Getting Festive for Fall with the Virginia Bloggers

It's fall, and here in Virginia, we think that it's time to get festive! I've joined a bunch of awesome Virginia bloggers to put a little hop together to treat you to some fall freebies that will be just what you need to get festive with your students! 

My students have been working on writing. They just finished their first fifth grade 5-paragraph essay and I must say that they turned out extremely awesome! Since we're on a roll and feeling confident with our writing, I wanted to keep our love for writing moving. We've got pen pals, and that's going great because they have a focused letter to write each month, but I wanted to do something fun, I just wasn't sure what. Then, I walked in to my local grocery store the other day, saw those adorable mini-pumpkins for $1 each and had an idea: We would write descriptive paragraphs about our pumpkins. I grabbed 30 pumpkins and came home to work on the assignment! 

Once I got home and started to create the assignment, I had to admit that it was a little boring. I decided that I didn't want to do that at all anymore. I wanted something fun, and I was committed to creating an engaging assignment that my students could be excited about. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me! What if the students were given a "pet pumpkin" to care for for a week? Then another idea popped in to my brain: What if they kept a Pet Pumpkin Journal? Ooooh, I was loving it! As my ideas were flowing, I came up with My Pet Pumpkin: A 7-Day Writing Journal Project. There is a different prompt for each day's journal entry, all related to the pet pumpkin. Students get to name their pumpkin, write their pumpkin a welcome letter, and even pretend that their pumpkin isn't really a pumpkin at all, it's actually undercover! I shared my creation with my husband and he gave it two thumbs up. My hubby was not one who loved school so I am constantly trying to get his approval because it's a good indication as to whether my boys will buy in to my idea. 

So on Monday morning, I had my 30 mini-pumpkins set up on the table as students walked in. Here's what they saw: 

After they settled in, I explained that they would be working on a Pet Pumpkin Writing Project. Wowzers, they were far more excited than I though that they would be. They couldn't wait to name their pumpkins, draw faces for them, build beds and carriers for them. They didn't even mind that this project would take some of their weekend. Their pumpkins were the only thing that they wanted to talk about, which would've been great if we didn't have other subjects to teach. Next year, I know that I should explain this assignment and let them pick from the pumpkin patch towards the end of the day! 

On Tuesday morning, my students showed up to school and guess who was with them? If you guessed their pet pumpkin, you are totally correct! They showed up with pumpkins in baskets, pumpkins in pencil boxes, pumpkins with bows, pumpkins in disguise, and lots of other great ideas. I got a kick out of all of the creative ways that they came up with to keep their pet pumpkins safe. Here's a few pictures of what they came up with:

There's quite a few pumpkins with bows!

Check out the interior decorating on this one!

Orange afro! 

This one has a flat screen TV!

The best part is that the student who has this one has curly hair just like her pumpkin. She calls it her twinsy!

Their pumpkins have been traveling everywhere with them, even recess! I really can't wait to read their journals on Monday. 

Many of my teacher teammates have already asked if they can use this activity and their students love it too so I've decided to share it with you, for free, for this weekend only! Download the My Pet Pumpkin Project for free at this link:

Why not get festive with a little TpT money to spend? I'll choose two winners to each get a $10 TpT gift certificate. Enter now! 

Are you ready to head over to the next amazing Virginia blogger? Head on over to There's No Place Like Second Grade to see how Sarah is getting festive for fall! Just click on the Next Stop below!




Halloween Bulletin Board Idea

Today is a super quick post. I actually did this last year and then totally forgot to share it. So here's my Halloween Bulletin Board from last year:

I googled "haunted house silhouettes" then I found the one that I liked, put a black piece of butcher paper on my board and put the image up on the paper with my document camera. I traced the windows and the outside with white crayon then cut the image out, as well as the windows. I put yellow tissue paper behind the windows and then cut out some ghosts and a fence. It was really quite eye-catching and by calling it Spooktacular Work, you aren't limited in what work you choose!

Just wanted to share that idea with you before October speeds past! I can't even believe that October 15th is THIS WEEK! Slow it down, fall, slow it down!

Have a wonderful Monday! I hope that today is the start of a great week!



My First SLANT Box Experience

Have you heard of SLANT boxes? They are a fantastic way for educators to network and support one another in our teaching journey! Hosted by Jameson at Lessons With Coffee, I found out about SLANT when I was doing some of my daily blog reading and saw that another user had just received their SLANT box. Since I LOVE to give gifts and I don't mind I love receiving them too, I decided to look in to it. I joined for the September exchange, hoping for the best, not entirely sure what to expect.

The SLANT Box Exchange

Once you send your information to Jameson, she matches you up and then sends you the name of your two matches, one who will be sending to you and one that you will be sending to. Our theme for the month was "Teacher Voice On", which meant we should send teacher-type of items that will help us to enjoy our new school year. I was super duper excited to "meet" my SLANT exchange buddies. 

My match who sent to me was the lovely Meredith from Teaching With a Twist

Meredith asked me lots of great questions to get to know me so I knew my SLANT box would be awesome before it ever arrived. 

I was SOOOO excited when I saw this waiting on my doorstep! 

Look at all of the goodies in here: stickers, M&M's, pumpkin candle, personalized to-do lists, post-it notes, fun colors of pens, and more! So many of my favorite teaching items! Meredith did an awesome job putting my SLANT box together! It was clear that she took the time to "get to know" me. My first received SLANT box = success! 

My SLANT partner who I sent to is the lovely Rachel from Third Grade Cupcakes. I won't lie, I was totally excited when I saw that her name was not only the same as mine, but spelled the same as well. There's this unspoken bond between Rachels that don't spell their name with an a anywhere near that e! 

As I learned about Rachel, a Massachusetts blogger (and you all know that I love MA), I realized that she and I had tons of common. Of course, this made it super easy to shop for her, other than the fact that everything I bought for her, I wanted for me too! Since she's a cupcake eater and maker, I wanted to play on that with her favorite colors. I'm lucky to know Sarah from The Monogramming Teacher, who makes adorable personalized items. She was able to design a vinyl cupcake with Rachel's name (Mrs. Mack) for a clear clipboard, keychain, and cup. They came out awesome! I put everything in Rachel's favorite colors of pink and blue. Again, it was a blast to put together! Here's the picture that Rachel posted when she received it! SHE LOVED IT! It made me feel so good that I did so well with my first SLANT gift exchange, especially because I was able to brighten Rachel's day! 

I will definitely do SLANT again when things calm down a bit here. In the meantime, we have secret pals at work so my need for gift-giving will still be fulfilled and one of my very best friends has a birthday coming up too so I'm still in a place of giving! 

I have to send a huge thank you to both Rachel and Meredith for making my first SLANT box experience a great one. If you've never done SLANT boxes, try it sometime. I can tell you that my experience was nothing but fantastic! A huge thank you to Jameson for setting up this wonderful exchange! Head over to her blog to learn more about The Slant Box! 


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