Halloween Treats ~ A Resource Round-up!

I am really excited to share this "resource round-up" with you! It's full of brain breaks, book recommendations, freebies, and more. Let's get started!

Do you Symbaloo?? I love using Symbaloo to organize our favorite brain breaks. One of our most popular classroom leadership jobs is the Class DJ. The Class DJ gets to pick out our brain breaks each day, and they often like to choose a quick song or dance video.

As Halloween approaches, I thought it would be a great idea to keep our seasonal brain breaks all in one spot, but separate from the songs we tend to use every day. So I made a separate Symbaloo just for our October Brain Breaks! You can access the board by clicking directly on the link below! (Thanks to Hollie for letting me know it didn't quite work the first time!) 

By using Symbaloo to keep them all in one spot, I'm not hunting down a video on You Tube every time we take a break. I can also control what the kids have access to this way!

As always, watch the videos yourself to make sure they are appropriate for your own students. The videos on top are Just Dance clips (my students' favorites!) and the clips on the bottom are better sing-a-long videos.

How about a BRAND NEW freebie to kick things off?? 

I just posted the Primer level of my SPLAT! sight word game for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you'd like to see the all five Dolch levels, check out the full game by scrolling below.

Next up is a super-fun center I made for my kids a few years ago. They were really struggling with rhyming concepts, and our poetry lessons were becoming increasingly frustrating for all of us. The vocabulary is perfect for 2nd and 3rd graders, and it really helped my ESOL kiddos to "hear" what rhyming sounded like. After practicing in isolation for a week or so, they were able to apply it to the poems we read each week. 

You can grab it from TpT by clicking on the image above. I would love a little feedback if you think your kids will enjoy it!

I also recently featured this freebie sampler, but in case you missed it - click here or on the picture below to grab a set of sample lessons for The Ugly Pumpkin! 

You can also check out the rest of the unit for my FAVORITE fall book!

Who doesn't love a new book to read at Halloween? My book-loving heart would get so disappointed when my kids would sigh and say, "We read that in second grade!" 

Last year, I gathered up 5 books your students (hopefully) haven't heard yet! Click on the picture above to check them out. The books I selected are perfect for 2nd and 3rd graders. I've included non-fiction, chapter books, and picture book favorites. 

I also have a few spooky resources of my own to share with you! 

They will all be 20% off through Sunday, October 23rd... including my Ugly Pumpkin unit! 

Apply the Adjective {Halloween Edition} is one of my students' favorite ways to practice using expressive words and phrases to describe a given noun. There are differentiated practice pages they will love completing after playing! 

If you're unable to use Halloween-themed resources, you can also check out Apply the Adjective {Fall Edition}

Creepy Contractions is another resource you can use to have some seasonal fun without connecting it directly to Halloween. :) I've included a poem with different response options, anchor charts, interactive foldables, and a differentiated matching game you can use according to your students' readiness and abilities! 

SPLAT! is a complete Dolch sight word game I made last year for my intervention groups. I love that I can have everyone playing at once, based on their sight word strengths and weaknesses. There are also various recording sheets that encourage students to practice using the words in context. The sets are easy to keep separated, as each Dolch level has its own background scheme. 

Want to make sure you stay up-to-date with my favorite October find for the classroom? Follow my October Classroom Pinterest board - LOTS of freebies, resources and fun ideas for your classroom! 


The Ugly Pumpkin: A Fall Mentor Text

The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz is a book you can carry across October and November, and I have the best time reading it to my kids each year. It is perfect for teaching readers how to examine a character's actions, traits, and motivations. I usually spend a whole week with this book, and slowly scaffold character actions, traits, and motivations as we go. 

I'm so excited for you to find so many fall mentor texts today. Some friends and I have gathered our favorites, along with an amazing collection of lesson ideas.{There are affiliate links in this post in case you're like me, and can't wait a week to get a copy! :)} 


Before reading, I always do a quick review on what it means to think about someone's actions. We use a piece of chart paper to make a list of the things we've done since we arrived that day. 

Once we've got a good list, I ask them to keep track of the ugly pumpkin's actions as we read today. Someone almost always realizes they are listening for verbs that tell us what the ugly pumpkin is doing. :) 


The kids are listening for actions, and afterwards we go over the day's reading response. You may want to fill in an example (or two) with them. I really emphasize writing in complete sentences because they'll be expected to do the same as the week progresses. 

I don't worry too much about the page numbers, but I included it when I made this unit because this is a book I have multiple copies of. :) 


In the days that follow, we move on to examine a character's motivations and traits. 

What my students and I love about these lessons is that each written response builds on information we gathered about the character the day before. All they have to do is transfer the information to make the connection. I encourage them to go back to the previous day's response to get their assignment started. 

I love re-reading this book each day. But if you are going to be out, or you just aren't feeling up to a reread, I did find this cute video on YouTube! :) 

It's less than 2 minutes long - perfect for a quick review! 

On Day Four, we connect everything together in a sentence frame response. I love being able to have them go back to this activity when they begin to write responses about characters using their independent books in the weeks and months ahead. 

As I was looking through this pack, I decided to add on an extra day where I could invite the students to step into the character's shoes. I can't wait to try these responses out in the next week or so. I think I'm going to use them to create a fun hallway display and have the kids mount them on construction paper. 

I've included a sample of the activities in this unit in an EXCLUSIVE freebie sampler pack. Just sign up below to grab your own download! 

Exclusive Fall Freebie!

Subscribe to get a FREE sampler from my Ugly Pumpkin unit!
    We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
    Powered By ConvertKit

    If you'd like to know more about the rest of the activities in this pack,  keep reading! 

    This 40+ page unit includes:

    • ALL of the printables featured in this post
    • three different center options
    • interactive notebook pages for retelling or sequencing
    •  a mystery phrase activity
    •  and an Ugly Pumpkin writing craftivity! 

    You can find it on TpT - it's on sale for a limited time! Click HERE or on the image below to grab it! 

    Make sure you check out the rest of the fall mentor text lessons and snag the freebies we're sharing with you this week. 

    Stop by the rest of The Reading Crew's posts to continue gathering phenomenal ideas for fall mentor texts! 

    An InLinkz Link-up

    Short on time? Pin this post for later!


    Let's Talk About Grammar: Subjects and Predicates

    Isn't grammar one of the hardest things to teach sometimes?

    And let's be honest. Sometimes, the grammar concepts we are charged with embedding in our student's brains make us want to stab ourselves in the eye with a dirty stick. Does anyone really enjoy imparting their knowledge of direct objects? Really? Really??

    When I teach any grammar lessons, I try to do one of two things: laugh or sing.

    I totally understand how that might be hard to imagine. I mean, how comical can you make subjects and predicates? Well, in our room we try... a little. :)

    When I'm researching for grammar lessons, I usually look to YouTube first. There are lots of engaging and short videos I can show to build background knowledge, reinforce the previous day's material, or review before our state testing each spring. I thought I'd share a few of my kiddos' favorites below.

    The first video is a clip from a show called Twinkle Trails. It's only about three and a half minutes long. I typically use this one first because it gives just enough information to lay the groundwork for my first big lesson.

    I think we've all seen this gem. :) Who doesn't love sharing a little old school knowledge with their students? I end up humming this song for a few weeks afterwards, but I think that's the point - right?!

    One more song... I think this one may be my favorite! We love watching this in the weeks leading up to our state testing. It's a great way to get kids moving and reviewing a key concept for our Language Arts test.

    Seriously. Wouldn't your kids LOVE that? And, I love that it has built-in captions! #teachernerd

    I also love to practice identifying subjects and predicates using silly sentences. Sometimes when I'm making them up, I swear there is a 10-year-old boy that lives inside my brain. 

    But you know what? It works! :) I've also used funny anecdotes from our class as inspiration for sentences. Little things like this keep my kids engaged - and laughing - throughout our lessons! 

    Maybe there isn't a ten-year-old boy in your brain and this super easy anchor chart is more your style? :) 

    I only teach one sentence part at a time - subjects first, and then predicates a day or two later. I do teach complete and simple parts at the same time. 

    This is a sample page from our grammar notebook. This is exactly what I give them on Day 1. We go through the anchor chart together in a whole group and work through a few more sentences the students and I create together. Then I send them back to work on a short notebook page at their seats with a copy of the day's anchor chart. This prevents a lot of getting up and down to go look at the class chart (read: students avoiding work). It also encourages them to be more independent. Our lesson is right in front of them. So, unless they bombed the group work on the carpet (and we know who those lovebugs are), they should be fine! 

    I also have some interactive options for centers, early finishers, homework, or another lesson for reinforcement. 

    They love these interactive pages! Both my inclusion and ESOL student groups really benefit from the visual supports these activities offer. 

    To bring it all together, I almost always use poetry. It's a great way to sneak in some fluency practice. I love to write poems for my lessons - again, it's another way to keep them "hooked" on an otherwise boring topic. 

    This is a great partner or small group activity. The students have to find the nouns and pronouns in the poem, then sort them into subject and non-subject noun groups. It's an easy way to show them that not every noun or pronoun will be a subject! 

    All of these gems are in one of my best sellers: Subjects and Predicates {A Wonderland of Resources}. It's just gotten a HUGE makeover and is jam-packed full of brand-new interactive notebook pages, anchor charts, practice pages, and a small group game! 

    I also have this game, which is a *sweeter* version of a game in my Wonderland pack. 

    If you really love both of those packs as much as I do, and you'd like to save some money, take a look at my newest Bookworm Bundle! 

    I also found some random subject and predicate odds and ends that I didn't use with either of the smaller packs, so I made it into a quick FREEBIE! Enjoy!!

    Use this image to PIN this post for later, and make sure you follow my Grammar Resources board on Pinterest as well!  

    If you have any tips and tricks for grammar concepts, I'd love to hear them! 


    A Guided Reading DREAM! {Joy Cowley Giveaway & Review}

    Recently, the sweet folks at Hameray Publishing sent me a few treats to try out with my students. I was so excited to see the books they sent, especially when I knew they were going to be by Joy Cowley. I mean... is there anyone who writes better books for guided reading?

    They sent over a few titles from 2 of Joy's newer characters - The Huggles and The Gruesome Ogres. You can click HERE to see the entire set of characters.

    I have to admit this... I was nervous to try these books out with some of my older struggling readers. I have 3 different 4th graders on my caseload right now, and one of them in particular really struggles with reading.

    I also had to make sure the books matched the levels my kids were working on at the moment. I visited the Hameray Publishing website and clicked on the series I had received from them.

    Once I was viewing the series, I was able to find the guided reading level and word count for each book.

    They also included a set of guided reading lessons ideas you can use in the back of each book. It made planning for this week so much easier!

    At the end of last week, I asked my struggling reader friend to take a look at the new books I had. I invited him to pick one out for us to work on next week. He doesn't get excited about much, (Anyone else out there with some *too cool* 4th graders?) but he looked pretty close to happy about the Gruesome series books that I got to try out. He even asked if we could try two of them this week. (Sure!!)

    We pulled out the first one he chose yesterday - The Gruesome House.

    It was a hit! The vocabulary is rich for the lower-level text Joy writes, but it was still engaging for this big kid!

    I also used The Huggles series with a 2nd grader I just added to my caseload not too long ago. We started with the first book in the set - The Huggles - last week. This week we added Huggles' Cold.

    I love the vivid verbs, with lots of detailed illustrations to support her as she reads. It is the perfect set of texts to help ease her into the next reading level. There are also lots of opportunities to study conventions (varied end punctuation) and why authors are using them.

    Wouldn't you LOVE to WIN the ENTIRE Joy Cowley collection??? You can!!

    Click HERE or on the picture below to go straight to Hameray's website to enter. The Grand Prize is AMAZING - a set of character-based finger puppets, big books, guided reading sets, and MORE!  

    The contest will run through April 13th and winners will be announced April 14th. Hurry over and enter today --- and tell your friends as well!


    Sharing Sunday for April!

    It's that time again!

    My friends and I at The Primary Peach have gathered the best of the best so you can get started on your April planning! Just click on any of the pictures in this post to download a PDF file of links to all of these resources!

    I've tried to add in more read-aloud suggestions for each set of resources when I could. I love to find any excuse to buy a new book for my classroom! (affiliate links included in PDF)

    The Titanic freebie above is GREAT for upper grades this time of year. The Titanic sank 104 years ago this April, but my students are still just as obsessed about it as I was in 4th grade. How about yours?? I know they will lose their minds when I pull this out! :)


    LOVE the freebies and ideas Jen shared in her Rainbow Week post. There are tons of freebie links, anchor charts, bulletin board ideas, and center ideas perfect for the beginning of Spring!

    I'm also in love with the Spring Edition of Apply the Adjective. Newly updated, with extra noun cards, and 6 new practice pages!


    Finally, a few extra fun freebies for you this month. You know I LOVE Rachel's Would You Rather questions for my morning meetings.

    There's also a link to an observation log freebie you can use with your kids if you grow lima bean seedlings with them. I'm also in love with my friend Jen's lima bean nugget. :) SO CUTE!

    Hope you've had a great weekend! I'm off to get ready for the week ahead! Make sure you check out the rest of our posts at The Primary Peach. Click the photo below to go directly to the link up!



    Growing Readers and Writers with Spring Mentor Texts

    Mentor texts are critical pieces of any classroom with a strong literacy program. This post focuses on my favorite spring mentor text, The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald. April is National Poetry Month, so Spring is the perfect time of year to try using The Best Part of Me in your own classroom!

    Let's get started!
    The Best Part of Me is a collection of photographs and student writing pieces focused on the parts of themselves they love the most. The book is the result of a collaboration between award-winning photographer Wendy Ewald and Durham Public Schools in North Carolina. This text is a great way to use student writing as a model in your own classroom. You can click my affiliate link on the picture below or on this hyperlink to take a peek!


    I'm sharing the first couple of lessons from a unit I have that are on based on this text. I've used this unit for over a decade in my own classroom, and I've seen great success with it. I love the way it scaffolds the steps of writing a poem for students.

    The first lesson is simply an opportunity to share pieces of the book with your students and have them brainstorm a list of favorite parts of themselves they might like to write about.

    This isn't really a book you're going to sit down and read with your kids all in one lesson. I'm a big believer in keeping a mini-lesson as "mini" as possible. We want our kids to spend the majority of their Writer's Workshop time writing, right?

    On the first day, I introduce the text and choose a couple of my favorite pieces and photographs to share with my students. This is so they have an "end in mind" as they're working over the next few days.
    First, I model the task of brainstorming a list of my favorite parts. Step out on the writing limb with me, friends! We have to MODEL what we want our kids to do during their independent work time. This means lots of thinking aloud, modeling recording our thoughts, and fixing a few mistakes along the way. You can do this with a document camera if you're lucky enough to be able to use one every day, or print the page out as a poster and do it on a larger scale.

    I'm also including a Bonus Lesson today! In fact, I wrote the first two lessons and went back and added this one shortly afterwards. It will help your students "narrow their focus" before they begin drafting the next day.

    You'll model the task by choosing one of 6 body part picture cards. Glue it to a piece of chart paper and make a list of adjectives and descriptive phrases underneath that describe this part on your body.

    You could also use one of your students as a "model" and have the class describe that part of their body.

    After the students repeat this activity in a small group, your students will practice the skill independently with a "Describe Your Part" work page. You can differentiate the levels of support your students will require with one of three work pages. This kind of tiered work is especially helpful for my ESOL and EC students.

    To grab a copy of this lesson sampler for yourself, click HERE to grab it from Teachers Pay Teachers. To purchase the unit, follow this link!


    I hope this encourages you to try out some poetry writing with your students! It's one of my favorite writer's workshop units all year long!

    Don't forget to check out the other lessons in the link-up here: