Halloween falls on October 31st each year.  Although it's origins are somewhat disputed, Halloween is generally believed to have originated from the old pagan holy day Samhain, the time when the veils between the worlds grew thin and the dead could communicate with the living.  It was thought that spirits might be seen walking on the night of Samhain, and that evil spirits might do one harm.  Jack O' Lanterns are thought to have originated as an attempt to scare away evil spirits.  The word "Halloween" is derived from the earlier name "All Hallows Eve".





Silly Halloween Jokes


A Jack O' Lantern Story


The Story of the Run Away Pumpkin, by Sean McEdward, 6th grade


Ghost Stories from Romania, by middle school kids at Nicolae Titulescu School, Bucharest, Romania


8 Haunted Halloween Stories, by David Lubor (sponsored by A Girl's World)



The Legend of Sleepy Hollow  
by Washington Irving

Read about the author

The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft


A Ghost Story, by Mark Twain







Pumpkin Pumpkin
by Jeanne Titherington

Softly colored pencil illustrations in a realistic style effectively communicate Jamie's pride as a very young gardener. He plants a seed, then grows and harvests a pumpkin from which he saves seeds for next year. The large, detailed drawings capture Jamie's anticipation and pleasure just right. The garden creatures appearing on every page and grandpa, whom we catch sight of now and then, are a delightful supporting cast. Nonreaders can easily follow the story in pictures alone. Parents and educators working with young children shouldn't miss this satisfying book in the tradition of Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson's The Carrot Seed  and Bijou Le Tord's Rabbit Seeds.

Order it on Amazon.com



Songs, Fingerplays, & Flannel Board


Jack O'Lantern, Jack O'Lantern What Do You See?

If you like the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" book illustrated by Eric Carle, you'll love this Halloween version of the story using an orange jack o' lantern, white ghost, green witch and etc. to help children learn their colors, develop listening skills, and pattern recognition.   The only hitch?  You'll have to either trace the patterns provided or draw the images free hand onto the felt.   We did ours drawing free hand.  But you can buy graphite paper at the craft store (such as Michael's) to lay over the felt (black side down), then cover with the pattern picture and trace.   As you press your pencil down, following the lines, the graphite transfers the lines onto the felt.  You can then trace over these lines with your permanent marker.   Then just cut out the shapes and embellish, if you wish, with puff paint and small googly eyes.


Lesson Plan

Jack O' Lantern flannel board templates    (pdf)

Storybook cover page      (pdf)

Jack O' Lantern rhyme      (pdf)



Stirring My brew

For this fun and simple fingerplay, children pretend to grip the handle of an imaginary stirring spoon.  Be sure to explain that a "brew" is a big pot of witch's stew (or etc.) so they can make sense of the stirring.   This is a super popular preschool song that even young toddlers can do.

I'm stirring and stirring and stirring my brew   <hands hold "stick" and stir with big circular motions>

Woooo!  <sweep hands out forward in wave-like motion, like a spooky gust of wind>

Woooo!  <sweep hands out forward in wave-like motion, like a spooky gust of wind>

Stirring and stirring and stirring my brew   <hands hold "stick" and stir with big circular motions>

Woooo!   <sweep hands out forward in wave-like motion, like a spooky gust of wind>

Woooo!   <sweep hands out forward in wave-like motion, like a spooky gust of wind>

Tip toe, tip toe, tip toe   <using 2 fingers on each hand, pantomime them walking forward>

BOO!   <tip-toeing fingers suddenly explode forward, hands opening all at once, fingers splayed open -- as if to startle>


For added fun, say the "tip toe" part in a very soft voice, then "Boo!" with a very loud voice.


Five Little Pumpkins

This popular fingerplay can also be a flannel board story.  Simply cut out five pumpkin shapes from orange felt and decorate each with a jack o' lantern face.  We like to use a sharpie (permanent) marker to color the face, then go over it with black fabric paint (squeezable puff paint).   As another option, you can print jack o' lantern pictures (including clip art) onto printable transfer paper, then cut out the jack o' lanterns and iron them onto the felt.  Note that "dark T-shirt" transfer paper shows up best on colored felt, however regular transfer sheets will generally blend into the orange of the felt, making a fun effect.   (You can always highlight with permanent marker and/or puff paint.)  When using transfer sheets, be sure to read instructions carefully.    If you have trouble getting your pieces to stick to the flannel board, hot glue a tiny piece of velcro to the back -- use only the stiff bristly part.


There were 5 little pumpkins sitting on a gate. <Hold up 5 fingers.  Use your other hand, laying sideways, to be the gate.>

First one said, "Oh my it's getting late!"   <Hold up first finger>

The second one said, "There are witches in the air."  <Hold up second finger>

The third one said, "But we don't care."   <Hold up third finger.>

The fourth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!"  <Hold up fourth finger>

The fifth one said, "Let's run and run and run!"   <Hold up fifth finger.  Pantomime running, with feet.>

Then "wooooo" went the wind, <sweep both hands out forward and up, with spooky wiggling fingers -- like a spooky gust of wind>

and OUT went the lights.   <while arms are still out in front, straight, clap hands together loudly>

And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight. <roll fists around each other, as for "wheels on the bus go round and round">


Black Bat

Black bat, black bat fly around.
Black bat, black bat touch the ground.
Black bat, black bat fly up high.
Black bat, black bat touch the sky.

A small bat puppet works well for this song.  With it you can act out the words of the song.   Children can act it out with their hands, or with paper bats that they have made for art.


Itsy Bitsy Spider

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout <crawl fingers up imaginary spout>

Down came the rain  <raise hands then lower them with fingers wiggling>

and washed the spider out. <hands crossed at wrists sweep apart>

Up came the sun <make circle with arms, or hands, and raise>

and dried up all the rain. <raised hands swish gently, slowly from side to side while lowering>

And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again


Other Ideas:

    Play Raffi's "Spider On The Floor" song and let children act it out, with the spider crawling on the floor, leg, etc.   Get a party pack of spider rings and give one to each child to use with the song.  

Or create spider "puppets" by cutting pieces of super thick black yarn and tying them together.  The black strands are the "legs".  Use one extra long piece (18"-24") to tie it together and act as the string handle that children hold to wiggle the "spider".


    Lead the children in "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" while wearing a spider puppet on one hand.  Be sure to crawl it around at the start and finish for smiles and giggles.


    Put on silly spooky Halloween party music and have kids move like different Halloween characters, walking with stiff arms and legs like a mummy or Frankenstein monster, flapping their arms to fly like a bat, moving slowly on all fours like a spider, panting and running (on 2 legs or 4) and howling like a werewolf, twirling about and swishing their wands like a fairy princess, etc.   For extra challenge and fun, play "freeze" -- having them freeze their position each time you pause the music.





Spooky Creative Writing Prompts

These fun story starters will get you going on your own Halloween tale.  Try "Monster Match", "Are You a Vampire", "The Evil Scientist", or "The Box".   From Bogglesworld.

Halloween Story Starters

Short but fun story starting prompts, from ABC Teach.

Teaching the Epic through Ghost Stories

Lesson plan for helping students write their own ghost stories, based on family tales, urban legends, or their own imaginations.  Also helps kids understand the function of the great tales handed down through the ages -- in the days before television and the printed word.

Story Map
The Story Map interactive is designed to assist students in prewriting and post-reading activities by focusing on the key elements of character, setting, conflict, and resolution.



Social Studies


The Real Prince Dracula

Learn a bit of history by reading about the real Prince Dracula!


Halloween Customs and History

Traces the origins of Halloween from Celtic times through the Christian advent of All Hallows Eve.  Compares modern Halloween celebration in the U.S. and other countries.


A Christian Perspective on Halloween

Not all kids are allowed to celebrate Halloween because some adults see it as a celebration of things that are scary and even evil.   But read this article on the Christian origins of All Hallows Eve (Halloween), and discuss it with your friends and family.   Do you think Halloween is "bad for kids", or do you agree with the writer that spiritual faith means we can have a sense of humor about life, even the parts that would try to scare us and bring us down.


Salem Witch Trials

This lesson plan teaches history as well as the threat to social order created by prejudice, intolerance, poor information gathering, and poor leadership.

See also  Salem Witch Trial Hysteria -- from National Geographic






Unwrapping Mummies

Check out this cool National Geographic site about real mummies.  Learn about the different ways that mummies are created and find out what cultures -- and what conditions in nature -- create them.  A fun exercise in mummy detective work is included.

Pumpkin Sink or Float Experiments

Gather an assortment of Halloween and fall items to see what sinks and floats.  Fill a water table, dish tub, or sink with water.   Let kids experiment and record their results on a chart.  Possible items: pumpkins of varying sizes, gourds, apples, ears of corn, plastic skeleton and other Halloween props.  

Pumpkin Science

Great ideas, with printable worksheets included.


Bat Games and Puzzles

Play the echolocation game, try some fun crosswords and word searches, and do some puzzles -- you're just getting started with this fun site that's all about bats.


Infrared Zoo

As Count Dracula could probably  tell you, all animals are either cold blooded or warm blooded.   By viewing animals with a thermal infrared camera, we can actually "see" the differences between warm and cold-blooded animals. Infrared also allows us to study how well feathers, fur and blubber insulate animals. Check it out for yourself!

To learn more about infrared, visit the Cool Cosmos.


Worm World

Voted the Yuckiest site on the web -- but in a good way -- Worm World has interesting facts about worms and their role in the ecosystem.  What better time to check out creepy crawlies than Halloween!




Creepy Cannibal Squid!




Blood Sucking Assassin Bug!









Counting Survey & Graphing

Get a notebook or a clipboard and keep track of what kinds of costumes you see this Halloween.   How many pirates?  How many princesses?  Monsters?   If you're not sure what someone's supposed to be, just ask!   The next day, you can make a graph to represent your data.  

If you want to get really fancy, try graphing age versus costume type -- you'll have to ask kids their age for this of course.   Find out if some kinds of costumes are more popular with younger kids, older kids, or teens.  And what about adults?  What kinds of costumes do they usually choose?

(Note: this might be the ideal project if you've decided to stay home and pass out the candy on Halloween, if you're stuck home with a cold.  But if you can tote a clipboard and keep track of what's going on even while trick-or-treating, then give it a try.  Just watch out for cars -- and goblins!)


Spider Web Geometry

See how number and spacing affects texture and shape.  Use this Math Cats program to draw string art spider webs.   Just set the sliders to different numbers to create different looking webs.  Don't forget to "reset" between webs.  See if you can create a web that looks like some you've seen out in nature.



Every year your parents have to estimate how many children will come to the door, so they know how much candy to purchase.   Help them figure it out this year.  And then try estimating some other things this Halloween:  how many kids in a "scream" mask are you likely to see, how many houses will give out candy, how many neighbors will decorate their yards with a pumpkin (a ghost, a scarecrow, etc.), and so on.   You'll have to draw on your memories from previous Halloweens in order to make your estimations/predictions. 

Then on Halloween, use a small notebook or a clipboard to keep track of your estimated predictions.   Jot down the number of each house with a pumpkin and etc. and then add it all up to see how your predictions matched what really happened.  How close were you? 

For extra credit:  try to express the relation between predictions and outcomes in percentages.   For example, if you predicted that 10 houses would display a scarecrow, but only 8 did, then only 80% of the predicted scarecrows were displayed.   Or if you predicted that 10 out of 100 houses would have bat decorations, then you predicted that 10% would have bats. 


Estimating and Counting Pumpkin Seeds

Lay out some old newspapers on top of the kitchen table and cut open a pumpkin -- then estimate how many seeds it contains.  (Be sure to check with your parents first!)  Of course, you'll have to count the seeds when you're done to see how close you came!   But after you've gone to all that work of separating the seeds from the pulp you can toss them onto a baking sheet, spritz them with an oil spray, salt them and toast them up for eating.  (Bake at 250 degrees F for 15 minutes.)


More Pumpkin Estimating

Try to guess how much your pumpkins weigh just by looking at them, and visually comparing them to other things (like a 5 pound bag of sugar, etc.)!  Now pick them up and make a new guess, based on the apparent heaviness.  Then check this guess against the bathroom scale.   How close did you come?  Was your pumpkin heavier or lighter than you expected?   Why do you think this is?

Next, try to predict how many inches around your pumpkin is (circumference).   Then get out a dressmaker's tape measure and measure around the fat part of the pumpkin.   (Or wrap a piece of yarn around, then compare the length of the yarn to a ruler or yardstick.)   How close were you?   Now try the same thing, measuring in centimeters.

When you're all done, cut the pumpkin open (with adult help) and take a look at the inside.  If your pumpkin was much lighter than you expected, it may be because it was rather dry inside.  If it was heavier than expected, then it may be very moist and pulpy inside.


Favorite Candy Survey & Graphing







Pumpkin Carving 101

Check this site for the big scoop on how to carve a great pumpkin.


Pumpkin Carving Templates

Oh No Pumpkin

Even MORE  Pumpkin Carving Templates

More Free Stencils for Pumpkin Carving from Spookmaster

Fun Patterns from the Pumpkin Lady!

Free Stencils from DLTK

Free Templates from Halloween Pumkins 2006

Templates and Ideas from The Pumpkin Wizard

"Un-Halloween" Pumpkin Carving Templates

Reames Jack O' Lantern Gallery -- Photos and Templates

Free Jack O' Lantern Templates from Fabulous Foods







Spooktacular Decorations for Home & Yard




Salt Dough Ghosts... and Paper Bag Trees

Check out these adorable, and easy, crafts from Family Fun.  Pick up your flour and salt at a bulk discount source like Smart & Final or Costco to make even large classroom batches of salt dough inexpensive.  The best thing about these ghosts is that they are open-ended and cook up in the microwave.



pictureBoo-ti-ful Bushes

Here's a fun way to dress up the bushes in your yard.  Could also be used for covering up trash cans, etc.




Batty Witch Mobile





Bat 'O Lanterns

You don't carve these pumpkins, but they will brighten up your home inside or out with their adorable good looks.

The craft instructions call for wooden skewers or toothpicks, but we found that heavy gauge floral/craft wire worked even better.

Another tip:  while it's great to let kids brush on their own coat of paint,  an adult can speed up the prep by spray painting in advance.  (Helpful for when the project must be completed and dry to go home in a short time.)





Hand Print Spider Mobile  Fold a piece of black construction paper in half.  Place the "heel" of your hand over the fold and trace your hand.  Now cutout the handprint -- without cutting through the folded section!  Now, unfold the print and you have a spidery shape.  Glue on some googly eyes and attach a piece of thread, yarn, or string to hang your spider (elastic string is great).  Very cute craft for young children.  

(Note:  since spiders only have 8 legs, you can snip off paper thumbs, or simply overlap heel of palm more deeply onto paper, and don't bother with tracing the thumb.)


How To Create Your own Haunted House



Big Balloon Spider Craft


bones craft project Mr. Bones
Skeleton Halloween Craft


Halloween Bat Clips

Balloon Ghost Craft





Macaroni Skeleton


Halloween Cat Cup

A cute craft that also gives you something fun to put party treats in.



Footprint Ghosts

Start with dark blue or black construction paper.  Then dip child's foot in white tempra or other washable paint.  Press foot gently onto paper.  Let dry.  Draw eyes or glue on googly eyes.


Cereal Box Gravestones

This clever craft will decorate your yard when you're done.


Make a Soft Sculpture Pumpkin
Out of old pantyhose!




Milk Container Pumpkins

This one uses plastic one gallon milk containers and orange paint to create fun no-flame lanterns to light your pathways on Halloween.


Shrunken Heads

Made from dried apples, these creepy but cute decorations should be started about 3 weeks before you plan to display.

Cute & Creepy Costumes


Costume Ideas and Directions from Family Fun

Halloween Costume Sewing Patterns

More Great Costume Ideas


Creative Food Ideas

Boo-ti-ful Ghosts

Spiderweb Brownies

Butterfinger "Eyeballs"


Frozen Banana Ghostsbanana ghost pop with White Chocolate


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Spooky Pumpkin Soup

Halloween Mummy Dogs

Jack O' Lantern Cheeseburger Pie



More Recipes for Creepy Treats

And Even More Halloween Recipes!



Spider Snacks

Ritz crackers, pretzel sticks, peanut butter, and raisins make this great treats.  (Cheez whiz could be substituted for peanut butter.)





More Fun Ideas


101 Halloween Ideas

More Halloween Crafts from Kids Domain

More Halloween Crafts from Family Fun

More Halloween Crafts from Enchanted Learning

More Crafts from DTLK

More Halloween Lesson Ideas from ABC Teach

Preschool/Kindergarten Pumpkin Lesson Plan





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