For one thing, in the world of a veteran classroom teacher, any holiday which can serve as a thin disguise for children to be unkind to one another is, well, not a good thing. Even if I weren't a classroom teacher, Halloween would not be my jam. Yep. I am a Grinch. I will admit that I hate having people leap out at me and scare me. I do not find it at all fun. I abhor gore. I dislike pranks. And April Fool's Day is my absolute least favorite holiday.
However, I perfectly well recognize that children love this holiday
- ... and I loved it as a child... and I remember how my mom would get out her sewing machine and buy patterns and fabric and make all of our costumes every year,
and my brother and I had to submit our costume choices by October 1st so that she had enough time to make them... and one year I was
big enough to fit into her old costume from when she was a girl and I was so excited... and I had to spend a lot of time that night explaining who
Annie Oakley was...
It's a compromise, though. NO costumes to be worn to school. And I am NOT passing out candy. But I AM willing to fill the afternoon with fun things. So we have been joking that it's a Not-Halloween Not-Party.
Of course, classic activities like Ghostie Numbers and the Haunted House of Speech have been going on in my classroom for the past few weeks. The finished Haunted Houses will be going home with children in the afternoon.
Here are the 10 thoughts in my Not-Party Planning:
1. Read "The Bells" by EAP to the whole group
(On October 31st there was an interesting, and related, article in the newspaper about author's craft and current Artificial Intelligence projects, so we read it. It was called "It Lives! This Nightmare Machine Writes Bone-Chilling Tales," which is an enormous exaggeration and the Twitter posts from the fiction-writing bot are not at all scary. Just really peculiar!)
2. Read Roald Dahl's ultra-creepy short story "The Landlady"
(this is for older children only)
3. Display some Halloween-y books, including
- Your Living Bones
- Spooky Magic
- Georgie's Halloween
- The Magic Pumpkin
- The Pumpkin Giant
- Detective Mole and the Halloween Mystery
- Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead
- Scary Creatures of the Deep
- The Witch Who Saved Halloween
(this was one of my favorite books ever as a kid)
Play outdoor party games:
4. Eyeball Toss
(individual game: draw eyeballs on plain white ping pong or foosball table balls with red and black Sharpie, set up an assortment of Halloween themed buckets as well as a line behind which students stand, they have to toss the eyeballs into the buckets, earning more points for buckets which are farther away)
5. Mummy Race
(team game: pair students up into teams and decide which one is the wrapper and which one is the mummy, the wrapper wraps the mummy with toilet paper thoroughly but as quickly as possible and then the mummy has to run from one end of the field to the other and then back to the starting point and unwrap with their partner's help, first team to complete this task wins)
6. Bobbing for Apples
(individual game: put a bunch of apples in a large washbasin, put in a lot of cold water so that the apples are floating around well, children have to put their hands behind their backs and catch an apple between their teeth to win)
7. A few fun things to do on paper:
word searches (I have two options, one easier and one harder), a maze, a crossword puzzle, and several different pretty Autumn coloring pages
8. Make fake blood (a handy-dandy ratios project, equal parts warm water and corn syrup, red food coloring and cocoa powder added at your discretion until it looks realistic) and complete the Blood Splatter Detectives Lab
9. Do the Lord of the Flies Prereading Survival Scenario Activity with the older students
10. And, last but not least, practice ratios again (1:1:1) by making and playing with Jack o' Lantern Slime. This recipe takes equal parts clear glue and water and liquid starch. Add the food coloring or confetti to the glue/water mixture before you put the starch in. We are doing two recipes, one with black spider confetti and one with orange pumpkin confetti. I got the confetti from Hobby Lobby.
My daughters are especially thrilled at the prospect of slime making. Why? I bought four containers from the bakery of baked goods because the deep plastic containers are perfect for making and storing slime in and can be tossed when your kids are tired of it. My daughters were so excited because I came home from the grocery store with an apple pie, a sweet potato pie, pecan sticky buns, and gourmet English toffee cookies!
Happy Halloween, everyone!
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