MAT Blog

5 Halloween Worksheets & Printables for Reading & Writing Teachers

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 28, 2014 9:35:00 AM

We love bringing Halloween into the classroom, but it’s even better when we can turn spooky celebrations into teachable moments. To help you do this, we’d like to share a few of our favorite free Halloween worksheets & printables for reading and writing teachers.

5 Halloween Worksheets & Printables for Reading & Writing Teachers

free halloween printablesHalloween Shadow Makers
These spooky shadow makers are cute, but how can they help your students hone their writing skills? Simple, place students in groups and have them collaborate on their own spooky script. Once they’re done, pull out a projector, sit back and enjoy as your students perform their plays in front of the class.

To download this halloween worksheet, click here.

3-1Halloween Haiku Cookies
While your students probably won’t want to eat these Halloween “fortune cookies,” they will enjoy choosing their template and learning how to fold it. What you have students write on the fortune is up to you, but we ask students to craft their own Halloween haikus, stuff them into the “cookies,” and exchange with their peers on Halloween.

You can download the fortune cookie template here. Folding might be tricky without instructions, so check out the tutorial here.


free halloween printablesAdd an Adjective and Tell a Spooky Story
Sometimes the hardest part about writing is getting started. Thanks to this free Halloween worksheet, your students already have a spooky story outlined for them. All they have to do is add the adjectives!

You can download the worksheet here.






free_halloween_printablesWhat Should My Teacher be For Halloween
This is by far our favorite Halloween worksheet on the list. If you’re a teacher with thick skin and a good sense of humor, give this free Halloween printable a shot.

Just grab a headshot of yourself, photocopy it onto the template, and have your students help you pick out your Halloween costume!

You can download the free template here.

free_halloween_printables.jpgHaunted House for Sale
This is another favorite. The goal of this activity is for students to create their own haunted house and produce a sale ad persuading people to buy their house. Who is the intended audience for this piece of writing? Why, a family of ghouls, ghosts and goblins, of course!

This activity is divided up into five parts:

  • Web: Brainstorm ideas about what features students would like in their haunted house.
  • Page 1: Draw the exterior of the haunted house. Name the haunted house.
  • Page 2: is optional: Draw two interior rooms in the house (most students like to draw the bathrooms or a bedroom). You may choose to leave this out based on time.
  • Page 3: Students fill in the name of the house. They should list the features of the house, address, and the realtor (they should think creatively on who might sell a haunted house). Lastly, they should write an opinionated description of why people should buy this house. Remember, they are writing to persuade the reader to purchase their house.
  • Page 4: Additional page if a student needs more space to write.

To download this free Halloween printable, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.


Spooky Story Starters Guide

Tags: reading instruction, writing fluency, writing skills, Reading, free halloween printables

5 “Falltacular” Read-Alouds for Children!

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 8, 2014 9:35:00 AM

Fall is here! In our neck of the woods, the trees are ablaze with vibrant leaves, our furnaces are humming again, and we’re making plans to tip back some cider at the local cider mill. We look forward to this time of the year for a variety of reasons—one being that we finally have an excuse to break out our favorite seasonal read-alouds!

Narrowing down our favorite books to a list of five was difficult, but here they are in no particular order.

5 “Falltacular” Read-Alouds for Children!

read aloudsLeaf Man
For those of you unfamiliar with Lois Ehlert, she is an author and artist who works in collage-style, using found objects to tell her stories. Ehlert continues this tradition in this “falltacular” children’s book, using real leaves to tell the story of—you guessed it—the Leaf Man.

As the refrain suggests, "A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows,” so readers should expect to follow this leafy protagonist on his wind-blown romp through the beautiful, changing countryside.

If you fall in love with Ehlert like we did, check out another of her seasonal read-alouds called Nuts to You!

read alouds
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves
When the leaves turn color and begin to fall from his favorite tree, Fletcher worries that something terrible has happened.

In spite of his mother’s reassurance that the tree is simply changing with the seasons, Fletcher does his best to “save” his tree from losing its leaves. Cute, cute, cute…and students always love the surprise Fletcher finds once winter arrives.

read aloudsHow Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?
Most of us have seen really big pumpkins, but you probably haven’t seen any as big as those that award-winning artist Wendell Minor shows us in How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?

If you’ve ever wondered what American landmarks like the Capitol dome, Mount Rushmore, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Grand Canyon would look like if they were bedecked in pumpkins, Wendell Minor will show you!

read aloudsFall Mixed Up
In Fall Mixed Up, we meet one very confused young man. For some reason, he thinks September is “Septober” and October is “Octember.” Not only is he confused, so are the seasons! Apples turn orange. Pumpkins turn red. Squirrels even fly south! Students will love getting wild and wacky with this read-aloud.

read aloudsPick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes
This book not only scratches your seasonal itch, but teaches students about shapes at the same time!

Take a family trip to the pumpkin patch. Jump on a hayride, pick a pumpkin, and name all of the shapes you find in the fall scenery.

Spooky Story Starters Guide

Tags: reading motivation, reading instruction, reading teachers, read alouds

Dead Words: A Halloween-Inspired, Vocabulary-Building Activity

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 2, 2014 9:44:12 AM

We’re always looking for creative ways to help our students build their vocabulary and this morning, we came across a new one that’s perfect for the Halloween season! Dead Words is a vocabulary-building activity that’s as spooky and cute as it is effective.

Here’s how it works: First, the class brainstorms words that they overuse—words that are vague, dull, and don’t help us communicate very effectively. Once you settle on your “dead” words, write them down on slips of paper and temporarily “bury” them in a container.

Every week, select one “dead” word from the container and ask students to think about how they use it: is it a verb, an adjective, or an adverb? Next, students will use the classroom thesauruses to look up the word and find 10 alternatives.

Once students have their list, they create gravestones. Now you’re ready to hold a ceremony to say goodbye to the dead words and bury them once and for all!

Happy Halloween! And happy vocabulary-building!

vocabulary building

We'd like to thank The Inspired Classroom for this awesome vocabulary-building idea!


The Reading Playbook, a teachers guide to success

Tags: reading instruction, vocabulary building, vocabulary enrichment, reading fluency

Burying the Report: 3 Book Report Alternatives

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Sep 26, 2014 9:54:58 AM

book_report_alternatives-1There are only so many book reports one teacher can read in a lifetime! We’ve offered a few book report alternatives in the past, but thanks to Christine Boardman Moen’s book, Better Than Book Reports, here are a few more.

Burying the Report: 3 Book Report Alternatives

Create a Culture Kit
One of our favorite things about reading is that it allows us to travel all over the world and experience different cultures all from the comfort of our favorite reading space. One way to enhance this cultural experience is by having students create a Culture Kit.

To create a Culture Kit, students should follow these steps:

  1. Choose and read a nonfiction book about a family or person from a culture other than your own.
  2. Choose six items to put into your Culture Kit box.
  3. On a sheet of paper, list each item and explain why it is important in the culture you read about.
  4. Be prepared to give a short speech to your classmates about the things in your Culture Kit box. Practice picking each item out of the box and explaining its importance.
  5. Decorate the Culture Kit box. For example, you may want to color it or decorate it to look like the country’s flag.

Grow a Story Tree
The Story Tree is another book report alternative that aims to helps students focus on the basic book report alternativesliterary elements of plot, character, and setting while encouraging them to use exact language to share their book with others.

To introduce this project, you may want to first read aloud a story. Then, as a group, complete a Story Tree that you have copied onto an overhead transparency or on the white board. The statements used to make a Story Tree are listed below.


1. The name of the main character
2. Two words that describe the main character
3. Three words that describe where the story takes place (setting)
4. Four words telling what the main character wanted in the story
5. Five words telling what happened that almost stopped the main character from getting what s/he wanted
6. Six words telling how the main character got what s/he wanted
7. Seven words that describe the best part of the book
8. Eight words that explain why you would or would not tell a friend to read this book.

You can download the Story Tree template here.

A Recipe for a Good Book
Like a master chef who adds the perfect combination of ingredients together to produce a tasty meal, authors also use their own ingredients—plot, theme, setting, mood, dialogue, pace—to concoct an engaging story that holds our attention, surprises, and delights us.

In this book report alternative, students will select and read a book, then create a “book recipe” that lists all of the ingredients that were mixed together to make their book “good enough to eat!”

These are the ingredients students should include in their “book recipe”:

Plot: Tell what happens in the story.
Theme: Tell the message of the story.
Setting: Tell where the story takes place.
Mood: Tell if they story is happy, sad, scary, silly, etc.
Characters: Tell the names of the main characters and if they are good, bad, helpful, mean, funny, etc.

Here’s what your recipe card might look like:

book report alternatives

New Call-to-Action

Tags: book report alternatives, reading instruction, writing fluency, writing skills

The Best of the Week: Volume 12

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 27, 2014 12:49:04 PM


There’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Reading and Language Arts (register a book online, share it, and find out where it travels)
10 More Awesome Fantasy Series That are Not Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings

History-Related Links
For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II (fascinating article from
Inside America’s Atomic City (interesting article and images from Messy Nessy)
The 1970s Cold War Era Home Built 26 Feet Underground
An 8th Grade Final Exam from 1895
1,000 Years of War in 5 Minutes
10 Myths About Vikings
Famous Last Words (tragic and amusing collection of last words!)
The History of Taxes (an interactive infographic)
D-Day Landing Scenes in 1944 and Now (an interactive photo collection)
A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding A Coat of Arms (an infographic)

Classroom Management
How To Turn A Negative Consequence Into A Positive Classroom Management Strategy (an excellent article by Larry Ferlazzo)
7 Ways to Increase Student Engagement (an infographic)

STEM-Related Links
99 More Incredible Lectures From the World’s Top Scientists
Impact Calculator (create a virtual impact on Earth by changing the size, speed and composition of an approaching asteroid or comet)
Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Pamela Gay, and Lawrence Krauss Discuss Our Future in Space
MIT's Freaky Non-Stick Coating Keeps Ketchup Flowing
Remastered and Stabilized Apollo 16 Footage
Science Hack (every science video on the site is screened by a scientist to verify its accuracy and quality)

Random Education Links
4 R’s of Summer School: Keeping the Momentum Going
What People Think A Teacher’s Summer Is Like Vs. What It’s Really Like
Road Tested / Lesson Closure: Stick the Landing (good advice on ending lessons with a bang)
Meaning Makers or Empty Vessels (6 questions we should ask ourselves before assigning homework)
Rethinking Homework (an interesting article from author and former-principal, Alfie Kohn)

Technology in the Classroom
Shadow Puppet Edu (a free app to help you capture and share student work)
Integrating Technology & Genius Hour: My Journey as a Teacher & Learner (a nice collection of resources related to Genius Hour)
Contemplate (a proverb-generating web application)
Draw a Stickman (free web application; could be useful for developing students’ fine motor skills)

The Coffee Cup Analogy (good advice on pursuing happiness)
The Straight Dope (you ask a question, Cecil Adams will answer it)
Partially Examined Life (philosophy podcasts)
Philosophy Bro (nice collection of summaries of philosophical works)


A Teacher's Guide to Summer Travel

Tags: STEM, classroom management, history teachers, social studies teachers, reading instruction, The Best of the Week

Best of the Week: Volume 6

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on May 2, 2014 12:17:00 PM

Best of the WeekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management/ Student Engagement
Learning Up to the Very Last Moment: 15 teacher-recommended ideas will help channel spring fever into learning excitement

Reading and Language Arts
Beat the Bard! Shakespeare's characters fight it out in our interactive game
Literature-Map - the Tourist Map of Literature
It’s OK for adults to read from the Young Adults section of the bookstore (quilty!!!)
Book Crossing: It's easy to find books, share books, and meet fellow book lovers
Books Should Be Free: Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBooks
Rare Book Room

The Scale of the Universe
FaceDementia (an interactive app to help students experience the effects of dementia)
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (a must read!)

History and Social Studies
Decisive Moments in the Battle of Gettysburg (an interactive map)
The Story of Money (an infographic)

Random Links and Useful Apps
5 Ways for Students to Showcase Their Best Work
The Amazing Earth Clock
Appear.In (conduct video conversations with up to 8 people for free)
Good News from Discovery Education
Coggle (a free mind-mapping app)
How Can We Help Students (And Ourselves) Stay Organized? (a free podcast)
1,341 Quotes About Leadership
7 Tips for Overcoming Teacher Burnout
Holley Portraits (an excellent end-of-the-year project for students)
Full Documentaries (stream hundreds of free documentary films)



New Call-to-Action

Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, reading strategies, reading instruction, Classroom Reading Strategies, classroom technology, Best of the Week Best of the week

The Best of the Week Volume 5

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 28, 2014 10:55:00 AM

best of the weekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management/ Student Engagement
-Kindness Seeds: Student Shout-Outs

Reading and Language Arts
-Go On a Blind Date…With a Book
-Free books: 100 legal sites to download literature

-50 Questions that will Free Your Mind
(these could be useful writing prompts for students)
-50 of the Best Books for Teachers
(an infographic)

-Planet Size-Comparison App
-How Many People Are in Space Right Now?
-Space Junk Facts (an infographic)
-17 Things You Should Know About DNA (an infographic)
-Experience the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing
-What Happens to a Wet Washcloth in Space?

History and Social Studies

-Theban Mapping Project
-Old Maps Online
-Where in the World is Your Food From?
-The D-Day (a WWII infographic)
-Old World Radio: Listen to some of the most famous speeches and broadcasts of the yesteryear
-History in an Hour: History for busy people
-How Well Do You Know Your World? (an online geography game)
-12 Historical Speeches No One Heard

Random Links
-Needs Improvement: Student evaluations of professors aren’t just biased and absurd—they don’t even work

-80 Mind-Blowing Facts That Sound Stranger Than Fiction But Are Completely True

-Nobody Tells This to People Who are Beginners

-Critical Thinkers Through History
(an infographic)

Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, reading strategies, reading instruction, Classroom Reading Strategies, classroom technology, Best of the Week Best of the week

Booktrack Classroom Creates an Immersive Reading Experience

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 22, 2014 9:56:00 AM

BooktrackOver the weekend, we came across Booktrack, a free web application that syncs digital books to audio, resulting in an immersive reading experience.

Students can choose from books or essays in the Booktrack library or write their own story and add an accompanying soundtrack by choosing from over 20,000 professional-quality audio files.

booktrack classroom

Here’s how it works: Say, for example that you choose to read Romeo and Juliet. As you read, you’ll notice a descending marker in the right-hand margin of the page. This marker moves down the page as you read so that your reading speed accompanies the soundtrack. If the marker moves too fast, use the plus and minus icons at the bottom of the page to increase or decrease the speed.

Using Booktrack Classroom
Booktrack can be used in a variety of ways to engage with students. Here are just a few examples:

  • Narrative Writing – Students add music and audio to their original stories.
  • Informative and Explanatory Writing – Students compose essays and articles selecting suitable audio to accompany their text.
  • Literature Study – Students gain insight and increased understanding of the text by creating their own soundtracks for novels, stories, and plays they are reading in class.
  • Read-Alouds – Teacher and student led read-alouds are enhanced through the addition of sound and music to the chapter or act being presented.

In addition to this, Booktrack has assembled a variety of free lesson plans for students at the elementary, middle and high school levels, covering a variety of subjects and learning outcomes. All lesson plans have been created by professional teachers and conform to CORE standards and best practice.

Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, collaborative learning

The Best of the Week: Volume 4

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 17, 2014 3:42:00 PM

Best of the WeekThere’s never enough time to blog and reblog all of the interesting resources we find during the week, so we decided to start a Best of the Week List where we share all of the education-related blogs, articles, apps and resources we come across every week.

Classroom Management/ Student Engagement
The Difference Between Praise and Feedback
More Than Half of Students 'Engaged' in School, Says Poll

Reading and Language Arts
74 Books to Read if You Love the Hunger Games
Planet E-Book: 80+ free classics for download

22 Interactive Lessons to Bring Earth Day to Life
Reactions: a YouTube channel that uncovers the chemistry in everyday life
Astronomy Picture of the Day Archive
Universe Sandbox: an interactive space simulator
Bright Idea: Creating a School-Wide Recycle Center
A virtual tour of Space Shuttle Discovery

History and Social Studies
Unlikely simultaneous historical events
Watch as 1000 years of European borders change (timelapse map)
10 Bold Battlefield Deceptions That Actually Worked
Eye-Opening Photos Juxtapose Images of Present-Day and WWI-Era Europe
American Officer Writes a Letter to His Son on Hitler's Personal Stationery

Random Links
Before you judge others or claim any absolute truth consider that…
39 Test Answers That Are 100% Wrong But Totally Genius At The Same Time
Does the Universe Have a Purpose?
Is It a Mistake to Try to Teach Financial Literacy in High School?

36 Brain Breaks for Students

Tags: reading comprehension, classroom management, reading strategies, reading instruction, Classroom Reading Strategies, Best of the Week, classroom technology

5 Ways to Help Struggling Readers

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on Apr 17, 2014 9:22:00 AM

struggling readers

Use the Web to find texts they want to read

In the past, finding books that piqued our struggling readers’ interest was challenging, but with the help of websites like Bookwink, Whichbook, Shelfari, Your Next Read and, finding good books has never been easier. Use these sites, and show your students how to use them, too.  

Pair struggling readers with younger readers

Even when we give our students their choice of reading materials, many struggling readers continue to choose books that are too difficult for them. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Most sixth grade students don’t want to be caught with the Magic Tree House books when their friends are reading the Divergent series.

Pairing these students with younger readers is a simple solution to this. The “indignities” associated with “babyish” books are no longer an issue when we pair our struggling readers with younger readers and have them read aloud to them.

Find creative ways to create independent reading time

If you timed it out, we bet you’d be surprised by how much of the day is squandered on interruptions—you know, special deliveries, messages, forgotten lunches, notes, or quick questions from other teachers. Train your students to always have a book out on their desk. When an interruption occurs—and they will occur—students should immediately begin reading.

Here’s another idea: When students finish their work early, skip the extra dittos and busy work; instead, allow them to read silently until their peers are all finished.

Take Phonics instruction beyond “sounding it out”
Encountering big words can be daunting for the struggling reader. Relying solely on teaching readers to “sound out” letters can prevent growth and lead to frustration, especially when encountering words with many syllables or words that don’t follow the standard rules. Teach readers to break words down into chunks – called “chunking” or “reading by analogy.”

Handle struggling readers with care

We have best intentions when we say, “Stop and reread this sentence,” or “Can you read a little bit faster?” but we should really avoid this type of coaching. To learn how to handle your struggling readers with care, check out a video by Amy Mascott called, “What Not to Say to Emerging Readers.”




download click and clunk




Tags: reading comprehension, reading strategies, reading comprehension strategy, reading motivation, reading instruction, reading specialist, struggling readers, reading teachers, beginning readers

Our Most Popular Blog Posts

Subscribe to the Marygrove MAT Blog!

Comments on this Blog Post