A Hot Mess of Random: Halloween, short and long u, and punctuation practice

This week was very short lived for me. My son was sick AGAIN, so I only had one day of work. Yikes! My poor little Owen catches just about everything that floats around. He gets high fevers, but being my super active little guy, tries to keep playing through it until he literally can't go anymore. I had a lot planned that I didn't get to this week, but I have pictures from last week and some things I'm planning for next week. To practice short vowels, we brewed up some words. My first grade groups have done short a, i, o, and u and diagraphs so far. We are beginning short e next week. I really want them to be solid with their vowels, so we do TONS of word work to begin our reading group.

In this activity, I made 5 different mats, each with a different vowel. I have 5 students in one of my first grade groups, so they each have a vowel. They place the colored "bubbles" on their cauldron mats and practice sounding out their words. Then they can switch mats. 

This activity is similar, just using webs and spiders. In this picture, there is a u in the middle, but I actually changed it to have an e in the middle (makes more sense with the web). We sit together and I ask them to add an m and a g, for example, and they make the word. Then I may say a word that they have to make. As always, we end with them making whatever words they want and reading them to the group (real or nonsense). This would be perfect as an independent center in class too.

For fluency practice, they read short u sentences (will be adding to my short u pack this weekend)

And for shared reading, we read this poem. We usually read the same poem all week. After the first reading, we "highlight" the sight words in the poem. I outline the letters in the words and then give them a chance to do the same. At the bottom, we work together to draw what we are visualizing. We also went through and looked for words with s at the end (inflectional endings). We underlined the base word for each. Then we looking for rhyming words and short u words in the poem. Each day, students read the poem together or line by line taking turns. 

At the end of the week, they get their own copy, where they highlight the sight words and circle and short u words.

We did some short u sentence scramblers (from my short u literacy pack). They LOVED this! 

Sorry about the upside down-ness of this picture. Ha! I would fix it, but you get the point;) This cub slide is also from my short u pack.

We'll be making some "sweet" words next week.

My second and third graders worked on long u. We sorted these word cards, which is harder than it looks!

For the third graders, I added two and three syllable words to sort. The two syllable words led to some other great activities (how to break words up by syllables if you need to sound it out, common prefixes, etc).

They loved using these Star Wars and princess themed spinners!

All of the long u stuff will be part of my long vowel pack coming soon!

During guided reading, they looked for problems and solutions in their books. 

With my third graders, I've been working on punctuation. Noticing it, using appropriate inflection and expression, and understanding how it affects the text. It seems as if almost all of my struggling readers in third grade have issues with this. Part of the struggle is with huge sentences that are filled with commas and quotation marks.  As I was listening to kids read, I looked for parts in the story where most kids struggled. Since they weren't reading it with appropriate pacing, they really weren't comprehending it. Even though some were comprehending the story overall (could tell me basically what was going on), I found that if I asked about certain parts, they had no idea. So, I took a section of the book we were reading and wrote it on chart paper. For shared reading, we looked at this for a few days. First, I had them reread it on their own, then I reread it with appropriate pacing. In the beginning, most of them read it like this, "Hey Morty!" stopped short... We played with the quotes to show them how moving them changes how you read it. We also talked about how Morty was actually the one talking so it wouldn't make sense for him to say "Hey Morty". We acted out the first sentence to help understand what "stopped short" meant. We also talked about why Albert's Apple Orchard was capitalized. That is all for just the first sentence! 

The second sentence is pretty confusing if you really think about it. I underlined part of it to show the list that was in the middle. I numbered each part of the list and pointed out the commas that separated each. It took a while to help them understand that this list was all about the things that gave Morty a mischievous idea. We drew this part out as well. The word dew was new to some of them too. In this picture below, you might notice that I separated the sentence. I used that white tape to cover the word and . I capitalized the word the and added a period to the end of the first pink part. I was showing them how the author could have ended the sentence after Apple Harvest was almost over. This helped them to understand the next part better. They weren't seeing it as two separate thoughts and it was just too many words for them to work through. This was such an eye opening  activity for me. We spend 3 days on this!  A little each day. By the end, each student reread this with appropriate pacing. Third grade texts are filled with sentences like this! Not only are my readers trying to figure out the words themselves, but they are still working through how to read it correctly with the punctuation, figure out the meaning of all the words or phrases, and comprehend it. So now for shared reading, we are doing more of this!

I've seen a lot of people use cars to introduce sounding out words. I love that! I used super man this week, flying through a word. Next week, I'll use a ghost floating through a word. :)

Halloween  calls for a batch of crazy to keep up with the kids. I am prepared with tons of Halloween goodies! Over at Classy Collaboration, we are having a Trick or Freebie week. Each day, we are posting freebies for the week of Halloween! My freebie is coming tomorrow and Monday, so make sure you check back. :) 

In the meantime, I have a mini-pack of hands-on Halloween literacy activities. These are all activities that I'm doing with my small groups, but they would also be perfect for centers in your classroom.

You can get this at my TPT or TN shop:


Don't forget to check out all the freebies at Classy Collaboration. Stay tuned for my freebies coming soon!


  1. I love the spooky word centers! I popped them in my shopping cart. I hope your little one is feeling better.

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  3. Effectively teaching elementary math to children aged 5 to 10 (Grade 1,Grade 2,Grade 3,Grade 4,Grade 5).Great for Homeschool kids! All math results are logged and graded and we show how they are improving through real-time feedback.click hereGrade 4,Grade 5