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September 30, 2010 Pumpkins, Ghosts, and Witches, OH MY! October Books, Parties, and Crafts By Nancy Jang
Grades 1–2

    Every year, in the beginning of October, the kids are abuzz with talk of costumes and trick or treating. They are beyond excited. Every day they ask me, "How many days until Halloween?" and "Miss Jang, what are you going to be for Halloween?" Then they begin asking me about our in-class celebration. I try and harness that interest and excitement with themed activities and great books.

    Photo courtesy of Microsoft Word Clip Art.

    I have over a hundred books that I love to read during this month, but there aren't nearly enough days to get to them all. Here are some of my favorites. If you want a printable list with author names and lexiles, download my Book Wizard list of October read-alouds. I have listed  books there that are not listed here, so check it out.


    DSC00138Character Day Reports

    In the past, I have had my students complete a book report due close to the date of Halloween. The students are required to read a book, fill out a written form, and present an oral report to their peers. This has been great practice for the kids in their listening and speaking skills. It's fun to do and the children who would not normally participate in festivities are able to join in. A visual aid is a required part of the oral report. Most of the students prefer to wear a costume, but I offer the options of poster, puppet, mask, or stuffed animal. Last year I kept some of the puppets as an example to show you!

    WitchHalloween Fun

    Scholastic Printables has some fun pages for the holiday, including one listing Halloween facts, a Halloween acrostic, a Halloween songHalloween stationery, and a Halloween treat poemTeaching Heart has several sorting and graphing sheets for various kinds of candy. 

    I use these the day of our Halloween parade and before our party so that I can squeeze in language arts, science, math, and some fun!



    Pumpkins, Pumpkins!

    Some years I have had a number of students who are not able to participate in Halloween activities due to religious reasons. To accommodate these kids, I have done a theme around pumpkins instead. We connect it to science, language arts, and math. Scholastic Printables also has some wonderful activities for either Halloween or a unit on pumpkins, including "Hundreds of Pumpkins," pumpkin activitiespumpkin mathpumpkin poetry, a pumpkin song, and a pumpkin word find. If you haven't checked out Scholastic Printables and Mini-Books, it's definitely worth the money. 


    Party Time!

    I don't allow junk food and sweets in class or at our parties. I want to model good eating and show that you can have fun without a ton of sugary treats. We do have a nice variety of party foods available for the kids. I generally have my party after lunch so that kids eat a balanced meal and then have some snacks. Anything they don't finish gets sent home in a baggie.

    Party Food: Our healthy party food includes sliced cheese and crackers, cut fruit, veggies with dip, and bottled water. We also have some fun foods like "monster's hand" (popcorn-filled plastic glove with candy corn in the fingers) and dry ice in apple juice.

    Party Games and Crafts: We play "wrap the mummy" and a Halloween version of bingo. Wrap the mummy is an old favorite in which students use toilet paper to wrap one of their teammates up to look like a mummy. First team to entirely cover their teammate, with no clothing or body parts showing, wins!


    Photo courtesy of Not So Idle Hands.

     This year we will be making these cool jack-o'-lanterns designed by Emily at her blog Not So Idle Hands. Emily provides step by step directions with photos and the patterns for the faces. She also shows you how to make other lanterns that have a friendly looking Frankie, ghost, and Drac face. I will probably start this cool project the day before our party so that they have time to dry. Then, on the day of the party, we'll add the faces and take them home!


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