Alice and Greta by Steven J. Simmons - Teaching Ideas

Alice and Greta are completely different witches. They dress differently, they look different and they use their magic in completely different ways.

Greta is as mean and nasty as they come and Alice is so sweet with her rosy outlook, she is the kind of witch you would love to meet!

Alice loves to use her powers to help people and make them happy while Greta makes children cry. One day, Greta finds a school playground filled with happy school children and decides to cover them with icky sticky marshmallow. All the kids cry and call for help. Alice hears the children and comes to help but before she can Greta covers her with the icky sticky marshmallow as well. 

Will Alice save the kids? Will she get herself unstuck? But the most important question of all is, will Greta ever learn the most important lesson of all?

This is one of (and I have lots) my favorite Halloween books. It offers so many great teaching opportunities, just look below.

If you love this book and want to read it for Halloween but want make sure you are offering a meaningful lesson to go along with it, take a look at the packet I created.

Reading level: 3.5
Theme/subject: good vs. bad,
Genre: Halloween, fantasy

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: rosy outlook, putrid, enchanting, deviously diabolical, weave their spells, perplexed, snickered

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder if Alice and Greta are witches. I wonder if Alice and Greta are sisters. I wonder which witch is Alice and which one is Greta. One witch looks mean and the other looks nice, I wonder if that is true. {possible questions during} I wonder why Greta needed to be so mean. I wonder when it will all come back to Greta. {possible questions after}  I wonder if Greta learned her lesson. **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (her, they, she).
  • Author's purpose – entertain {evidence} There are no such thing as witches. All the spells and chants were silly. It cannot ever rain sticky gooey marshmallows. All of these things make a very silly and entertaining story.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Alice and Great were very different witches. {most important event from middle} Alice did spells and chants that helped people and Greta’s spells and chants were to hurt and scare people. {most important event from end} Greta got what was coming to her.
  • Cause and effect – Why is the story called Alice and Greta? Because the story is about Alice and Greta. Why was Alice’s outlook like her clothes? Because they were always rosy. Why was Greta’s outlook like her clothes? Because they were putrid like her personality. Why were Alice and Greta so different? Because Alice was a nice witch and Greta was a mean witch. How come Greta didn’t learn the most important lesson of all? Because she didn’t listen in class. How come the family in the boat waved their thanks? Because Alice helped save them. How come the kids on the beach ran crying? Because Greta sent in a big wave to destroy their sand castle. Why were the soccer players perplexed and disappointed? Because they couldn’t find any of the soccer balls to finish the game. Why did the school children have to call for help? Because Greta had covered them with icky, sticky marshmallows. How come Alice couldn’t come help the kids? Because Greta cast a spell that covered Alice with icky, sticky marshmallow as well. How come Greta ended up in a pile of icky, sticky marshmallow? Because Alice cast a spell on Greta about whatever you chant, whatever you brew, sooner or later, comes back to you. Why is Greta stuck? Because she is stuck learning things she should have learned long ago.
  • Character analysis - describe Alice, describe Greta {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Classify & categorize – Witches – good witches and bad witches
  • Compare & contrast – Greta and Alice
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} friends that are and do nice things. Friends that are and do mean things.  {possible text-to-text connections} Connect this book to Miss. Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard. Both books have two “witches” one that does good and one that does not.
  • Drawing conclusions & inference – Why do you think, “Whatever you chant, whatever you brew, sooner or later comes back to you” is called the Brewmerang Principle? {text clues} There is a boomerang drawn on the board as well as a drawing of what a boomerang does. {what I know} I know the author played with the word boomerang and made it brewmerang because he was talking about witches and they brew magic spells. I also know that when you throw a boomerang it is supposed to come back to you. {my conclusion} I think “Whatever you chant, whatever you brew, sooner or later comes back to you” is called the Brewmerang Principle because the witches were supposed to learn that depending on how they used their spells – for good or bad – they could come back to them, just like a boomerang comes back to you.
  • Fact & opinion{facts} Alice wore pink. Greta wore green. Alice helped people with her spells. Greta hurt people with her spells. Alice enjoys her view. {opinions} Alice is the nicest witch of all. Greta is the meanest witch of all. Alice should wear red instead. Greta should wear black instead. Greta learned an important lesson.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} The story of Alice and Greta is mostly about Alice and Greta being completely different kinds of witches, one good and one bad.  {details} Alice had a rosy outlook while Greta had a putrid outlook. Alice’s spells were enchanting and Greta’s spells were deviously diabolical. Alice saved a family with spell about a big wave and Greta made children cry with the same spell.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Greta used her spell on Alice.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about? What do you think will happen to Greta for not learning the most important lesson of all?  How do you think Alice will help the family? What do you think Greta will do to the children at the beach? What do you think Greta will do to the soccer game? How do you think Alice will help the little boy looking of his dog? Do you think the school children will like being covered with sticky marshmallow? How do you think Alice will get out of the marshmallow? Do you think Greta will learn her lesson?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} The problem is that Greta uses her magic for bad. {solution} Alice finally had enough so she turned a spell around and got Great stuck in the icky, sticky marshmallow until she learned the most important thing about spells, what goes around comes around.
  • Sequencing – Two witches that looked alike lived on the top of a mountain. Alice’s outlook was rosy. Greta’s outlook was putrid. Alice and Greta went to the same school. Greta was too busy goofing off to learn the most important of all at school. Alice and Greta graduated from school and went into the world. Alice saved a family and their boat. Greta destroyed a sandcastle and made children cry. Alice helped a boy find his dog. Greta made a soccer team lose the championship game. Greta cast a spell that covered some school children with icky, sticky marshmallows. Greta covered Alice with the icky, sticky marshmallow too. Alice cast a spell that covered Greta with all the icky, sticky marshmallow until she learned the most important rule of all. Greta is still learning the most important rule of all.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – The Brewmerang Principle is, whatever you chant, whatever you brew, sooner or later comes back to you. Even if Greta was listening to the teacher when this was being taught, do you think she would still cast mean spells on other people? Why or why not?
  • Summarize - {someone} Alice {wanted} wanted to do good things in the world {but} but Greta wanted to do bad {so} so one day Alice cast a spell on Greta to learn the most important lesson of all. Greta is still learning that lesson.
  • Theme – what goes around comes around. Be careful how you treat others because it may come back to you. Pay attention in school, you might miss the most important lesson of all.
  • Visualize - Alice was such a nice witch; she was always helping those that needed help. Visualize something that you need help with that Alice could cast a spell to help you out.

Happy planning!


  1. I just LOVE your book reviews ... so comprehensive and thorough. What a gift!

    With gratitude,


  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Wow! I've never read this book but I'm in awe of the comprehensive teaching tips you have included. Great job! I'm your newest follower!


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!