Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Literacy Strategies for Festive Fall Lessons, Part 1

By Sarah Maze, M.S. Ed., Guest Blogger

Fall is an exciting time of year because Halloween is almost here! During this time, you can take advantage of connecting Common Core State Standards to reading fiction and nonfiction books for kids about haunted houses, bats, or Halloween. In this first portion of my two-part blog post, I'll explain how you can address specific Common Core Standards and make recommendations on how to use leveled books between levels C–F. After reading, you'll want to keep an eye out for part two with more recommendations of using level I books for more Halloween-themed guided reading lessons.

Our first leveled reader is Halloween Night from the Kaleidoscope Collection. This level C book is also available in Spanish and would be appropriate for kindergarten or first graders who are slightly below grade level. This narrative text is also useful if you're looking for ways to help students in kindergarten or for first grade identify key details, which include characters, setting, and events in a story.

  • Start a lesson by determining students' background knowledge about Halloween by asking, "What costumes have you seen on Halloween?" and "How do you plan to dress up this year?"
  • Read Halloween Night with students.
  • Close the book and ask students about the setting of the book in terms of place (outdoors) and in terms of time (Halloween night).
  • Ask students to retell which characters were seen in the book. Discuss as a class.
  • Then ask the students what happened to make each character leave.
  • Give students pictures of each character from the story. Have them glue these pictures in the order they appear in the book on a separate sheet of paper.
  • Put students in pairs to practice retelling the story using their pictures. Monitor their conversations to assess whether students are including all the key details of the setting and ending.
>> CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT KALEIDOSCOPE COLLECTION <<

Another great book for the fall season is Bat from Zoozoo Animal World. This is a guided reading level D informational text, which is appropriate for advanced students in kindergarten or first graders. It's available in Spanish, too. To help students identify the main topic and key details of the text, I recommend using a graphic organizer to ensure they meet this reading standard. Here steps you can take when using this animal book.


  • Ask students about their prior knowledge about bats by asking, "Have you ever seen a bat? What does it look like? What does it like to eat?"
  • Put a graphic organizer on display for students and explain that it will help everyone determine the main idea of the informational text.
  • Read Bat with students.
  • Have students discuss with a partner what each person thinks the main idea of the book is. Encourage academic discourse with this sentence stem: “I think the main idea of Bat is _____ because _____.”
  • As a class, prompt students to share their responses with evidence. If a student responds incorrectly, try to correct any errors by asking, “Is that idea on every page of the book?”
  • Proceed to discuss the main idea and details of the book by filling in the graphic organizer with feedback from students. You can decide whether students will fill in their own graphic organizer, or watch as you fill it in during the guided reading activity.
>> CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ZOOZOO ANIMAL WORLD <<

Celebrating Halloween wouldn't be complete in a classroom without a story from Joy Cowley, which is why you should look into Spooky House from Joy Cowley Early Birds. This level F guided reading book is best suited for first graders, and it's about two kids who go to a haunted house. This leveled reader is perfectly suited for a Halloween guided reading lesson because it helps students improve vocabulary of words that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses. This is also an ideal book to use to help students use illustrations as evidence.

  • Introduce the topic to students by talking to students about words that describe feelings and sensory vocabulary related to a haunted house.
  • Show students the cover of Spooky House and read the title. Ask students which feeling words they would use if they saw a spooky house.
  • Tell students that as you read the book, you want them to listen for words that describe feelings or sensory words. Explain that each time they hear a word that describes a feeling, they should raise a hand.
  • Read Spooky House with the students.
  • After reading, ask students which feeling or sensory words they would add if they were in the story.
  • Ask students how the characters felt before and after visiting the haunted house, and have them show you which illustrations show how the characters felt.
>> CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JOY COWLEY EARLY BIRDS <<

These leveled books are great for struggling readers in kindergarten and first grade. If you're looking for ideas to use leveled readers for kids in first and second grade, come back to visit this blog soon! In the second part of my Halloween-themed blog post, I'll share some fun and helpful ways to use books at guided reading level I. Happy hunting for festive fall books!

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Sarah is an elementary school teacher who has taught kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and fifth grade. One of her most unique experiences was teaching orphans in Tanzania, Africa for a year. If you like what you read here, be sure to read more by Sarah on our blog.