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Spooky Stuff!

This autumn, the Learning Lady has been working with practitioners and children on some spooky inspiration for early reading and writing using phonic strategies…. Click on the book to look inside!

Spooky Stuff Book Cover

“You don’t have to go far at this time of year to
find inspiration for little learners. Pumpkins and fancy dress costumes are
everywhere! Classrooms up and down the country are full of children chatting about
trick or treating. There’s just something about the magical autumn air and
darker nights which sets the scene for spells of excitement and intrigue. A Great Big Pumpkin is a simple activity which encompasses reading, writing and size comparison through an active, engaging and fun approach to learning that your children will love getting involved in.”

How Big Is A Pumpkin?

Learning Objectives:                                                                                                            

To blend to read simple words

To read simple sentences


The largest pumpkin you can find!

A set of objects from the box of tricks (some larger and some smaller than the pumpkin). These should be matched to the phonic ability of the children in the group

Pumpkin sentences for reading ‘Is a …. as big as a pumpkin?’

Yes and no buckets



Introduce the pumpkin. Talk about it’s size and weight. Encourage the children to think about things which may be smaller, larger or of a similar size.

Model the reading process using the word cards to match the objects hidden from the group. Point to each letter as the children join in with saying each sound, blending the sounds to read the whole word all together.

Explain that the children are going to measure the objects against the pumpkin to make a direct comparison  and that they will all get a turn.

Practise reading the first sentences all together. The children will probably need the process of rereading the sentence after the blending of each new word demonstrating in detail.

Support the first child in measuring against the pumpkin (as directed by the sentence card).  The children need to reach agreement about whether the object is as big (or bigger) than the pumpkin or if it is not. If the object is as big as the pumpkin the sentence needs to be allocated to the ‘yes’ bucket, if it is not, the sentence should be allocated to the ‘no’ bucket.

Repeat reading all together, with further children measuring against the pumpkin.

Once all of the sentences have been allocated to the buckets, reread the sentences to check they have been put in the correct place.

Teach the children to take photographs of the objects found, next to the pumpkin and corresponding sentence as a demonstration. This will prepare them for the following writing activity.


Encourage less able children with plenty of adult support. Use a simpler sentence such as ‘is a ….as big?’ and you may prefer to work in smaller groups if the children are still learning to concentrate.

Challenge more able children by providing them with sentences including more complicated or longer words for the objects measured (see the box of tricks).

Optimized-Pumpkin 4

The Sweet Smell of Success!

Can the children…

  • Maintain attention and concentration to complete the game? With support?
  • Follow the simple instructions of the game? With support?
  • Recognise all of the letters and the sounds that they make? With support?
  • Blend to read the words on the cards? With support?
  • Read a simple sentence? With support?
  • Make a simple size comparison? With support?
  • Use/ understand the language in relation to size?

Learning Lady Top Tips

“Encourage the children to go on a hunt inside and out, looking for things which are as big / not as big as the pumpkin. Ask them to record their finding by drawing or attempting to write independently. Why not see if they can find some objects at home too? Read The Gigantic Turnip or The Enormous Watermelon and think about a similar story the children could make up about themselves entitled The Humungous Pumpkin. Can the children tell this story in groups, recording in pictures, photographs and recorded spoken words.”

Want more exciting ideas for activities like this?


Get your copy of Spooky Stuff here now!!

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