Pumpkin Patrol - Comprehension October 13 2009

 Thematically stretching a subject across the curriculum raises student interest and provides cohesiveness to a unit of study. But how do you balance what you need to do with what you'd like to do? I have provided a few reading strategies that help building comprehesion skills no matter the subject, along with suggestions on how to make the most of reading about pumpkins!


Some of these vocabulary words directly relate to the science lessons, while some relate to the social studies portion. Use this list as a guide, adding and taking away words as desired.

Some of the words I included on my list are carve, soil, seeds, cover, water, sunlight, roots, shoots, ground, sprout, vines, leaves, buds, flowers, green, yellow, orange, pick, seeds, pulp, estimate, squash, scary, North America, jack-o-lantern, Colonists, Native Americans, immigrants, turnip and, of course, PUMPKIN

For more ideas and quick chart downloads, check out the vocabulary section of Pumpkin Patrol - Getting Started!

Current Reading Curriculum

Are there any stories in basal readers that relate to Pumpkins, Halloween, or Harvest? Mine your provided curriculum for any stories that relate to this subject, then use one (or more) of the strategies below to incorporate it into your students' study of pumpkins.

Books and More Books

borrow books from your school or local library, then display them around the room for kids to read, and for you to read to them.

It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall
The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis

Also, include a variety of books about Halloween:

Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting
Moonlight, The Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant
10 Trick-or-Treaters: A Halloween Counting Book by Janet Schulman

Comprehension Activities

 There are general strategies that I have consistently used no matter what we were reading. These techniques should work with all kinds of genres and formats, which makes them extremely flexible.

  • Basic - use the "5 Ws" to help guide processing through reading material, especially nonfiction. Have kids use an 11x17 piece to create a poster of who, what, when, where and why in the story.
  • Fact-Question-Response Chart - This strategy is ideal for processing nonfiction in particular. Keep in mind that to avoid responses like "cool" from kids, you're going to have to do some modeling regarding what kinds of responses are expected with this kind of reading.
  • Story Elements - For fiction stories or picture books, chart out on a piece of poster paper the two main characters (protagonist and antagonist), the setting, the problem, the three main events (plot points), the climax and the resolution. To build inferential skills, discuss the theme and how it could apply to them.
  • On the Surface & Under the Surface Questions - This is a Reciprocal Teaching strategy, compacted so that students can read actively in partners and you can work with a small group. For each page, students come up with an On the Surface and an Under the Surface question. This can also be done with the whole-group while reading a picture book.

As you read about pumpkins and build a variety of reading skills, your kids will also be learning how to interact with and enjoy what they read.

Additional Resources

Pumpkin Patrol - Getting Started
Pumpkin Patrol - Poems and Songs

A few more books about pumpkins for children learning to read!