One of our most favorite Halloween stories EVER is Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman. We have probably read this book at least 50 times this year (if not more!) We love the silly storyline, the flow of the text, and the lessons on cooperation. Those who embrace literacy know that when you find a book you love, you just don't read it... you celebrate it!
I put together some fun learning activities that go along with Big Pumpkin that I wanted to share with you. Just click on the titles of each activity to download the file. Enjoy!!
Big Pumpkin nomenclature cards- This was one of our favorite activities! Recently we tried our hand at some pumpkin nomenclature cards, and while they were fun- they were also frustrating (lots of words that looked very similar, small font, too many cards). This time we played it like a game.
First, my daughter picked three cards (with both pic and word) from the pile. It was her idea to turn the cards face down- to give it an element of surprise. She also wanted to sit on her pink stool during the game which meant a lot of bending down...silly girl!Then she found the picture card match. The last step was to find the word match. I love that she had the decision power to pick her cards. And there were less cards to match. And of course it went with one of our dearest Halloween books!
To make the game- print out two copies of both sheets. Cut out the pics and words together on one copy, and cut the pics and words separate on the other copy. Then you are ready to find the matches!
Big Pumpkin pocket chart cards. This is a great way to look at how individual words make up a sentence as well as becoming familiar with punctuation (we had fun reading sentences with a "period" voice and an "exclamation point" voice). My daughter was able to switch out the witch/ghost/vampire/ and mummy cards on the chart as we talked about each of the characters trying to get the pumpkin off the vine.
Story summary paper book- Just a simple retell of the story as a printable book. There are no pictures so your kiddos can create their own illustrations!
Trace & Write word boxes- These boxes are great for kids learning to correctly write short and tall letters. I created these pages to go with Big Pumpkin because handwriting is a big focus of our "school time".
Halloween Word Ladder- A very simple word activity where the word "bag" changes to "cat" (one letter at a time) in just two steps! Like I said, very simple....
Retell cards (no file here, go to the clipart site to download images and print)- I am in LOVE with the cutest Halloween clipart from Phillip Martin. It is adorable! Not only have we used it in our activities above, but I printed out each of the images on card stock as a visual aid while telling the story. (It's destiny that Phillip Martin has super darling clipart for all the characters of Big Pumpkin!)
Fun story retell with pumpkin basket, paper bat, ghost potato head, and witch, vampire, and mummy rubber duckies. And the Little People house is the witch's house, where she goes to make the pumpkin pie. :)
Place bats around the room. Shout out one of the at words, and have your kiddo run and find the bat with that word. If your child found the correct bat, do a happy bat dance! If not, encourage and cheer them on until they do!
Play a batty game of I spy. "I spy a word that begins with c and ends with the -at sound. Can you find it?"
Once your child has mastered a word, hang that bat from the ceiling above their bed. Praise your little one for reaching to the sky! And just think, they will be waking up to -at words each morning! Yay for literacy!! :)
From the time I first learned about Montessori nomenclature 3-part cards, I have wanted to try them with my daughter. For those that don't know, this is an activity where kids take one card with both a picture and word label, then find and match the picture card AND the word label card. A great way to get kids looking at word similarities and differences. And I thought what better way to sneak in some learning then during a Halloween game!
I searched online for free Halloween 3 part cards. I was lucky enough to find these pumpkin cards from Kidsparkz. While they were made for a concentration activity, they work great as nomenclature cards! I just printed two copies and cut the words and pictures apart on one of the sheets. Very simple. We did this activity as part of our pumpkin day festivities, and while it was a little difficult because we had never done anything like this before, my Boo did a great job. Hint: for those kiddos trying this activity for the first time: start with a small amount of cards. Please learn from my mistake!
I also found some Halloween cards that would work well as nomenclature 3 part cards from Have Fun Teaching (don't you love the name of the site!) This link will take you to all their holiday cards- so if you want to do Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, St Patricks Day, Easter, or birthday 3-part cards.... this is the site for you! The only thing with these cards is that they are designed differently than the typical Montessori nomenclature cards. Instead of the word label being directly below the picture, it is found to the right of the picture. BUT I still think they will work just fine. I don't think the Montessori police will come after you if the activity looks a little different.....
Check out The Little List for more sites with free nomenclature 3-part cards! I especially like the farm cards from Montessori Moments.
Decorating for the holidays is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do. I saw THIS idea from Uncommon on Pinterest (I seriously am obsessed with this site). Once I saw this project, I fell in love!! I made a quick run to Hobby Lobby to get the materials. I grabbed some jars and letters... but needed the candlestick bases and finials. My father in law was SO kind to make some for me. The initial plan was to paint all the wood black... but after seeing the beauty of the natural wood, I changed my mind. Aren't they BEAUTIFUL!!! He did such an incredible job and I am so thankful for his help. I just love the way they look! I painted the letters, filled the jars with candy corn, added the ribbon, and they were done! I found the cool orange glitter ribbon to hang the letters at Michaels... so sparkly!
Although you might have seen these jars around the web, here are some additional creative tips for this project (thanks again to my father in law and his wife!!).
~In order to use less candy corn, I put cans of tomato paste in the center of each jar. It's our hidden stash of food storage :).
~I didn't want the jar to break and then have to somehow remove broken pieces of glass glued to the candlestick base. To solve this problem, the base has grooves designed specifically to keep the jar in place without the glue. So cool!
~My husband wanted the ability to remove the finial- in case we wanted to use the jars for another project. The finials have magnet inserts so it easily will stick to the magnetic top of the hobby lobby jar. These magnetic finials have already come in handy when I attached the ribbon... I was able to place it right under the magnet! Love it!
There are two things that I love the most, however- first is the incredible service provided by my father in law, and second is that I can use these jars for every season! Pinecones or nuts in the fall, ornaments in December, red heart candy in February, plastic easter eggs in the spring...the list goes on!
I know this is completely unrelated to teaching- but I just had to share! We have had a little lesson on cavities after nibbling away at the candy corn....
As some of you know, an incredible mother/blogger passed away last December shortly after Christmas. Those that knew Kristi from her Orange Juice blog would comment on her funny personality, her creativity, and most importantly the love that she had for her husband and little boy. She adored being a mother. I was always so impressed with all the learning activities and field trips she planned for her little man.
With the holidays approaching, I wanted to do something in memory of Kristi. I know that this has to be such an incredibly hard time for her family- since it will be the first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas that she is no longer with us. I am calling it Project Orange- partly because of the name of her blog, and partly because the color orange represents energy, vitality, and endurance- all qualities she possessed.
Project Orange is a chance for all of us to participate (with our families if possible) in community service- particularly doing something for the youth. It starts now and will go until the end of December. Make a plan to accomplish at least one service project. If possible, incorporate the color orange in your service project somehow... bake cookies with orange frosting, or tie an orange ribbon around the gift you donate... etc.
Some ideas for a service activity would be:
donating books to a library, school, or a neighbor in need
volunteering your time at a school
read to a child
carve a pumpkin with a child that might not get a chance otherwise
donate gifts or money to a family in need for Christmas
donate a turkey to a family in need for Thanksgiving
invite children to your house to make cookies to give away
donate clothes, toys, money to a children or family shelter
write an anonymous letter to someone you know needs cheering up
pray for those in need
make a plan to spend more time with your family- then do it
create family night kits for neighbors, encouraging them to spend more quality time at home
make donations to charities or those in need
let someone know how much you love and appreciate them
share your talents with someone- whatever they might be
participate in a charity walk/run
make baby blankets to donate to the hospital
volunteer to babysit a friend's kids so she can relax or go on a date with her husband
There are no rules, no guidelines. There will be no winner for the most hours spent giving service, only the pure satisfaction and joy that comes from helping and serving others.
All I ask is that whatever project you choose, that you do it in Kristi's memory or in the memory of someone who will not be able to spend the holidays with their family.
I would love to hear about your experiences with your service project. Send me an email, or comment to this post. If you like, you can add this image to your post to share the awareness of our project.
Thank you so much- I know this will be a great opportunity for you and your family to provide service, and it will be a special tribute to an amazing person.
Tomorrow (October 18) is the first day of our Halloween countdown! I am SO excited! It's not to late to join in the fun....Here is a recap of our countdown ideas (Mummy on the Move, 13 themes, pumpkin patch numbers. Education Cube countdown blocks, and a song) as well as a link to the cover of our Halloween Countdown folder.
First, to aid us in our countdown is our Mummy on the Move (Halloween version of Elf on the Shelf). I read my daughter the little poem I wrote like 7 times before she went to bed.... and she was SO excited to wake up so she could find where the mummy was hiding!! So much so that she had a difficult time falling asleep. (Do you remember those days when you were filled with so much anticipation that sleeping was difficult? :) I HIGHLY recommend doing this with your little ones- I can tell this will be a wonderful new tradition for our little family!
Our 13 day countdown consists of 13 themes to help us celebrate this fun, festive season! Click on the links below to go to my blog post about each theme! Each post is FULL of great ideas I gathered on Pinterest and google searches. (Click HERE to go to my Pinterest board dedicated to the 13 day countdown to Halloween- there are some new pins that weren't included in the posts!)
There are 13 pumpkins that will help us count down (you can download the pumpkin numbers file from this post) I taped the pumpkins to a wall in our kitchen... classy, I know :). The idea is that every day my daughter will pick the numbered pumpkin from the pumpkin patch that corresponds with the number of days left to Halloween. So tomorrow she will pick 13 since there are 13 days until Halloween, and then Wednesday she will pick 12, etc.
Click HERE to get a song I wrote that goes along with our 13 day countdown.
And finally- While I was getting everything ready for our witch day tomorrow, I thought it would be a good idea to put all our themed activity pages (and any crafts or games that will fit) in a folder. Here is a link to the cover for our folder.
I am going to show my daughter this special, spooky folder and hype it up as much as I can- she is sorda on strike from learning pages right now. The goal of this activity is to just have fun! Plain and simple!!
Awhile ago I posted about our Sunday Sorts (sorting folder activity- perfect for quiet kits or just plain educational fun!). These sorts are simple, and only require the cards and a folder. We like these parent/teacher communication folders because of the clear inside and outside pockets!
You can download the cover for our Sunday Sorts HERE.
The first sort was healthy and unhealthy foods. I think I mentioned in that post that my daughter LOVED it. (Click HERE to download that sort!) Something about holding a card and figuring out where it goes..... simple organization at work! :)
Our next Sunday Sort is capital and lowercase letters. I have all the letter cards and folder labels available for download HERE (can also be found on our wiki). You can also change it up a bit by sorting vowels and consonants (easy since all the vowels are in red!), letters in name and letters not in name, letters I know and letters I don't know, etc.... It's all about becoming familiar with the alphabet!
Happy Sorting and Happy Teaching!
On a completely random note- my husband and I watched the first episode of Walking Dead (well, I actually only watched the very beginning before a near panic attack).... now I am paranoid of a zombie attack! Augh! Scariest show EVER!!
Can you tell by all the bazillion posts this month that we are excited for Halloween! As most of you might already know, Halloween is my daughter's birthday. So we go all out and celebrate! (completely random info: i used to hate Halloween until I became a mom. i love having holiday fun with my little family!)
I had a craft day with some neighborhood friends and made these darling countdown to Halloween blocks.
I wanted my daughter to have a set in her room that would be child proof- so she could countdown right along with Mommy! And as soon as I thought about making a countdown set, I KNEW I needed to use my Education Cubes! (Seriously love these- they are an amazing tool for all those kids that need hands on learning!)
I used the number cards in the Education Cube set. One cube has the digits 0-5 and the other cube has the digits 0, 1, 2, 6 (which also doubles as a 9), 7, and 8.
I made the base out of a kleenex box, and since we didn't have any empty ones, well.... let's just say this countdown will come in handy if my daughter has a runny nose :)
You can download the kleenex box cover HERE, or easily make your own.
Then voila! You have an easy, kid friendly, educational (think of the counting backwards lessons...) Halloween countdown! Wahoo!
visit the Show & Tell to get and share Education Cube ideas
I have heard about the Elf on the Shelf Christmas idea for awhile now. I have never read the book, but from what I have gathered, there is an elf that moves around every night watching the kids and reporting back to Santa if they have been naughty or nice. Sounds fun, and I would love to do that for Christmas this year.
I searched around online and couldn't find anything, so I had to kick my creative gears into motion and come up with my own idea. I came across this fun and pretty easy tutorial on movable mummies from Family Chic which I made. (I added batting to make the mummy more poofy since my husband said the mummy looked anorexic! ha!). Any mummy doll would work- preferably the ones that bend, because then you can have more fun! Amazon has a little mummy doll that is part of a Halloween set that looks fun, and Toys R Us has a mummy plush doll.
Here is the plan: The night before our first day of our Halloween countdown, I will read my daughter this short Mummy on the Move story I wrote (I have to add that I haven't read the Elf on the Shelf yet, so any similarities are purely coincidental!).
During the night I will hide the mummy somewhere in our house. In the morning, my Boo will search the house and find him (it is a boy, since according to her all the bad or scary guys are boys!)
I am really super excited to have our little mummy on the move at our house! This is just another fun holiday activity to get us excited for Halloween!
My little family and I spent an evening at the dollar store (fun times- those dollar stores!) I bought a glow in the dark skeleton thinking it would be so cool to hang in my daughter's room- like a Halloween night light!
Well, you get what you pay for. The dollar store skeleton didn't GLOW very well. But that's OK. Because we were able to come up with this fun and very educational activity!
Glow in the Dark Bone Recognition Game
Boo highlighting the femur during our Bone Recognition Game
dollar store glow in the dark skeleton
knowledge of bone names
Hang up the skeleton (so your kids can reach the skull- for a non-example look at the pic above!) Tell your kiddo that you are going to play a glow in the dark game with the skeleton! How fun, right! Show 'em how you highlight an area of the skeleton by shining the flashlight directly on top it. It's like you are painting the bones with light.
If your skeleton is a cheap one like mine, only the bone that was highlighted with direct light will glow... and not for a very long time, either.
Have one child step out of the room. Give another child a flashlight, and tell her to highlight the femur (or any other bone) on the skeleton with the flashlight (remember direct light for a few minutes).Bring the first child back into the room and tell her to quickly point to the femur (She shouldn't be able to tell which one was highlighted). After she guesses, turn the lights out to see if she guessed correctly! Remember to play fast!
There are also game adaptions-
For those just learning the bone names, you can have them highlight a bone and then talk about it.
You can use the everyday names (shoulder, foot, backbone) instead of the scientific names for those young learners.
YOU can highlight a bone, turn the lights off, and have a young child state the everyday name(shoulder, foot, backbone) and an older child state the scientific name.
I decided to do a fun Halloween countdown with my daughter (read more about it HERE). While we aren't starting quite yet, I wanted to compile all my ideas by October 18th so I am ready to go. Each day has it's own Halloween theme. Enjoy!
Our thirteenth (and last!) theme for our 13 day countdown is candy corn. Here are some of the fun ideas I have found (sorted by category). And while I will only have time to do two or three of these ideas, I wanted to include everything I found that was noteworthy. There are SO many fun candy corn ideas!! Many of these were found on Pinterest (i just LOVE this site!) and some I have found through google searches.
Service Project (Same concept as 12 days of Christmas...but with a Halloween twist!)
Make one of the MANY candy corn treat ideas to share with a neighbor/friend
Take a friend to a corn maze
Help neighbors with their gardens
Julius's Candy Corn Good, simple book about candy corn. Can easily integrate counting ideas with this book. (Check out Primary School@ Suite 101 for a post about using this book to teach math)
Learning Time Fun
Candy Corn Wonderland (I have a feeling this would be a great site to visit if you like candy corn! Ha!) shares some ideas for using these candies to help teach math.
First School has a page dedicated to candy corn ideas... the handwriting pages are always helpful!
DLTK has a printable candy corn man art project- I think it would be fun to use this idea, but without the template (it would make for more original art!)
Make some of these fabulous candy corn cones (image and tutorial found at Zakka Life) using old orange soccer cones. Have your kiddos run around the cones or come up with simple relays to add some gross motor activities to the Halloween season! Love it! (Also check out her cute knit candy corns- perfect for a play kitchen!)
Fingerplays and Songs
I was left to my own creative juices to come up with this fingerplay about candy corn.
Candy corn looks like this (put fingers together like a triangle)
and is very good to eat, (rub your tummy)
I like to taste it right away (pretend to eat)
It's my very favorite treat! (put hand on heart)
I am a mommy and a teacher who has a passion for learning- especially with the help of a good book!
I am a planner by heart and enjoy compiling and creating little lesson plans for my preschooler.