The kids and I spend the entire month of October celebrating Halloween. I wanted to put down a plan ahead of time as far as the projects we would do, and the books we would read, but I wasn’t able to do that in time. So, we just went with it, and I’m compiling it now.
Following are the activities, book, and songs we included in our Halloween Homeschool Plan this year. I wish I had taken more pictures… we were just having so much fun I forgot half the time!
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler – We all loved this book. It was one of the most read out of the bunch. A wonderful story about friendship. Lucas was a little scared of the monster but after we explained what was going on, he was happy to read it over and over. He also learned some magic words “Ziggety Zaggety Zoom!) and was very interested in figuring out the witches magic caldron. Next year I think we will have to mix up some potions in our caldron as a project to go along with this book.
Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler – This book was the winner by far for both boys. They thought it was absolutely hilarious, cracking up every time we read it (which was every day all month long). I liked it because it introduced them to skeletons in a very un-scary way. We read it so many times that Nathan started saying “hic hic” every time we saw a skeleton.
Inside a House that is Haunted, by Alyssa Satin Capucilli – This is a cute book that introduces the idea of a haunted house. It is very repetitious which makes it an easy one to memorize, and also includes some pictures within the text so that kids help read along. Complete with all the usual Halloween characters – from cats to monsters to mummies, this is a fun book as well.
Boo Who? by Joan Holub – a fun lift the flap book with lots of cute and not so scary Halloween characters. Great for toddlers – Nathan loved it, and it was still enjoyable for Lucas as well.
The Teeny Tiny Ghost, by Kay Winters – A story about a little ghost who is trying to learn how to scare and haunt. Lucas’s favorite part was the little ghost’s scary alphabet. “ABooCDEFG”. I thought it was a good introduction to ghosts without scaring the kids.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything, by Linda Williams – This is one of my favorite children’s books. We read this one all year round. The kids love to play along by clapping and nodding and shaking with the story. Just a tad bit scary, but the message is loud and clear – “I’m not afraid of you!”.
The Littlest Pumpkin, by R.A. Herman – a very sweet book about the littlest pumpkin at the pumpkin patch, and his dream to become a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.
Corduroy’s Halloween, by Don Freeman – a cute lift the flap book that shows Corduroy doing all the preparations for Halloween, and then celebrating with his friends on the big night.
We sang lots of Itsy Bitsy Spider, The Spooky ABC’s, and made up songs about pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns and witches. This was the most fun of all. Lucas made one up about planting a pumpkin seed and watering it, growing it into a jack-o-lantern to carve for Halloween. He sang it regularly, through his microphone (plugged into daddy’s guitar amp). I think the neighbors learned the song as well… Next year I plan to get some more Halloween themed music ahead of time, since music is such an important aspect of our home education, especially at the preschool age.
Crafts and Hands on Activities:
Decorated the House on October 1st – the boys got to choose where we put many of the decorations, and also picked a few for their rooms. We put up hand made decorations (see below) as well as things we have collected over the years – pumpkins and black cats, ghosts and goblins, special candles, and more.
Scary light shows with special Halloween flashlights in the dark – I found some great little lights at toys r us for a couple dollars. They had little plastic caps that covered the light and created spooky shapes in the light. The boys put on shows on the wall at night for us.
Put out Halloween tissue boxes and hand soap — huge hit with Lucas, he just loves these little details! They are worth the extra expense. 🙂
Jack-o-lantern Window Clings (from dollar bins at Target) – This is still up on our back door. The goofy pumpkin head with giant teeth and pieces of candy all around him was just to much fun. The boys loved changing his expressions and moving the pieces all over.
Craft Kits from Michaels – I stocked up on these ahead of time and we did a couple of them a week. From decorating little haunted houses to making halloween mugs, foam skeletons, fuzzy monsters, wooden ornaments, and halloween bead necklaces, we had a ton of fun with these.
Carving Pumpkins – Lucas modeled the faces, and Ryan did the carving. The boys were a little creeped out by the pumpkin insides, but they did their best.
Craft Kits from Paper Source.com – these were super cute and fun, better quality than the michaels crafts, and very easy. We made bats, pumpkins, and ghosts with googly eyes and stuck them on the wall above our fireplace.
Made orange play dough pumpkins – stole this idea from the kid’s mommy and me class. Who doesn’t love play dough! I found a recipe for gf play dough that actually works here.
Pumpkin coloring contest at Trader Joes – the boys loved the idea of bringing their colored photo back to TJ’s for a chance to win a prize.
Made our own Candy necklaces – this wasn’t the greatest idea on my part. The candy beads hardly made it on to the elastic strings. Mostly they were gobbled up quickly. Lucas loved this project though, it was worth the frustrations to see his happy smile.
Decorating the house with dad – it has become a tradition at our house to decorate for the holidays with obnoxious amounts of lights. The neighbors talk about it all year long. This year both boys helped Ryan put out decorations. Almost every night for the whole month they added a couple more strings of lights or another spooky decoration. The boys had so much fun and were sad to take everything down when the holiday was over.
Boo at the Zoo – A lot of fun, but chaotic, crazy, and candy overload. We will do it again for sure. The kids had a blast getting to trick-or-treat at the zoo, and the haunted train ride was fun too.
Pumpkin Patch – corn maze, hay ride, train ride, pumpkin picking, wheelbarrow ride, shaved ice (it was VERY hot that day), and climbing a ginormous haystack. Tons of fun!
Harvest Festival – more corn mazes and hay stacks, animal feeding, pumpkin picking, tractor climbing, and fun with friends.
A Halloween party at grandparents – the older grand kids got a special Halloween party just for them with Nana and Papa. They did crafts and had snacks and came home with goodie bags of treats for them and their little brothers.
Practice walk around the neighborhood for trick or treating– the boys and I did a walk around the neighborhood a week early checking out everyone’s decorations and talking about trick or treating. They usually ride bikes or a wagon so actually doing the long walk was harder than usual. It was a good trial run!
Disneyland Halloween Time – We went to disneyland to check out the Halloween celebrations. It was so much fun, we definitely want to do it again. We didn’t do the trick or treat event, there was plenty to get us in the Halloween spirit by just visiting the park. The boys even went on the Haunted Mansion ride. They were a little spooked at first, but they loved it.
Trader Joes pumpkin patch – Trader Joes set up a really fun little pumpkin patch in their store. The boys played in it on our weekly grocery trips, exploring the pumpkins and the fun skeletons and mad scientist decorations.
Trick-or-Treating in our neighborhood – The boys had a blast, and it was so much fun to see them get so excited about it. Lucas was really into it, and was working hard for that candy!
Pumpkin Muffins – we baked them in special muffin tins shaped like witch hats and pumpkins.
Pumpkin Pancakes – I added pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree to our regular gluten free pancakes and they were delicious!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – I did these in the dehydrator this year and they turned out great. I had burned them in the over the past few times. Both boys enjoyed eating them, especially since they had pulled them out of the pumpkins themselves.
Butternut Squash “Pumpkin” soup – I made butternut squash soup and called it Pumpkin Soup, because it was orange. It was kind of a flop, I need a new recipe for the next time around. The kids liked the idea of it, but not the flavor.
Roasted Pumpkins – We cut open the pumpkins and roasted them, scooped out the squash and pureed it to use for breads and muffins.
Educational Stuff I had to throw in…
Lucas learned to spell Boo, and Hic Hic (for skeleton hiccups). He also recognized other halloween words from his books when we were out in public, like “Spooky” and more.
We had the boys give most of their candy to the “Halloween fairy” who takes the candy to children around the world who don’t get to go trick or treating. She leaves a gift in return for giving her the candy. This worked fairly well and gave Lucas a little perspective. He has since been asking about the kids who don’t have the things we do, and it’s been a great opportunity to teach him that not everyone in the world is as fortunate as he is.
And that’s it. We had a ton of fun, and I loved watching how the boys interests developed. Now we are looking forward to the next holiday! Hopefully I will be a little more prepared, and do better with the photos.
Oh, and here are some things I’d like to try next year:
Bobbing for apples. Making skeletons. Bringing Halloween treats to the neighbors. Pumpkin donuts. Sprouting pumpkin seeds and/or saving seeds to plant next year. Watching Charlie Brown’s “The Great Pumpkin”. And I’m sure I’ll come up with tons more…