Click or Treat! Two Virtual Halloween Storytimes

Happy Halloween! Since my last post, my coworker Angela and I have done two more Interactive Musical Storytimes via Zoom. It’s been wonderful to see the kids again, even just on the computer, and we invited them to come in costume, which was adorable.

This time we did sign-ups with a Microsoft Form, instead of using the Zoom registration. This gave us a little more flexibility in the kinds of questions we could include, including a checkbox to acknowledge that the person registering was over 13 years of age, and that any kids under 13 would be accompanied by an adult. This has been our workaround for the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) rules, which would otherwise prevent from doing any interactive programs for kids under 13. (Click here to see the form we used). The downside to this method was that I had to send participants the Zoom link over email, because unlike registering through Zoom, they wouldn’t receive an automated email confirmation when they filled out the form.

Like last time, we had a coworker managing the chat, and muting and unmuting the kids at different times. We mostly muted everyone during the songs and stories, and unmuted them to ask for suggestions at different points. The books we used were all from Open Library. We did have one major technical glitch in the middle of one of the books. Angela’s Internet suddenly went down, and since she was the one who had the book checked out, I had to improvise for a few minutes until she logged back in. After that, the book wouldn’t load for some reason, so she had to quickly return it, and have me check it out instead. Luckily, the crowd was very patient.

Here’s what we did:

STORYTIME 1: PUMPKINS

Intro: As usual, we asked the kids to find a piece of cloth to wave, and something to make noise with (drum, pot and spoon, etc). We took a few minutes to admire everyone’s costumes, and let them talk if they wanted to, and we explained how to switch from Gallery view (where they could see everyone) to Speaker view (where they could see Angela and I in a larger window). Zoom actually now lets you “spotlight” multiple speakers, which is supposed to make those speakers larger for everyone, but it doesn’t always seem to work.

OPENING SONG: Do As I’m Doing

We asked the kids for action ideas: spinning their cloth, throwing it in the air, jumping up and down, etc. Here are the chords and lyrics:

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, follow [G7] me.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

[C] Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me.

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me,

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

RHYME: Five Little Pumpkins

This is a classic Halloween rhyme that most of the kids already new. My daughter made me five paper pumpkins that I stuck on my fingers with tape.

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.

The first one said, “Oh my! It’s getting late!

The second one said, “There are witches in the air!”

The third one said, “But WE don’t care!”

The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run!” (run in place)

The five one said, “This is Halloween fun!”

Then, “OOOH” went the wind, and OUT (clap!) went the light!

And the five little pumpkins rolled (roll your hands) out of sight.

BOOK: The Pumpkin House by Roger Vaughan Carr; illustrated by Julie Davey: https://openlibrary.org/works/OL4794526W/The_Pumpkin_House?edition=pumpkinhouse00carr

An adorable story about a mouse who decides to carve herself out of a pumpkin, only to eat so much of the pumpkin that she soon outgrows it.

RHYME: Pumpkin Patch

I learned this rhyme from an Orth Music teacher years ago, so I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s a fun one to do with a group.

Pumpkin Patch, Pumpkin Patch,

Walking all around in my pumpkin patch.

Here is a pumpkin, nice and fat (spread arms wide),

Turns into a jack-o-lantern, just like that! (make a scary face!)

We did this one a few times, taking a minute or two to comment on all the scary faces on the screen. The kids loved it!

BOOK: This is NOT a Pumpkin by Bob Staake: https://openlibrary.org/books/OL8458611M/This_Is_NOT_a_Pumpkin

Cute, simple book with large illustrations which show something that clearly looks like a pumpkin, but turns out to be a Jack-O-Lantern.

SONG: Jack-O-Lantern

I loved this song as a child, although I have no idea where it came from. We had the kids play their homemade instruments while I sang and played on the ukulele.

[C] Jack-O-Lantern, Jack-O- [G7] Lantern, you are such a spooky [C]sight,

As you sit there in the window looking out [G7] at the [C] night.

You were once a pretty [G7] pumpkin, growing on a pretty [C] vine,

Now you are a Jack-O-Lantern, let your can- [G7] dlelight [C] shine.

ENDING SONG: You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell (or possibly by Oliver Hood)

STORYTIME 2: MONSTERS

OPENING SONG: Do As I’m Doing (see above)

RHYME: Five Little Monsters

Angela did this one with an adorable felt board of five little monsters, partially covered by a blanket.

Five little monsters sleeping in my bed,

One crawled out from under my spread.

I called to Mama (call “Mama!”)

And Mama said, “No more monsters sleeping in the bed!”

Four little monsters sleeping in my bed…

BOOK: Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems: https://archive.org/details/yourpalmowillems00will

You can’t go wrong with Mo Willems, so I’m grateful that he has given us a book perfect for Halloween. Leonardo is a terrible monster, who simply can’t scare anyone, until he meets Sam. Angela read the narration and Leonardo, and I got to do Sam’s long tearful rant.

SONG: We Are Scary Ghosts

I learned this song from an Orth Music curriculum, where it was originally called Scary Skeletons. We had the kids put their cloths over their heads to be ghosts, and sang it through a couple of times. Then we asked for other things to be. We were scary witches, monsters, vampires (with the cloth as a cape), bees, and pretty butterflies.

We are scary ghosts floating down the street,

Floating down the street,

Floating down the street.

We are scary ghosts floating down the street,

We’ll scare you…BOO! (pull the scarf off and yell, “BOO!”)

BOOK: Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler and S.D. Schindler: https://openlibrary.org/works/OL166479W/Skeleton_Hiccups?edition=skeletonhiccups00cuyl (There are two editions of this on Open Library)

Simple story about a skeleton with hiccups, and the hilarious way his friend Ghost finds to help him. Angela read the narration and I provided the hiccups all the way through.

SONG: On Halloween

Our first play-along song, where we asked the kids to pull out their drums or other noise-makers. We asked for suggestions of scary things they might find in the house. We had cats in the house saying, “Meow, Meow, Meow!”; spiders in the house going creep, creep, creep; monsters in the house going stomp, stomp, stomp; witches in the house saying “Hee, Hee, Hee!”; and children at the door saying “Trick or Treat!”

To the Tune of The Wheels on the Bus

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

[G7]“Boo! Boo! Boo! C] Boo! Boo! Boo!”

The ghosts in the house say “Boo! Boo! Boo!”

[G7]On Hallo- [C]ween!

ENDING SONG: You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell (or possibly by Oliver Hood)

Do you have favorite Halloween songs or books (either e-books or print ones)? Please share them in the comments.

Scary Stories!

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Q-tip Skeleton by Sophia

I love Halloween. The only thing that frightens me about the holiday is that I know the instant it’s over, it will be Christmas. And not just in the stores, because Christmas has already begun its red and green invasion across our local Rite Aid. No, I mean, that as soon as October ends, that whole eight weeks between November 1 and December 25 will vanish like a pepperoni pizza in a room full of teenagers.

But for now, I get to enjoy the huge variety of great picture books about monsters, witches, pumpkins, and ghosts. The only challenge is gauging the scariness level for the wide range of ages I read to. This week, I did Halloween-themed storytimes for two groups of toddlers, two groups of preschoolers, two second grade classes, and my family storytime group (mostly Kindergartners). This post is mostly about my family storytime, but I’ll list some of my favorites for the other age groups below:

monster

When a Monster is Born by Sean Taylor and Nick Sharatt

“When a monster is born, there are two possibilities: either it’s a Faraway in the Forests Monster or it’s an Under Your Bed Monster.” This book explores all the different things that might happen with each decision a monster might make, each with hilarious twists: it might eat the principal, it might meet a kitchen girl and fall in love. The kids love joining in on the repeated line, “There are two possibilities.” This one was quickly snatched up by one of my family storytime kids. The parents enjoyed it too, especially the line, “Hey, I’m a monster. You’re a monster. Let’s get married!”

peas

The Monster Who Ate My Peas by Danny Schnitzlein and Matt Faulkner

I love this book. It’s rare to find a long story in rhymed verse that reads so well all the way through, and is easy for the kids to follow. When a boy doesn’t want to eat his peas, a horrifying monster appears to offer a trade: he’ll eat the peas in exchange for the boy’s new soccer ball. The boy accepts, but the next time he has to eat peas, the monster returns asking for his bike. I had read this to two classes of second graders the morning before my family storytime, and I thought it was really interesting that, when I asked them if the boy should give up his ball or his bike, most of the older kids said, “Yes.” (The Kindergarten kids at family storytime said, “No” every time.). But when the monster demands the boy’s puppy, all the kids were emphatically against the deal, and also worried about what was going to happen to the dog. Luckily, the boy decides to eat the peas himself, and the monster disappears in a deliciously satisfying ending. A couple of the Kindergartners thought this one was scary, which surprised me because I remembered reading it to them a year or so before. But then I know from my own kids that they find different things frightening at different ages. The second graders loved it.

crankenstein

Crankenstein by Samantha Berger; illustrated by Dan Santat

This one was recommended by my friend Kerri, on her blog What is ML Reading? It’s a fun read-aloud because the kids get to make that Frankenstein “Mehrrr!” noise all the way through. It describes all the things that can turn a normal kid into Crankenstein: waiting in long lines, running out of maple syrup, getting ready for school, and bedtime. It would pair well with another of my favorite books: What are You so Grumpy About? by Tom Lichtenheld. This one got snatched up too.

CreepyCarrots1

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds; illustrated by Peter Brown

Always a hit! As I told the kids: this one’s only scary if you’re a rabbit. But it has all the hallmarks of a horror movie: dark shadows, creepy breathing, things that aren’t there when you turn around. In this case, the monsters are three creepy carrots, who stalk poor Jasper Rabbit until he decides to take matters into his own hands. It’s a fun read, with a funny twist at the end, and it works for a wide range of ages.

SONGS:

Jack-o-Lantern (For the tune, click here)

Jack-o-lantern, Jack-o-lantern,
You are such a spooky sight!
As you sit there in the window
Looking out at the night.

You were once a yellow pumpkin
Growing on a pretty vine.
Now you are a jack-o-lantern,
Let your candlelight shine!

1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Witches

1 little, 2 little, 3 little Witches (hold up three fingers)
Fly over haystacks, fly over ditches (fly your hand around)
Fly over moonbeams without any hitches
Hey ho! Halloween night! (Clap!)

1 little, 2 little, 3 little witches
Flew over barbed wire, tore their britches
Had to go home and get some stitches (mime sewing)
Hey ho! Halloween night! (Clap!)

On Halloween (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus)

The ghosts in the house go, “Boo! Boo! Boo!”
“Boo! Boo! Boo! Boo! Boo! Boo!”
The ghosts in the house go, “Boo! Boo! Boo!”
On Halloween!

The witches in the house go “Hee hee hee!”…

The bats in the house go “Eee eee eee!”…

The kids at the door say “Trick or treat!”

I asked for suggestions from the kids for other spooky Halloween things, or things they plan to be for Halloween.

Five Little Pumpkins

Five Little Pumpkins sitting on a gate (hold up five fingers)
The first one said, “Oh my! It’s getting late!”
The second one said, “There are witches in the air!”
The third one said, “But we don’t care!”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run!”
The fifth one said, “It’s Halloween fun!”
Then “OOOOOOH” went the wind,
And out went the light! (Clap)
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight. (roll hands)

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Q-Tip Skeleton by Olivia

CRAFT: Q-Tip Skeletons

I am grateful to the Crafts Ideas website for including a printable template for the skull. I cut those out ahead of time and broke up the Q-Tips into different sizes. One thing I learned the hard way: it’s much easier to break Q-tips with your hands than to cut them with scissors. With the scissors, I was wearing out my hands, and Q-tip bits were flying across the reference desk like tiny cotton missiles!

The kids used glue sticks to glue their skeletons to black paper. If you do a search for Q-Tip Skeletons online, you’ll see an astounding variety of styles. Some of them get pretty elaborate, and include fingers and toes.

OTHER HALLOWEEN BOOKS (with recommended ages):

Babies and Toddlers:

Halloween Countdown by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Wonderful counting rhyme in a board book format. The ghosts are adorable, and there’s a “Boo!” at the end. This one really works well for any age.

Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino

A classic board book of the fingerplay, Five Little Pumpkins (see above). Most of the kids knew this one already.

Tucker’s Spooky Halloween by Leslie McGuirk

Tucker is an adorable white dog who would like to be something spooky for Halloween, but his owner has other plans. Simple, cute story in a board book format.

Preschool:

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman; illustrated by S. D. Schindler

A witch grows a pumpkin for pumpkin pie, but is unable to pull it off the vine. One by one, different Halloween creatures try their hand until a bat suggests the solution. Fun, repetitive story with great illustrations.

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas

When Duck gets his head stuck in a pumpkin, his friends Mouse and Pig think he is a monster. Short, funny read-aloud with a lot of visual humor. This is one of my daughter’s favorites.

Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Leonardo is a terrible monster. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t scare anyone, until he meets Sam. This is a sweet story, and perfect for storytime because of the large pages with lots of white space. You have to take a big breath when you get to the page where Sam explains why he’s crying. I love everything Mo Willems writes.

Elementary Grades:

The Skeleton in the Closet by Alice Schertle; illustrated by Curtis Jobling

Another wonderful rhyming story. I have actually read this one to younger kids, but I point out the cuteness of the skeleton and tone down the spookiness in my voice. A skeleton climbs up the stairs of a little boy’s house, saying it’s “Coming to get some skeleton clothes!” In the end, it raids the little boy’s closet and comes out fully clothed.

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio; illustrated by Scott Campbell

I’ve read this one for Valentine’s Day too. Poor Mortimer tries everything to meet the girl of his dreams: giving out chocolates (full of worms), hearts (the organ kind), and even diamond rings (with the finger still attached). But nothing works until he places a personal ad in the paper, and meets Millicent, who loses her shoe (and her foot) at the ball. This one got lots of appreciative “Ews!” and “Yucks” from the second grade, both for the gruesome bits and the romantic ones.

The Book that Eats People by John Perry; illustrated by Mark Fearing

The second graders and I had fun acting scared of this book, because IT EATS PEOPLE! Deliciously gruesome, but not for younger kids unless they have a high tolerance for horror.

Next week I will be doing Halloween books again, probably sticking with the lighter, funnier ones. I would love suggestions, so please send me your favorites and I’ll list them below.