Are you looking for some free activities you can use in your classroom right now to reinforce common core standards for ELA? You’re in the right place. Browse all our free plans here. If you need more, visit our shop and purchase a full version. We hope you enjoy these free resources!

Illustration for Thanksgiving From the Turkey's Point of View Writing Assignment

Thanksgiving From the Turkey’s Point of View Writing Assignment

Have you ever had your students complete a Thanksgiving from the turkey’s point of view writing assignment?  If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to teach point of view and voice.  We have our students complete this writing activity in early November to allow us time to share them and discuss the power of point of view and voice.  Of course, this assignment would work well for late November too.  You can add in lessons on voice, point of view, and suspense.  

Check out our free resource to guide you in this lesson.

We provide two choices for our Thanksgiving from the turkey’s point of view writing assignment.  Option one guides students in thinking through things in the way that a turkey would.  For example, a turkey wouldn’t call a gun a “gun”.  It may call it a “bang stick”.  Before writing, students will brainstorm the way a turkey may see or describe ordinary objects.  It is always fun to let students to share their stories after they are finished to hear just how creative they were in describing things from the turkey’s point of view.

Option two provides prompts for students to write in a way that builds suspense.  After writing this story, they can use this same suspense building technique in other stories that they write.  There is also a self evaluation and a rubric included.  We hope you enjoy this fun lesson!


turkey story rubricturkey story thumbnails

Happy Turkey Day!


Dead Word Funeral ~ A Lesson in Word Choice

It’s that time again in my seventh grade ELA classroom, time for our “Dead Word Funeral”.  It’s a somber, yet exciting event.  My students dress and act the part.  We carry tissue out to the “grave site” and shed tears as we read our eulogies. We nod our heads and say an occasional, “I’m going to miss him.”   We even sing songs! This is a super fun activity to teach a valuable and unforgettable lesson on word choice.  Here is how I go about it:

  • As a class, we brainstorm a list of words that we want to bury.  I warn students that once we bury the words, we will no longer be allowed to use them in writing assignments. Whenever a student suggests we bury a word like love, I always say, “What are you going to write instead?” When they see that there are not many words to substitute it, we move on without adding it to our list.  Instead, we choose words that have multiple synonyms and words that just seem elementary for seventh graders (big, little, etc.).  Click here to see a list of the words we are saying goodbye to this year in our dead word funeral.
  • Next, I pull Popsicle sticks with students’ names on them to let them choose the word they want.  (I use Popsicle sticks for everything.)  When I pull a stick, that student chooses his/her word, and then I pull another. This is a fair way to let them choose.  I try to come up with enough words for each student in the class to have a different one.
  • Now, students are ready to create both an obituary and eulogy for their beloved word.  This is the fun part, as they have the chance to be very creative with this fun writing assignment.  For example, students must come up with a list of the deceased word’s family and friends.  The word Run could be married to Whisper and have a child named Tiptoe.  Click here to see a list of my requirements for the eulogy and obituary.
  • Students are given an index card on which to write their word.  These cards will be placed in the casket during the dead word funeral.  Students make their words big and colorful and decorate them accordingly.
  • On my part, there are a few things that I do to prepare for the funeral.  Some years, I go all out.  I call our local mortuary and ask to borrow a small casket.  Our local funeral home has display caskets that are small and perfect for this activity.  Other years, when I don’t feel like going through the hassle, I make my own casket out of a box or plastic tub.  If you drape a black sheet over it and call it a casket, it will work.   I set the casket up on a desk or table.   I also have several tombstones that I set up on the floor or ground (if we hold the funeral outside) around the casket.  These can be made out of cardboard or Styrofoam.  You can also find some really cheap around Halloween. One year, I even made cake squares with all of the names of the words we were burying on them!  Most years, I tell students that people always eat after a funeral,  and then I ask some of them to bring in snacks to share with the class.  Oh, I also download some music appropriate for walking out to the funeral.  This always sets the mood.
  • On the day of the dead word funeral, students dress nicely or in black.  As the music plays, we walk quietly and in a single file line to the “grave site”.  I have tissue on hand for those students who are very upset.  I act as the officiator of the funeral and open with a few words about the deceased.  Then, students take turns reading their eulogies.  Once these are read, we sing two songs that I have written for the occasion.  Then, one by one,  students walk in a line to the casket and say their goodbyes as they place the index card with the word on it into the casket.
  • When the music begins again, we somberly return to the classroom to eat snacks.
  • I collect the index cards from the coffin and hang them on a bulletin board.  For the rest of the year, students are not allowed to use the words in their writing.
  • We have created a packet of everything we use to hold our dead word funeral.  In this resource, you will find examples of eulogies and obituaries,a fill-in-the-blank eulogy and obituary for students who may be struggling  with writing their own, the lyrics and tunes of the songs that we sing at the funeral, as well as other practice with writing strong verbs.  Click here to purchase our complete Weak Words, Dead and Gone Packet.
  • Have fun!

Halloween Story Starters and Acrostic Poem Middle School ELA

Students love a good story, especially a good scary one.  Why not let them write their own?  Download the FREE handouts to use in your classroom this October.  You will find a list of potentially spooky Halloween story starters.  There are several ways you can use these.

  • Allow students to write their own individual stories. You may want to assign a length so that they don’t become too long or too short.
  • Put each student with a partner.  Give a different Halloween story starter to each pair.  Set a timer and pass the stories after two minutes.  Each pair of students must read what’s been written so far and add to it.  At the end of class, read the stories out loud.  It will be fun to see how the stories end up.
  • Allow students to work with a group as they complete the story together.
  • Allow students to create a PowerPoint or other multimedia presentation that tells the story.

An acrostic poem is also fun.  There is a sample included in the free download.  Tell students to come up with more than one word for each letter.  We hope you enjoy these free Halloween story starters and the acrostic poem!

Happy teaching!

Middle School Short Stories Lesson Plans

Check out our list of middle school short stories lesson plans printables, and look at how we use these middle school short stories lesson plans and printables in our classrooms.

We teach 7th grade ELA. Sometimes, what is included in our literature books is just not enough, and that’s what we found with the following stories. We have created standards-based handouts, guided questions, and activities to accompany many middle school short stories. If you do not have these stories in your book, google the titles to see if you can find the stories online.  These are some of our very favorites! Click each title below to download a free sample from the following middle school short stories lesson plans.

Print Common-Core lesson plans for the following middle school short stories.

If you have Pinterest, be sure to pin this page because each time we create a new short story unit, we will add free middle school short stories lesson plans and printables to this page! Check back often.  More are to come!

After Twenty Years by O. Henry”

“All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury

Amigo Brothers” by Piri Thomas

Duffy’s Jacket” by Bruce Coville

The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Anderson

Hearts and Hands” by O. Henry

“The Highwayman” (narrative poem) by Alfred Noyes

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street (teleplay) by Rod Serling

The People Could Fly

Rikki-tikki-tavi” by Rudyard Kipling

Rogue Wave” by Theodore Taylor

Sorry, Wrong Number” by Lucille Fletcher

Three Skeleton Key” by George G. Toudouze

The Ruum” by Arthur Porges

7th Grade ELA 1st Nine Weeks Plans

7th Grade Lesson Plans for 1st nine weeks of school

Sometimes it helps to see just how other ELA teachers are fitting in everything that we have to teach.  At our school, we have 60 minute classes.  We would like to share with you our 7th grade ELA 1st nine weeks plans.

This is our basic plan for the first nine weeks of school.

  • Every day – Daily Dose and Core CHOMP – These are our bellringers, and we cover tons of ELA standards each day with these two resources!
  • Grammar Mini Lesson of the Week – starting with the parts of speech

Week 1

Back to school activities, interest inventory, go over rules and procedures, set up interactive notebook sections, set up daily work folders, explain  Daily Dose and Core CHOMP procedures, poetry lesson – Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Weeks 2-6

Novel study – The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood

We use this novel as a whole-class study.  Teacher reads aloud most chapters, students read in groups for readers’ theater for two chapters, and some chapters are assigned to be read independently.

Students love this novel, and they fall in LOVE with our class because of it!  We laugh together, get mad together, and cry together all while reading the awesome and memorable story.

Here’s how a typical day looks in our class during the first nine weeks:

  • Class enters the room and students begin working on Daily Dose and Core CHOMP.
  • After approximately seven minutes, teacher goes over the word of the day, calls on students to correct the edit sentence, and calls on students for answers to Core CHOMP, using teachable moments as needed.
  • Daily work is placed back in folders, and folders taken up.
  • Now it’s time for  Grammar work.   If it is Monday, the mini-lesson will be distributed.  Students will put it in their notebooks and highlight important parts of the lesson as the teacher explains it.  Students will complete the practice questions as teacher walks around to monitor and assess.  If it is Tuesday-Thursday, the lesson will be reviewed and practice will be provided.  If it’s Friday, students will take the quiz.
  • Next, with approximately thirty minutes left in class, it’s time to turn to our novel. We will read a chapter or two and complete an activity in which we will cover a literary term, respond to the literature, or analyze the author’s craft.
  • Weekly Reading Homework – Each week, we assign a story out of the students’ Close Reader workbook.  Students read the story independently and complete the questions throughout the story. On Fridays, we give a quiz on the story to make sure students actually did the reading. Students have the entire week to finish the reading assignment.

Weeks 7-9


  • Read the play Sorry, Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher. This play is in our Literature book which is Collections by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  The play can also be found online.  We begin this story by showing a power-point about the history of the telephone.  This provides students with needed background information.  We assign parts to students and let them read aloud.  They LOVE this play!   When we finish reading, students answer some open-ended response questions.  Then, we show the movie.  We ordered the movie from Amazon.  There is a good bit added to the movie, so we provide note-taking handouts for students to use while watching.  After watching the movie, we give a test comparing the play to the movie.  Check out our resources for Sorry, Wrong Number.


  • In the first nine weeks, we make sure that students can identify and explain subjects and verbs. In the writing section of notebook, students will glue or tape in handouts with lists of strong verbs.  We have students practice changing sentences with helping verbs to sentences with action verbs, teaching students to “show” and not “tell” in their writing. We complete mini lessons on word choice and practice identifying good word choice in the literature we are reading.
  • Begin to prepare for the “Dead Word Funeral” by having students complete obituary and eulogy for a verb or adjective that needs to be “laid to rest”. Each student has his/her own word. Sample words to bury: went, big, stuff, said
  • Hold the Dead Word Funeral in which these words are laid to rest. This is an excellent way to reinforce lessons on word choice, and it’s a perfect activity for late October.  After the funeral, we create a dead word bulletin board and put all of the words on the board.   We tell students they may no longer use the words in their writing.

So this is a basic outline of our 7th grade ELA 1st nine weeks plans.  In the second nine weeks, we begin writing strong verb paragraphs.  To see our plans for the entire year, download this FREE glimpse into our seventh grade year.  You’ll find lots of great printables that you can use today in your own classroom.

7th Grade ELA Yearly Plans

Have you ever just wanted to see another teacher’s 7th grade ELA yearly plans?  We have put together a free resource that shows you what we do all year in our 7th grade classes.  Filled with tons of printables that you can use right away, this resource will help you see how we juggle all that we have to teach in ELA!

Download this resource to see everything we do to teach 7th grade ELA!  There is so much to teach in 7th grade ELA.  Reading, writing, grammar, research… It’s hard to fit it all in! While we are always learning and changing or adding to our curriculum, we have put together this resource, which contains a wealth of information and samples!  It will give you a glimpse into our seventh grade classrooms and what we do throughout the year.  Hopefully, it will help you with your own 7th grade ELA yearly plans!

Included in this FREE packet you will find our best advice for classroom management, our classroom layout, what we use for bellringers, and even what we teach each nine weeks. We break everything down so you can see how we fit in grammar, reading, literature circles, writing instruction, and more as we teach 7th grade ELA!

There are a ton of useful and FREE handouts included for you to use immediately in your own classroom. We hope you find this packet helpful as you teach 7th grade ELA!

Interactive Notebook for The Devil’s Arithmetic

I LOVE using interactive notebooks in my middle school classroom!  Students remain engaged while enjoying a novel…perfect!  We have only created a few novel units as interactive notebooks.  We would like to share with you a sample of our interactive notebook for The Devil’s Arithmetic.

Take a look at our sample packet! This sample will give you an activity to use for chapter three of the novel.  The literary device that we focus on in this chapter is symbolism.  You will see pictures of how we complete this interactive activity.  If you like this free sample lesson, check out our entire interactive notebook for The Devil’s Arithmetic.  Take a look at the table of contents listed below to see the focus of each chapter.

At a glance – A page containing all of the foldables in a thumbnail size ~ Give out so students can see final product as they are making foldables
KWL Chart
Chapter 2: Hannah’s Family; Flashback
Chapter 3: Symbolism and Foreshadowing
Chapter 4: Hannah’s New World: Indirect Characterization
Chapter 5: Figurative Language
Chapter 6: Chaya and Her New Friends
Chapter 7: The Badchan’s Poem
Chapter 8: Tone; Foreshadowing
Chapter 9: Allusion
Chapter 10: Bringing to Life the Harsh Reality ( Word choice, Dialogue, Details)
Chapter 11: Writing Opportunity
Chapters 11 & 12: Irony
Chapter 13: Discussion Questions
Chapter 14: Know the Language
Chapter 15: Imagery; Euphemisms
Chapter 16: Discussion Questions
Chapter 17: Suspense
Chapter 18: Discussion Questions
Chapter 19 & Epilogue: Discussion Questions

Purchase our complete Interactive Notebook for The Devil’s Arithmetic now, and all of your plans will be done.  Your students will LOVE this interactive way of analyzing literary elements and the author’s craft!

Grammar Gremlins: Grammar Mini-Lessons for Middle School

They jump out at us in countless middle school essays. They lure our red pens to make endless circles and bold question marks. Occasionally, they even taunt us to create angry holes in a student’s notebook paper! At the worst, they can sometimes cause us to lose sleep and wonder, “Will my students ever transfer my instruction to their writing?” What are “they”? We have chosen to call them gremlins – grammar gremlins. This species consists of errors that are repetitive and widespread among the student population.

Read on to print free handouts and to once and for all find out how take care of those pesky writing mistakes like it’s vs. its, to vs. too, principal vs. principle and more!

Each Monday, we introduce the “Gremlin of the Week” by passing out one of the mini-lessons included in this book. These lessons are student friendly and include tricks to help students learn! After we teach the lesson and make sure all students understand, it is time for them to respond. Students complete a foldable, flapbook, or cut-out (also included in this packet) as an interactive activity. A practice page is then given either as classwork or homework for a quick assessment of that week’s gremlin. Then, on Friday, we give the quiz.

Practice pages and quizzes are included! In addition, there are review tests, complete with study guides, after every five lessons. The following twenty-four “gremlins” are tackled with this book.

  • Lessons included:
  • It’s vs. Its
  • Your vs. You’re
  • To vs. Too
  • Accept vs. Except
  • A lot (It’s two words!)
  • Review Study Guide and Review Test One
  • Their, There, They’re
  • I or Me?
  • Who’s vs. Whose
  • Affect or Effect
  • Punctuating Dialogue
  • Review Study Guide and Review Test 2
  • Dessert vs. Desert
  • Principal vs. Principle
  • Himself and Themselves
  • Singular vs. Plural Pronouns
  • Loose vs. Lose
  • Review Study Guide and Review Test 3
  • Apostrophes
  • Commas with Independent Clauses
  • Semicolons
  • The Colon
  • Capitalization of Geographical Words and School Subjects
  • Capitalization of Calendar Items, Brands, and Family Names
  • Run-on Sentences
  • Fragments
  • Who vs. Whom
  • Review Study Guide and Review Test 4
  • Rubrics; Answer Keys

While every grammar and usage mishap is not included in this book, we have chosen those that have been monumental and overexposed in our own teaching experience. We also provide mnemonics and tricks to help students remember the rules!

What’s the deal with the gremlin?

Our little gremlin appears in each lesson. Facts about his gremlin world are included in all of the mini-lessons. This helps keep things interesting and will give your students something to giggle about! We have a gremlin word wall in our classrooms, where all of our “gremlins” go after we learn them each week. Also, after a grammar gremlin is taught, students must be careful to edit their writing to make sure it is used correctly. For example, if we have already covered the semicolon as a gremlin, students are to make sure they use it correctly in their writing. If they do not, “GREMLIN ALERT!” is written right on their paper. This is great for writing instruction because the teacher can ignore the mistakes that have not been covered yet and only focus on the ones that have been taught. Students build their “editing toolbox” as the lessons progress each week.

Make it fun!

Monsters are very popular these days. We buy monster stickers and reward students with them when they make a 100 on a gremlin quiz. We make a Gremlin Wall and hang cute little cut out monsters with each lesson that we learn.

Just the other day at the Dollar Tree, I found the cutest little squishy monsters.  I bought a few and plan to toss them around on Mondays when we learn our gremlin for the week.  Whoever catches it will either answer a question about the gremlin or use it correctly in a sentence.

Also, once a gremlin has been taught and placed on our Gremlin Wall, we are serious about it in writing assignments.  For example, if we have already covered the semicolon as a gremlin, students are to make sure they use it correctly in their writing.  If they do not, I am quick to write “GREMLIN ALERT!” right on their paper.  This is great for writing instruction because I can ignore the mistakes that I have not covered yet and only focus on the ones that we have covered.  Students build their “editing toolbox” as we progress each week.

*Note: Everything you need to have a weekly grammar gremlin and create an interactive notebook is included in this packet. Twenty-four mini lessons, foldables, flapbooks, or cutouts, practice pages, quizzes, review tests and answer keys are included. Even if you are not sure about using interactive notebooks, this resource will work for you. Activities can be done in a binder, and pictures and descriptions are provided to make everything easy to teach!

You are going to LOVE Grammar Gremlins! By far, this is one of the best and greatest resources that we use in our own classrooms!  Click the link below for a free sample from Grammar Gremlins.

FREE mini-lessons, practice sheets, and quizzes from Grammar Gremlins~Avoiding the Little Monsters in Writing

Lesson Plans for Bud, Not Buddy

Your students will love the novel Bud, Not Buddy, and you will love these lesson plans for Bud, Not Buddy!

In our classrooms, we use this novel as a whole-class study.   It’s just so fun to read aloud!  Of course, this book is also a perfect choice for literature circles or an independent novel study.  We have created several Common Core aligned lesson plans for Bud, Not Buddy, and we would like to share some free handouts with you!

Click the link below to download handouts to help you teach flashback, imagery, figurative language, and irony!

Print these handouts and a portion of a test by clicking here for our sample packet for Bud, Not Buddy by by Christopher Paul Curtis.


If you enjoy this free sample from our lesson plans for Bud, Not Buddy, consider purchasing our entire teaching unit for Bud, Not Buddy.  All of your plans will be complete.  You will simply print and teach!  Plus, you will have this resource for years to come.

Free Lesson Plans for Flush by Carl Hiaasen!

Are you looking for free lesson plans for Flush by Carl Hiaasen? If so, you’re in the right place!  

button free sample for novel unit

The novel Flush combines comedy and humor with mystery and suspense to create the perfect read!  Carl Hiaasen’s characters are realistic and unforgettable!  Your students will enjoy every page of this novel.  This book is perfect for a whole class read or for literature circles. 

While Flush is written by the same author as Hoot, it is not the sequel.  Flush has a totally new set of characters and a completely different plot.  If your students like mysteries mixed with humor and unforgettable characters, then this book will be a hit!

Print free lesson plans for the novel Flush by Carl Hiaasen below.  In this free lesson plans for Flush by Carl Hiaasen download, three activities are included.  Students will take a look at the point of view of the novel, analyze the author’s use of direct and indirect characterization, and then analyze the author’s craft by studying how Hiaasen creates such realistic characters in the novel.  You’ll also be able to print a portion of a test!  Click the box below for these handouts.  If you like the free sample, consider purchasing our entire unit. Everything will be ready for you to teach, and you will have all of the activities included in the table of contents.   

Author:  Carl Hiiasen, award winning author of Hoot

Lexile Range: L830

If you enjoy this free sample, consider purchasing our entire teaching unit for Flush. All of your plans will be complete for the entire unit.  Everything is ready for you to print and teach!  Plus, you will have these lesson plans and activities for years to come!