Tuesday, October 1, 2013

So Much Fun, It's Scary

your curly contributor, Suzanne

I understand that Halloween gets mixed reviews, but I really like it.  Disclaimer: I like cute Halloween- smiling pumpkins, smiling black cats, smiling skeletons...you get the picture.  Hold all the blood, guts and gore.  

As a teacher, it is infinitely better to embrace each holiday rather than try to ignore it.  Besides, it is a quick and easy way to add some novelty to your class.  I went to a Rich Allen trainings years ago (if you ever get the opportunity- GO and take me with you!) where he said, "What you learn with pleasure, you remember forever."  This little mantra runs through my head quite often, and I feel that it is especially fitting as we think about how to add seasonal fun to classroom instruction.

One of my favorite stores of all times that I visit every week for teacher resources is Dollar Tree.  They never fail to have fun items that I didn't know I can't live without.  And for a dollar, you don't have to hold back.  Here are some of my recent finds that could be used in October lessons.

Data-based groups are fine and good but sometimes you want informal groups for an activity.  These rings are a fun way to sort students when you don't mind who they are grouped with.  Have them out on the table or in a bowl so that students can choose one as they walk in.  These groups could be used to share writing or complete a jigsaw activity.  It doesn't have to change your seating assignment for the day.  When you are ready for them to move to their new groups, tell them to find others who have the same color ring, and you're ready to start.

This will likely come as a great shock, but I love a good pun.  So these festive broomsticks with sayings like "Witchful Thinking" are right up my alley!  They could be used for any relay activity.  Students can "fly" to the board to write their best complex sentence or sketch out clues for a vocabulary word.  They pass off the broom to the next team member, and away we go.

These stickers are more therapeutic than anything.  Haven't you often wanted to write "Yikes!" and "Yuck!" at the top of a paper you're grading?  Now you can and it's cleverly disguised as being festive.  

I have seen these witch fingers presented for elementary students when they are learning to track words from left to right on the page.  As we've already stated, we're not about to let elementary have all the fun!  These fingers could enhance an editing activity.  I like editing routines that run similarly to speed dating.  Students pair up for a short period of time to read through each others papers and look for only one thing.  They could point to the thesis, end punctuation, metaphor...

*Side note: I am all about saving my ammunition.  Am I going to have a knock-down drag-out with a varsity football player because he won't wear his witch finger? No way!!  As long as he is participating in the activity, who cares?!  I think you'll find that most students want to participate because it is something different.*

If any "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore,'" will be happening in your room between now and the 31st, don't you think you need a slightly creepy, already moulting raven for your room?  You could pass the raven to indicate readers.  It keeps students awake and on their toes. You also could use it to encourage students to share writing based on "The Raven".  Take one brave volunteer to share.  That student then gets to hand over the raven and responsibility to share to another student of their choosing.

How cute is he?!  This bin could be filled with questions and/or quotes from Frankenstein.  Working in groups, one student draws a slip from the bin and takes it back to their group to discuss.  Students talk and formulate an answer that they will probably write on folded, lime green paper.  That slip goes back to the bin; they draw another.  They follow this routine until all the square on their foldable are filled up. Remember, the more complex the question, the longer this activity will take.

These are more fall-ish than Halloween-ey:
Either the silk leaves or foam stickers would be great to form informal student groups.  When using something like this, it is important to count out the number you allow your students to pick from to ensure that the group sizes will be somewhat even.

These doilies are beautiful! After a lesson on imagery or pitchforking, they would be the perfect place for students to write their own sentence(s) utilizing the skill.  Grab a strip of crumpled brown paper, staple it on the wall, surround it with these beauties, and you've got yourself a great (and simple) hallway display.

Happy fall, y'all!

For more seasonal ideas, check out our Christmas post.

2 comments:

  1. I love these ideas! I am dying to go find some of these items to use in my classroom this month! We are working on sentence structure right now, so I am on the hunt for the doilies for the students to write different sentence types on the different colors. If only we had a Dollar Tree here!

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    Replies
    1. Oh, I love writing different sentence types on different leaves. What a great idea! If it comes down to it, you could have students cut their own leaf using a designated color paper.

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