Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

STEM During the Month of October!

Posted by Margaret Hufstedler on Oct 27, 2016 3:38:00 PM

MaggueHufstedlerbiopicThis is a guest blog post by Margaret Hufstedler, a veteran teacher of 28 years who has taught kindergarten for the past 22 years. She is an accomplished musician, the owner of Maggie’s Kinder Corner, and co-moderator of #TeacherFriends Chat every Tuesday on Twitter.

What’s not to love about this time of year? October is the perfect time to kick learning into high gear with an already inquisitive group of kindergarten students. They have a “built-in radar” for all things that fly, screech, roll and grow!

During this month, we have discussed how animals prepare for the coming winter months; the change of the season with its hues of gold, red, and orange; and decreasing hours of daylight that allow those true colors to reveal themselves. So much to cover in so little time!
This year, we are focused on nocturnal creatures like bats, owls and coyotes, all of which are indigenous to our S. Missouri Ozarks. We will be making a Compare/Contrast Graphic about the similarities and differences in owls and bats. We’ll also be giving them a test flight after designing and studying the way they fly via conservation videos. And to get our learning off to a great start, we’ll be reading two little readers that relay a simple set of facts about the two flying creatures.

Hameray has some amazing materials for STEM! Among them are these two gems that give students basic knowledge using real photographs of the animals. Students prefer books of this nature that give them a first-hand look at something they are deeply interested in. The books I use come from Hameray’s ZooZoo Animal World Series.

Maggie1.jpg          Maggie2.jpg

In addition to the Owl and Bat books, Hameray publishes a book about Coyotes, perfect for highlighting another well-known animal in the area my students live in. All of my students have heard the high-pitched barking of coyotes as they roam the hills and pastures hunting at night. This book really brings them to life!


If I had one piece of advice for teaching about animals during the month of October, it would be to focus on animals native to the area in which you live. You can also include traditional creatures of the night associated with the season, though. Students love it all!

Pumpkins are another highly engaging topic of study. This year is a very special year in my class because all of the pumpkins we will be using were grown on our farm just across the road from our home. Students will get to help carve them, decorate them, eat them, and the most fun of all…ROLL them! We will study how the size of pumpkins has a great deal to do with how far they will roll!!!

Here is a video of my music room/dining room with just part of the harvest! It was so warm during late September/early October that we had to keep the pumpkins inside! We had as many as 260+ pumpkins in there at one time!


Overtaken by pumpkins!!! #weneedapumpkinintervention #anypumpkinpeddlersoutthere #teacherfriends #teachersofinstagram

A video posted by Maggie Hufstedler (@maggieskinder) on

I CAN’T WAIT to begin our Pumpkin and Bat activities! Just look at the cute “Nemo” stick-ons! They are the cutest!!! And just look at the realistic bats! I also have little bead necklace crafts for them to practice counting! 



Click on the image below to download an information sheet about ZooZoo Animal World, which contains the books featured in this article.
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Topics: Zoozoo Animal World, Margaret Hufstedler, Halloween, STEM

Halloween Sight Word Practice—with FREE download!

Posted by Lesley Boatright on Oct 25, 2016 2:55:00 PM

Lesley_Boatright-150This is a guest post by Lesley Boatright, who will be contributing a series of posts over the next few months. If you like what you see here, check back frequently for more posts from here and click here to read her blog, Practice Makes Perfect.


Add a little Halloween fun to your sight word practice! Two great stories that use repeated text and high frequency words can be found at Hameray Publishing.

With repeated sentence structure and picture support for the word that changes in each sentence, Halloween Night is a fun and easy read for your beginning readers.


If you're looking for a little bit more of a challenge, Joy Cowley's Spooky House is a good choice. Two children approach a haunted house, becoming progressively more frightened as they move deeper into the house. Finally, they see and hear something that causes them to turn tail and run, all the while convincing themselves that they are very brave.

As you can see, there are many sight words included in both books. The repetitive text makes it easy for even your approaching level readers to pick up the rhythm of the words.

 A fun follow up activity is to play Read-the-Room: Halloween Style. Slide1.pngIt's a simple game to play with your whole class, or you can set it up as center. Simply print out the numbered cards at the bottom of this post and place them around the room.


Put the sight word cards in a pocket chart or display on the board for the children to refer to while they read the room. They will copy the word onto their answer sheet that complete the sentence on their card as they move from card to card.

                  Slide10.png                        Slide14.png

Take advantage of the excitement of Halloween and the abundance of seasonal stories to squeeze in some fun Halloween-themed sight word practice!


Lesley Boatright is an Early Childhood/Elementary Education teacher from Southwestern Pennsylvania. After graduating college, she moved to South Florida, where she taught kindergarten in the Palm Beach County School District for 8 years. After having children, she decided (with her husband) that Florida was too far away from the rest of the family, and she moved back to her hometown, where she took a few years off to spend time with her son. She has been teaching in the parochial school system for 18 years now, first at kindergarten, and currently in a first grade classroom. Lesley has also taught 2nd and 3rd grade Spanish and 4th grade social studies. Visit Lesley at her Facebook page, blog, Pinterest, and on Teachers Pay Teachers to get great teaching ideas.


Click on the links to learn more about the Kaleidoscope Collection and Joy Cowley Early Birds, which contain the books featured in this post. To download the Halloween sight word activity, click the image below!

 Halloween Read-the-Room


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Topics: Joy Cowley Early Birds, Kaleidoscope Collection, Sight Words, Lesley Boatright, Halloween

Halloween Pretend Play

Posted by Sally Hosokawa on Oct 13, 2016 3:44:00 PM

Halloween is only 18 days away! Children love this spooky holiday for its Jack-O’-Lantern carving and candy-filled surprises. However, arguably the most exciting aspect of Halloween is dressing up in costumes. Are your students already buzzing about which costume they’ll be wearing on Halloween? 

Holidays provide ample opportunity to tie seasonal events into literacy lessons. For emergent readers, however, incorporating seasonal books can pose a challenge—“Jack-O’-Lantern,” “werewolf,” and even “Halloween” will stump early readers. Pretending from the My World Series solves this problem by discussing the fun of dressing up in language that all your students can access!

 Although leveled at Guided Reading Level E, Pretending maintains an identical sentence structure throughout most of the book: “We can ____.” The repetitive structure will help your emergent reader gain confidence with each page. In a shared reading setting, encourage your students to help you read “We can” on each page. Real-world photographs also accompany each sentence in the book, allowing students to use pictorial clues to understand the text (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.7).


The sentence structure only breaks on the last page where the text asks two questions. With the confidence that your students have built in the first eleven pages, they will be ready and willing to tackle this new sentence structure. 

During the lesson, ask your students the following questions:

Before reading:

  • Has anyone already decided on a costume for Halloween? Start a list on the board of costumes of your students’ costumes.
  • What does "pretending" mean? How do you pretend? How is dressing up on Halloween a type of pretending?

During reading:

  • Add the different pretending ideas presented in the book to your list (cooks, shoppers, dancers, etc.)

After reading:

  • What other dress-up ideas can we add to this list? Many children may have already decided on their costume, but this list may provide inspiration for those who haven’t chosen their costume yet.


When discussing Halloween costumes, make sure to stay mindful that not all students’ families can afford to purchase a costume. Simple dress-up ideas such as a farmer, a teacher, or a cat can easily be put together with clothing at home. If you have any economically-friendly costume ideas for students and teachers alike, share them in the comments below!


Learn more about Pretending at this product page--it's not too late to order now and receive your books before Halloween! Click the image below to download a informational sheet about the My World Series, which includes the book featured in this article. 

My World Series Info Sheet

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Topics: Early Childhood, Leveled Readers, My World, Halloween

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