Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Each year I have my kiddos transform a pumpkin into a literary character as their October book project. Did you ever notice how easy it is to motivate kids to read and write when anything "Halloweenish"is involved? I've been doing this project for nine years, yet I continue to be amazed when the pumpkins roll in...figuratively, not literally. They get so creative!Because I have used this with Kindergartners, as well as First, Second and Third Graders, I've needed to tweak it several times. I redesigned all of the pages for it today when I updated it for my own class this year.

With my third graders I am going to focus on character traits. However, the kit was designed to be very flexible. I created two different covers to pick from and attach to the packet you send home. I also kept the directions simple and "generic" so that you can either send it home as is or else add your own specific directions to make it your own.The kit has pages that are appropriate for all elementary grade levels. It can be quick and simple or it can be used to help students focus on just about any literacy skill. I plan to have the students write about their pumpkin at home, but included an area to attach a picture of the student with his/her pumpkin once it comes to school.The 28 page kit is available for instant download. You can get it by clicking here.
The kit includes:
*2 cover sheets to create a packet to send home with your students.
*an overview of ideas on how to create the pumpkin characters
*a reading log to complete while reading the selected text
*a story map page
*a blueprint to design the project
*a page for the students to create a supply list
*an explanation of character traits and a list of traits
*pages to identify traits in a text and record evidence
*draft page
*a primary-aged pumpkin shape to complete
*a primary-ruled pumpkin project themed open ended page with space *for a drawing or photo
*an intermediate-ruled pumpkin project themed open ended page with *space for a drawing or photo
*6 pages of sample photos
*planning/pacing calendar and rubric checklist

Click here to purchase and download this activity.

Gosh. Can you believe it is Columbus Day weekend already? How did that happen?

I think writing has become my favorite time of the day. I've always enjoyed teaching it, but my current class oozes creativity and makes it all the more fun. This week we focused on descriptive writing and the power of adjectives. October lends itself to that and I love it.

We began by learning the song Witches' Brew by Hap Palmer (freebie related available by clicking on my products button)

It's chock full of adjectives and has a fun, catchy beat. It's perfect for kicking off some Halloween writing.

I informed them that they would be real estate agents in charge of selling a haunted house.

And the room was filled with wide-eyes and excitement and an eagerness to get started...always a good thing when you are asking them to perform an academic task.

We started with a graphic organizer to brainstorm words and ideas individually. They recorded rooms, features, amenities, thematic words, etc.

Next up, we pooled our ideas as a class and created a chart. This provides the kiddos with an opportunity to add to their own pages and helps those who may need to borrow an idea or two.

Using a top-down web to organize their writing, I guided them through the process of composing a topic sentence, supporting details and a "clincher." Those pesky closing sentences are always so hard to teach. I loved the topic sentences they composed. Some of my favorites included:
  • Are you looking to buy? I'm your guy.
  • I am selling a fa"boo"lous house.
After composing their drafts, I met with them in small groups. I had my friends use a highlighter to locate all of the nouns in their pieces. Then we went through them together as a team and added additional adjectives to the nouns to make the writing more descriptive.

I love pairing writing with an art project to display with the finished products. These are a work in progress that we'll finish up next week. I had them use construction paper to create paper-pieced haunted houses. They all managed to create the houses and will add details on Tuesday. I can't wait to hang these up.

I just uploaded all of the pages I used to my online store. I also created some primary-ruled pages for our younger learners. You can access them directly through this link:

{This post is a compilation repost from 2011. Both products were best-sellers on TPT  throughout the month of October. Thanks for all your kind feedback.}

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