Autumnal Reading Activities for Years 1, 2 & 3

Many thanks to Maddy Barnes (@moonmaddy) for these lovely reading and writing activities using some of Rising Stars Reading Planet and Hodder Children's newest books!

As the Autumnal activities begin to take place – carving pumpkins, lightning sparklers and collecting conkers in the park – perhaps we should look towards sharing some high-quality texts with pupils in years 1, 2 and 3.

Grow a Pumpkin, Helen Chapman, Rising Stars Reading Planet

This is a simple information book that explains how to grow a pumpkin. Pupils may benefit from exploring a real pumpkin.

Reading activities
Year 1 – The layout of this book demonstrates the use of subheadings, captions and labelled diagrams. Teachers could physically point out these features to children so that they could include them in their own writing. The focus should be that pupils understand the different features in a non-fiction text.
Year 2 – There are some questions at the back of the book for teachers to use. In addition to these, teachers should focus on sharing new or unfamiliar vocabulary such as scoop, stem, skin, pulp with children.
Writing activities
Year 1 – Functions of a sentence: How to write questions
Within the text there are 2 questions (Shall we grow a pumpkin? Can you see the stem and skin?) Teachers can discuss what a question is and how we can create grammatically accurate questions. Providing children with less obvious ways to start questions, such as those above, may encourage more creative questions.
Year 2 – Punctuating sentences – commas in a list
Display the sentence ‘The seeds need soil, sun, water and air to grow into pumpkins ‘and discuss the function of the comma in the sentence. Teachers should also demonstrate how to form the commas accurately – modelling the correct height, correct orientation, correct size and correct position. Teachers could challenge children to write creative sentences using commas in a list accurately.

Seed Mix, Rebecca Ashdown, Rising Stars Reading Planet

This is a simple story with two characters, Jim and Grandpa.
Reading activities
Year 1 – Answering questions about a text

After sharing the text with children, ask them about the 2 characters. What is Grandpa like? How would we describe him? What is he wearing? What does he look like? Repeat these questions about Jim.
Share pages 2 and 3. Why does Jim want a garden? When Jim looks out the window, what can he see? Who do you think owns the bike?
Share pages 6 and 7. There is lots of gardening equipment in the illustrations. Can we name everything? Children may need some flash cards with the names of equipment, for example trowel, watering can, flower pots, seed packets, rake, spade, fork, seed tray and compost.
Share pages 10 and 11. How do Grandpa and Jim work out the mix up? Are they angry at the end? What might they do next time they plan to do some planting?
Writing activities
Year 2- Joining words – using conjunctions
This is a simple text that could be shared with children in year 2. Teachers could explain to pupils that some of the short sentences could be joined with a conjunction instead. Pupils may benefit from recapping the function of a conjunction and a visual reminder (co-ordinating conjunctions, but, or, so & subordinating conjunctions because, if, when). Display 2 short sentences: ‘These seeds are good. This pumpkin is big.’ Where could we insert a joining word? Which joining word would be appropriate? Shall we try some different conjunctions?
Challenge children to create some sentences using subordinating conjunctions. Display 2 different sentences and change the position of the conjunction. Because the seeds were mixed up, Grandpa grew the wrong seeds. Grandpa grew the wrong seeds because the seeds were mixed up. What do you notice? Can we create a sentence using ‘when’ and change its position in the sentence? What about ‘if’?

The Pumpkin Project, Katie Smith, Hodder Children’s Books
This short chapter book (13 chapters) tells the story of Lottie Parsons and her struggles with her family and school life.
There are a range of themes addressed in this story, for example rivalry, responsibility, roles of adults and children, determination, family relationships & what love means.
Reading activities
Year 2 and Year 3 children should be able to infer about characters and setting. The characters are detailed in description and illustration. Can children make appropriate and plausible inferences about a character’s:
  • Appearance
  • Behaviour
  • Reactions to events
  • Dialogue
  • Interactions with other characters
Share an example, page 36, ‘Grandpa’s eyes glittered mischievously’… ‘and the largest smile Lottie had seen in two years spread across his face.’ Ask the following:
  • What does this tell us about Grandpa?
  • Do we learn anything more about Grandpa and Lottie’s relationship from this extract?
Children’s comprehension skills will become more fluent when they really pull the text apart.
Writing activities Year 2 - To write at the expected standard across a range of genres/forms:

Genre Form Purpose / Writing Activity
Recount Newspaper Use the headlines on page 46 & 47 as a stimulus for newspaper writing. Children choose how to tell Lottie’s story.
Instructions Seed Packet Using page 86 as an example of instructional writing, identify features. Creative opportunity to grow a huge vegetable/fruit/sweet/ dessert etc…
Description Log book Use page 104 as an example of Grandpa and Lottie’s observations. Create a similar description for child’s chosen seed (see above).
Description Diary Use the illustrations to write 2 contrasting diary entries for either Lottie (page 6 & 142) or Grandpa (page 37 & 142) before the pumpkin project idea and after.

Year 3 – To write a short story using dialogue and paragraphs
  • Model how to include dialogue as a meaningful cohesive device and recap the purpose of paragraphs.
  • Short stories could be: The further adventures of Lottie and Grandpa, What happens to Penelope Pembleton-Puce, a flash back to when Grandpa and Grandma were famous or an alternative ending for this story.

Maddy Barnes | @moon-maddy

Find out more about Rising Stars Reading Planet here.

You can get your copy of The Pumpkin Project here.


autumn, english, KS1, reading

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