How Are You Celebrating?
I was just reading an article that one school in the eastern part of the US has decided not to celebrate any of the fall “holidays” because of controversy.
I know that in many schools Halloween has “bitten the dust” for a variety of reasons, but I found it quite surprising that this principal is also forgoing anything to do with Thanksgiving as “not everyone celebrates it” and she doesn’t feel that it appropriately depicts Native Americans.
Personally, I’m glad that my school offers teachers a lot of lee-way in the various holidays, and has asked for a great deal of parent in-put in how we handle celebrating and studying about the various fall festivities.
There’s a huge amount of history, social studies and geography that can be covered in a variety of fun ways when dealing with the first Thanksgiving.
When I taught kindergarten we enjoyed being part of an all-school kindergarten Thanksgiving feast (4 classes), complete with either a pilgrim paper hat and collar or a Native American vest and headband. Children could choose which they wanted to be.
We played a traditional Native American CD as background music. Students sat on the floor in the cafeteria, with a long sheet of brown bulletin board paper as their “table”.
Some years my Y5’s have enjoyed a tempting Thanksgiving “Tasting” feast. To read that article, click on the link. I was wondering what everyone else is doing or not doing, and would enjoy hearing from you.
A Spooktacular Idea? You Decide!
The other day I was out walking our puppy, Chloe, in the dark and misty morning.
Perhaps it was because she was wearing her adorable little pumpkin hat, or maybe it was because my brain never shuts off, but when we passed a rubber glove lying in the leaves, it made me think of a craft project—ghost finger puppets.
We happened to have a box at home so I quickly snipped off the finger sections.
I wanted the edges to be a little jagged so they would look more “ghostly”.
Just as I had envisioned, their semi-transparent appearance gave them an eerie and spectral look-making them perfect little ghost finger puppets for a child.
To see which I liked best, I made some with black-magic marker eyes and then used mini glue dots to fasten some with wiggle eyes. You decide which "look" you prefer for your students.
They’re not only super-easy, quick and inexpensive to make, you can use them for a multitude of fun activities with your little punkins!
What to do with the digits:
Make a quickie center by putting up a TV tray covered with a black plastic tablecloth. You can buy round ones at The Dollar Store.
Put some safety scissors, the wiggle eyes, black markers and a Halloween bowl filled with the rubber gloves on the table. Demonstrate what to do and post your sample.
When everyone has made their puppet, gather your students together in a circle and do the Ghost Pokey.
Students should be wearing their finger puppets and do the movements with the ghost puppet. Click on the link to view/print the Ghost Pokey song.
Have your students sit in a circle and practice counting by 1’s, 2’s , 3’s, 5’s, and 10’s with their finger ghosts. When you count by 5’s and 10’s, have 5/10 students stand in front of the class and flash their finger ghost in unison as everyone counts.
Read stories like Three LIttle Ghosties, or 10 Timid Ghosts in a Haunted House and have your students follow along, adding and subtracting with their finger puppets. Click on the link for some ghost activities.
Students can also use their ghostly finger to follow along as they read aloud or use it as a pointer to show the correct answer on the board or on their paper.
Click on the link for a skeleton “I Spy”.
My students LOVE doing these each morning.
Fill them in with numbers or letters. Students point to the number/letter that you call out and then trace it. They take the sheet home and play the game again by tracing the circles.
I hope the rest of your October is simply boo-tiful !
October SHAPES Up!
October is a wonderful month to review shapes! I have some fun activities to help you do just that.
Kids love candy and in case you haven’t noticed, candy comes in every shape you need, even the more difficult 3-dimensional ones, so why not take “sweet” advantage?
Make a treat bag (I have several samples to choose from) and fill it with an example of each shape of candy. Click on the link to view/print the patterns. Treat bag samples.
Play a “Guess What Shape The Candy Is?” game with your students as you display the bag on your lap and pull out a piece of candy, showing it to your students as they sit on the floor in front of you.
As a treat, you could give each of them a triangular piece of candy corn, or make up a treat bag for everybody.
The Dollar Store has a nice selection of inexpensive paper ones, as well as Ziploc Snack Baggies that come in packs of 18-24.
If you do make up a bag for everyone, they can take it back to their desk and sort the candy on the shape sorting mats, or you can do a whole-group assessment and have children spill the candy out.
Teacher says: “Show me the triangle, show me the sphere, cube, etc.” ‘til you have reviewed each shape.
Tell the students that they may eat their M&M, Skittle or Smartie (one piece of candy that is not a big deal, but will satisfy them) and then put all of the rest back in their bag to take home so that they can share the lesson with their family.
What's Missing Candy Game?
- You could also transition to having your students sit in a circle on the floor.
- Arrange one piece of each of the 3-D - shaped examples of candy on the carpet in the middle.
- Have students close their eyes. Hold a sheet of orange construction paper over the candy, and with your other hand, remove one of the pieces of candy.
- Tell your students to open their eyes.
- The first one to say the missing SHAPE wins a piece of candy corn.
- To make the game more difficult add another different kind of candy.
- Remember to review the different names of the SHAPES in the circle as you add candy.
- You can also play a separate game with the regular-shaped candy, or for older students combine both 3-D and regular shaped candy!
I have purchased candy and taken pictures with a white or black background for you to print off and laminate for your classroom.
Click on the link to view/print 17 black and white background 3-D and regular shape posters
You can hold them up and use them as a review of the various shapes, a comparison of the 3-D shapes with the flat shapes, a memory match game, counting fun, discussions, writing prompts, or graphing extensions.
Click on the link to view/print shape graphs.
When you are done using them, hang them up in your room. I truly believe that if a student “sees” a shape in real life, especially one that they can identify with, it helps them remember the name.
October Shape Booklets:
I have a variety of cute shape booklets (over 50!) that my own students really enjoy making and parents have given lots of positive feedback about.
Here are some of our favorites for October:Halloween Triangles: Students read, trace, write, count, and color the Halloween triangles. They enjoy "Tally Time" and having their opinions graphed of what triangle character was their favorite. The Monster's Head: Students enjoy coloring a cute creepy-shaped creature as they review shapes, numbers and colors. Pumpkin Eyes: Great as a listening and following direction tool. Includes a shape-magnet manipulative craft activity. My Pumpkin: Students trace and write the shape words as they make a story to read, while drawing a Jack-O-Lantern. Click on the links.
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Shapes (Complete with a head and manipulatives you can make and pass out to your students so they can "feed" her.) The Shapes of October, The Shape of my Kitty's Tongue (Perfect for a black cat mini-unit) + Shape booklets involving an Acorn, Spider, Bat, Leaf, Candy Corn and Scarecrow!
Why not become a subscription member and be able to download all of this, at no additional charge for an entire year, + get our 60+ pages Apple Bytes newsletter packet as well!
Fun Shape Freebies:
Don't forget to check out this month's free booklet, A Flame On My Candle, which also involves shapes, as well as all the cute shape activities in our Book of the Month side-blog to go along with Go Away Big Green Monster. Your students will especially enjoy the envelope monster that eats shapes.
I also made up some shape word flashcards. You can put them up on your word wall, or make Memory Match games.
My students enjoy tracing them and making them into Itty Bitty books. Click on the link to view/print the shape word cards.
I think building a child’s self-esteem is extremely important. One way I do this is via certificates of praise. Click on the link to view/print a certificate for 3-D shapes or a certificate for regular shapes.
I hope you found these ideas helpful and that things really shape up for you and yours
My October Senses-Some Fun Activities
Here's a few fresh ideas to teach science and writing at the same time!
My 5 October Senses is a wonderful writing extension that not only will help your students understand the important use of descriptive words in their writing, but will review the 5 senses as well.
It’s great for helping younger students increase their vocabulary skills too.
Keep it easy for very young children and have them simply complete the sentence: I see a… pumpkin, or I see… an orange pumpkin.
Brainstorm with your students and discuss possible things they see, hear, taste, smell and can touch during the month of October.
Label the various categories on the board.
Jot down your students’ ideas under each category.
As an example, choose one from each category and have students think of “describing words” for the thing they see, sound they hear, taste, smell or how that item feels.
Make sure YOU have personally filled out a sheet, so you have an example to share with your students.
I even did this as a small group activity with my college students for the English comp. course I teach on Tuesday and Thursday nights!
They enjoyed munching on a Dixie cup of candy corn, while they worked with 3 other students to come up with a great descriptive sentence for each sense.
This was my example for my college students:
- I hear the rustling, crackling, crunching of the leaves as they swirl and twirl in the wind.
- I feel the slimy, slippery, sloppy, sticky guts of the pumpkin as I scoop out its insides.
- I smell the powerful and pungent smoke as its spooky fingers climb from the flickering flames of the bonfire, lighting up the dark night.
- I see a kaleidoscope of costumed kids as they trick or treat up and down the pumpkin-glowing street.
- I taste the hot-sweet apple cider, laced with a twist of cinnamon, as I relax on the front porch. (We are also working on alliteration.)
Click on the link to view/print a copy of the “My 5 Senses Descriptive Candy-Corn Writing Grid”
My 5 Senses Take Shape Is a cute cut and glue the matching pictures to the appropriate sense booklet. The pictures are in a specific shape so you have an extra standard you can review at the same time.
This month’s October Apple Bytes included an adorable My 5 Senses Inside My Pumpkin booklet. Why not consider becoming a Subscriber and you too can receive our 50 - 70+ pages Newsletter Packet each month!
Sam's Senses Pumpkin:
Another fun activity you can do to review the senses this month is to have your students label Sam the Senses Pumpkin. Click on the link for Sam's 5 Senses Pumpkin.
Trace your students’ hands. Children cut and glue them to a 9-inch by 1-inch strip of yellow construction paper that they have accordion folded into arms.
Students cut and glue the words for the five senses and label their pumpkin. Trim up Sam and dangle him in the hallway.
Plan ahead for November, and review the 5 senses again, by printing off a copy of My Pilgrims Senses, just click on the link.
Do you have an idea about the 5 senses that works for you? I’d enjoy hearing about it.
Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
I like to toss in at least one nursery rhyme each month, and Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater is perfect for October.
Until I started doing research for this article I didn’t know that rhyme was written way back in 1825!
I also didn’t know it had a second verse:
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater, Had another, and didn't love her;
Peter learned to read and spell, And then he loved her very well
If you follow my blog, you know that I make a class book each week with my students. Pumpkin Shell is a KWL inside a pumpkin. Each student contributes their own page. Click on the link to view/print a copy of the Pumpkin Shell class book.
I've also included an antique poster circa 1902 with the original poem so that you can read it to your students before they write their page.
For a quick mini-bulletin board, click on the link to view/print a sweet spin off of this nursery rhyme. Teacher teacher pumpkin stem. Had some students couldn’t teach them. Put them in a pumpkin shell and there she taught them very well. I also have a template for a male teacher. Teacher Teacher Pumpkin Shell
Rook #17 has awesome free-vintage clipart and other fall graphics perfect for your newsletters. Click on the link to pay a visit. I found the above/right Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater postcard there.
Flick River has a collection of antique Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater postcards on display. Click on the link to view them.
Garden of Praise’s kindergarten students, made these adorable kids inside a pumpkin. Click on their link to see details. Click on my Peter Peter pumpkin to make my version. I have a template for both a boy and a girl.
Add a brass brad so the pumpkin is hinged and can hide the student.
To make a set of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater finger puppets, click on the link and visit Kids Art Planet.
I've also made up some word-card flashcards for the rhyme that you can use for your word wall, or print them off and have your students cut and collate them into an Itty Bitty booklet.
I've made a matching poster with the complete Peter Pumpkin Eater rhyme as well as a tracing page for your students. Older students can trace and then write it on another sheet of paper. Click on the link to view/print these Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Activities.
And finally, round out your Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater activities with a pumpkin snack. A delicious recipe waits at the Mother Goose Society. Click on the link to check them out.
I wish you a pumpkin delish day with your little punkins!
As always, if you have an idea that you do with this rhyme, I’d enjoy hearing from you.
The Wheels On The Fire Truck Go Round And Round is a song I wrote to the tune of The Wheels On The Bus.
My students enjoy this song so much that I decided to make it into a booklet this year, to reinforce the facts that fire fighters are our friends, how to dial 911 and how never ever to play with matches.
I hope your students will enjoy singing the song, while they cut and glue the pictures to the matching numbered boxes in their booklet.
Click on the link to view/print a copy of The Wheels On The Fire Truck.
Our FREEBIE booklet of the month is The Flame On My Candle. It reviews the basic shapes, but has a wow of an ending, with a “new” shape that brings home the lesson to students of the importance of not playing with fire.
Click on the link to view/print a copy.
If you cover wants, needs and services for social studies, you’ll find doing a Yellow Pages Class Book lots of fun.
October is the perfect month to do this book, as parents are on board helping their child learn their phone number. I’ve added a page for 911 as well.
Click on the link to zoom to the class Yellow Pages book.
I have a variety of other booklets about fire safety as well. One of my favorites is: Who Ya Gonna Call?
I hope you enjoy these booklets. They are a fun way to reinforce report card standards, while your students learn about fire safety.
There is another Fire Safety article after this one. Simply scroll down for lots more fire safety ideas!
Be safe, and happy Fire Safety Month!
- Buy a bag of fire fighters at The Dollar Store. They come in red or yellow and are the old-fashioned stand-up army kind of figures. My bag had 24 in it, so there was enough for my entire class.
- You can laminate the playing sheets and keep the fire fighters in a Ziploc Baggie to be used each year, or do what I do and give each child their own fire fighter and playing sheet to take home, as a reminder of fire safety week and not to play with fire.
- My Y5’s are thrilled with this little plastic figure and a dollar is a small price to pay for them to be able to play this game at home reinforcing the important lessons they have learned.
The object of the game is to get your fire fighter to the fire.
- Roll a 3 and go 3 spaces backwards.
- Roll a 6 and lose your turn.
- Roll a 5 and you can change places with another player.
- Roll a 1,2, or 4 and go that many dots forward.
- The 1st one to the fire is the winner.
- If you land on a space that has 911 written on it, you have the choice to move one extra space forward or roll the dice again.
While they are playing the game, to help reinforce the fire safety lessons that they have learned, I encourage my students to say things like: “Stay low and go!”, “Stop-drop-and roll.”, “Dial 911 to get things done.” ,“I’ll stay alert so I won’t get hurt!”, or “I’m smart so I won’t play with matches.” or a fact that they learned about fire safety, like check the batteries in the smoke detector, or have an exit strategy and practice it etc. I tell them to say this fact when it is their turn to move their figure.
If you want the game to last longer, or be more math-involved, you can have them have to roll an exact number, to get to the fire, in order to win the game. i.e., if they are 2 spaces away from landing on the fire, they must roll a 2.
click on the link to view/print this fun fire safety game.
There are 2 more fire safety articles after this. Simply scroll down for more ideas!
I think one of the most important things that I teach my students during Fire Safety Week is how to dial 911.
We have had several home and trailer fires in our school in the past, and in all 3 cases it was one of our students who “saved the day” and called 911.
I ask friends and family for their old cell phones and portable phones when they are done with them.
I like my students to be able to practice on “real” phones and not plastic play ones, so that they really know how to use a phone when it comes to learning how to dial 911.
I have an entire tub filled with phones now, and my students enjoy using them during “Imaginative play” time.
I sit my Y5’s in a circle and pass one portable phone around and have them take turns saying: “It’s an emergency!” and then I watch them dial 911 so I make sure they are pressing a 9 and not a 6.
We also do fun little speed drills circling 9’s so we are not confused with 6’s and p’s etc. They enjoy these “mad minutes”.
I wanted to dream up an art activity where they could make a simple cell phone that would not take a lot of time.
I’m big on recycling, so when I saw the snack-size raisin boxes, I thought they would make perfect cell phones.
A juice box would also work, but many of them have a film on them, where paint beads up.
I also thought up the play on words of: “Raisin’ students to be fire safe and know how to dial 911 in an emergency.”
The raisin box also allows the student to put the little booklet INSIDE the box, which is a fun thing for little ones to do.
Simply run off copies of the mini booklet.
After they have eaten their snack, have students paint the sides and top of their box with black or navy paint.
While their box is drying, students cut out the pages and trace the 911 with an orange highlighter. This helps to reinforce the number.
Read the booklet as a whole group to review facts and discuss what an emergency is.
Children fold their booklet in half and tuck it inside their box.
Students cut out the picture of the cell phone and glue it to the front of their box.
They trace the 911 on the smaller “Who Ya Gonna Call?” page and write their name on the bottom, and then cut and glue that to the back of their phone.
Now your students can practice all they want on their very own little cell phone!
Click on the link to view/print the fire safety-learning to dial 911 - cell phone.
I’ve also included a 911 - bingo dot activity sheet, a 911 - pinch and poke activity sheet, a 911 - trace and write, a 911 circle the 9's skill sheet, and a 911 - certificate of praise.
I have 3 more Fire Safety Articles after this one. Simply scroll down to find out more fun things to do with your students.
Every year our school goes through some moaning and groaning of whether we will be celebrating Halloween or not.
Every year for the past 30+ years we end up celebrating and I’m very glad.
As a child Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I LOVED dressing up. My twin and I would plan our costumes for months. Trick or treating was barely over and we could be found dreaming of what we wanted to be for next year’s celebration.
Parents and teachers alike are split, but the pro’s of a celebration out weigh the negatives and the people for a celebration far out number those against in my school.
We all try to have a “normal” day, whatever that may be…so “regular” school goes on during the day.
After lunch, students don their costumes, and everyone lines up for a school wide parade through the school and then outside so that families can view the children and take pictures.
The rule for costumes is nothing gory or violent, and children must be able to see out of masks, and walk in “special” shoes without tripping.
Parties take place after the parade.
My day is centered around the Halloween theme and all of the table top, centers, and projects I do that day, revolve around it.
I read special stories with puppets, have a few extra magic tricks, and we play some really fun games.
Even though my students think it’s an all-day “party” -- everything I’ve planned encompasses our report card standards.
I ask for plenty of volunteers and hopefully have at least 6 adults coming to pitch in and make things run smoothly.
I’ve handled the day with as few as 3 though, because gone are the days of a dozen or more parents taking off work to come to a party day.
I find as each year goes by, more mom’s are working outside the home, even with an infant at home.
Fall is my favorite time of year and dressing up as some sort of queen, is something I truly enjoy.
Awesome October Fun!
Comparing & Contrasting apples and pumpkins via a graph and Venn diagram:
If you’re like me, one of your science units in September was probably apples.
I take my students to an apple orchard in October that also has a huge pumpkin patch.
My students enjoy a tractor-pulled hayride out to the fields to pick out our class pumpkin and we get a chance to review what we learned about apples as they pick 3 different kinds in the orchard.
I thought you’d enjoy comparing the two fruits with a Venn diagram and seeing which is your students’ favorite.
My Y5’s have already graphed which color apple (red, yellow or green) they liked best, as well as compared apple juice with apple cider.
To enjoy a pumpkin, I give them each a tiny square of pumpkin pie (some have never tried it!) as well as a taste of roasted pumpkin seeds.
Once they’ve sampled both kinds of fruit, I graph which one they liked the best. Every year the apples have gotten the most votes.
It might be because they enjoy that fruit in a huge variety of other ways or because quite a few of my students do not like the pumpkin pie.
Click on the link to view/print the apple-pumpkin graph and Venn diagram to see how your students do.
I do my initial Venn diagram on the floor with two hula-hoops, picture cards, and sentence strips, so I’ve made you an apple and pumpkin poster-card, if you want to try that fun Venn diagraming method with your students.
Your students will have fun making this plump pumpkin, tracing and sequencing the various number cards and stapling the mini booklets to the appropriate pumpkin part.
What a fun way to review a variety of math standards.
My Y5's have counting by 1's and 10's as a standard, but I've also included 2's 3's and 5's.
Choose whatever is appropriate for your students, run the masters off on yellow and green copy paper, and you'll have a handy reference tool for your little "punkins"!
Click on the link to view/print the pumpkin patterns.
Great Learning is something to CROW about!
So I designed a black crow where you can key in information your students are learning, on the wing-pages of the bird.
You can also use my fast-bird-facts if you want. I've also included skip counting by 2's, 3's, 5's and 10's for a fun way to review that standard, or have students write down spelling words, word wall words, or math equations etc.
Buy a bag of black feathers at a craft-hobby store and add some extra pizzazz by stapling one to the outside of the wing. I used a glue dot and stuck a wiggle eye to my crow for that special 3-D look.
You can staple the pages or attach then with a brass brad.
Click on the link to view/print the crow patterns. If you'd like a fact sheet on crows and an answer as to what's the difference between crows, ravens and black birds, click on the link to view/print my crow fact sheet.
For your convenience I've put October Arts & Activities from 2010 right after this article so you can scroll down for even more ideas!
Click on the links to check things out.
Looking for more? I have entire units on pumpkins, leaves, bats, fire safety, acorns, candy corn, scarecrows and spiders!
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I wish you a howling great time with your little ones!