Tag Archives: Halloween

What Would Your Pet Monster Look Like?

Halloween may provide an ideal window, but there’s really not a bad time for Laura Numeroff’s book,  Ten Step Guide to Living with Your Monster.  From the same author who wrote the “If You Give a…” series, this whimsical spin on monsters explains how one should select and care for a new pet monster.  It’s hard to hang on to any fear of monsters as this story shows them playing the banjo, blowing bubbles, and drinking from the bathtub!
I wrote about this book last year, explaining how to use it to create a whole language journaling activity.  This year, combine that writing activity with a sculpture!  Using classic playdough and add-ons like craft eyes, toothpicks, beads, and pipe cleaners, children can bring their monstrous creatures to life, supporting their creativity and small motor skills simultaneously!  Strengthen language skills and math concepts as well by talking about these monsters as they’re being built, introducing descriptive words, counting and comparing accessories as they’re added, and getting your children to share their ideas about what these monsters might be like.
Finish it off with the whole language activity, recording your child’s dictations with the monster’s name and story, and you’ve got yourself one enjoyable, high-powered, and open-ended learning activity! 
Enjoy your pet monsters!
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Weekend Reads 10/23/10


Here are some fun and interesting ideas from around the web:

If you’re looking for some fun Halloween activities and have some extra felt on-hand, check out these Halloween finger puppets , or these Frightening Faces.  For more spook-tacular fun, check out these Spooky Bones, this Goopy Slime (with a variation here as well), and this Creepy Halloween Food. (I think I know a certain 4 year-old who will go crazy for those mummy cupcakes!)

While you’re in a creative mood, take a peek at this great DIY Stamp activity!  Loved the open-ended nature of this one!

If you’re concerned by the common disregard for developmentally appropriate practice, you have to read this great piece by Alicia Bayer about the cost of Pushing Preschoolers.

I enjoyed this post by Teacher Tom about the Unintended Consequences of real art.  Great samples and a wonderful art activity along with some really great points about art!

I shared my feelings on the shortcomings of a letter-of-the-week based curriculum here.  So naturally I enjoyed reading Joanne Meier’s take on the topic recently in N is for No Letter of the week.

Halloween is on its way, and I’m curious.  Are you planning on doing your Trick-or-Treating next Saturday or Sunday?  I think we’ll have candy at our door both nights.  (But don’t get any ideas about double-dipping now!)

Enjoy the weekend!

Top photo by naneki.

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The Invisible Man

invisibleHere’s an activity I think I picked up in a phonemic awareness book once upon a time.  You begin by telling the children you have a friend who wants to be an invisible man, perhaps as a Halloween costume.  (You may need to explain what “invisible means”.)  Show a picture of a person (stick figures are ok) or just a face, if you’re working with younger children, drawn on a chalkboard or dry erase board.  This man is not invisible at all!  Tell the children that if they want to make part of the man invisible, they have to say the rhyming word.  Give a few examples.  If you or the children say “pies”, you erase the eyes.  If you say “farm” erase an arm.  Accept nonsense words (“gegs” rhymes with legs) as rhymes.  Rhyme production is more difficult than rhyme recognition, so for younger children, you would say the rhyming word and give two options for the part to be erased (rhyme recognition).  “What if I said “south”?  Would that be the mouth or the eyes?  South-Mouth, or South-Eyes?”  For older children, you might say, “What word rhymes with arm?” (rhyme production)

Photo by phillip13.

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Five Ways to Serve Up a Pumpkin


I mentioned before that a pumpkin’s greatness is in part due to its hollowness. We’ve talked about floating pumpkins, pumpkin drums, and of course, Jack-o-lanterns, but perhaps best of all, a pumpkin can be hollowed out to create a bowl! You can use a cleaned out pumpkin to hold pre-made food, such as soups or a casserole, or you can actually cook in the pumpkin shell as well!  Here are five festive ways to turn your gourd into a gourmet dish!


1.  Apple Crisp!  I love making this Pumpkin Apple Bake recipe in the fall, cooking it up inside the pumpkin.  The children love using the apple peeler/slicer to help out.  I give the apples a head start by cooking them on the stove before putting them in the pumpkin and cooking it all together.  The pumpkin does soften a bit, but holds its shape as long as you don’t cook longer than 1 1/2 hours or so.  Take the opportunity to talk science and compare the cooked pumpkin to the uncooked pumpkin lid!

2.  Soups, Stews, and Chiles!  Cook up your favorite fall time soup.  Place it in a hollowed out pumpkin and serve it up from there!  Try out this delicious Potato Soup recipe or this tasty one for Chicken and Rice.  You could also use smaller hollowed out pumpkins as individual soup bowls!

3.  Shepherd’s Pie!  Because Shepherd’s Pie is basically cooked already, it doesn’t take long just to melt the cheese on top.  This helps keep your pumpkin from getting too soft.  Try this tasty recipe here.  (I omit chipotle chiles when cooking for the little ones.) 

4. Dips!  Whether you’re having something sinfully savory like this one, or going the healthy route with something like this, you can easily put your favorite dip inside a pumpkin, place it on a platter, and serve chips, veggies, or bread all around the pumpkin.

5.  I Scream!  OK, a little Halloween play on words.  Use small pumpkins to hold ice cream!  Serve up your favorite flavor with cookies on the side!


Whichever route tempts you most, start by cutting the top of your pumpkin off.  Jack-o-lantern style is usually a little too small. Don’t be afraid to cut off 1/4 to 1/3 of the pumpkin.  This gives a wider opening which makes it easier to serve food.  Hollow it out well, and then rinse.

Don’t forget to involve your children in this fun project!  Have your little ones help you hollow out your pumpkin and rinse it.  Let them help make the food to go inside as well.  (Read more about how cooking benefits the child’s development here.)  Serve it up for something truly memorable!  Don’t worry if you’ve missed Halloween.  Pumpkins are a symbol of harvest and a fun fall fixture! (Say that ten times fast!)

Enjoy a special pumpkin surprise with your little ones!

For more favorite fall activities, click here!

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Pumpkin Drum

Pile of Pumpkins SEPpics

As you and your children are exploring the properties of pumpkins, you discover that the fact that they are hollow is one of their best characteristics.  You find this out as you dig out their seeds and make Jack-o-lanterns.  You realize it’s importance as you send even enormous pumpkins floating on water.  Another great way to utilize the hollow property of a pumpkin is to use it as a drum!

I often use a pumpkin to invite the children to beat out the syllables in their names.  You could also use it in a music activity, just as you would use any drum or rhythm sticks.  In fact, if you only have one big pumpkin drum, you could give the other children rhythm sticks to follow along with until it is their turn to use the pumpkin.  Try this method out as you teach your children Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater.  It’s an easy one to beat out with a steady beat, and the beats happen to coincide with the syllables, making it a perfect prereading activity as the children hear the sounds of the words.  Just be sure to sing the song slowly so that the children can both sing and tap.  Also, remember that children’s voices are naturally higher, and this song descends fairly low, so start out just a bit higher than you normally would.

For more favorite fall activities, click here!

Photo by SEPpics.


Filed under language activity, Learning through Play and Experience, music and movement activity

Book Activity: 10 Step Guide to Living with Your Monster

Laura Numeroff is perhaps best known for her “If You Give a…” series (“If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”, etc.).  Ten Step Guide to Living with Your Monster  is lesser-known, though just as great.  This whimsical spin on monsters explains how one should select and care for a pet monster.  This book is perfect for dispelling monster fears as it exposes them for the silly characters they really are!
After reading about pet monsters, have the children do a whole language or journaling activity.  At the top of the paper, print the question, “What kind of monster would you have for a pet?”  Have the children dictate their answers to you as you write them on their papers.  Be sure to draw their attention to your writing, pointing out the words, reading the sentence back to them, and even modeling some thinking out loud about letters and sounds or how to write a certain letter.  You may even want to “share the pen” and have them write a particular letter or word you know they are capable of.  Read the finished product back to them so that they see that their spoken words are now recorded in written words.  Of course, give them plenty of room to draw illustrations of their monster pets.  Remember that young children often do their writing by drawing. 
This type of activity increases language and literacy skills as it builds concepts of print and also encourages creative expression.  Tie this in with the Monster Boogie on the previous post to add some music and movement to your activity!
For more favorite fall activities, click here!


Filed under book activity, Building Readers, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience

Everybody Does the Monster Boogie!

Laurie BerknerLaurie Berkner has a great monster song that just compels your little monsters to get up and dance!  You can download Monster Boogie on iTunes, and you can listen to it with a little animated video on YouTube here.  One of the great things about Laurie Berkner’s music is that you almost instinctively know how  to dance to it just from the elements she uses.  At the beginning, the music is staccato, and so we march with our scariest monster faces.  Then during the boogie/wiggle chorus, we dance and wiggle as only a silly monster would.  Often the roar at the end is the favorite part!  Music and movement activities are great for transitioning, building large motor skills, as well as enjoying the creative and interpretive aspects of music.  As an extension, you can have the children create drawings of a monster party with all their favorite monster characters boogying down!

For more favorite fall activities, click here!

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