Alleah Maree

Reading Activities

13 Fall Books with Teaching Ideas for Kindergarten

Kindergarten, Reading Activities, FallAlleah RostoharComment

Fall is my absolutely FAVORITE time of year and I always go a little crazy with happy fall books in my classroom. So, here are my current favorite fall books with a few ideas for how to use each one to teach your kindergarten students some reading, writing, and phonics skills.

SPOILER ALERT: I’ll give a quick synopsis of what each book is about and the literacy skills I think you could easily teach and practice using each book. So, just so I don’t spoil the ending of the stories for you if you wanted to be surprised, you’ve been warned. Haha! :)

** This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products that I personally love and am linking for you below, I’ll receive a small percentage of the profit that the website makes from your purchase at no extra cost to you. :) Such a win-win-win! **

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1. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson

This sweet story is about a young fox named Fletcher who notices his favorite tree starting to look different. As he sees the tree’s leaves start to blow away, he gets more and more concerned and tries to catch all the leaves so they don’t get lost. Finally, a worried Fletcher climbs to the top of the tree to help it hold onto its’ last leaf, but soon the leaf pops off and he takes it home to bed with him. He worries about his tree all night, but wakes to find his beloved tree covered in sparkling icicles and looking more amazing than ever.

This book has a bunch of opportunities for making connections and predictions, as well as inferring. There are even some opportunities to identify a few cause and effect relationships and the vocabulary and imagery are amazing! This book companion for Fletcher and the Falling Leaves is a really fun way to connect the story to a variety of essential literacy skills.

2. Hello, Fall! by Deborah Diesen

First of all, I’m ALLLLLL googley-eyed over the illustrations in this book. Lucy Fleming just OUTDID herself. But, the story is equally lovely! It’s told from the little girl’s perspective as she recounts all the things she and her dad notice that announce that fall has arrived. They see animals preparing for winter, hear lots of leaves rustling about, taste the deliciousness of apples and cider, pick out some great pumpkins, and play together in the leaves. The story wraps up by naming the treasures of fall, including beauty, wonder, and love.

This book offers a bunch of chances for student interaction during your read aloud, including opportunities to use their 5 senses, practice inferring, predicting, and making connections. I’d recommend this adorable book to connect with almost any literacy skill you’re practicing!

3. Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell

Pumpkin Jack is the story about a pumpkin who gets carved into a jack-o’-lantern by a boy named Tim. Tim loves his jack-o’-lantern, names him Jack, and keeps the jack-o’-lantern for as long as he can. It soon begins to rot and Tim leaves him in the garden. As the seasons change, the abandoned Jack begins to wrinkle and mold and flatten, until it’s covered in snow. When Time finds what’s left of Jack as the snow thaws, just some pumpkin skin and seeds laying in the soil, he says good-bye for good. But, when the spring comes, Tim notices sprouts where Jack used to be and waters them until they grow into brand new vines, then flowers, and finally pumpkins! He shares them with his friends and chooses the perfect one to carve into a jack-o’-lantern, saying “Welcome back, Jack!” as he finishes it.

This book is a very story-oriented way to introduce the life cycle of a pumpkin! That means it’s perfect to connect your reading to science standards, as well as practice sequencing, making personal connections, predicting what might happen next, and finding causes and effects. This adorable craft is a great addition to learning with this book too!

4. Because of an Acorn by Lola Schaefer and Adam Schaefer

This book is an extremely simple book that describes the effects of an acorn by following what happens next because of an acorn. It starts with an acorn, which grows into a tree, which attracts a bird, which knocks a seed down into the soil, which grows into a flower, which produces fruit, which attracts a chipmunk, who lures a snack, who attracts a hawk, who knocks another acorn down from a tree and starts the whole cycle over again.

The illustrations in this book are super unique and beautiful and the story is a very simple one to retell, practice sequencing, and expand on with creative writing. This would also be a good book for expanding on what ELSE could have happened from the previous action, making it a great way to identify cause and effect relationships.

5. Leaves by David Ezra Stein

Leaves is a simple story about a young bear who notices leaves falling all around him for the first time. He tries to help the leaves, but gets really tired in the process. So, he fills a hole with the fallen leaves, sleeps through the winter, and is excited to welcome brand new leaves in the spring time!

The illustrations in this book are really pretty and there are very minimal words on the pages, which makes this book really great for making predictions and inferences, as well as sequencing and retelling. Students can also make connections to how the bear is feeling about the new seasons he’s experiencing.

6. Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

Too Many Pumpkins is the story of Rebecca Estelle, an old lady who loves to garden, but HATES pumpkins. She will not look or touch or think of pumpkins until one day, a pumpkin gets smashed in her yard and she covers it in dirt. The next spring, pumpkins begin sprouting up and she ignores them some more, until fall comes and there are pumpkins growing all over her yard! She decides to make the pumpkins into baked goods and jack-o’-lanterns so people will come take all the pumpkins and pumpkin goods away, and it works! Rebecca gives it all away…except for a few seeds that she keeps to plant next spring.

This story gives a bunch of opportunities to make predictions because many of the pages end in “until…”. Students can make predictions and inferences about what could happen next, how Rebecca is feeling, why she might be feeling that way, etc. The story is a really good one to retell and practice sequencing, as well as identify the main idea and details.

7. The Roll-Away Pumpkin by Junia Wonders

The story of The Roll-Away Pumpkin follows a little girl who is chasing after her pumpkin that is rolling away. As she runs through town trying to catch her rolling pumpkin, people of the town join in to try to help. As they continue chasing, the pumpkin rolls toward a lady making soup, and the delicious pumpkin soup is served to all the townspeople who have been running around town trying to catch the pumpkin.

This book is written with a repeating phrase on many of the pages, which is a simple way to include your students, making it an interactive read aloud. Have your students read along and say the phrases they know are coming next, or even identify the same words they see on each page! You can also incorporate retelling, cause and effect, and some really creative writing assignments, like “Draw and illustrate what would have happened if the pumpkin didn’t roll into the soup.” or “How did the pumpkin get started rolling in the first place?” You can add in a simple pumpkin craft to complete the fun!

8. Fall Weather: Cooler Temperatures by Martha E. H. Rustad

This book is the perfect way to incorporate non-fiction text into your fall literacy explorations! Complete with a table of contents and short, simple chapters about fall facts, it covers topics such as when fall begins and ends and the kind of weather to expect in autumn. The book is illustrated and does not use photographs, but includes some extra facts (almost like captions) written on leaves on many pages. There are simple headings, chapter titles, an index, and a glossary included as well.

Fall Weather would be a fantastic way for students to make connections from a book to their real world. And, with an easy experiment for making rain gauge at the end, it makes for a super simple science-literacy connection as well. Retelling facts and practicing some non-fiction writing are great ways to extend the learning with this book!

9. Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson

This book is about Mouse and Minka venturing out into the leaf-covered world and experiencing all the details about the leaves. They noticed the color, shape, and texture of the leaves. They also demonstrate all the fun things to DO with leaves, like running, jumping, piling, and counting the leaves.

This is a great book to use to practice retelling, making connections, and color and counting skills. It also includes a lots of really creative verbs, which make for some great writing lessons and inspiration. The pictures are simple and bright and perfect for young students!

10. The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz

This book is about a pumpkin who feels “ugly” because he’s shaped differently than all the other pumpkins. He tries to fit in many places, but no one ever accepts him or makes him feel like he belongs, UNTIL he finds a garden full of squash! He finally learns that he IS a squash, NOT an ugly pumpkin, and feels right at home.

There are so many fun skills to practice with this book! Students can practice inferring feelings, making connections to the characters and situations, predicting what could happen next, and making inferences from the details in the pictures. I found this resource that covers a BUNCH of pumpkin related skills that are super engaging and fun for your kinders! Also, the story of The Ugly Pumpkin rhymes all the way through the book, which is always great for little ones to hear and practice doing themselves. I LOVE mixing in a good poem-based, rhyming type of book in the middle of all the regular stories, just to mix it up. :)

11. Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum

Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie is a non-fiction book about the life cycle of a pumpkin. It includes tons of descriptive words and beautiful photographs of the seeds, sprouts, roots, leaves, flowers, vines, and pumpkins. It describes that pumpkins are a kind of squash and how they can look as far as color, size, and texture. The book wraps up by showing fun ways to use pumpkins, like making tasty treats and carving jack-o’-lanterns.

This book is perfect for practicing sequencing with drawing or cutting and gluing, and would be a great way to practice writing and illustrating real facts. The pumpkin life cycle element is a super simple way to tie fall literacy to science standards as well!

12. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll

The book “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” is about two mice who have big goals for a pumpkin…one wants to carve the biggest jack-o’-lantern and the other wants to win biggest pumpkin at the county fair. They discover they both want the same pumpkin, so they decide to work together to reach both their goals.

This is a good story to practice sequencing with for sure! Your kiddos could also practice identifying and connecting with feelings, as well as making predictions about what could happen next. And in case you need some fun extras, this book companion from my sweet friend Kelly is a great resource to practice literacy skills with the story.

13. Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship by Edward Hemmingway

Around this time of year, many students are beginning to feel really comfortable with each other, their teacher, and their school environment. That can sometimes lend itself to some not-so-nice behaviors starting to come up. So, I always like to bust out Bad Apple in the fall, not only to practice a bunch of great literacy skills, but also to remind my students about being a kind friend to others.

Bad Apple is about a good apple, Mac, who is very happy. He meets a worm named Will who quickly becomes his closest friend. But, the other apples make fun of Mac for “having worms” and he starts to feel sad. Then, Will disappears and Mac knows he has to find his friend to feel happy again. So, he goes off to find him, and when he does, he is reminded that having good friends who make you happy is the best thing an apple could have.

This book is a perfect read to practice making predictions, identifying feelings, and making connections. It also has lots of opportunities to infer, both from the pictures and the story, and plenty of chances to let your students “turn and talk” about feelings, inferences, predictions, and connections they’re making as you read. This resource is a perfect companion for this adorable book!

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Well, friends, there are my 13 favorite fall books this time around! I’m SURE I’ll have a bunch more to add to the “favorites list” by next fall, but for now, I hope there were one or two stories that you can share with your little learners to practice all those amazing literacy skills we’re continually teaching. :)

Happy fall, y’all! I’m cheering you on!

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6 Engaging Summer Activities for Students

Summer, Reading Activities, Math Activities, Homeschool IdeasAlleah RostoharComment

Hey, teacher friend! Can you believe that summer is almost here?! AHHH! It’s crazy to me how quickly the year went by, but here we are, at the edge of another summer. Well done, you teacher of tiny humans, you! You’re AMAZING and have done so much for your students this year. Your well-deserved break is just around the corner!

As the year wraps up, teachers start to think about what kinds of activities to send home with students to encourage learning and keep their brains active over the summer months. Many parents love having something simple to use avoid their kids losing ANY of their hard-earned knowledge. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just effective. So, here are 6 ideas for engaging activities to send home with your learners over the break.

1. Summer Daily Activities Calendar

Sending kids home with calendar-like worksheets full of fun review assignments is a super sneaky way to keep them using their brains and learning without them even realizing it. This kind of activity can be super effective because it combines the element of choice (“pick any activity you want for today!”) with reviewing critical skills in a risk-free way. These activities are usually quick and will take kids just a few minutes each day to complete.

Click HERE to download my free EDITABLE summer daily activities calendar! You can use my pre-made version with activities for early elementary learners or add in your own text to change the activities to be on level with what your students need to practice. :)

2. Summer Sensory Bins

If you teach younger students, like preschool and kindergarten, sending home ideas and resources for sensory bins is a great way to encourage parents to play and learn alongside their littles over the summer. These summer sensory bins for little learners from The Stay at Home Teacher, Kaitlyn, are not only super engaging, but are also very simple to set up and use over and over again. Change out the kind of materials your kids are manipulating for a whole new experience as they learn some new literacy and math skills! Here’s a free peek into what kinds of activities are included in her products!

Click HERE to read more details about how Kaitlyn uses sensory bins with her little learner!

3. Summer Reading Challenges and Programs

Reading is one of the simplest and best ways to keep students learning, in my opinion. Encouraging that love of reading in any way possible is a win for all teachers and parents. :) You can send home information about free summer reading programs from places like Barnes and Noble and Half Price Books. Some of these programs offer free printables and other fun incentives to kids for reading throughout the summer, like, PIZZA, for example!

Here is a simple, free reading challenge resource from Briana that you can send home with your students to keep them reading, learning, and growing. Encouraging reading can be a simple gift you gives your kids with the right resources and a tiny bit of planning.

4. Summer Review Packets

So, this one might seem obvious to some, but I’m honestly a lover of a good old fashioned “summer packet”! I know worksheets are not every student’s jam, but if you can find some printables that mix learning with some more enjoyable elements, like coloring, cutting, gluing, etc., worksheets can be engaging activities to let your kiddos review their skills and keep them fresh in their minds for the following school year.

These are some of my favorite summer worksheets to make into packets for young learners!

FAVORITE #1

FAVORITE #2

FAVORITE #3

5. Summer Task Cards

Sending students home with task cards sounds weird. When I first considered this, I thought, “I am NOT printing, cutting, and laminating SETS of task cards to send home to each and every student in my class.” But, I sat with the thought for a minute and came up with a few simple options to make this work.

OPTION 1: Use a small part of one of your last days of school to let your students cut out their OWN sets of task cards. Print them out, pass them out, and give every kiddo a ziplock bag. Then, let your kids spend time chatting quietly or watch a Bill Nye video while they prep their own summer activity!

OPTION 2: Print out the task cards you want to send home in packet form, slap some simple instructions on the top for parents and students to figure out what the heck to do with these cards, and send them off!

Summer Math Task Cards

Summer STEM Task Cards

Summer Writing Task Cards

6. Summer Crafts

CRAFTS!! If we can make all this summer “review work” FUN for students, I totally believe they’re MUCH more likely to do it and not be bummed about it. So, another option is to send home a few ideas for crafts that students can work on over the break.

These math crafts from Jana at We Heart Teaching are all the great things…cute, educational, editable, simple, amazing. They get a HUGE thumbs up from me. All you would need to do is make sure they include the skills you want your kids to practice, print them out as a packet for each student, and send them home with a short instructions page. DONE. Low prep, high engagement, happy summer! Haha.

You could also create a list of other fun ideas that involve a craft with an academic component to send home with your students. Include ideas like, “Choose a video from Art For Kids Hub and write a story about your drawing.” Or, “Read your favorite book or chapter from a book. Recreate a setting from the story using items from your house (with parents’ permission, please!).” These kinds of ideas give students the freedom to make choices, but are still nudging them toward practicing academic skills they need to keep fresh.

Even simple writing crafts like these are a quick, simple way to make writing work engaging! Just print and send!


Well, there you have it…6 engaging activities to encourage your students to keep learning all summer long.

Do you usually send home something learning-related with your students each year? If so, what are your favorite activities? If not, I hope you found something inspiring here to try this year!


Happy teaching and happy summer, friends! Enjoy your break!

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3 Reasons to Use Morning Work AND Morning Tubs

Back to School, Homeschool Ideas, Classroom Fun, Kindergarten, Reading Activities, Math Activities, Morning WorkAlleah RostoharComment

Morning Work vs. Morning Tubs. I feel like there’s a constant back and forth over which option is “better” for little learners. But, I truly believe there is space and time in the classroom for BOTH of these awesome activities! So, here are my 3 reasons for using both morning work AND morning tubs with kindergarteners.

**Disclaimer: When I say I “use both morning work AND morning tubs”, I DO mean interchangeably. I do not usually use both morning work and morning tubs in the same day. :) That would be a whole lotta time to warm up for the day! Ha! I usually set my morning activities on a 3-1 schedule: 3 weeks of paper/pencil, standards-based morning work and 1 week of morning tubs. Once in awhile, if students are super antsy and I can tell they need a break from using their brains so constantly, I’ll surprise them and bust out some morning tubs on a Friday. But, normally, we do 3 weeks of morning work, one week of morning tubs. I find this give them enough structure without being too monotonous.

REASON 1: SKILL PRACTICE

Morning work and morning tubs both provide students with many opportunities to practice a variety of skills. By incorporating both these activities into your daily routine, you’re giving your new learners a chance to practice academic skills like reading, writing, math concepts, and phonics, as well as motor skills, like manipulating and balancing objects, holding and using a pencil or marker, and steadily piecing something together or making something fit. Each of these skills is essential to molding our students into well-rounded, intelligent, coordinated little humans. :)

MORNING WORK: QUALITY morning work that provides students with standards-based activities for them to practice their skills in gives them the opportunity to practice their academic skills in either math, literacy, or both WHILE they hone their fine motor skills by holding a pencil, coloring inside the lines, or tracing. I personally LOVE the academic part of morning work because I’m a pusher. I always want my kids to be thinking, practicing, finding a new way to look at a problem. So, by providing my students with an opportunity to work on these skills in a risk-free environment, I’m giving them the perfect opportunity to take risks and try out their new-skill muscles. We quickly grade our morning work together on the projector, both to allow students to show off their skills and for them to notice the areas they need to keep practicing. I look over them to see who is strong in what areas and who is challenged in what areas and they are sent home. No grade, no pressure…just practice.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs also provide students with opportunities to practice many different skills, though these skills usually require more physical involvement than the morning work does. Morning tubs usually require students to have more dexterity with their hands and be able to manipulate the objects in the tubs. These kinds of activities are equally important for little learners to practice. They need to know how to squish play dough into the shape they want it to be in, how to balance a few blocks on top of each other, how to make that marker create the squiggle or drawing that they want it to…these are the foundations of important life skills that they’ll need to use later in life! And then there is the creativity aspect of morning tubs. Kids will come up with the most inventive, fun, creative ways to use objects if you allow them the time, space, and supplies to do so. Of course, please be sure to come up with and post expectations for behavior while using morning tubs. No one wants a counting bear to the head or rubber bands flying off the geoboards on purpose (except for maybe the little one DOING it, haha!). But, once you’ve established expectations, encourage their creativity as much as possible! What can they create with those pattern blocks? What game will they make up to play with the cards? Do they know how to share politely? These are all equally important skills as letter formation and number identification and require the same amount of direction, encouragement, and practice as the academic skills do. Morning tubs are a safe, effective way to practice these important social and creative skills.

REASON 2: VARIETY

I am a HUGE fan of routine and being sure that my students know what to expect as often as possible. I believe that people tend to feel less anxious and more calm when they have an idea of what to expect next and kindergarteners are no different. However, that being said, I think mixing up the routine in a structured way allows students to have the safety net of routine, but also learn to be adaptable to change in their world. So, by still having a “Morning Warm Up Time” like always, but changing up the activity to something equally (if not more) enjoyable than the normal activity, students can learn to adapt to change in a super gentle, safe way.

MORNING WORK: Morning work is such a great anchor for my students’ days! They know that they come in, unpack their things, turn in their homework folder, and grab their morning work. There is quiet music on, twinkle lights dancing above them, and every day feels like a “normal day” when they first come into our classroom (I mean, USUALLY…and other days, there’s a fire drill and I forget to take attendance and Joey throws up in the hallway…but, that’s another post altogether. HAHA.). So, using morning work that has a nice variety of activities and skills is crucial to keeping students’ attention, brushing up on as many standards as possible, and keeping it fun and engaging. I would definitely recommend choosing morning work that has a lot of “fun” involved…whether that is coloring, matching, tracing, drawing, whatever it might be, pick one that has a lot of engaging qualities so your students feel excited to see what’s next.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs are SUPER simple to use when adding in variety to your normal routine. Simply change one, two, or ALL of the activities in your tubs and you have instant engagement! The only thing I would suggest is to not change out the activities TOO often. I’ve found that sometimes, students can become overstimulated by constantly changing options or activities. In turn, they can sometimes find it hard to focus on and be content with an activity for an extended amount of time. So, change out those activities to keep them engaged and learning, but don’t do it so often that they need a new activity every time they sit down. :) Just a little tip I’ve learned by doing it the “wrong way” myself. Ha!

REASON 3: STRUCTURE

Oh em goodness. STRUCTURE. Any other teachers out there who are too type-A to just “let go” and “embrace the chaos” in their classrooms? OH, yeah….me neither. ;) Haha. No, for real, I’m just a tad bit controlling and really struggle to feel peaceful and confident when there is constant chaos that I am somehow supposed to be in charge of. SO, morning work and morning tubs give us the structure (and lots of peace of mind for me) because I know what to expect, they know what to expect, and my littles are engaged and learning in some way or another. On normal days, this combination keeps the chaos at bay.

MORNING WORK: Morning work provides students with such an routined, mostly-predictable structure for their days. My students know how to get their morning work, they know what they need to complete it, and they know to do the best they can and ask questions if they get stuck. We’ve also learned to start cleaning up when we hear the timer, what to bring to the carpet area to check out our work, and what to do with our morning work when it’s all completed and checked. They complete this routine EVERY. SINGLE. MORNING. Whether I’m there to teach, a sub is coming in, or we have a fire drill first thing in the morning, we always ALWAYS make time for our morning warm up routine. I feel that it sets up the structure for the rest of the day and allows my kids to come into our room confident about what will be expected of them. So, morning routine creates structure and having a semi-predictable activity ready, like consistent morning work, adds to that structure.

MORNING TUBS: Morning tubs can contribute to the same kind of structure, but with a little more free choice built in. When first starting morning tubs, I do a LOT of explicit teaching about how to use them and how to NOT use them before allowing my kids to work with them. I approach morning tubs a little bit like I do work stations: 1. Set expectations. 2. Model like CRAZY. 3. Watch them practice. 4. Let ‘em loose! :) There is a lot of step 1, step 2, step 3, back to step 1, try step 3 again, remember step 2, try step 4, YIKES, go back to step 2. HAHA! That’s just the nature of teaching. They WILL learn how to work with their morning tubs independently, it just might take a lot of modeling and practicing at the beginning. However, if you take the time at the beginning to clearly set up these expectations for how students use morning tubs and how they behave during this time, morning tubs can provide a GREAT structured learning time through exploration and creativity.

Using both morning work AND morning tubs in my classroom has worked out really well for my students in the past. Do you use one or the other or both?? Drop a comment below! I’d love to hear how y’all get your little ones brains working too! :)

Happy teaching!

P.S. The morning work I use is here in my TPT store, all bundled up for the entire year! The morning tub cards are HERE and are editable! Some of the activities I put into morning tubs include pattern blocks, geoboards, counting bears, play dough with mats, math and literacy puzzles, unifix cubes, magnetic letters, dry erase boards and markers, blocks, tangrams, and cards, . I usually get out 5 activities for the week and each table gets one tub each day. The next day, the schedule shifts down just one activity and they get to do the next tub on the list. This way, every student gets every tub one time during the week. The next month, I’ll switch out most of the activities for new ones to keep it fresh and fun.


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