High Spirits: Halloween Storytime at the Park

Two days ago, the whole Bay Area was drenched by an atmospheric river, so I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to hold storytime today. Luckily, the ground at the park was fairly dry, and surprisingly, we had a pretty big turnout. Not only that, the kids seem to finally be getting comfortable moving around and interacting with us, which is a big relief.

It had been such a long time since we had done in-person storytimes, that many of the kids had never attended a storytime before, or at least not since they were too young to remember. Plus, sitting apart on blankets, instead of in the cozy crowd at the library, seemed to make them feel a bit shy and uncertain. But today we had kids dancing and calling out suggestions, and it was almost like old times. Here’s what we did:

BOOKS:

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara

One of my favorite Halloween books for younger kids, this not-so-scary story is about a girl who lives in a haunted house. Luckily, the girl is a witch, who knows how to catch ghosts and put them to work being curtains and blankets and other useful things. We aren’t handing out play scarves right now, but when we were, I used to love having the kids pretend to catch their own “ghosts” in the air. Today, we took the time to count the ghosts together. Always a hit!

Aaaarrgghh, Spider! by Lydia Monks

This isn’t technically a Halloween book, but I included it because it’s about a spider. The spider (who is adorable) really wants to be a family pet, but all of her attempts to get the family’s attention end with them screaming, “Aaaarrgghh, Spider!” and putting her outside. The kids loved joining in on the screams. They also loved the page of sparkly webs.

Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

The perfect monster book for younger kids, and a brilliant book design that makes the different parts of the monster’s face seem to magically appear and disappear. One challenge with doing storytime in the park is making sure the kids can see the illustrations, so my coworker, Claire, usually walks around with a second copy of the book. For this one, we happened to have an adorable puppet version, with Velcro eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and hair you can easily stick to the face. I think the next time I do this, I’ll ask for volunteers to put the different parts of the monster’s face on the puppet and take them off again.

SONGS:

ON HALLOWEEN:

This is a versatile, easy song, and provides a great opportunity for kids to suggest their own verses. Today we had bats saying “Eeee!”, zombies saying “Brains!”, and skeletons saying “Boo!” I always end with “The kids at the door say ‘Trick or Treat!'”

To the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. The ukulele/guitar chords are in bold:

The [C] ghosts in the house say “Oooooooo!”

[G7] “Oooooooo! [C] Oooooooo!”

The ghosts in the house say “Oooooooo!”

[G7] On Hallo-[C]ween.

WE ARE SCARY SKELETONS

This is a fun, spooky song that also allows kids to suggest spooky (or not-so-spooky) things to be. Today we were werewolves, witches, and cats.

Here’s a video of a version I did for virtual storytime (although I used ghosts instead of skeletons), so you can hear the tune. I usually sing this one without the ukulele, so that I can use my whole body for the motions.

We are scary skeletons floating down the street,

Walking down the street,

Walking down the street.

We are scary ghosts walking down the street,

We’ll scare you…BOO! 

SPIDER ON THE FLOOR

To the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It. This is an old Raffi song, although I usually change the lyrics a little. Claire and I both acted it out with toy spiders, and I encouraged the kids to make spiders with their hands.

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.

Who could ask for any more than a spider on the floor?

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.

Now the spider’s on my leg, on my leg.

Now the spider’s on my leg, on my leg.

Oh, he’s really, really big, this old spider on my leg.

There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.

Now the spider’s on my tummy, on my tummy…

Oh, I feel so very funny with this spider on my tummy!…

Now the spider’s on my neck, on my neck…

Oh, I’m gonna’ be a wreck, I’ve got a spider on my neck!…

Now the spider’s on my face, on my face…

Oh, I’m such a big disgrace. I’ve got a spider on my face!…

Now the spider’s on my head, on my head…

Oh, it fills my heart with dread to have this spider on my head!…

Spoken: But it jumps off!

Now the spider’s on the floor, on the floor…

Who could ask for any more than a spider on the floor?…

HALLOWEEN SHARKS

I was ridiculously excited to sing this spooky version of Baby Shark by PinkFong. I gave out shakers for the kids to play along, and played it on the ukulele (chords and lyrics below):

Baby [Am] Shark, Doot [Em] doo, doo [Dm] doo doo doo.

[Em] Baby [Am] Shark, Doot [Em]doo, doo [Dm] doo doo doo.

[Em] Baby [Am] Shark, Doot [Em]doo, doo [Dm] doo doo doo.

[Em] Baby [Am] Shark!

BOO!

Repeat with Mommy Shark, Daddy Shark, Grandma Shark, Grandpa Shark, and Halloween.

STAY AND PLAY:

I’ve been trying to find simple activities for the stay-and-play that allow kids to explore things around the park, so I was really excited to find this Magic Nature Wand activity from Mini Mad Things. I put out pipe cleaners, multicolored yarn, and scissors for the kids, and encouraged them to look around for sticks (not too big or too pointy) to make into wands, and leaves to attach to them. They turned out beautifully! Here is one example:

I have Toddler Storytime on Thursday (if the weather holds), and for that one, I’m hoping to have the kids make Leaf Monsters with leaves, glue sticks, Googly eyes, and markers. I got the idea from this great list of Halloween Nature Crafts from Mother Natured. Here is my example:

What are your favorite Halloween books, songs, or crafts? Please share them in the comments.

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