Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Best Halloween Ever- reading fun with 4th grade

Recently, during my 4th grade pull-out groups, we have started reading The Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson. I always did The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with my middle school ESOL students, and they always really enjoyed the story. Before leaving middle school, I ordered a class set of The Best Halloween Ever and The Best School Year Ever which I never got to use. So, I decided to use them with my 4th graders this year to help reinforce the skills they're learning in their Language Arts class (which I also plug-in to three times a week).

We started out by activating and building our background knowledge. First, we looked at the book, read the back, and made some predictions on what the book might be about. We also decided that it definitely took place in Fall, since the story is about Halloween. I wanted my students to really think about this time of year, and activate their knowledge in that area. First, we thought about Fall and Halloween, and used a five senses chart to think about things we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel during this time of year.

Next, I had different Fall colors posted around the room (red, orange, brown, yellow, green). I had students rotate to the different colors and write down things or ideas they associated with these colors and Fall. We ended up with a great list of Fall items for each color. Finally, after seeing an example and receiving a pattern to follow, students wrote a "Colors of Fall" poem. Here's my poem that I wrote as an example for the kiddos:

Fall is orange, red, brown and yellow.
Orange is the color of football time in Tennessee.
Red is the taste of candied apples.
Brown is the taste of Halloween candy and the sound of dead leaves crunching under my feet.
Yellow is the feel of a blazing bonfire and the smile of a jack-o-lantern.
Fall is orange, red, brown and yellow.

Once we completed our rough drafts, we did some peer editing. Then, as a class, we discussed all the sights and sounds of Fall and Halloween, and how those are related to our book. When the students have completed their final drafts, I'll take pictures and post them

The kiddos are working on characterization in Language Arts, so in our next session, we actually began reading the story. We went through the Understanding Character powerpoint (available in my TpT store!), and used the examples to practice asking ourselves what the character's actions tell us about the character and his or her personality. After reading the chapter, we worked as a class to fill in a four-square organizer on chart paper about the Herdmans. The four categories were: what the narrator says about the Herdmans, what the Herdmans do, what the Herdmans say, and what the Herdmans look like. We will continue filling in the chart as we read. I always have students tell me the page number where they found the infomation and we include that so that they get practice at finding information in the text. Finally, students used their own checklist to decide which character traits described the Herdmans.

The students are really enjoying the story so far, and the activities we are doing with it. They love talking about these characters, because let's face it, the Herdmans are characters that kids love to hate. Pictures and more to come as we finish our unit! Stay tuned!

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