We love book-inspired activities, and Halloween is no exception!
We’ve been reading Halloween books since August, and have come up with several fun Halloween activities for kids to share with you today. Here are our top 50 Halloween activities based on our top 10 Halloween books.
The Runaway Pumpkin Activities
The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis is a rolling romp about a “thumpety bumpety thumpin’ bumpin’ round and roll-y RUNAWAY PUMPKIN.” The Baxter brothers release a pumpkin from its “twisty twirly vine” and set it loose down a hill, crashing through various aspects of the farm, before Papa Baxter wisely plows a hole for it to stop in.
- Make one of the pumpkin treats described in the book: pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread
- Pumpkin bowling — using either a ball or an actual pumpkin!
- Make a felt pumpkin with buttons for its eyes, nose, and mouth; then make small black felt shapes and cut slits in the middle of each for a “dressing board” pumpkin.
- Explore the Montessori grammar farm.
- Engineer your own chain reaction – anything from simple dominos to something more elaborate like a marble run!
Dem Bones Activities
Dem Bones by Bob Barner is illustrated using ripped-paper, which lends an extra layer of dimension to this animated version of the African American spiritual (folk song based on Ezekiel 37:1-14). It’s a great way to give children a primer in human anatomy –
- Invite the children to make their own ripped-paper illustrations and collages, inspired by the illustrations in the book.
- Explore skeleton clings or skeleton x-rays on the light table
- Use post-it notes to label the parts of the body — you can either have the children label each other, or draw a body outline and have them label that
- Dance along to the song that inspired the book.
- Make a representational drawing “x-ray” of a skeleton, providing Hallowe’en skeleton decorations as models, white crayons or chalk, and black paper. With older children, have them label the bones or body parts as best as they can.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat Activities
There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandra is a fun Hallowe’en twist on the conventional There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly rhyme.
In this version, the old lady swallows several Hallowe’en related figures and animals, and the author cleverly switches the traditional “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she’ll die” to the more child-friendly, “There was an old lady who swallowed, I don’t know why she swallowed a bat, imagine that.” I also appreciated that the lady didn’t get “bigger” as she ate more things, as she does in some other stories.
- Feed the Old Lady: we borrowed an “Old Lady” doll with a hollow body for stuffing in the objects from the story, or you could make a Kleenex box lady similar to my Cookie Monster Alphabet eater. I gave each child one a small version of each animal that the Old Lady ate in the book, and had them each feed the old lady when the animal that they were holding was mentioned in the story
- While reading, I had the children each act out animals and make the animal sounds as each animal was named (and swallowed by the Old Lady).
- After reading the story, I had the children try to recall the sequence of the story and paste animal cutouts to a paper stomach in order. I added the first letter for each animal as the book focuses on “g” “o” “b” and “c.”
- We went around in a circle and made up our own version of the story, brainstorming what else the old lady could have eaten that reminded us of Hallowe’en
- Use chocolate or ice cube molds to make frozen yogurt or chocolate treats for the children to recreate their own version of the story with — we made frozen yogurt bones!
Room on the Broom Activities
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson is a fun, repetitive story about a witch’s flight that keeps getting waylaid by dropped items, and new passengers. Written by the same author as the Gruffalo, it is a cute story that the kids requested over and over again, and helped drive home a good moral about sharing.
- Go on a treasure hunt for all of the witch’s lost items (use real ones or paper cut-outs)
- Act like the animals from the story
- Play “Room on the Broom” — a fun twist on Musical Chairs. You can use a length of wood, a bench, or a bunch of small child-sized chairs
- Practice “flying” on a broom
- Place a square of tape on the floor and have children practice sweeping into the square.
I reviewed and discussed Frankenstein: A Montrous Parody by “Ludworst Bemonster” previously, but the kids are really enjoying this slightly sinister tale so we have had a bit of fun extending the book into our day.
- Find the head! Hide a picture of “Frankenstein’s head” for the children to seek
- Cutting crooked lines out of paper (an essential cutting skill to work on for dexterity)
- Practice fitting different sized nuts and blots as a matching and fine motor skills game
- Use a design and drill to practice patterning
- Make a castle using a variety of materials — sand, plaster, paper, foam, etc. We used a ready made kit from a craft store.
Miss Spider’s Wedding Activities
Miss Spider’s Wedding by David Kirk is a longer story, more suited to elementary-aged children, but I read this during a wind-down time and it was well-received. Children learn that good friends (or true love) come in a variety of appearances, and that we should rejoice when we have it. The story reads like an ancient Greek poem.
- Play “Spider on the Shape,” cutting out felt shapes and having a felt spider hop from shape to shape in a form of mini-Twister (you can also make a “life sized version.”)
- Make spider webs similar to how one would make an “Ojos de Dios” (God’s eye); use a popsicle stick cross and a length of wool yarn, which refines fine motor skills
- Web collages: provide various collage materials for children to make their own web collages
- Walk on a spiderweb: Make a twist on the traditional Montessori “Walk the Line” game, and make a masking tape spiderweb for the children to practice upon
- Spoon mini spider figures into an ice cube tray or muffin tray to practice dexterity and one-to-one correspondance
Fall Mixed Up Activities
Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka is a rhyming book that quite literally mixes everything up!
Apples turn orange, squirrels migrate in figure eights, kids leap into piles of sticks, and owls howl at the moon. (Or, Miss G’s favourite, families give thanks for a bounty of sweets at Thanksgiving!)
- Invite children to go back through the book and discover/correct all of the mixed up descriptions
- Sorting activities: scramble up a bunch of fall-inspired miniatures, table scatter — whatever you have — and have the children sort it out using tongs, tweezers, spoons or their fingers for fine motor practice.
- Go on a nature walk and try to point out things from the book
- Seasonal lacing boards: Cut out fall shapes from foam, use a hole puncher to make “lacing” holes
- Play a game of opposites; give the children instructions or tell them something and have them guess or do the opposite! For example, when you say “Touch your toes,” they need to touch their heads!
And Then Comes Halloween Activities
And Then Comes Hallowe’en by Tom Brenner is a sweet book that explores the concept of sequencing through it’s narrative use of “When… Then…”
The book carries from the start of Fall through to Hallowe’en night, showing the sequence of events and preparations that mark the season and it’s progression. Cut paper and watercolour illustrations give this book a soft, nostaglic feel.
- Go for a walk in your neighbourhood and look for cues of Fall, see what “when… then…” sequences the kids can come up with.
- Create your own illustrative collages, encouraging the children to keep revisiting the same piece of art over and over again, adding new dimensions and meaning each time.
- Make necklaces with coloured beads, shaped beads, fall beads AND THEN wear them or wrap them up as gifts.
- Practice anything with sequences or two-step projects. I had the children sort out fall counters and then use them to practice counting. A two step recipe would be a great alternative.
Zen Ghosts Activities
Zen Ghosts by John J Muth is a unique approach to a Hallowe’en children’s book, featuring a wise panda, Stillwater, who shares deeply spiritual tales with his young friends. Each book in the Zen series has a beautiful message, and this one takes the fear out of the concept of ghosts and makes the idea beautiful.
- Discuss the phases of the moon (as both stories take place around the full moon)
- Discuss trading; or, even better — start trading some Hallowe’en candy or tokens (erasers, etc). Have the children discuss what fair trading looks and feels like.
- Make a candle latern
- Try some watercolour painting, or experiment with a Buddha Board
- With older children, this is a great opportunity to discuss the concept of “halves” and “wholes”
Edgar Gets Ready for Bed Activities
Edgar Gets Ready for Bed by Jennifer Adams is a sweet, modern take on Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” — for children! Edgar is a little raven protesting all of the steps along the way to bedtime with that infamous “Nevermore!” screech. If you enjoy Mo Willems books, you’ll enjoy this one.
- Attempt to do “yoga” positions as modeled by Edgar during his bedtime protests
- Make shadow puppets
- Use a small Raven fingerpuppet to act out the book
- Play a game of “Evermore/Nevermore” — ask children if they want to eat broccoli, dance all the time, etc, and have them respond with either “Evermore” if they’d like to always do something, or “Nevermore” if they want to protest it
- … get ready for bed! This is the perfect before-bed book, as it captures the similar routines (and struggles) that many families follow.
I hope you enjoyed our massive list of Hallowe’en books-inspired activities! I usually like to space things out a bit more and not write such activity-packed posts, but I like that these activities are all easily located on one page. If you’d like to continue reading our posts of Montessori and Reggio-inspired ideas for kids and children’s book reviews, make sure to subscribe to my daily e-mail posts.
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