Click image to access
Click image to access
EpicPals is a collaborative reading project that utilizes Epic! Books for Kids and Padlet. (Both of these sites/apps are free) This project was started after I needed something more to engage and challenge my higher-end first grade readers.

Each month a set of 5 books will be chosen from Epic and an EpicPals collection will be made and searchable on Epic for you to copy so you can easily assign the books to your students (search EpicPals).  Coordinating Padlet boards will be also be created for each book selection where students can go to respond to the books. To access the QR codes, check out each month's post to access the Google doc where you will find the book titles and Padlet QRs and links.

I will post each month's board here in addition to pinning it to my Twitter profile each month (@smalchow). You will also be able to find the current month's board on the main page of the blog, as well as on the "Featured Post" section of the sidebar.

Looking for a previous month or post about #EpicPals, click here

The current year's EpicPals Padlet boards and Google documents will remain active and accessible from Sept to June so feel free to go back and grab any of the Google docs from the current school year for your students to access at anytime. The Google docs will be closed at some point in July to be updated for the upcoming school year.

Brand new to the project?

Here's what you need to know....

First, decide how you want to use the project with your class. Many have used this project as a way to challenge their higher level readers or as part of a guided reading group, or even as a weekly whole group read-aloud and then have students leave their own comments on the Padlet. 

Next, print off the Google doc with the book choices and QR codes. You can also access the books on Epic by searching for the month's EpicPals collection by typing in "EpicPals" in the search bar. Click on the current month's collection to make a copy and assign it to your students. There is a separate collection for both the primary and intermediate collection so you can assign them to specific students.

Spend a little bit of time modeling how to use the QR codes to get to the Padlet boards and how to leave a quality response. (Remind your students to only leave their first names and state abbreviation on their Padlet posts.)

To access the month's Google Doc click on the #EpicPals image at the top of this page. You will be able to choose from a primary or an intermediate version depending on the reading abilities of your kiddos. Both are located on the same Google doc. Print off the version(s) that works best for your classroom. 

When students are done reading the book selection, they will scan the coordinating  QR code on their sheet which will take them to a Padlet board specific for the book they read. If you'd rather push this sheet out to your students on your blog, Google Classroom, etc, the url's shown are clickable and linked to the boards as well so please make a copy of the doc before sending it out to your kiddos if you go this route.

If using iPads, download a QR reader app. I've found I-nigma to be the best one out there. It's free and does not contain any ads!  

As your students begin to post on the Padlet boards, please don't be overly concerned about spelling. This is meant to be a place where kiddos can read and respond to text authentically. I do check the boards to double check content and any questionable phonetic spelling. (The links to these boards are not public or searchable- you must have the link to access them)

How students should respond on the boards?
That's really up to you. What's best for your learners? Are you learning about text-to-self connections, character traits, retelling, summarizing or simply writing complete sentences to share your favorite part?  Be creative, utilize the boards to match your learning objectives. Feel free to have your students include images or screenshots or create and upload video reflections- the sky's the limit. Most important, have fun with this!  I will at times put a question on the Padlet for students to think about but these are simply springboards if needed and are NOT required.

Do we have to read the books on Epic?
If you have access to any of the books in another format, feel free to utilize it. Books do not have to be read on Epic although I will say my class is so completely engaged when using Epic now that they have the ability to also earn badges for reading (using iOs devices). Gamification is a wonderful motivator and engagement factor!

Do we have to do all of the books and do we have to do them in order?
No, you can do any or all of the books and there is no particular order. Let your students' interest gauge where they start.  Again, make this fit your schedule and your learners. 

Have fun! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. You can email me at sjmalchow@pulaskischools.org 
or catch me on Twitter-@smalchow

*You can also contact Bobbie Hopkins with any questions regarding the intermediate version. You can reach her on Twitter as well @bhopteacher

If you've not used Epic Kids Books, it is free for educators- so run, don't walk, to check it out!! If you're interested in learning how to set up individual student accounts, click here to access some screen shots that will help you through the process.


  1. What a great idea for students doing a reading response. Are your Epic pals sheets leveled? Are all the books the same reading level or are they different reading levels?

  2. Great questions. The books are not officially leveled. I started this project to challenge my higher readers in 1st grade. I try to find books in what I consider to be the K-N range for the primary version. Books on the list are not all at the same level so you will need to use your teacher discretion and/or have your students decide what is most appropriate for them. My students became very good judges of what they knew were "Good fit books" for them.
    I will also say that the Sept-Nov books are a bit easier so students/teachers can focus on learning how to use Epic and Padlet independently.