PBS in the Classroom

Spooktacular Lessons with the Wild Kratts

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Halloween… one of the most exhausting yet amusing holidays we celebrate in our classrooms. This week, teachers everywhere will rise to the challenge, scrambling to sprinkle a little Halloween sparkle into their lessons while maintaining a rigorous curriculum that meets academic standards. You may find yourself struggling with finding that right combination of Halloween fun and academic rigor. Stress no more!  Once again, PBS Kids has come to the rescue with a fabulous new resource from none other than student favorite, the Kratt Brothers!!  

Wild Kratts “Creepy Creatures” is the brand-new Halloween special spotlighting PBS Kids’ month-long Halloween celebration. This is a spooktacular kick off to a series of fun, educational Halloween activities that polishes the academic skill sets we’ve been hard at work building over the past 3 months.  

The Kratt Brothers have a way of captivating audiences, no matter the age. During my time as a 1st grade teacher, a Kratt Brother adventure was always an anticipated part of any day. This week, as I explained to my 4th graders that our next series of activities were going to stem from the Wild Kratts new “Creepy Creatures” movie, those same squeals and claps I remember from my first graders filled my ears. The Wild Kratts are one of the most versatile resources offered by PBS. Students, young and old alike, are captivated by the exciting adventures led by Chris and Martin Kratt.  Why not harness that excitement into your students’ learning?  Below are some effective ways to create Halloween leaning fun with the Kratt Brothers’ new “Creepy Creatures”!

Become a Kratt! (Grades K-5) 

We live in the generation of vlogs and YouTube.  Today’s students are intrigued by what they watch and they want to be in the action!  Why not leverage these current fads, with the addition of green screen technology, to engage your students?  

Many of your students have grown up watching the Wild Kratts. They know and understand the outline and purpose of the show. After watching “Creepy Creatures,” have students choose a creepy creature of their own to highlight. It could be one from the movie, or a new one they may have in mind.  For this activity, students will design their own “show clip” highlighting their chosen animal. 

You may be thinking, “This is great, BUT I’m not a science teacher.” That’s ok!  Reading can be seamlessly integrated into this activity as well. This week, my fourth graders are working on discerning fact from opinion.  To polish these skills requires students to compose their segment of three facts and one opinion of their creepy creature. This requires students to analyze their research and separate fact from fiction – and is also a great way to introduce citing sources for your older students as well.  No matter if you find yourself surrounded with tiny minds in Kindergarten, or entertaining a more mature audience of 4th or 5th graders, this activity is easily modified to fit your need.

Think Easy, Green Technology

To incorporate technology and spark engagement, students will film their segment in front of a green screen, which will allow them to create their own “setting,” dropping themselves into the habitat of their animal.  Don’t have a green screen?  No worries! Green screen is an amazing, low-cost way to inject technology into your classroom!  All you need is green bulletin board paper, an iPad, and the affordable DoInk Green Screen app available in the App Store. 

Are you a leader of littles?  Don’t be afraid to introduce your early learners to the magic of technology. Green screen is the best way to introduce your littles to technology. They will catch on quicker than you might think.

Teachers want effective, innovative activities, that don’t take an entire week to create. This activity easily checks off many learning outcomes without taking a huge block of instructional time. The project is student-chosen, technologically integrated, and standards based.  Kratt Brothers for the instructional WIN!

Creepy Creature Metaphor and Simile Poetry (Grades 3-5)

Poetry is a topic we tend to sprinkle in here and there throughout our curriculum.  Poetic devices are sometimes complex concepts for small minds to take hold. Creepy Creatures can be a great way for young minds to practice metaphors and similes!  This is a great spin-off of the “Become a Kratt” activity mentioned above. Students can use the same creepy creature from their video segment to create a scare-riffic compilation of similes and metaphors to create a poem fitting for Halloween.  

Throw some technology into the mix by having students illustrate their poems on Google Drawing. Their printed masterpieces can become a frightfully fabulous Halloween hallway display.  Don’t have access to technology?  That’s ok too!  Good, old-fashioned markers and crayons plus kid fueled imaginations can equate the same creative display.   

Maker Space Creature Creep Out (Grades K-5)

We live in the age of innovation.  We live in a 21st century society, so it only makes sense to produce 21st century learners. To do this,  we must condition our students to be thinkers, creators, and innovators.  Here is a project idea that provides an opportunity for your students to take on the maker mindset.  

Often times, it is hard to let go of detailed procedures and morph the classroom into a student-led hub. Detailed instructions sometimes eliminate student creativity and critical thinking. For this activity, I challenge you to present your students with an assortment of tools: pipe cleaners, cardboard toilet paper rolls, pom-poms, glue, glitter, markers, construction paper, plates, straws, cans, or any other ingredient that may nudge your students into an industrious mindset. Give them the supplies, not the blueprint.  Empower them with the freedom to design and create creepy creatures however they wish! 

The finished product is one they will be proud of. Take this opportunity to polish your students’ comparing and contrasting skills!  Find students who may have chosen the same creepy creatures.  How are their representations the same?  How are they different? 

There are writing and reflecting opportunities with this project galore. A gallery walk is a great way for students to observe the creative approaches their peers took to create their creepy creatures. During this time, have a “I like… I wonder” blurb board (sheet of paper) next to each creation for peers to reflect on each creation. At the conclusion of your gallery walk, students have gained insight and ideas for their next MakerSpace activity, and each “innovator” is left with a sheet full of positive feedback to encourage and reinforce their originality and creativity!    

Creepy Creature Collaborative Stories

Catapult a creepy creature into the middle of a class original! Round Robin Collaborative stories are a fun way to engage your entire class in the writing process. With Round Robin stories, the class begins with a character, setting, and the first few sentences (more or less depending on grade level) of the story. Students take turns adding sentences to the story. The unpredictable plot encourages students to become active and creative thinkers. The finished product will be full of more twists and turns than a pumpkin vine! 

While many of our students struggle with generating ideas and getting them to paper, this activity will allow your most reluctant writers to contribute. Building on inspiration from their classmates, they can play off of a wealth of “idea starters” and carry on the class storyline.  

This is a great opportunity to highlight the writing process. Once the story is complete, the same process can be used for the revision process.  Students can take turns making edits to the class story, defining the plot points, and verifying the story structure. 

Flexibility is key with this activity.  It can be utilized in a whole group with a younger audience, as well as in smaller, student-led groups with upper elementary students.  If you don’t like the idea of the round robin format, students could easily write their own individual creepy creature stories as well!  The possibilities are endless!

BONUS OPTION!  

How would you like to have a class of published authors?  Schoolmate Publishing has a great offer available to publish your students’ work!  Click here to learn how to get your FREE classroom book!  These books are parent gold!  A simple class writing project easily becomes a treasured keepsake.  SCORE! 

As we enter into a long stretch of kid-coveted celebrations, don’t let that holiday sparkle lead to added stress. This Halloween, masquerade your instruction with technology and the quality resources from PBS Kids.  Let learning be masked as FUN!  You will be checking off standards…. And your students will be screaming for more!

​Ashley Judd

​Ashley Judd 4th Grade Teacher

Ashley Judd is a 4th Grade Teacher at Tyner Elementary in Tyner, KY.  She specializes in elementary education and incorporating innovative classroom practices, aimed at amplifying student growth.  Ashley is a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Digital Innovator All-Star, as well as a finalist for 2019 KY Elementary Teacher of the Year and a Valvoline Teacher Achievement Award Winner.

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