Halloween Word Search

word games for new readers

I can’t take full credit for this activity idea . Word searches in bottles of rice, popcorn kernels etc.. have been around for as long as I have been teaching and probably much much longer. I was reminded of the simple genius of these last night when searching Pinterest for sight word ideas for a reader who was looking for more activities for her son.  I pinned this activity onto my early literacy pinterest board but felt like I needed to make my own version using Halloween words.  Here is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some filler ( we used our Halloween Sensory tub filler ) like black beans , orange lentils and creepy toys!  You will also need some stiff paper ( we used paint chips but card stock will work too), a clip board, markers and a permanent marker. You will also need a large plastic jar, water bottles work too but you may want to take the larger spooky toys out of the mix.
  2. Write out the words your child is searching for I had my son help me think of Halloween words.
  3. Write them on the paint chips or card stock. I wrote some words out multiple times and some like Boo! only once. Just to make it successful but challenging.
  4. Cut and pop them in the jar with the filler.
  5. Search !
  6. Cross the words out when you find them.
  7. We challenged each other to find words. I like this game because it gets kids reading, searching and can be adapted to any level. For younger kids use plain letters, older ones cut the letters of the words out and have them search and spell!

My Favorite Halloween Book For Little Ones

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!

Toddler Friendly Pumpkin Glittering

Craving a pumpkin with a toddler is not my idea of fun , especially without another adult handy for supervising the littles when you are doing the actual carving. I will leave the slimy insides ( that make my son gag – also not fun) and sharp knives for the weekend when my husband is handy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t decorate a pumpkin! I was just going to do this with my daughter who is 16 months old but my son came running to the playroom asking to join in. They had a great time and my foyer is all blinged out for halloween now!

  1. Gather your materials. You will want a drop cloth for this, white glue, glitter, paint brushes, a plate and a small stool, box or something else you don’t mind getting glitter on to hold the pumpkin at your toddler’s level so they can stand and move around as they create.
  2. Pour the glue onto a plate.
  3. Paint on the glue.
  4. “Wait for me I want to do it too Mom!” <— music to my ears!
  5. Shake the glitter on.
  6. Change glitter colors and keep shaking.
  7. Let dry overnight, gently shake any loose glitter off.
  8. Display!

Halloween Math – Count and Fill Frankenstein

My husband loves math the way that I love art . When he talks about numbers his voices changes just a little bit the same way mine does when I start telling someone about the first time I saw a favorite painting in person. Well my son seems to be gearing more towards that side of things so I have been trying to come up with math activities that fit themes , have an art element if he wants to help me make them and most importantly are fun.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper towel roll or two, some green painters tape , a black markers( one permenant and a regular washable one), drinking straws, stationary labels and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting your paper towel rolls into smaller tubes.
  3. Next color the top of the roll black.  Just use a regular old marker.
  4. Next wrap green painters tape around the bottom of the rolls. Add faces with permenant marker, regular marker will smudge.
  5. Now cut the drinking straws into smaller pieces. Make sure they are long enough to be seen and grabbed above the rolls.
  6. Write numbers on the stationary labels. Make sure you write some numbers that are “easy” and many that are a challenge for them too. The balance of challenge and success builds their self confidence.
  7. Place the Frankensteins on the table with the labels infront. This do not stick to my table but I don’t want to be responsible for wrecking yours, so if you are worried pop down a placemat before the labels. If it’s too late try goo-gone that stuff is a preschool teacher’s secret weapon.
  8. Give your child the straws and let them count and fill! My son loved that he was putting brains into Frankenstein… nice eh?
  9. It was during this lesson that I introduced my son to double checking his work. Here he is counting a 2nd time.
  10. Peel the stickers off and put new ones on. Count and re-fill .

Halloween Counting Book

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and both my children love it. We’ve been reading it daily for a few weeks. 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?

Halloween Sensory Tub For Multiple Ages

I noticed on Pinterest a comment on a pin of my Sensory Tub from Halloween 2010. The commentor noted that I use the same container ( usually yes) and just store the contents in ziplocks ( yes again I have close to 20 bags).  That comment sparked this post. My son had been asking for a Halloween sensory tub since we bought the bouncy ball eyeballs a few weeks ago. My goal was  to make one that both he and his baby sister ( 15 months) could use. This is what we did.

  1. Gather your materials. I grabbed my Halloween Sensory Tub contents from 2009 and 2010 – which included black beans, white beans, orange lentils for the fill. Then sticky skelletons, plastic spiders and other bugs, bouncy ball eyeballs , a few pumpkin containers , a scoop and some tongs.  Do not feel like you need to have all of this! My main goal is to show that you can mix two old ones to make a new one.  
  2. For the toddler version I started by putting in the dried beans and lentils. Then chose only the large plastic bugs and pumpkin containers.
  3. You may notice she is on a small rug. If you are doing this on the floor a carpeted floor works the best, the beans don’t skatter as far.
  4. Encourage them to keep the beans in , but please don’t scold. If spilling makes you angry just skip this activity all together. Gently show toddlers how to keep it in but until children have lots of experience with sensory tubs use only positive guidance. Anger will confuse them and halt any play and learning that was happening.
  5. Feel free to have them put beans back in though !
  6. Into the pumpkin!
  7. Now for older kids add the as my son calls it ” good stuff!” We did this when my daughter was daddy so it wouldn’t be unfair for her to see her brother playing but be told she can’t.
  8. I challenged him to pick up the balls with the tongs – it was tricky!
  9. He decided to pick out all the skelletons.
  10. Then he decided to create a skelleton world on the playroom floor, and the eye balls were bombs? Something like that. He asked if he could play it for his quiet time. Ummm yeah! I love how fun mama directed activities almost always lead to something for him to explore and lead himself. 

When I stored this sensory tub I used 2 ziplocks, and picked out all the big kids stuff into one, the toddler safe in the other and store them next to eachother for fast fun for either kid.

** Please remember that it’s your job to know what is safe for your child and what your child is ready for . All activities require adult supervision. **

Skeletons, Vampires and Pumpkins! Halloween Books.

In our last post we featured two books that I think are very scary but these books today are not , they a fun Halloween books to get excited ( like they need to get more excited!) about Halloween.

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.

Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler is a silly book about a skelleton 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.

Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. This lift and flap book is the newest addition to our Karen Katz collection. My son adores these books. I read this in the check out line 3 times and he was asking for more before I could get my groceries in the fridge. I like this book because it’s a cute and gentle introduction to Halloween and all the creatures that go along with it. Also there are fun textures to many of the illustrations which help keep little hands busy! This book has been passed down to my daughter who likes it just as much as her brother who I thought would be too old for this book but somehow whenever his sister climbs into my lap with it he demands to lift every seconf flap!

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!

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 afaid 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.