Pique students’ interest with these seasonal interviews, poems, and short stories.
The leaves are changing and pumpkin patches are popping up everywhere you look; with the help of CommonLit your classroom can be just as seasonally festive! Whether you’re teaching reading comprehension or looking to dive into a thematic unit about the season, CommonLit has the resources for your classroom!
“The Corn Maze” by Kris Bitar (3rd Grade)
In this story, the narrator visits a corn maze with their family. The maze is filled with vampires, mummies, and ghouls, which evokes fear for the whole family.
After reading “The Corn Maze”, have your class read Maya Angelou’s "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" from the Paired Texts section of the lesson. In the poem, the speaker talks about how they bravely face their fear. Ask students to discuss the theme in each text. How does the speaker talk about fear in “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me”? How does the narrator talk about fear in “The Corn Maze”? Do you think the narrator in “The Corn Maze” and the speaker in “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” feel the same way about fear? Why or why not?
“Pumpkin Planting” by Krista Curran (3rd Grade)
In this story, a little girl is excited about planting a garden of tiny pumpkins with her moms. However, as her family plants the garden, she realizes she has to be patient while she waits for the pumpkins to ripen.
Blend Science and English with a lesson about seed growth. Show your class the video from the Related Media page, “How Does a Seed Become a Plant.” After watching the video, students will have a better understanding of how plants grow. The video will engage your students and deepen their understanding of pumpkins and the patience it takes to grow them.
“Dream Big” by Judy Burke (4th Grade)
This fall, get your students in an autumnal mood with this interview about fall sports. In this interview, Brandon Copeland, an NFL football player, professor, and nonprofit founder, shares life advice with readers. Copeland cites the values of generosity, good manners, and gratitude as being paramount to success.
Expand your students’ learning from a lesson on a fall sport to one on dreams and goal setting. Use the discussion questions to prompt conversations with students about dreams. Are there any athletes in the class who dream of going to the Super Bowl themselves? Or actors that want to make it on Broadway? Ask the class, “What is a big, "Disney-like" dream you have for yourself? Why do you think it is important to have a big imagination when thinking about your dream?”
“Laura’s Key” by Anne-Marie Reidy (6th Grade)
Get students excited about the World Cup this fall, while boosting their reading comprehension, with this text about soccer. In this short story, a young girl feels defeated after an uninspired season with her 6th grade soccer team until her family helps her find a way to keep practicing.
“Laura’s Key” is filled with symbolic details and Laura's changing attitudes reveals a message about success and failure. Ask students to use the annotation tool to take notes on how Laura’s attitude changes throughout the story and what message about hope and perseverance this reveals.
“Autumntime” by Anthony Lentini (7th Grade)
Set in a dystopian Boston, the narrator and his family decide to visit the East Boston Urban Center, where one of Boston's few remaining trees exists. Witnessing the tree is a profound moment for the boy and he continues to ponder the existence of the lone tree he saw long after his tour has moved on. The boy is saddened to learn that the tree will be cut down to make room for a new building, and is enthralled by the acorn he took as a souvenir.
After reading “Autumntime'', ask the class to read "Wildness is Everywhere”, by Stephanie Jimenez. As a class, discuss how both texts illustrate the power of nature. How would Jimenez most likely feel about the young boy's experience in “Autumntime”? How does this relate to her experience growing up in a city? Have students compare their own lived experience of nature with the experiences’ of the two narrators.
“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe (9th Grade)
“The Raven'' is Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem. The poem follows a raven as he visits an unnamed man who is pining for an old love. Poe is celebrated for his ability to create a supernatural atmosphere. “The Raven” is the perfect text to get your students in a seasonally spooky mood.
As you read, have the class take notes on how the poem’s tone contributes to themes of love and loss. Then, pose one of the discussion questions to the class, “How are we changed by love?” Ask students to cite evidence from "The Raven," from their own experience, and from other works of literature or art.
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost (9th Grade)
In this poem, the speaker describes the changes that occur to leaves and trees throughout the seasons. They notice how quickly things change and relate this to the fall of the Garden of Eden, the cycle of daylight, and eventually all of life.
Frost is known for using the natural world as a metaphor. Frost uses the changing colors around him to illustrate the transient nature of all things in the world, the impermanence of youth, beauty, and life itself. Compare “Nothing Gold Can Stay” with another poem by Frost, “Dust of Snow”. Develop students' cross text analysis skills by asking them to identify where Frost uses nature to explore greater themes in these two poems.
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