Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Weekly Learning Theme: Halloween

Halloween is always a fun learning theme. I have so much awesome Halloween-themed stuff from the Dollar Tree and the Target dollar spot. It's so exciting to get it all out and find new and fun ways to use the materials to learn and review concepts. Carter wanted to decorate for Halloween really early this year and we let him. But it was so hard for me to hold off on a Halloween learning theme with all my fun materials out where I could get to them. I did though and was very proud of myself! Read last year's learning theme here, 2015's here, and 2014's here.

Listed below are the objectives I am focusing on for the themed weeks.  I have revised our objectives to really hone in and focus on specific skills Carter will need to master before kindergarten and are appropriate to his age and development right now. 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. I have added working on his name as his teachers at school have asked us to work on it at home and I want to remember to include working on it in some form during each of our learning themes. I'm also adding in a section for Elise now that she is a year old. I don't considers her bullet points objectives, they are experiences I want to make sure to expose her to frequently. Her experiences are listed below Carter as bullet points rather than numbers.

The highlighted objectives below are ones Carter received exposure to during our theme this week:

Writing Skills:
  • holds a pencil with 2 fingers and a thumb grasp.
  • draws a circle, plus sign, and square.
  • uses scissors to cut a 4 inch line. 
  • uses pictures to write a story.
  • writes name.
Reading Skills:
  • blends sounds to say word.
  • chunks words into syllables.
  • hears and identifies rhyming words.
  • recognizes and names uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • isolates and identifies beginning and ending sounds in spoken words.
 Math Skills:
  • counts to 20.
  • counts with one to one correspondence.
  • represents a number of objects with a written numeral (0-10).
  • compares objects in sets with more, less, or equal to.
  • creates and extends patterns.
  • identifies shapes and describes attributes. 
  • understands that addition means adding to.
  • understands that subtraction means taking from.                   
 Experiences Elise was exposed to during our theme this week are highlighted below:
  1. Continue to improve fine motor skills and drawing (specifically I'm looking for her to be able to copy a circle and a square as well as eventually 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. 
  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 such as size, color, hard, soft).
  7. Count and understand what the numbers mean.
  • I wrote Halloween on a sentence strip. I showed the word to Carter and had him identify the letters and then tell me what the beginning sound would be. Then I chunked the word into sounds for him and he blended the sounds together to identify the word. He was super excited to find out our next learning theme was going to be Halloween!

    Figuring out the word was Halloween!
  • Once we started talking about Halloween Carter started asking me when Halloween was a lot. So I told him it was on October 31st and helped him count up from 24 (the day we added it) to 31 and we added Halloween to our calendar. Then each time he asked me when Halloween was I sent him to the calendar to count how many days until Halloween. It was such a great learning activity for him to practice counting and it kept me from being annoyed with him asking the same question daily!
  • Our Halloween sensory bin is always one of my favorites. We have so much fun stuff to put in it. This year I got a Halloween pitcher and Halloween goblets from Dollar Tree to add to our bin. We had so many fun things to play with that I ended up pulling out an extra tote so I could put toys in one and the goblets and pitcher in the other. Carter loved having spooky tea parties. He'd even add eyeballs or fingers to our "drinks". Black beans were the base of both bins.
  • I have Halloween finger puppets I used in my classroom and I've since put in our Halloween sensory bins. I pulled them out this year to help us with storytelling. I modeled for Carter how I planned out a story and then told the story using the finger puppets. Then we took turns telling stories with our finger puppets.
  • The past few years the kids have painted pumpkins and Ty has let Carter choose a face for him to carve into a different pumpkin. This year Carter wanted to carve his pumpkin rather than paint it. I got out a piece of paper and he drew out his pumpkin face, planning out what he wanted it to look like. Then he drew his face onto his pumpkin. We let him use the special pumpkin carving knife with all the ridges so it's not sharp. I was impressed with how well he did using it. He was able to cut a straight line for the triangle eyes but had trouble with the mouth and asked me to help him there. Elise wanted to carve too and basically just stabbed multiple holes all over her pumpkin. She wanted an "otty" pumpkin but we couldn't find any example otter pumpkins so she decided on a kitty. Every time we pulled up to the house Elise would say, "Awww, kitty!" Then she'd run to her pumpkin and turn it toward her so she could admire it. I missed her do it the first couple times and couldn't figure out how her pumpkin kept moving around. Then I saw her and it was the cutest! The kids still got to paint little pie pumpkins at my parents house when we were visiting.
    Carter drawing out his pumpkin face.
    Elise so patiently watching and waiting her turn.

  • I found spooky excavation kits in the Dollar Spot at Target and knew the kids would love them with how much they enjoyed breaking open the dinosaur eggs at the Children's Museum. They had so much fun they wanted to break them down all the way to powder even after they'd found their toys inside.

  • To practice with counting and addition we did some spider ring stacking. I put a ball of black Play Doh on the table and put a straw cut in half in each of their balls. Then they stacked spider rings on the straws. I counted with Elise as she added her spiders to the straws. Then with Carter I had him count to see how many spiders he had on each straw and then count to see how many he had all together. I asked him how many spiders he'd have if we put more (or added more) onto the straw. Then I asked him how many he'd have if I took some away (or subtracted some) from a straw. I also gave Carter a number card and asked him to put that number of spiders onto his straw. He'd identify the number and then count out to add the spiders. We also made patterns with the colors of the spiders as we added them to the straws.

  • I found a black bingo dabber at Dollar Tree and knew it would be perfect for Halloween! I wrote Elise's name on a piece of paper and had her use the dabber to trace the letters in her name. I told her the letter and the sound it made as she worked. Then Carter wrote his name and went over it with the dabber, telling Elise what letter he was working on as he went.

  • To practice with rhyming I had Carter come up with words that rhymed with trick and then some words that rhymed with treat. He got excited when he realized I had done trick and treat like trick or treat. I asked him to come up with words as he played some more with his spider ring stacking. I wrote the words he came up with on a foam ghost and we counted to see how many words he came up with that rhymed with each of the two words I gave him.
  • We played with shaving foam which I dyed orange. I talked with Carter about which colors to mix to make orange before adding the food coloring. Then I gave each kid a witch finger from the sensory bin to draw in the foam with. I asked Carter to draw a circle, square, and plus sign and then spell his name. I asked Elise to draw a circle and then I showed her how to make a square and she attempted to make one of her own. When they were finished they played in the shaving foam.
  • I found some cute blank Halloween books in the dollar spot at Target. They were shaped like a haunted house with the front and back cover decorated like a haunted house. I asked Carter to write a story about Halloween and hoped he might write a book similar to the one he made last year telling about his day on Halloween. Instead he wrote a fiction book about a witch stealing pumpkins. For some reason he's really been stuck on that book theme. I'd post a picture with a collage of the book pages but picmonkey isn't free anymore and I haven't taken the time to look for a new free one that will allow me to use more than 4 pictures.
  • At school Carter got to measure himself by stacking pumpkin cutouts. They measured everyone in the class and worked together to set the pumpkins end to end. It was a cute activity and their teacher posted pictures in our group.
  • Before trick-or-treating I sat down with the kids to talk about safety. We talked about how they had to stay with the adults and how they don't go inside someone else's house while trick-or-treating (which Carter did at one house anyway because they were watching tv and he wanted to see what they were watching). Carter also told Elise when you walk up to a house you say "trick or treat" and after they give you candy you tell them, "thank you." It was so cute to hear him teach Elise how to do it and they practiced saying the words together. It was adorable! We also talked about what time of day we trick or treat. I had Elise tell me how we can tell it is night time and we decided it is when it starts getting dark.
  • I pulled a handful of candy out of their treat bags after Halloween and had them sort the candy before picking a piece to eat. I had Carter tell me the beginning sound of the candy's name and then sort the candy by the first letter in the candy's name. When he was finished he told me which pile had the most and which pile had the least. Then we counted to see how many candies each pile had. When he was finished we played around with me asking him how many he'd have if I added a certain number more of if I subtracted or took away some from a pile. Elise sorted her candy by the color of the package and then I named each color for her.


  • We went to the library by our house for a special Halloween craft night. The kids got to decorate gourds, make spiders out of pipe cleaners, create ghosts using Kleenex and a Tootsie Pop, and decorate a trick-or-treat bag. When they were finished they got to go around to the help desks at the library to trick-or-treat. It was a lot of fun!
    Carter decorating his trick-or-treat bag.
    Elise decorating her trick-or-treat bag.
Carter decorating a gourd.

  • Carter made a black cat craft at school where he used a marble to roll black paint over a piece of paper cut out in the shape of a cat.

  • I found some Halloween stamps at the Dollar Tree along with some little Halloween notebooks. I got them out for the kids to decorate and play with. Carter even made up a story to go with his pictures.

Special Snack:
  • I planned to draw ghost faces on stick cheese for the Halloween playdate we hosted at our house. Ty surprised me by doing it for me while I was cleaning the house. They turned out really cute! I also drew a jack-o-lantern face on Carter's oranges I put in his lunch on Halloween.
  • Just for fun I made special pancakes for the kids in the shape of cats and ghosts. I love having so many cookie cutters so I can do fun stuff like that for them for pretty much any holiday or season.
  • The week leading up to Halloween I used Halloween cookie cutters to cut Carter's lunch meat and cheese in his school lunches. Then on his I love you note I drew a picture of the corresponding Halloween cookie cutter.
    Carter's bat sandwich meat.
  • We continued our tradition of going to IHOP for free scary face pancakes on Halloween. This year we went for breakfast because Carter had school on Halloween. The kids enjoyed getting to add the Oreo eyes, strawberry nose, and candy corn mouth to their pancakes. Elise at one point put her head down to her plate and started sucking syrup off her plate. When I told her not to do that, she said, "But I HUNGY!" Mind you she still had over half her pancake left!

  • I pulled out the skeleton candy we had from our bone learning theme. I gave Carter a package and asked him to sort it any way he could think of. I gave Elise a package and had her sort by color. She actually did it this time and then we talked about the color names and counted to see how many she had of each color. Carter first sorted by color.  I had him look at his piles to determine which he had the most of and which he had the least of. Then we counted to see if he was right. We discovered he had 3 piles that all had the same number or were equal to each other. I then asked Carter to come up with another way to sort and he then sorted by type of bone. When he was done we made some patterns based on color and then on the kind of bone.

Make Believe:
  • I had so much fun making up different recipes for Carter to make using ingredients from our sensory bin. I gave him a mixing bowl and a spoon. Then I made up different recipes like Witches Brew, Goblin Goulash, and Werewolf Soup. I wrote a number and then wrote the word along with a picture of the item. Carter did a great job reading the recipes and counting the items to make sure he had the correct amount. I made sure to add some really tricky numbers and even put 15 on there since he tends to skip 15 when he counts. Elise wanted to be a Halloween chef just like Carter so I helped her read the recipes and counted with her to add the ingredients.

  • Another big hit was playing in costumes and pretending to be characters. We have a huge selection of costumes we've gotten half price after Halloween or super cheap at Goodwill. Carter enjoyed putting on Belle's dress and dancing around singing "Beauty and the Beast" over and over. He kept having Elise dance with him. They also liked pretending to be Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol as well as superheroes and police officers and fire fighters.
    Carter dressed as Belle.
Carter liked pretending to fly as Buzz Lightyear.

One cute Ninja Turtle.

  • We sang the pumpkin songs I used during our fall learning theme. I also picked up a Halloween Kids CD at the library which the kids loved singing along to. They enjoyed the Monster Mash and Purple People Eater. Other favorites were The Witch Is Dead from Wizard of Oz and Who Let the Ghosts Out.
  • Carter enjoyed playing Arthur's Tricks and Treats on PBS Kids here as well as pumpkin carving and decorating games on ABCYa here and Curious George Pumpkin Boo here. When he played the pumpkin carving games he and Elise took turns carving pumpkins. Carter was so sweet showing Elise how to do it and then praising her when she was able to do it on her own.

 Field Trip/Interactive Experience:
  • We went to an event downtown called Boo HaHa. They had trick or treating all up and down the street with nearly all the businesses participating. One church along the road had bounce houses and popcorn for the kids. There was a candy store that was giving out cotton candy made fresh as you came in. Carter and Elise wanted some so badly they waited in line for over half an hour just to get into the store. They had so much fun and got quite a bit of candy! Elise opened lots of different candy and then would take a bite or two and throw it down in the stroller. When we got to the car she had bits of candy stuck to the leg of her costume!

  • I hosted a Halloween-themed playdate at our house the day before Halloween. We set out our bins of Halloween costumes for the kids to play with and set up all our Halloween games along with the sensory bins. I also put out the Halloween stamps for kids to play with and we decorated cupcakes with Halloween sprinkles. It was a lot of fun!
    Decorating foam ghosts I set out for the kids to color.
  • Of course we went trick or treating on Halloween! We continued our tradition of meeting up with my friend Elissa and trick or treating with her kids from their house. Carter remembers this tradition and at the beginning of October started asking if we could go trick or treating with Grant again this year. It was so cute to see the boys go up to houses together and then see Elise trailing them, always a little bit behind. I loved hearing them say trick or treat and then thank you. For days afterward Elise kept telling people, "We walk up to howses and Carty say tick oh teet and then I say tick oh teet. Then we say thank you!" It was so adorable.

  • My First Halloween by Tomie dePaola
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
  • Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex
  • Fright Night Flight by Laura Krauss Melmed
  • Arthur's Halloween by Marc Brown
  • Halloween at Creepy Castle by Alison Inches
  • Clifford's Halloween by Norman Bridwell
  • 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
  • A Very Brave Witch by Alison McGhee
  • Turtle and Snake's Spooky Halloween by Kate Spohn
  • Where's Boo? by Salina Yoon
  • Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • Llama Llama Trick or Treat by Anna Dewdney
  • Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
  • The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey
  • Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane (this one was like Over in the Meadow and was so cute!)
  • One Witch by Laura Leuck (great for counting)
  • The Little Blue Truck Halloween by Alice Schertle
  • Pete the Cat Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean
  • Spooky Pooky by Sandra Boynton
  • The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle
  • Boo, Bunny! by Kathryn O. Galbraith
  • Seeking a Witch by Angela Diterlizzi
  • The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by J. Elizabeth Mills
  • Ten Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage
  • Who Will Haunt My House on Halloween? by Jerry Pallotta
  • Halloween Howl by Suzanne Collins
  • In the Haunted House by Eve Bunting
  • T. Rex Trick-Or-Treats by Lois G. Grambling
  • Where's My Mummy by Carolyn Crimi
  • The Spooky Express Kansas: A Halloween Thrill Ride by Eric James
  • Trick or Treat Countdown by Patricia Hubbard
  • Boo to You by Lois Ehlert
  • Boo, Boo, I Love You by Sandra Boynton
  • Sweets and Treats by Toni Trent Parker
  • Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters by Jane Yolen
  • Monster Musical Chairs by Stuart J. Murphy
  • Halloween ABC: An Alphabet Book by Jannie Ho
  • Happy Halloween, Mittens by Lola M. Schaefer
  • The Itsy, Bitsy Pumpkin by Sonali Fry
  • Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat by Doreen Cronin
  • Eek! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton
  • The Runaway Mummy by Michael Rex
  • Peek-a-Boo! by Nina Laden
  • Pug and Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion
  • It's Halloween by Richard Sebra