Friday, November 6, 2015

Weekly Learning Theme: Halloween

Surprisingly for someone who gets scared easily and hates horror in both book and movie form, I love Halloween. I like the spooky side of it and the combination of orange and black. Well, and the candy and caramel apples, carving pumpkins, and I think bats are cute and fascinating. I had so much fun with our Halloween learning theme and enjoyed how many activities we were able to include Elise during. Read about last year's Halloween learniing theme here.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have updated our objectives a second time because I felt like we were ready to focus on something new.  I plan to continue to implement activities to practice and reinforce our previous objectives while putting more emphasis on our new objectives.  Some of them won't necessarily be targeted with specific activities during our weeks, but I wanted to list them to help me remember to practice them continually.  The highlighted objectives are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:
  1. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for him to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as draw a person with 2-4 body parts).
  2. Understand same and different.
  3. Accurately tell stories as well as retell the story from a book. 
  4. Use age appropriate scissors. (Right now we are focusing on ripping paper to prepare muscles for scissors. I also let him use scissors every now and then because he enjoys it)
  5. Develop a better understanding of time (for example, be able to describe when things happen using morning, afternoon, night)
  6. Group objects based on a category (sort by defining feature).
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.  
  • Each week one of Carter's favorite activities is always his sensory bin. This week was no exception. I used beans as the base and then added spider rings, eye balls, foam cats, foam spiders, a pumpkin ice cube tray, a spider and spider web ice cube tray, and some pumpkins. He had a blast with it and did a great job keeping the beans in the bin until the very end of the week when he filled up a pumpkin and carried it down the hall before ripping the lid off and pouring them on the floor. Elise also got in on the action playing with the foam cut outs, spider rings, and ice cube trays.
  • To give Elise some practice with her pincer grip I put the eyeballs in the pumpkin ice cube tray for her to grab and pull out. She had a lot of fun grabbing the balls out and I would count them as I put them back in for her.
  • We also used the spider rings from Carter's sensory bin to sort, make patterns, and count. Carter was a bit distracted by the sensory bin and wanted to put the spiders back in it to play some more so we didn't spend too much time on the other activities.
    Making simple AB color patterns with the spider rings.
  • Using a spider ring with the ring part cut off I showed Carter how to use a straw to blow the spider across the table. He had a blast blowing his spider toward mine and making it get mine. Then later he transferred that idea over to his sensory bin, blowing beans through his straw.
    Blowing beans through his straw.
  • We used the ice cube trays out of his sensory bin to make ice. I helped him put water in the trays and we talked about what happened the last time we put water in the pumpkin tray and added it to the freezer. We checked the trays a few times to see what happened over time. We made a few batches so we could use them during our playdate. We also used the spider rings with the ring portion cut off to freeze inside ice cubes. When we made the ice cubes we talked about how we were going to surprise daddy by asking him to get us ice. Carter was so exicted when Ty came home that he asked for ice almost right away and then told Ty there were spiders in them before Ty could be surprised.
    The spider and spider web ice cubes turned out awesome!
  • Leading up to Halloween we talked a little bit about what time of day we would go trick-or-treating. I told Carter it would get dark while we were out and I let him play with his jack-o-lantern flashlight.
  • I found Halloween shapes with laces in the dollar spot at the Target. Carter had fun lacing them and then playing with them. We even used the bat and ghost for another activity later.
  • Since Carter was a pirate we read lots of books about pirates and talked about them a little bit. He also enjoyed talking like a pirate and I taught him to say "Walk the plank!"
  • For some fun with chemical reactions, although Carter has no idea why it happens, we made a bubbling pumpkin. He helped me add baking soda, vinegar, and green food coloring into his special pumpkin cup and we watched it foam up. He thought it was so cool and giggled the whole time. He liked it so much we ended up doing it 5 or more times. Then I let him pour the mixture into the cookie sheet we had used for the bubble over and he played with it using his fingers. He loved scraping the baking soda around with his fingers.

  • Another huge hit was our Play Doh activity for the week. To help Carter work on fine motor skills I stuck googly eyes in the Play Doh for him to pull out. I also pulled out the ice cube trays for him to use for forming shapes as well as cookie cutters. He had a blast and played for a long time. Elise got in on the fun as well. I stuck spider rings down into Play Doh for her and was amazed she was actually able to grab them and pull them out of the Play Doh.
  • During our pumpkin week Carter really enjoyed using pumpkin cutouts to act out the Five Little Pumpkins rhyme. So when I found foam spiders and cats at Dollar Tree I bought them and planned to make up our own Five Little Cats and Five Little Spiders rhymes. Carter loved acting them out. The words to our versions of the stories are below.
5 Little Cats
5 little cats sitting on the floor.
The first one said, "I'm going out the door."
The second one said, "Don't you leave the house!"
The third one said, "I think I hear a mouse."
The fourth one said, "Now, don't you worry."
The fifth cat said, "I'll catch it in a hurry!"
Then, "Squeak, squeak, squeak" and flap, flap, flap.
Turns out it's not a mouse, it is a bat! 

5 Little Spiders
5 little spiders sitting on a web.
The first one said, "I think it's time for bed."
The second one said, "Not now, it's Halloween!"
The third one said, "What do you mean?"
The fourth one said, "There are ghosts out tonight!"
The fifth one said, "They give me quite a fright!"
Then, "Boo, boo, boo!" was the sound a ghost made
and their web shook as they were all afraid!

  • A favorite from last year's Halloween theme was doing the pumpkin cake walk. I used the same pumpkins as last year. Since Carter can count now I added dots next to the numbers and had Carter count them to tell me what number he landed on. We played with the Wee Sing Halloween cassette playing. We did a few rounds and then Carter decided he wanted to drive his tractor around the circle so he did that for a while.
  • Using masking tape I made a spider web on Carter's craft table. We were playing with spiders on it when he decided he wanted to drive cars on it so we switched to playing with cars. At the end of the week I had Carter help me pull the tape up as practice with his fine motor skills. He did a great job and was even able to start off the strips by peeling them from the table with his fingers. This was another activity Elise was able to help with. I would start the strip by peeling it up for her and then was shocked she was actually able to pull the strips up pretty well on her own. Of course she would eventually shove them in her mouth.
  • We re-used the jack-o-lantern we made during our pumpkin week for a pumpkin toss game. This time instead of using pumpkin seeds, we used eyeballs to toss in.
  • Gma and Gpa sent a card along with a sheet of Halloween stickers for each kid. I let Elise play with her stickers and then helped her add them to a piece of paper. I would peel them off the sheet and hold them out for her. She would then grab them and shove them in her mouth so I would direct her hand to the paper.
  • The day after Halloween we hit up clearance at Target and Wal-Mart. My mom picked up an awesome bean bag toss game at Target and surprised Carter with it hanging when he woke up from his nap. It was a hit!
  • During our Target run I picked up an adorable Halloween themed tic tac toe board and taught Carter how to play. He thought it was hilarious although he didn't really understand it. Once we'd played twice he wanted to play with the ghosts and cats making them talk to each other.
  • I saw an adorable Frankenstein footprint craft online and immediately knew that's what I wanted to do with Carter. I played around with different ideas for Elise and ultimately decided on a ghost because it was what we'd done for Carter's first Halloween. They turned out so cute together!
  • I mixed up some black paint or at least attempted to for Carter's Frankenstein. There ended up being quite a bit leftover so I pulled out orange construction paper and let him finger paint on it. Once it was dry I used cookie cutters to make Halloween shapes and then string ribbon through them to make a little banner.
    The banner hanging on our mantle.
  • On the footprint craft I had to cut the orange construction paper so it would fit into my frame. I saved the strips of orange paper for some play with scissors. I had Carter rip the paper with his fingers and then let him practice using scissors to cut it. Then I got him some black construction paper and let him glue the chunks of orange paper in designs to make cards for his grandparents and great grandparents. I glued a footprint ghost from Elise to the inside of the card. They turned out really cute!
  • I love hanging seasonal wreaths made by Carter on our back door so I had him make a Halloween wreath. I cut out a circle with a hole in the middle out of black card stock. Then I had Carter rip orange tissue paper, which is good practice to prepare his little hands for using scissors, and glue the tissue paper to the wreath. Once it was dry I added orange ribbon to hang it with and we had a cute wreath for our back door!
  • One of Carter's favorite books is Go Away, Big Green Monster! We read the book and then I cut out shapes to make the monster. We re-read the book as Carter glued the pieces together to make the monster. As he glued we talked about the shape and color of each piece. Once he was finished I asked him if he wanted to make a monster of his own. He did so we each made one and then wrote a little story to go with it. I was really impressed with his monster and thought his story was quite cute! It is hanging on our fridge and he is very proud of it.
  • I saw a cute craft online for making mummies. I used a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut a body out of black paper. Then we stuck masking tape to it to make it look like a mummy. I let Carter try ripping the tape like I had but he didn't quite have the finger strength so we switched to scissors. After two strips of tape on his mummy he was done. This activity wasn't much of a hit for him. I think he would have enjoyed it more if he could've ripped the tape.
Special Snack:
  • Last year we went to IHOP for a free scary face pancake and Carter loved it. I still had some money left on a gift card from my birthday so we went again this year. Carter loved making his own face on the pancake using candy corn and mini Oreos. That weekend we went to McDonald's for breakfast after our race and Carter wanted scary face pancakes again so I made him a face out of butter.
  • We hosted a Halloween themed play date at our house. My mom had given me a pumpkin cookie mix she'd gotten on sale so I made those as a treat. Then I drew jack-o-lantern faces on mandarin orange cups and ghost faces on string cheese. I opened a string cheese for Carter and he couldn't figure out where the face went. I had to show him the wrapper. We also had orange Kool Aid. Carter has had Kool Aid maybe once or twice before at parties but we never buy it so he was thrilled and chugged multiple cups which resulted in an accident during the play date because he had so much potty in him! I had out our special ice cubes to go in the drinks and the cubes with spiders frozen inside were a big hit!
    Carter said, "Landon, do you want to play in my sensory bin?"
Make Believe:
  • This is a category that I feel like I can take out of our weekly learning themes. Carter is constantly playing pretend and coming up with ways to make believe on his own so I don't need to come up with ideas. This week we pretended to be pirates, played pretend with the cats and spiders making them talk, and we also played pretend with the ghosts and cats that went along with the tic tac toe board.
  • Carter loved the Wee Sing Halloween cassette so we listened to it quite a bit. We also sang Itsy, Bitsy spider and acted it out with spider rings. Carter also enjoyed listening to the Monster Mash and The Skeleton Dance.
Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We went to a special Halloween themed storytime in the evening which was extra exciting because Ty got to go with us. Instead of wearing costumes I put the kids in their Batman and Robin jammies after bathing them so they were ready for bed when we got home. It's so cute to see them in matching and/or coordinating outfits!
  • Carter got to ride in the stroller for 2 different 5k races. He enjoyed the stroller being set up as a pirate ship and really got a kick out of going up to accept the costume contest awards. The biggest hit for him was getting to carry a glow sword as part of his costume! With the first race being in the evening it was dark and his sword really glowed!
    Ready for the Twilight Thriller 5k.
    Ready for the Hearts and Halloween 5k.

  • With my dad out of town for a conference my mom was able to come up earlier on Friday and wanted to do something fun with Carter. She, Jeremy, and Ty took him to the aquarium for a special event they have called Hallowmarine where the kids get to trick-or-treat. They had a couple of inflatables set up, one was a pirate ship, as well as lots of decorations.
    Petting a snake at Hallowmarine.
  • Of course the biggest and most exciting event was going trick-or-treating. We went to my friend, Elissa's, house so Carter and his buddy, Grant, could go trick or treating together. Carter had a blast running from house to house. He loved ringing the doorbell or knocking on the door and absolutely loved saying trick-or-treat. We sometimes had to remind him to say thank you because he was so excited to rush off to the next house, but most the time he did it on his own.
    Elise playing with our pumpkin flashlight before we headed out.
  • My First Halloween by Tomie dePaola
  • Hoodwinked by Arthur Howard
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
  • Say Boo! by Lynda Graham-Barber
  • Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex
  • Fright Night Flight by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • Boo to You! by Lois Ehlert
  • Arthur's Halloween by Marc Brown
  • Halloween at Creepy Castle by Alison Inches
  • Clifford's Halloween by Norman Bridwell
  • A Very Scary Haunted House by Joanne Barkan
  • The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat by Stan & Jan Berenstain
  • Franklin's Halloween by Paulette Bourgeois
  • Who Said Boo? by Nancy White Carlstrom
  • Angelina's Halloween by Katharine Holabird
  • Baby Looney Tunes Visit a Haunted House by Joseph R. Ritchie
  • The Teeny Tiny Ghost by Kay Winters
  • Little Witch's Big Night by Deborah Hautzig
  • Skeleton's Bones & Goblin Groans by Amy E. Sklansky
  • A Very Brave Witch by Alison McGhee
  • Turtle and Snake's Spooky Halloween by Kate Spohn
  • I Spy A Scary Monster by Jean Marzollo
  • Where's Boo? by Salina Yoon
  • That Terrible Halloween Night by James Stevenson
  • Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw
  • Halloween by Laura F. Marsh
  • Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino
  • Halloween by Alice K. Flanagan
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart J. Murphy
  • Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
  • Bugs That Go Bump in the Night by David A. Carter
  • The Three Bears' Halloween by Kathy Duval
  • Llama Llama Trick or Treat by Anna Dewdney
  • Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming
  • Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
  • Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters by Jane Yolen
  • Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray
  • The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey
  • Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting
  • Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  • Moonlight the Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant
  • My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck
  • Scaredy Cat, Splat by Rob Scotton
  • Happy Halloween, Mittens by Lola M. Schaefer
  • We're Off to Find the Witch's House by Mr. Krieb 
  • The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo
  • Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane (this one was like Over in the Meadow and was so cute!)
  • Queen Halloween by Mary Engelbreit
  • Pennsylvania Dutch Halloween Scherenschnitte by Peter V. Fritsch (we checked this out and read part of it, but it was a little long for Carter, I kept it on the list to remember for when he's older so we can make them).
  • One Witch by Laura Leuck (great for counting)
  • Sweets and Treats by Toni Trent Parker
  • Yeti, Turn Out the Light! by Greg Long
  • Bats in the Band by Brian Lies
  • Bats at the Library by Brian Lies


  1. Wow, that was a full post! And a lot of fun things going on!

    1. We did get in a lot of fun Halloween stuff. It was a blast!