Glow Day in 3rd Grade

Glow Day in 3rd Grade for Halloween (or anytime)

For many years I have seen Glow Day posts from teachers on Instagram showing off what they did during their day under the cover of black lights.  To be honest, I never thought this type of thing was for me.  But this year, in lieu of Halloween activities, I thought we could do a fun Glow Day to keep things festive, yet not focused on the holiday.  


When I was researching how to do this all, I had LOTS of logistics questions, so I am going to start this post by answering them.   Here are all of the materials I bought (or borrowed) to pull this day off.

Setting up a Glow Day is not very difficult, just takes a bit of logistical thinking.

Black Lights - this was the biggest stressor for me.  How many would I need?  What kind would work?  I found these LED strip lights (that are popular on TikTok with the teens) and figured they would work just fine.  And they did.  I bought 4 sets of 2 strips for my room.  My classroom is fairly large, but has low drop ceilings so I was able to reach them to adhere the strips.  I also borrowed a black lightbulb and lamp set up from the 5th grade science kit.  In retrospect, having 4 or 5 of those plain old black light bulbs and the lamp hook up would have been sufficient without the strips.  

Black Window Coverings -- I have 4 windows in my room that needed to be covered, so I bought black plastic tablecloths to do it.  My windows are not very large, so it worked well with doubling them over. 

So those two things were the only must haves for the set up.  Here is a short list of everything else I think are useful to have for this endeavor.  

Highlighters -- yellow and green worked best
Neon Paper -- the kind you get for garage sales is hands down the best but Astrobrights for the worksheets were fine.  Yellow and orange were the brightest glow.
Neon Colored Pencils -- I borrowed these from a colleague, but I think using the highlighters and regular colored pencils would have been fine.
Neon Tape -- I used this for my costume, but it was fun to add little touches here and there.  Is it vital? No.
Neon Balloons -- This was fun but not 100% necessary.
Glow Sticks -- we used these for added light while reading.


Now that we have the logistics out of the way, here is how I incorporated the academics.   After all, if you aren't putting in academics during your entire school day, what truly is the point of this entire thing?

We are studying Animal Adaptations in both science and reading, so I thought we would continue that with a discussion on bioluminescence and how animals use that to adapt to their environment.  We watched the Mystery Science video on how things glow, which mentions it a bit, and then a short clip from Wild Kratts about bioluminescence.  

Students use highlighters under blacklight to practice reading strategies.

I then went onto Epic and screenshot one of the books they had about animals that glow.  Splitting the kids up into 7 different groups, they were to first look at the nonfiction article and use the text features to make a prediction on how they thought that animal would use bioluminescence.  Since we have been talking about prediction for a while now, they were able to get right on that.  The kids used highlighters to write, as it glowed under the backlights and was fun to do.  Then, using a glow stick for added light, the students read the article, highlighting the important information, following with writing a summary about the article, including how the animal uses bioluminescence.  Finally, they clarified any words they did not understand using context clues in the text.

Using neon colored pencils to create bioluminescent creatures on Glow Day.

Once those were done, the students then used neon colored pencils and began to create their own creature that used bioluminescence.  The idea was that only parts of the animal would glow and they would be able to tell me why it used the adaptation.  This just ended up being an art project I clearly did not share my instructions well.

Using glow sticks to silently read is a good way to get the kids to read under black lights with some added lumination.

After recess, we transitioned into silent reading.  The kids used their glow sticks as bookmarks with added light on them.  They were able to read under the backlights with the light provided by the glow sticks.

Math Task cards on glowing neon paper for Glow Day

Then it was time for math.  I created some simple multiplication task cards, printed them on different colors of neon paper (each table was a different color, so the kids working on the various tables were given their correct color paper....easy differentiation)  The task cards were taped around the room and the kids had to go find and solve them.  They used highlighters to do this.  After that task was complete, I gave them a sharpie and a neon balloon and they wrote their tables over and over on the balloon.  It was a fun, easy way to "drill and kill" the tables.

Writing multiplication tables on balloons using sharpies or highlighters is a good way to practice the tables.

And that was it!  

While it was an initial investment, I do have all of the materials left over to reuse another time.  I also feel much more comfortable doing this, as the logistics have now all been worked out in my head.  I can definitely see doing this again in the future....maybe for a mystery unit or a fun pre-testing review. 

Have you every done a Glow Day in your classroom?  What academic activities did you do?  How did you set it up?

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