Saturday, October 3, 2015

Halloween Preparation!

Hi, Teachers!

It's going to be my favorite time of year before I know it.... HALLOWEEN!!!! I can't wait! I've been shoveling pumpkin into my mouth while I can easily get it in stores, sniffing pumpkin candles, enjoying the fall decorations coming out... it's just one of the best times of the year in my opinion, and dressing up in costumes only makes it that much more fun! The kids get so excited for Halloween too. The day we celebrate Halloween in my room just becomes COMPLETELY Halloween-ified. Do you do the same thing too?

The way I look at it, you're not going to get much teaching done on Halloween unless you give in to the festivities. Halloween can be perfectly educational and still be FUN! Here are some of my favorite things to do in the days/weeks leading up to Halloween:

1. Halloween Math Activities

A Word On Third

I just created this for my class to use this year. We'll be well into our study of addition and subtraction, so this will be the perfect way to let the kids see how the skills I'm teaching them have real-life applications. Plus... IT'S FUN! In this project, the students will receive a mysterious letter with a request from some spooky neighbors ("Teri Bull" and "Gob Lin"... hehe... that's my brand of humor!) to help them plan a Halloween party. They will be responsible for making sense of the problem (outlined in the letter), and using one of the three differentiated price lists to follow the criteria in the problem. They must purchase food, beverages, decorations, and other supplies while following a certain budget. There are many ways to solve this problem, but the students will need to make a lot of decisions to make it work. Depending on the problem set that you pick to use in your classroom, you can use this for 3-5 days in a week. I've created similar problems in the past, and the kids always LOVE it! Go check it out. :) It's a way more meaningful experience for the students than a lot of the Halloween stuff out there, and it's really engaging!

I also LOVE to do Halloween glyphs or logic puzzles with my kids. They take a very short amount of time, but they are really fun. I used to love trying the logic puzzles in the Highlights Magazines as a kid. Did anyone else do that??

2. Halloween Writing Activities

I'm not going to lie... I think I can be a bit of a writing instruction snob sometimes. I do NOT like writing prompts because I don't think they are authentic experiences for the kids. I religiously follow the workshop model and I find that when student choice is continuously incorporated into my literacy block, student achievement soars. So what's a nerdy gal like me to do when writing comes around? My kids don't want to be planning, drafting, revising, editing, or publishing their personal narratives on October 31st! Well, here's what I do...

THE MYSTERIES OF HARRIS BURDICK! This very easily becomes a favorite among my kids. Amazon describes this book by writing:

"Fourteen black-and-white drawings, each accompanied by a title and a caption, entice readers to make up his or her own story." 

Um... understatement of the year! This book has insanely cool pictures and a really fun mystery with how the pictures came to be in the book. In one picture, a bird painted on wallpaper is coming to life and about to fly out of the window. In another, a house is blasting off into outer space. UM... WHAT!? How cool is that!?!?!? These are great inspirations for the kids. Rather than following a traditional prompt format, I let the kids pick whichever photo they choose for inspiration, and maybe over the course of just a few days, I do some reminding lessons on planning, drafting, and revising. Then, on Halloween (or, in this case, Friday the 30th this year!), we share our stories during a spooky author celebration. How fun would it be to turn off all the lights and have some flashlights during a writing celebration like this? Some stories will be silly, some will be downright scary, but it's a fun time. And you can still follow the workshop model if you're a Teacher's College lover like me! And guess what? You are still a good teacher if your students don't publish every piece they write or celebrate!!!! That was hard for me to get into my head, but writing is about the process more than the product.

3. Halloween Shared Reading

As my friends know, I'm a big fan of shared reading, which I talk about in this post. What an easy way to spiral your literacy instruction and build important fluency and comprehension skills.



Anyway, during the weeks leading up to Halloween, I pick some of my favorite Halloween texts to use during my shared reading block. It can be a funny, quick poem or even a nonfiction article/part of a text on the history behind Halloween. I have a great Time For Kids article about candy and sugar's effect on the brain. BOOM. Halloween-ified. Happy kids, happy teacher.

4. Halloween Read Alouds

This doesn't really need much explanation, but here are a few of my favorite Halloween books! Click the pictures to order them on Amazon.

I probably love this one so much because I'm a crazy dog lady, but I promise everyone likes it!!! There's a lot than can be taught in this book. Making inferences/predictions, all sorts of stuff!


And then there's Gail Gibbons. She's just amazing. I love her books. One day, I'm going to publish 39284234 million books like she has!!


Well, that's about all I have time for tonight. It's been about an hour since I've shoved a pumpkin food into my mouth, so..... I need to go make some more. Even though it's almost 11 PM and I should be sleeping!!

Teachers, what do you do for Halloween? What are your favorite parts about being a teacher on Halloween? Are you dressing up this year??

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