One of my favorite holiday movies ever is, ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!’ As a dog lover, I have always been a fan of Snoopy but I especially love ‘The Great Pumpkin.’ Being one of my favorites, I always want to show ‘The Great Pumpkin’ to my class in October. But, like many schools, our school has a strict no movie policy unless you can prove it is being used for educational purposes. So, I developed a whole day of ‘Great Pumpkin’ themed reading and writing activities. There are activities that have the students write letters to the Great Pumpkin like Linus does in the movie, a sequencing activity, a Charlie Brown trivia fact and opinion sort, a cut and paste vocabulary activity, and suggested writing prompts. Over the years, I have added or adapted activities based on the grade and skill level of my students, so my ‘Great Pumpkin’ activity pack can be used with several grade levels.
I usually have my ‘Great Pumpkin’ themed day on the same day our school has its annual fall festival. The PTO brings in a petting zoo, creepy crawly bugs and reptiles, inflatables, and lots of games. With all that excitement happening in the afternoon it is difficult to keep the students focused. So, I start the day off by leaving the students a note from the Great Pumpkin which will lead them on a scavenger hunt through the school. I have always wanted to have someone in the office pretend to be the Great Pumpkin and talk to the students through the intercom. But, I’ve never had an intercom in my classrooms that has worked. We talk about inferencing throughout the scavenger hunt and how the Great Pumpkin never tells us exactly where to go but we use the clues to figure it out. The clues eventually lead us to some kind of baked good I prepared for the kids.
As the students eat their snack, I play the movie. When the movie is over, the students rotate through stations with the activities from my Great Pumpkin activity pack at each center. Then, the students select one of the writing prompts and use it throughout the week as we go through the writing process to write a five paragraph essay. It’s a fun way to spend time and keep the kids learning when there is something they are anxious for later in the day.
If you are not sure where to find a copy of ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” there is a full version on Youtube but friends who work in other districts have told me their districts internet security blocks it. If that is the case, I have found most local libraries have a copy or I purchased a copy from Sam’s Club for less than $10. Hope you’re prepared for when the Great Pumpkin “flies through the night!”