Halloween Teaching Resources

Looking for Halloween teaching resources?

Look no further…love it or hate it, Halloween is nearly here and these days it’s becoming big business. Go to any supermarket and you will find all manner of spooky props, costumes and sweets! Actually, pop in just after Halloween and you can pick up some great thrifty props or Halloween teaching resources when they reduce them –  great for that spooky story writing unit you have coming up!

How can we help you?

Last year I wrote a blog post about some of my most favourite spooky stories  which are just great books, great story telling and great for all year round thrills and chills.

What’s new?

This year we have re-developed our spooky stories Pinterest board to become the ‘Spooky Stories and Resources’ board so that as well as spooky books you will now also find spooky images, art and craft ideas too.

If you don’t observe Halloween as a school, worry not. Our Halloween teacher resources are still for you as they fit into adventure stories, spooky stories and stories with a twist in the tale.

So, if you want to spook up your teaching this Autumn, look no further, our Halloween teacher resources are here to help!

Charlotte Reed – Primary English Consultant

10 ways to use word clouds in the classroom

Word clouds are a popular way of representing information and they can be seen everywhere. But how can we use them in the classroom? Here’s a list of ten easy tried and tested ways to use them to support teaching and learning.

Whilst wordle is probably the most well-known word cloud generator, we’ve included a simple word cloud app suitable for use with the youngest children, one that allows you to filter the settings to various levels and another that links the key vocabulary to a Google search. They’re all free, most can be embedded into a blog or webpage and, unlike wordle, they can all be saved as a picture file.

Reading Comprehension

Take a section from a text and drop it into a word cloud generator. We like to choose one that omits the high frequency words (all those the, they , an, a’s…) such as abcya.com and give it to the children. Ask them to think about the questions they would like to ask about the text and what they think the text may be about. This is a great way to teach and assess their abilities to: decode text (AF1), retrieve information (AF2) and when they start making connections between the words and what the text is about (AF3). If they can identify whether it is a fiction or non-fiction text, based on the evidence in the word cloud,  the task then also enables them to cover AF7.

As a story stimulus

Provide a word cloud (perhaps one that you have used for reading comprehension) as the stimulus to story writing. Children could start by telling each other oral stories using the word cloud and then write these up. Children could annotate the word cloud to identify descriptive vocabulary and then use this in their own writing.

To practise grammatical knowledge

Give children highlighters and ask them to highlight the nouns, verb adjectives and adverbs. Children could then use this vocabulary to generate sentences where they use the vocabulary accurately.

To practise reading

Drop word lists into a word cloud generator to give to children who need to improve decoding and sight vocabulary. The non-linear presentation of the words adds variety to what can become a burdensome task for some children. Enlarging the word cloud onto A3 paper and giving it to a small group means that children can twist it and turn it and work collaboratively to read the words.

To recall well-known stories or texts studied in class

Can children identify which text has been used to generate the word cloud? Which clues did they use? Which part of the text has been used to make the word cloud? You could differentiate this by choosing high points in the narrative or parts that are more difficult to recall.

To set spellings

Use word clouds as a non-linear and colourful way to set children’s spellings. You could also take a child’s regular miss-spellings and present them as a word cloud. They could annotate them, practise the words and then create their own word cloud – hopefully with the correct spellings this time!

For assessing the next steps in learning

Take a child’s text and drop it into a word cloud generator which allows you to set filters to keep in high-frequency vocabulary (Tagxedo.com is particularly good for this). Ask children to look at the word cloud and think about what the writer may need to do to improve. If they are over-reliant on particular words such as ‘then’ or ‘so’ it will be clearly visible. By getting children to annotate what the writer needs to improve you should also get assessment information about their understanding of what makes a good writer.

To establish success criteria

Create two word clouds from the same written task. One should be from a good example, the other from a less good example. Display them side by side. Can children identify which one comes from the better composition? They may choose the word cloud with greater variety of vocabulary, better spelling, smaller words – they could then use this as the success criteria for their writing.

To show progress

Create word clouds from children’s writing at the beginning of the year and stick them in children’s books. Use the word cloud to discuss next steps in learning with the child. Next term repeat the process with another piece of writing. Is there a discernible difference? Can the new ‘next steps’ be identified?

To springboard a new topic

Assess children’s knowledge at the beginning of a topic by showing them a word cloud. What do they think we will be learning about? Which words do they know? Which words don’t they know? If you use tagul.com you could then allow children to double-click on the words they don’t know. This will take them to Google where they can then research that topic word. This particular idea is better suited to non-fiction than fiction. At the end of the topic return to the word cloud to assess children’s new knowledge.

How have you used word clouds in the classroom? Please add your teaching ideas here.

Rachel Clarke, Primary English Consultant

To see further similar ideas see our Inspiring Literacy with Technology Pinterest board and our popular blog about using Pinterest in the classroom.

10 ways to use Pinterest in the classroom

Pinterest is a social networking site sweeping all sectors, and it’s really very useful, probably one of the most useful things we have found on the internet in some time.  Plus it’s free, and we are a thrifty team who like to save the pennies!  So here are a few ways you can use it to help you as a teacher, and help your children in the classroom. Of course, you can also come and follow our boards, and take the hard work out of planning!

Getting started:

First off, you may want to join Pinterest. Do you work as a team? You could get a team email and password and join as one, so that you can all contribute ideas to boards, making it less time consuming.  Once you have joined you get instructions on how to download the pinmarklet that allows you to begin pinning images and creating boards.

You don’t need to join though, you can simply browse boards that others have created – like ours – with no login, by clicking on the site and using the search facility.

Using Pinterest as a teacher

1) Create collections based around a book

2) Create collections based around a theme

3) Create collections of books on a given theme

4) Search for ideas to enhance your classroom environment, indoor or outdoor

Using Pinterest in the classroom
5) Create story mood boards
to support the children in writing their story settings and creating the right atmosphere.

6) Use Pinterest with the children to help them to box up stories. You could use photographs from drama activities and make ‘secret’ boards so the pictures are kept private.

7) Let the children use Pinterest to support their planning process when researching non-narrative topics – ask the children to pin pictures for each paragraph rather than copy and pasting endless text from websites!  The pictures can then serve as a reminder of what they have found out and help to scaffold writing in sections or paragraphs.

8) Make stories using story generator boards. When beginning a story children could select characters, settings, props and events from boards that you have created – or borrow ours!

9) Use it as a starter for a lesson or the start of a topic. Show a prepared board and ask the children to discuss what the theme or topic might be, what they know already and what they might want to find out.

Using Pinterest as homework and to link with parents
10) Make boards of books to recommend to your class that they read at home; this Y6 board is a starting point.  Give them challenges – can you read 5 of the books, can you review one book on the board in the comments area etc.

Finally, you may want to follow us and our board. We also think it’s worth following those from Springboard Stories and the British Library.

If you are already up and running on Pinterest, then do leave a link in the comments so we can come and follow your boards. Following each other is a great way to develop resources and split the work load!  Do tell us if there are other boards you would like to see, and we’ll get busy.

Charlotte Reed – Primary English Consultant and self-confessed pinaddict

Liked this post? Try this post about Word Clouds

Looking for a big resource in a small book…?


Hands up who remembers Child Ed. How about Junior Ed? You know, those magazines kept on the shelf in the staffroom, jealously guarded by the teacher in charge of resources, tea money and organising the Christmas do. If, after promising faithfully to put them back in the correct magazine file in strict month order, you were lucky enough to be able to read them, they were always full of good stuff – teaching ideas, posters, advice and resource suggestions. No doubt some of you still have a pile of them somewhere…

So good news! This month saw the launch of a new bi-monthly magazine, Springboard Stories, which aims to fill the gap where Child Ed was. We were asked to contribute to the first edition by suggesting some of our favourite and most useful resources, in less than 50 words. Cue lots of discussion. We came up with the following:

  • Looking for a big resource in a small book? Pie Corbett’s Jumpstart books for 7 – 11 years are essential for every teachers’ toolkit. Packed with ideas, they cover learning-led word, sentence and text activities; and can be used for warm-ups or main lessons, They’re interactive, fun and adaptable for FS and KS1.

  • Sue Palmer’s Skeleton’s for Writing are indispensable for non-fiction across the curriculum. Relevant from YR-Y6 these visual aids for writing support children in creating non-fiction texts which meet the needs of their audience.

  • Social bookmarking site Pinterest is a tool enabling teachers to curate their own online resource collections. Fast to create, these visual collections save web pages for sharing with others or for supporting children with topic research. Check out our collections on Pinterest.

  • Looking to add breadth to your Guided Reading resources?  Look no further than Collins Big Cat! These books are lovely – written by top authors, with attractive illustrations and photographs, suggestions for Guided Reading sessions and reader response activities. Ready book-banded, the range contains 50% non-fiction and 50% fiction.

  • The Harris Burdick Mysteries, an intriguing book with a mystery at the start. We won’t spoil it! The book contains 12 pictures, titles and captions which inspire children to write their own tales. Great for KS2. It’s interesting to see the different directions the same start can take when giving children choice within a structure.

What would your 50 word suggestion be? Let us know and we could add it to our Resources for Teachers Pinterest board.

Rachel Clarke – Director, Primary English Education Consultancy Limited

Originally published on LoveToReadToMyClass.Wordpress.Com 13th September 2012.