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What are you teaching this October?

October 2, 2023

What to Teach This Month: October

In this October edition of “What to Teach” are recommendations that include topics adaptable for K-12 students like space races, the meaning of the Statue of Liberty, social movements that defined an era, and civics resources to get students involved in democracy.


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Looking back at my third-grade year, I was that kid—you know, the one whose backpack was bursting at the seams with R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books instead of school supplies or assigned readings. I had an insatiable appetite for all things spooky, and October was my prime time. Each day, I would march into Mrs. Taylor’s classroom, my backpack clinking like a bag of Halloween treats; only instead of candy, it was filled to the brim with chilling tales of haunted houses, creepy creatures and eerie events. Although this definitely annoyed my teacher, rather than discouraging me, she would flash a knowing smile that silently conveyed, “I see you’ve brought your own library again.”

Monthly Spotlight: Bullying Prevention

Did you know October is National Bullying Prevention Month? Share My Lesson has dozens of resources for educators and parents to create safe, inclusive and respectful learning environments for all students. Learn more about bullying in schools and prevention here.

What set Mrs. Taylor apart was how she used my love for Goosebumps to fuel my academic curiosity. Recognizing my enthusiasm for reading, she'd find clever ways to integrate my spooky interests into classroom activities. She'd assign writing prompts like "Imagine if you spent a night in a haunted house," getting me—and even some of my less enthusiastic classmates—excited about creative writing. When we'd dive into social studies, she'd share tales of historical mysteries and legends, always tying them back to the curriculum. My passion for the eerie and mysterious didn't make me an oddball; in Mrs. Taylor’s class, it made me a keen learner. She showed me that when a teacher takes the time to connect classroom teaching to a child's interests, it doesn't just make for an engaged student; it helps cultivate a lifelong learner.

That said, scary stories aren’t the only thing that make October an important time to help students get excited about learning, it’s a month that highlights several crucial international events, cultural achievements and key moments in U.S. history. In this October edition of “What to Teach,” I’ve included recommendations that include topics adaptable for K-12 students like space races, the meaning of the Statue of Liberty, social movements that defined an era, and civics resources to get students involved in democracy.

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Do you have any recommendations about what to teach in any specific months of the year? Put your ideas in the comment section below. Or, if you upload a lesson to Share My Lesson, share the link below.


On Oct. 4, 1957, the former Soviet Union launched the first manmade satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit. Sputnik's launch caused fear of the Soviets using new rocket technology for military purposes and caught the United States off guard. Teaching kids about Sputnik is super important for a few big reasons. First, it helps them get what was going on during the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were in an intense race—technologically and ideologically. Plus, Sputnik kicked off the whole era of space exploration and revolutionized other fields like weather forecasting and telecoms. Last but not least, the story of Sputnik is a great way to show kids how cool science and tech can be, and how they have the power to totally change the world.

The Race to Space

Activity, Lesson Plan | Grades 9-12

The Space Race

Handout | Grades 3-5

LGBTQIA+ History

Did you know October is LGBTQIA+ History Month and Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day? Teaching about this monthlong recognition is essential for creating a more inclusive and empathetic environment for everyone, and it gives all students, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+, the chance to see themselves represented in the stories and milestones that shaped our world.

Founding of the Black Panther Party

Teaching high schoolers about the Black Panther Party is a must if we want to give them a full picture of American history. Founded in 1966 (Oct. 16), the Black Panthers were much more than just a political group; they were a social movement that took action, like setting up free breakfast programs for kids and health clinics in neighborhoods that really needed them. Why does this matter today? Well, we're still grappling with a lot of the same issues—racial inequality, police violence and social justice, to name a few. Learning about the Black Panthers helps kids understand that activism can take many forms and gives them the tools to think critically about the world today.

Black Panther Party Then Black Lives Matter Today

Lesson Plan | Grades 6-12, Professional Development

National Civics Day

Recognized on Oct. 27, National Civics Day commemorates the date the Federalist Papers were first published in 1787. But more than that, it's a wake-up call reminding us that we've got to get kids clued in on how government and society work. Let's face it, civics isn't just for college students or history buffs—it's essential info for everyone, starting in preschool all the way up through 12th grade and beyond. Understanding the basics, like how laws get made or what the Constitution is all about, gives kids the tools they need to be informed citizens. And we're not just talking about future voters here; we're talking about kids understanding their rights; knowing how to make their voices heard; and understanding that they're a part of this big, complicated system. In a world that feels more and more complex, a solid grasp of civics can help the next generation navigate the challenges ahead.

Dedication of the Statue of Liberty

Do your students know that the Statue of Liberty was dedicated way back on Oct. 28, 1886? Lady Liberty is not just a cool landmark; she's a symbol of hope and freedom for people coming to the U.S. from all over the world! Teaching about Lady Liberty is a great way to get into bigger topics like immigration policy, the American dream and what it means to be a "melting pot.” Knowing the story behind the statue can help young people appreciate the diversity that makes America what it is today.

Halloween/Día de los Muertos

And last but not least is Halloween (Oct. 31). As I noted earlier, you can probably assume this is my favorite holiday, and it’s a great way to get students excited about learning! Check out our collection below of preK-12 resources that have ideas on how to remind students about being safe while knocking on doors, spooky book activities and guides, fun crafts, and ways to incorporate Día de los Muertos into your lesson planning!

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Andy Kratochvil

Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community.He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from American University

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