October 24, 2016

Uh-Oh! Pumpkin Trouble!

Jan Thomas writes thee funniest books for early readers! And they're absolutely perfect for helping experienced readers further develop their fluency. 

Seriously, if you're looking for a way to boost oral reading confidence, having children read books that are really easy for them is a great strategy. Book selection is the key here.



Jan Thomas does everything right in her books. In just a few words on each page, she skillfully engages readers.  I've enjoyed using her books as mentor texts with my students to talk about what good readers and writers do. I often say writers tells us how they want their stories to be read by choosing words, conventions and text features carefully, and I encourage my students to do the same with their own work. 

When you read Jan Thomas' stories, you'll find it all:  
  • great word choice
  • bold text that tells the reader which words to emphasize
  • ellipses 
  • careful and creative punctuation
  • a requirement to infer 
  • engaging illustrations that help the reader make meaning 
  • hilarious and concise plots 
After reviewing the six habits of a fluent reader with my students and having already taught them all those creative ways that writers convey meaning,  I could not wait to share Pumpkin Trouble with them!  My hope is that my students will take all this information and apply it to their own writing AND reading. We have some great exercises coming up and with this new learning, their writing will be off the charts! 


Every reader, no matter their level, benefits from reading an easy text to develop their fluency and overall confidence. The key of course is text choice; you can't just give kids a board book and make this work. You'll need find engaging texts that appeal to the goofy kid in all of us! 

After we read the story a few times, we talked about the importance of eye contact in communicating sincerity and to keep thing "Fun Friday" related, we looked at how by shifting the eye placement in a character, you can, as an artist really make a statement. Then we talked about how if you place the eyes one way, the mouth must also follow suit. It was a little bit of art, a bit of reading and a bit of personal development all rolled into an hour! 

The goal for the assignment below was to create three characters with shifty eyes and one character who looked sincere, but once the kids got rolling, they had so much fun with their shifty-eyed pumpkins, I decided to let them call the shots. I also loved this activity because of the fine motor practice the kids got from cutting those eyes out! It's nuts how in this digital age, things like cutting and pasting still have their place.

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