Color Sorting Sensory Tub

Halloween Sensory Activity with color sortingUsually when we do a sensory tub I don’t have a clear goal for it but with this mini one I did. This was a simple sorting activity that while focused on color sorting also naturally led to counting and comparing amounts. You don’t need to put this into a sensory tub but by adding the split peas I added sensory  and surprise elements that my daughter loved. When it was all done everything fit into a ziploc and can be taken back out for less structured play from now on.

Gather your materials. You will need some black and orange paper, black and orange creepy crawlies ( we used various spiders, ants, frogs, snakes etc… ) some split peas, and a container. I just grabbed the cheapest split peas at the store and didn’t notice until days later that there was a flavor packing with it. Just discard that if you have one unless you can think of a crafty way of using ham flavoring. If you do I am curious to hear it! creepy crawly color sorting

Pour the split peas in the container and hide the bugs etc… in it. creepy crawly sensory play

Place the paper on either side. creepy crawly color sorting halloween activity for kids

Invite your kiddo to come investigate. I didn’t have to tell her what to do , it was all right there and she naturally placed them on the matching color. As she did I did ask ” What are you discovering?” which started a discussion about that there were way more orange creepy crawlies than black. creepy crawly sensory play for halloween

Then she counted.creepy crawly halloween counting

Much time was also spent on just exploring the split peas. How they sounded when dropped back into the container from various heights and how some stuck to her hand if she squeezed them in her fist for a moment or two. creepy crawly sensory color sorting

Simple activities like these are my go to for short structured lessons. They still leave many doors open to let my daughter explore but include tid bits of more pointed learning. The vast majority of what we do is open child directed play and we fit in little activities like this 2-3 times a week. Kids don’t need giant blocks of structured learning at this age but if they like it and you want to work it in try playful ideas like this.

Books About Creepy Crawlies

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spider

The Very Busy Spider was a favorite of my son’s from the get go. We have the board book edition and what I love about it, is that the spider web in it is raised and offers a sensory element to reading the story. This is a story of hard work, persistence and also helps reinforce animal sounds. Perfect for toddlers !

two bad ants

Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg is a very interesting story of two ants who decide not to return to the colony and hang out in a sugar bowl eating instead. Of course nothing is as it seems and they have quite an adventure trying to avoid all the dangers of a kitchen, realizing in the end that being a part of a colony isn’t so bad! This is a cute book for preschoolers who will love trying to guess what each new adventure the ants face really are- they include a toaster, hot coffee and an electrical outlet.

i love bugs

 

I Love Bugs!by Phileomon Sturges is a rare find. It is listed as fiction but I would consider it as non fiction, as it really is a great factual book about bugs for older toddlers/ young preschoolers. It is really hard to find simple, short books that include facts and this one is perfect. It doesn’t go into the life cycles of butterflies or how lightning bugs light up, but it does use descriptive words with bright and charming illustrations. Great for the under 3 crowd, and useful for older kids too!

 

 

 

Monster Math Tray – Learning After School

preschool math Math is probably my son’s favorite subject right now and I am running with it. This monster math activity took 2 minutes to set up and could be used over and over . No need to buy anything other than paper and googly eyes! I like making simple tray activities like this that I can have ready for him at the table in the playroom to do after school. They are educational and appealing but not so long that he gets overwhelmed after a long day of school. As you will see my toddler demanded she get in on the action too, luckily this was easy to adapt to her level as well. For a fun variation check out how you can use dice for even more monster math over at Inner Child Learning.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some bright paper, googly eyes, a pencil ( if you want to use the monsters more than once) , and scissors. I also had a small cup and cookie tray to keep everything contained.
  2. Start by folding your paper in half and cutting out the shape of a monster. Best part is that they can be detailed or a blob , not need for extraordinary artistic skills! halloween math
  3. Next write simple math equations on the monster. If your child isn’t up to equations yet just do numbers. You can also do shapes and have your child place the eyes on the shapes. I used markers for the photos but If you want to use this more than once you can use pencil, or laminate the monsters and use dry erase markers.Counting
  4. All ready – now add a math wizard! He loves this . I love that while doing math he is also working on fine motor skills that he needs for writing.
  5. After he did addition we flipped it over and did some subtraction. He loved it too!
  6. ” I do it TOO!!!” To make it toddler friendly I only used the largest eyes, and wrote simple numbers on the monsters. My daughter still needed a little help as I thought she would but she was ecstatic to be doing big girl math with her big brother. All I know is she begged to do math. Let’s keep that spirit going right?monster craft

Monster Books

halloween books for kids

 Check out our round up of monster books for some reading after your math!

Halloween Math Activities for Kids

halloween crafts for kids These Halloween math activities for kids are a great way to add some extra learning to your day or for a class Halloween party. Math is a challenge for so many kids but if we can make it fun now before the challenge is too great then we can lay a positive foundation down to build upon for years to come.

Count & Fill Frankensteins
Halloween Graphing
Spider Counting Game from Loving My Nest
Candy Corn Counting
Haunted House Math
Halloween Patterns
Marshmallow Counting and Ghost Craft

 

Haunted House Math Activity

Using holidays like Halloween as a theme for great learning activities is a sure fire hit in my house. My daughter who is 2 is always excited to do any project but my almost 6 year old is a lot more picky. This Halloween math activity was such a hit that when I asked my son to rate it 1-100 he gave it a 100 without hesitation! Better yet it’s pretty easy to make , adapt for various levels and frugal too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some craft paper , markers , white card stock ( or paper plates !), scissors, painter’s tape and something to attach the house to a wall. I used push pins but more painter’s tape would work too.
  2. Cut out simple ghost shapes  from the paper plates / card stock. Add faces and numbers. I did 1-10 but you can write whatever numbers your child is working on.
  3. Draw a haunted house on craft paper. Mine took 3 tries the first was so bad I should have taken a picture to make you all laugh. The other ones became coloring paper for my toddler.
  4. Write out simple equations , number words or even just numbers to match up. You will see further down that for a toddler like my daughter you don’t even need anything to match. Just play with the numbers on the ghosts.
  5. Add painter’s tape to the ghosts and on the haunted house where you will place the equations.
  6. Add the equations to the house, put the ghosts next to it ready to be put in the house and call your little mathematician.
  7. As soon as my son saw the activity he said it was too easy and it probably was.  I grabbed my iPhone and asked him if he wanted me to time him. His face lit up. I don’t suggest timing children who don’t want to be timed or who will feel negatively pressured . Matching the words with the numbers on the ghosts was an easy task for my son but he has a competitive spirit and timing him made it more fun because it made it challenging.
  8. He flew through it. Placing the ghosts on top of the matching words.
  9. Next I switched the words on the house to simple equations. These were not going to be as easy and I told him for this time we would not be timing it.  I think that if I’d done the harder task first he would have gotten frustrated when a few of the harder equations didn’t come to him immediately.
  10. After my son was done I removed all the tape and equations so the house was clear , and put the ghosts back on the wall. Then invited my daughter who is 2 to come and put the ghosts in the haunted house. It was perfect for her. She grabbed the ghosts and named the numbers she knew and asked me to confirm the numbers she didn’t. She was very specific about where they should be. I was thrilled that they both had fun with math at their own levels of learning!

Ghosts In The House

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling. My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the little girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

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Halloween Books For Kids

Halloween books for kids fly off the library shelves once the candy hits the stores so make a list and grab your book bag after you read through this post. Books about holidays can be used to get kids excited , ease anxiety or my favorite read after the celebrations as a tool to talk about your family’s own holiday experience.

Dem Bones by Bob Barner is sort of two books in one. The superficial layer uses the words of the ever popular old time spiritual with fun Halloween inspired skeleton illustrations. There is also a second layer that has longer text for older children that goes into the anatomy of the bones the song sings about. Great way to keep a Halloween theme strong while teaching about the human body!

In the Haunted House by Eve Bunting is the type of story that you aren’t sure if you should or shouldn’t read to your 3 year old. Well maybe it’s just me. I am easily frightened, I can’t even watch commercials for scary movies , so I was leery about reading this book to my son. He opened it and scanned it himself and then brought it over to me so I gave it a try. He loved it. The book takes the reader through a haunted house, and each scary thing it houses. While reading it my son would stop look at me and ask ” Is that just pretend?” ” Is that just a costume?” which made me feel better about reading it since he will see some scary costumes and if the idea that they aren’t real is concrete in his mind hopefully come Halloween his resilience will be a little stronger. At the end of the book you see the little girl and her dad coming out of the haunted house, she is exhilarated, but he looks terrified! My son loved that detail, great message about it being ok to be scared!

Wobble, the witch cat by Mary Calhoun is a vintage story that is charming and much loved by my son. Wobble is a cat who belongs to Maggie a kind old witch , but Wobble hates riding on Maggie’s slippery broom. The other cats tease him and with Halloween coming up he decides to get rid of Maggie’s broom. When Maggie can’t find her magic broom, all she finds is a vacuum cleaner, but will it fly?  My son loves vacuum cleaners and thought it was hilarious that a witch would try to fly on one. I liked the  idea that witches sweep the sky so that the children can be safe under the stars on Halloween night.

Inside a House That Is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli was the hands down favorite Halloween book for my 3 year old class in 2005. I must have read this 200 times and even after Christmas had come and gone it was still requested all the time. The story is a rebus read along, so it is repetitive and it builds upon itself. This is great for children who are eager to “read along” before they are able to read words. The repetitiveness allows them to anticipate what is next and feel included. Very cute even after reading it hundreds of times.

Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a perfect toddler Halloween book. The premise is simple, each page has a well known Halloween character including a witch, skeleton, Frankenstein all hiding behind their hands playing peek-a-boo with the readers. The characters hands are flaps and when you lift them they reveal the character’s face – which is always sweet and happy , never scary.  At the end of the book there are more flaps to lift to reveal trick or treaters and the same Halloween characters hiding in their haunted house. My son loves this book too and  I think it’s a great completely gentle way to read about Halloween with toddlers

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro was a huge hit! It’s a reworking of the classic song ” There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” only this one swallows a whole bunch of Halloween creatures, like a goblin, ghost and of course a bat.  She continues to swallow bigger and bigger things much to my son’s amazement! He was giggling through the whole book and the end when the old lay belches he laughed hysterically. It was predictable but I have to admit was a really fun , silly read.

Maisy’s Halloween by Lucy Cousins is a cute board book for toddlers that follows Maisy’s search for the right Halloween costume. There is something about this little mouse that children just love. My daughter will reach for a Maisy book over just about any other if given a choice. The story is also a cute introduction about the fun we have dressing up for Halloween.

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler is a silly book about a skeleton who can not get rid of the hiccups. He tries all the old tricks , which probably won’t be old to your kids… I spent a lot of time explaining them to my son while we read . The story is simple and parents will find it predictable but kids find it silly and fun, and that is what matters.

Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming is a wonderful Halloween book for kids who are old enough to feel like Halloween is a spooky night, but still too young for anything graphically frightening.  The text is short but rhymes beautifully and grabs your child’s attention almost as effectively as the illustrations do. The story is all about Halloween night and the sights and sounds on one street as the night goes on. Both my kids have been grabbing for this book off our shelf when I ask which book they want to read . If it can be a favorite for an almost 5 year old boy and a 15 month old girl I say it will probably be a hit at your house too.

Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. Is a Halloween favorite at our house and has been for years. I don’t think the book has ever been really put away since buying it when my son was a toddler. Karen Katz’s lift the flap books are more than just cute , the flaps and different textures keep little hands busy and little bodies calm enough to sit for the whole book.

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the litt;e girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

AlphaOops: H Is for Halloweenby Althea Kontis is a really sophisticated alphabet book that works well for a wide range of kids. A toddler will enjoy the bright illustrations by Bob Kolar and older children will be able to follow along with the silly storyline about the letters putting on a Halloween show. What I adore about this book is that the letters are completely out of order and some of the things they represent are far from ordinary.  Instead of werewolf the author used the word lycanthrope which I had never heard and my son loved learning something at the same time as I did.  The few trickier words were great for my son who often guesses words even though he can sound them out. It forced him to work harder . As soon as we were done reading  it together he asked to read it again. Super awesome alphabet book for Halloween !

The Costume Copycat by Maryann MacDonald is more about sibling rivalry than Halloween but brilliant none the less.  There are two sisters and each Halloween something happens to thrust the older sister into the spotlight leaving her little sister in her shadow feeling jealous and frustrated. Never is the older sister boastful or mean , it’s mostly just luck, or rather the younger sister’s bad luck that keeps her from shining. It’s hard to be the little sister ( trust me) especially when your older sibling is good at everything, and this book manages to get to the root of that emotion.  When the younger sister finally does feel like the spotlight is on her she remembers how she felt and shares her bounty with her sister.  Sweet book.

Mouse’s Halloween Party by Jeanne Modesitt is a really sweet book, and I am glad I grabbed it at the library yesterday. Mouse is planning a big Halloween party but when he gets to his friend Pig’s house his plans go awry. This is a great book for kids like my son who get very very upset when something unexpected happens. We spent a long time talking about every stage of this story and felt great when it was done. I may have to buy this book, or at least renew it a few times! The text isn’t short but the story is interesting enough to keep your child interested. I love the discussion that this book prompted and would encourage anyone to read this book!

The Perfectly Horrible Halloween by Nancy Poydar is a book I think most adults can relate to and kids should read and learn from. In the book a little boy is excited about the costume contest in class, he is sure he will win, but there is one problem, he forgot his costume on the bus! I like how resourceful he is making a new costume with what he has and how the author realistically captures both the excitement  of the day and horror when he realizes he forgot the costume on the bus. I know I forgot my bag, my lunch and a laundry list of other things on the bus when I was a kid and this book launched my son and I into a talk about loosing things and coping. Another good book from an author I have recently discovered and am greatly enjoying.

Halloween Day by Anne Rockwell is another winner . I love this author because kids love her books, and the ones that she has collaborated with her daughter on are probably my favorites. Her daughter Lizzy is the illustrator and she won my son over with her cool pictures of costumes and Halloween decor , especially the little boy in the firefighter costume. The story is about a classroom celebrating Halloween but what I love is that it shows why each child chose to dress up in their individual costumes.  Huge hit at our house, perfect for the 2-5 crowd and not scary at all!

Moonlight: The Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant is a relaxing book about a little black cat named Moonlight and her Halloween night. I love the illustrations and how they seem to glow! Every page offers a new perspective and even though the story is set on a spooky night there is nothing to be afraid of.  The text itself is simple, calming  and there are only a couple of lines on each page, making it the perfect length for a bedtime story. Even if you aren’t a cat person, you will like this book.

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and both my children love it. We read it leading up to and well after Halloween last year. The premise is simple, a group of trick or treaters are pegged off one by one as they are scared by some Halloween creature.  Readers count down from 10 – 0 and  enjoy the bright detailed illustrations as they do. I particularly like the cute costumes and the final page which has another countdown with candy – always fun to count candy right?

Vunce Upon a Time by J. Otto Siebold and Siobhan Vivian is a cute story about a vegetarian vampire who has a weakness for candy. After he runs out of candy he decides to try trick or treating, although he is apprehensive because he’s afraid of humans. My son loved the story, laughing at the vampire being afraid of humans, throwing a tantrum when his parents said he couldn’t go trick or treating and wanting to dress up as  a clove of garlic .  He ends up going ( with parental blessing) and ends up getting so much more than candy.

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman is a staple in most preschool classrooms. It’s a cute story about a witch who is desperate for pumpkin pie but her giant pumpkin is too big for her to pick up! Luckily she enlists the help of a ghost, vampire, mummy and bat and with a little teamwork they save the night! The rhyming text is almost like a song and kids love it! It’s possibly my son’s favorite Halloween book and I love that it’s the smallest creature who uses it’s brain not brawn to solve the problem.

Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson is a sweet and really well done book. The story follows a little mouse who is easily afraid of the many things on Halloween night , but one by one discovers that things like falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treaters aren’t so scary after all. I love the repetition in this book and the illustrations by Bucket Erdogan epitomize the fall spookiness that Halloween nights are filled with. Thumbs up from my son and I .

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams is actually about a little old lady who is a little afraid of a few things but stays strong and doesn’t let her fear stop her. On a walk through the woods back to her cottage the little old lady is confronted with one odd thing after another that might spook some people but she just pushes ahead and makes it home safe or does she? What I love about this book is the repetition of the text and how easily it can be turned into a action book. It is a very fun book to read aloud to a group.

Beneath the Ghost Moon by Jane Yolen is a story of standing up for yourself and triumphing over bullies. The mice at the farm as all excited about Ghost Moon and are busy preparing their costumes for their celebration. One night after they go to bed a group of creepy crawlies ( lizard like creatures) wreck all that the mice have prepared. Many of the mice want to run away and hide but their leader convinces them to fight back and not to leave their home in fear. I love the message this book send especially the one about forgiveness when one of the crawlies asks for forgiveness and to be allowed to stay on the farm with the mice.

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