Halloween. The creepy movies. The kids getting to run the streets at night. The ancient belief that the veil between worlds is thinnest. The turning of the year. The joy of dressing up in a costume and collecting candy from the neighbors.
When I was a kid, I lived in a small neighborhood in a large town where everyone knew each other. My brother, sister, and I ran through the night with our friends, out after dark without supervision for a single night. We didn’t cause any mischief–we weren’t that type of kids–but it felt like mischief. And freedom. Even though we were always a couple of yards away from someone who knew us well and would look out for us, it didn’t feel like that. It felt like… magic.
I told you last week that the boys and I are reading The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury in school right now, and the book captures all that magic in the first couple of pages and keeps capturing it as it goes. Which is great for my boys, because we live in a very rural area on a farm where we can’t even see our neighbors because they’re a 1/2 mile or more down the road. So trick-or-treating is not really an option. When they were very young, we used to drive down to the little town nearby, park in a lot and walk them around the neighborhood, but one year they both got sick for Halloween. Fevers, the works. Martin and I talked about what we should do–no way was I not going to celebrate my favorite holiday with my littles. So he offered to buy a couple bags of candy and rent some age-appropriate Halloween movies on his way home from work, and I got to work myself. I made up an indoor scavenger hunt so they would have to work for their candy. I scoured the internet for fun games to play. I baked. I planned a dinner that could be turned into spooky props–chicken ‘fingers,’ macaroni and cheese ‘brains,’ and the like.
Let me tell you, macaroni and cheese is not nearly as appetizing when it’s dyed red.
My poor sick littles had a blast at our impromptu Halloween party. They even wore their costumes. And when they felt especially bad, they took a break. When we settled in to watch movies, they curled their warm little bodies up beside me and had a little candy. It was, perhaps, the funnest Halloween ever.
The next year, we gave them an option: drive down to town and go trick-or-treating or have another party at home.
They chose home. And a Halloween tradition was born.
This will be our 6th year of the Brison At-Home Halloween Party. The games have grown up with the boys, and the movies have graduated (because we’re all huge horror fans) to the real thing, but the premise remains the same. Martin picks up candy on the way home. We don’t let them see it, but fill a huge plastic cauldron with it and hide it somewhere in the house. We have a scavenger hunt to find it. Then we play games. And we do take a night walk around the farm, just to keep in the spirit of the things.
Fun Halloween Games We’ve Played:
- Monster Headbanz -there’s a free printable for this with directions in my holiday printables
- Mummy Wrap – make teams and race to wrap each other in toilet paper
- Pin the Head on the Skeleton
- Fashion the Best Skeleton from Pasta – Pasta wheels, spaghetti, macaroni, rigatoni, whatever!
- Be a Monster – there’s a printable with prompts and directions for playing the Monster Point of View game in holiday printables
- Tell the best scary story – the littles usually write theirs as part of school during the days leading up to the holiday
You didn’t think I was going to leave that part out, did you?
We usually take part of the day (and we will this year, no matter how old these boys keep getting) to read some picture books we particularly enjoy. You wanna know which ones, don’t you? (The ones with asterisks have Story Times available right here at Lit Mama! And if you don’t know what that means, it means a whole unit study based on the book!)
Can I say enough about this book? It is hands-down my favorite read-aloud picture book. If this one doesn’t get the whole family moving, you’re not doing it right.
This one is so sweet–kinda like The Littlest Christmas Tree for Halloween. It’s always been a favorite with my boys.
This sweet book is a holdover from my childhood (which means you can nab it for a penny on Amazon). It’s about a family of mouse-sized witches who are trying to find a home. I crush hard on this one.
This is my new Halloween book crush. I’ve probably sneaked up behind my kids and read it aloud to them a thousand times in the last two weeks. They groaned a little when I trapped them as they went to bed the other night. They think they’re old enough now not to need bedtime stories.
This one cracks me up. I don’t know what’s funnier, the way the witch loses everything or the way her new friends save her in the end. I hope there’s room on the broom for me, because I want in.
Anything based on the Clement C. Moore Christmas poem wins in my book, but when you add a Halloween theme?
My favorite part of this book, in which a ghost is helping a skeleton cure his hiccups, is when Skeleton is brushing his teeth. I ain’t lyin’, I laugh. Every time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ll have to either get the book or ask me in the comments.
Written by Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett? Be still my heart. Text that could almost be song lyrics makes this one an easy favorite to memorize as all sorts of Halloween creatures parade down a spooky country road under the moon.
Not necessarily a Halloween book, but it’s about skeletons, so it counts. Based on the African-American traditional song, this book also explains all the bones in the body, so it’s an anatomy lesson, too. Yeah yeah.
This one is so sweet, it’ll give you a toothache. Little Baby Mummy and Big Mama Mummy play one last round of hide-and-shriek while the night creatures are out, but when Little Baby Mummy gets a scare, Big Mama Mummy is there to soothe him.
This book is just plain awesome. Under the guise of a mother and son looking for a new house on the cheap, it is truly a handbook for haunted houses. It explains what makes a house a haunted house, what types of ghosts one might run into, and what kinds of activity might happen, among other things. This is one that will fascinate.
Score! With awesome illustrations and lyrical text, this one tells about a boy who is throwing a Halloween party. That gets crashed by ghouls, ghosts, ogres, and the like. And he has to get the house cleaned up before his mom and dad get home. Love this rollicking ride!
Have a safe and fun (and spooky) Halloween, y’all.