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Pumpkins and Punctuation Marks!

Great excitement colors every Halloween.  Kids happily don their costumes - some out of the box, some handmade - carve their jack o'lanterns, then set off to troll neighborhoods in the dusk and dark for candy galore.

At my AARP Experience Corps school, the students woke up Halloween morning and put on their costumes for the school day.  Teachers and administrators dressed up as well and the entire school stepped outside for a street parade.  They marched about five blocks - safely escorted by police motorcycles - and throughout the entire trek they continually yelled, Happy Halloween!

The teachers: left to right - Ms. Diljohn, Ms. Kenny and Ms. Boatwright.

For Ms. Diljohn's class, it was their official introduction to the exclamation mark.  As early readers, the kids are building their punctuation awareness.  First came the period, then the question mark, and, for Halloween, the exclamation mark!  Prior to trooping out for the parade, Ms. Diljohn, "aka The Green Crayon" read them I Like Pumpkins!, which uses rhyming words to tell a Halloween story.  It was fascinating to see how quickly the kids understood the energy conveyed by that symbol.

The kids are continuing to progress with letter and word recognition, and their teacher routinely adds in more complex ideas - like alliteration.  This week, she introduced the concept as the opposite of rhyming, where words sound the same at the end.  With alliteration, words that start with the same sound are found in groups.  With this method she is getting them to think about a beginning, middle and end for all words.

Hope you had a festive Halloween.  Thanksgiving is next!

By the way, a couple of people have asked about how to sing the "Days of the Week" song using the Addams Family theme song. So here it is:

Days of the week (Snap, Snap)

Days of the week (Snap, Snap)

Days of the week, Days of the week, Days of the week (Snap, Snap)

There's Sunday and there's Monday,

There's Tuesday and there's Wednesday,

There's Thursday and there's Friday,

And then there's Saturday.

Days of the week (Snap, Snap)

Robert Hodder is blogging about his first year as a volunteer with AARP Experience Corps, helping kids in a Washington, D.C. elementary school with their reading skills. AARP Experience Corps will be expanding into its 20th city, Chicago, in the 2013-14 school year and is in the process of recruiting volunteers. You can also follow Robert and his experiences on Twitter. For information on how to volunteer, please contact Patrice Gerideau at

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