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on October 5th every year. This day is dedicated to celebrating and appreciating our teachers and educators around the world! This is a great opportunity to show appreciation towards the profession, your coworkers, and yourself!

If you need resources to celebrate World Teachers’ Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for The Teacher from the Black Lagoon, My Teacher is a Monster, and A Letter to My Teacher.

The Teacher from the Black Lagoon book companionA Letter to my TeacherMy Teacher is a Monster

National Walk and Bike to School Day (10/5) Activities

National Walk and Bike to School Day is celebrated on October 5 every year. This national day was made to encourage a day of moving around! This day provides a great opportunity to encourage your students to get out and move around after school and can even provide an excuse for fun and exciting activities throughout the day to get your students moving!

If you need resources to celebrate National Walk and Bike to School Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for A Bike Like Sergio’s and Duck on a Bike.

A Bike Like Sergio'sDuck on a Bike

National Noodle Day (10/6) Activities

National Noodle Day is celebrated on October 6th every year. This national day is dedicated to… NOODLES! On this day people can appreciate homemade noodles, ramen, spaghetti, and all their favorite kinds of noodles. This is a great day to discuss the history of noodles and can be a great opportunity to come together as a class and learn how to make homemade noodles! Consider reading aloud the picture book Spaghetti and a Hot Dog Bun and use our book companion for it.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun book companion

World Smile Day (10/7) Activities

World Smile Day is celebrated on October 7th every year. This day was created by Harvey Ball, who first made the smiley face symbol. He was worried that the wide use of the smiley face would lessen its impact. This is a great day to encourage acts of kindness teaching the impact a simple smile can have!

If you need resources to celebrate World Smile Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for How to Catch the Tooth Fairy and Bear’s Loose Tooth. Our teeth reading comprehension activities can be used with any book about teeth and dental health and could be a good resource as well.

How to Catch the Tooth FairyBear's Loose Toothteeth reading activities

I Love Yarn Day (10/8) Activities

I Love Yarn Day is celebrated on the second Saturday in October every year. This national day was created to celebrate all the talented people who work with yarn, such as crocheters and knitters. It provides them an opportunity to share the creations they are most proud of. This is a great day to have students create something with yarn!

If you need resources to celebrate I Love Yarn Day in your classroom, check out the book companion we have for the book Extra Yarn.

Extra Yarn

World Mental Health Day (10/10) Activities

World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th every year. This is a day to advocate for mental health awareness. This day is a great opportunity to foster conversation about the importance of mental health and its impact.

If you need resources to celebrate World Mental Health Day in your classroom, check out our SEL bundle, which includes 30 social emotional learning units.

Social Emotional Learning Units Bundle

International Day of the Girl Child (10/11) Activities

International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on October 11th every year. Like International Women’s Day, International Day of the Girl Child recognizes the power and potential of young girls all around the world, and is also a day to consider gender-based challenges that are faced, as well. This is a great day to discuss all of these things.

If you need resources to celebrate International Day of the Girl Child in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for The Story of Ruby Bridges and Greta and The Giants.

The Story of Ruby BridgesGreta and The Giants

National Stop Bullying Day (10/12) Activities

National Stop Bullying Day is celebrated on the second Wednesday of October every year. This national day calls on schools and organizations to bring together children, educators, and parents to help prevent bullying. Bullying can come in many forms, and often both the victim and bystanders don’t know what to do to stop the situation. This is a great opportunity to discuss the prevention of bullying with students.

If you need resources to celebrate National Stop Bullying Day in your classroom, check out our Anti-Bullying SEL Unit and the book companions we have for the following books: Stand Tall Molly Lou Melon, Stick and Stone, Juice Box Bully, Macca the Alpaca, and Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun.

Anti-Bullying SEL UnitSpaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun book companionStand Tall Molly Lou Melon book companion
Stick and StoneThe Juice Box Bully book companionMacca the Alpaca

National Dessert Day (10/14) Activities

National Dessert Day is celebrated on October 14th every year. Like the name suggests, this national holiday is for celebrating dessert! This is a great day to share some fun dessert-related facts. For example, did you know that the world’s largest chocolate bar was 9,000 pounds? It’s also a great day to share some recipes students can make at home!

If you need resources to celebrate National Dessert Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Enemy Pie, Everyone Loves Cupcake, and The Smart Cookie.

Everyone Loves CupcakeEnemy PieThe Smart Cookie book companion cover

National Pug Day (10/15) Activities

National Pug Day is celebrated on October 15th every year. This national holiday was created by animal advocate Colleen Paige in 2012 to encourage people to adopt pugs from shelters or rescues. This is a great day to teach students a little about pugs and how to care for pets!

If you need resources to celebrate National Pug Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Pig the Pug, Pig the Winner, Pig the Tourist, and Pig the Slob.

Pig the PugPig the WinnerPig the TouristPig the Slob

National Grouch Day (10/15) Activities

National Grouch Day is celebrated on October 15th every year. This national holiday was created to honor Oscar the Grouch from “Sesame Street”. This is time to celebrate all the grouches we know, and to embrace the grouch that lives inside of us! This is a great day to teach about processing negative emotions.

If you need resources to celebrate National Grouch Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for Grumpy Monkey and Grumpy Monkey Party Time.

Grumpy MonkeyGrumpy Monkey Party Time

National Pasta Day (10/17) Activities

National Pasta Day is celebrated on October 17th every year. This national holiday is devoted to pasta! There are so many different types of pasta, and hundreds of years of tradition go into every dish. This is a great day to teach students about the history of pasta.

If you need resources to celebrate National Pasta Day in your classroom, check out the book companion we have for Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun.

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun book companion

National Chocolate Cupcake Day (10/18) Activities

National Chocolate Cupcake Day is celebrated on October 18th every year. This holiday is dedicated to a favorite dessert of many: chocolate cupcakes! Chocolate cupcakes made their first appearance in a 1976 cookbook by Amelia Simmons. Cupcakes didn’t get their name until 1828. This is a great day to teach about the history of chocolate cupcakes or make an art project devoted to this dessert!

If you need resources to celebrate National Chocolate Cupcake Day in your classroom, check out the book companion we have for the book Everyone Loves Cupcake.

Everyone Loves Cupcake

National New Friends Day (10/19) Activities

National New Friends Day is celebrated on October 19th every year. This day is for celebrating all the new connections in your life, and also for noticing the potential for new friendships everywhere you go. This is a great day for discussion about friendship, making new friends, and navigating relationships.

If you need resources to celebrate National New Friends Day in your classroom, check out our Friendship SEL Unit and the book companions we have for the following books: Chester’s Way, You Will Be My Friend, Enemy Pie, and The Cool Bean.

Friendship SEL UnitYou Will Be My FriendChester's WayThe Cool Bean book companionEnemy Pie

International Sloth Day (10/20) Activities

International Sloth Day is celebrated on the third Thursday in October every year. This is a holiday to celebrate sloths, the slow-moving mammal often found in Central and South America. This is a great day to teach students all about sloths and the importance of rainforest conservation.

If you need resources to celebrate International Sloth Day in your classroom, check out the book companion we have for the children’s book Sparky!

Sparky

Apple Day (10/21) Activities

Apple Day is celebrated on October 21st every year. This national holiday is to celebrate apples, a favorite fruit for many during this time of year. From apple pie to apple cider, there are so many ways to celebrate this day! It’s a great day to explore the parts of an apple and the lifecycle of an apple.

If you need resources to celebrate Apple Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Johnny Appleseed, One Green Apple, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Mr. Peabody’s Apples, and Apples to Oregon. In addition, check out our apple reading comprehension activities, apple decor, and apple activity packet.

apples activity packetapple classroom decor bundleapples reading graphic organizersJohnny Appleseed
Bad Apple A Tale of Friendship book companionApples to Oregon book companionOne Green Apple book companionMr. Peabody's Apples book companion

International Nacho Day (10/21) Activities

International Nacho Day is celebrated on October 21st every year. This is a day to celebrate nachos by eating them, sharing them, or even by making some nacho art. This is a great day to discuss the history of nachos, and even doing some nacho-related activities. Our book companion for the children’s book Chicks and Salsa is perfect for today!

Chicks and Salsa

National Reptile Day (10/21) Activities

National Reptile Day is celebrated on October 21st every year. This is a time for celebrating reptiles and the part they play in our ecosystems. This is a great day to educate about habitat loss, conservation programs, and the importance of keeping reptiles off the endangered list.

If you need resources to celebrate National Reptile Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Alfie, Truman, Mossy, and The Box Turtle. In addition, check out our animal research project.

Trumananimal research project activitiesThe Box TurtleMossyAlfie

National Color Day (10/22) Activities

National Color Day is celebrated on October 22nd every year. It was created as a chance to stop and reflect on the relationship we share with the colors that surround us. Color can even influence our mood, state of mind, and attention span. This is a great day to discuss colors in picture books and their impact on the way we feel and understand a story with students.

If you need resources to celebrate National Color Day in your classroom, check out the book companions we have for the following books: Mixed: A Colorful Story, Little Blue Truck, Red: A Crayon’s Story, The Proudest Blue, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, and A Color of His Own.

A Color of His OwnThe Proudest BlueMixed: A Colorful Story
Red: A Crayon's StoryLittle Blue TruckLilly's Purple Plastic Purse

National Pumpkin Day (10/26) Activities

National Pumpkin Day is celebrated on October 26th every year. This day was created to celebrate pumpkins, which are very popular this time of year. This is a great day for pumpkin-related crafts, as well as lessons on the pumpkin life cycle, parts of a pumpkin, and math activities related to the pumpkin seeds.

If you need resources to celebrate National Pumpkin Day in your classroom, check out these activities: Pumpkin Book Project, Pumpkin Rounding Math Activity, Pumpkin Reading Comprehension Activities, and Pumpkin Activity Packet.

pumpkins activity packetpumpkin reading activitiesPumpkin-themed math rounding activityPumpkin Book Project
topics for teaching in October

Popular Topics in October

Bats, spiders, skeletons, and witches are all great topics to teach in October. All of them are spooky or creepy, which make them so fitting for teaching about in October when it starts to get darker earlier in the day and Halloween is fast approaching. They are also a great alternative for teachers who are not allowed to celebrate or talk about Halloween with their students when teaching in October.

Bats

Bat Loves the NightBats at the LibraryBats Big Game
NightsongStellalunabats activity packet

Spiders

The Spider and The FlyThe Very Busy SpiderI'm Trying to Love Spiders
Diary of a Spiderspiders activity packet

Skeletons

Bone SoupBonaparte Falls Apart book companion coverThe Dead Family Diaz

Witches

Big Pumpkin book companionAlice and Greta book companionRoom on the Broom book companionPiggie Pie book companion

We hope you found this post with information and resources for teaching in October helpful! If you did, you may be interested in these other posts related to teaching in October:

October Book Bundles

Below are our October book bundles that include activities and lesson ideas for picture books that are perfect for this month.

pumpkins picture booksBully Prevention Month picture booksDiwali and Holi picture booksFire Safety Month picture books
spiders picture booksbats picture booksAaron Reynolds picture bookswitches picture books
skeletons picture booksmonsters picture booksHalloween picture booksDay of the Dead picture books

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