My 4th-grade students love October because of the month-long anticipation of Halloween. Their teacher loves October because hockey season officially begins. (Let’s go Blues!) Since school starts in mid-August where I live, by the time October rolls around, we are already starting Unit 2 in our reading/writing series. The focus for our writing during that unit is informative, particularly procedural writing – good ol’ how-to writing. 🙂
I decided to take advantage of my students’ excitement over Halloween with our procedural writing unit by creating four simple prompts. However, in order to help them organize their thinking during the pre-writing step, I first made a graphic organizer for them to use. It was important for me to teach them, however, how to create their own graphic organizer when responding to a prompt on an assessment as these are not provided when testing.
The four writing prompts for students to choose from include:
- how to carve a pumpkin
- how to bob for apples
- how to go trick-or-treating
- how to celebrate Halloween
Students use the graphic organizer to plan their basic steps in the arrows. They are then required to add at least two details for each step. The organizer includes some basic transition words, but I take some time to do a quick mini-lesson on transitions. Students have to replace at least two of the given transitions with some more sophisticated phrases (i.e., replacing “finally” with “in conclusion”). You can grab these Halloween How-To Writing Prompts for free at my TpT store.
After proofreading and revising, students write their final copy on the above prompt paper. While writing, I display our Just Write countdown graphic (see below). It’s something I saw on Pinterest and easily re-created on my brand new Promethean Board. I set the time for however long I want students to write that day depending on our schedule. By teaching and posting the expectations for writing time, we are much more focused. I’m thinking of making one for reading to increase their stamina during that time as well!
Red Ribbon Week
Next week is Red Ribbon Week, and like so many schools, students are asked to show their commitment to being drug-free by dressing in school-wide themes. Since our mascot is a pirate, we went with that concept. I created a simple flyer to send home with students to remind them of each day’s theme. I also plan to use our weekly class meeting that week to do an activity that combines Halloween and Red Ribbon Week. I found it at Ginger Snaps blog and she graciously shares her resources. You can click on the link to her blog to get them for yourself.
And here’s the flyer…