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The Halloween Tree Activities for Learning

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The Halloween Tree activities include more than 75 reading comprehension writing prompts plus crafts and other fun ideas

This is the time of year when we like to choose something spooky for our family read-aloud.Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love a good ghost story or something similar to get me in the mood for it.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury is the perfect chapter book to read with kids because it’s spooky while still being mostly kid-friendly and it contains a  pretty accurate history of the holiday. Accurate enough to spark some cool history lessons, anyway. I’ve not yet seen the animated film based on it, but it would be fun to read the book and then watch the movie.

This book, y’all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a little hair-raising for kids. But it’s such a cool look at the history of Halloween and the way humans have always feared death and the dark. There are so many ways you could turn a read-aloud into a history lesson, a geography lesson, a sociology lesson…

You get me. I mean, Bradbury was a genius, after all, and if you don’t appreciate this book simply for his skill with the language, then something is seriously wrong.

No, really, the descriptions in this book reach down deep into your heart and pull out everything you love about autumn and Halloween until you feel all choked up and nostalgic.

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the autumn season.

The Halloween Tree activities include more than 75 reading comprehension writing prompts plus crafts and other fun ideas

The Halloween Tree Activities

Your child by no means has to do every one of these activities in order to closely read The Halloween Tree, but I suggest picking several from each category.

Diary Entries

  • In your own words, describe the town as it appeared on Halloween night
  • Do you know somebody like Joe Pipkin who seems greater and more wonderful than everyone else? Write about him or her.
  • Pretend you’re Tom and write about all the things you saw and felt when Pipkin first stepped out of his house on Halloween
  • Pretend you’re one of the boys and write about trick-or-treating without Pipkin and how there was too much kindness from the grownups and not enough danger
  • Pretend you live in the town and write about the people who used to live in the haunted house
  • Pretend you’re Tom and describe what happened when you knocked on the door of the haunted house
  • Pretend you’re Henry-Hank and write about seeing the Halloween Tree for the first time
  • Pretend you’re Pipkin and write about trying to catch up to the boys and being taken away
  • Pretend you’re Moundshroud and describe the Undiscovered Country
  • Pretend you’re Tom and write about building the kite
  • Pretend you’re Wally Babb and describe being the last boy in the kite’s tail
  • Write about a time when you’ve done something really awesome but feared no one would believe it unless they saw it
  • Pretend you’re Henry-Hank and write about how hard it was to follow Tom into the Egyptian tomb
  • Pretend you’re an ancient Egyptian and write about your fear that the sun won’t come back after it sets and how it seems that the darkness of winter will go on forever
  • Pretend you’re Ralph and write about your ‘part’ in Halloween
  • Pretend you’re Tom and write about the experience with Samhain
  • Pretend you’re Hackles Nibley and describe the progression in Britain from Druidism to belief in the Roman pantheon to Christianity
  • Pretend you’re Henry-Hank and write about what it’s like to fly on a broom
  • Describe learning what happened to witches from Henry-Hank’s point of view
  • Pretend you’re Wally Babb and describe whistling up the gargoyles
  • Pretend you’re Tom and write about your frustration at always just missing Pipkin
  • Pretend you’re Tom and describe celebrating the Day of the Dead in Mexico
  • Pretend you’re Tom and write about how much courage it took to go first into the catacombs
  • Pretend you’re one of the boys and write about the decision to give a year of your life for Pipkin

Write a letter

  • From the boys to Pipkin telling him why he has to come out for Halloween
  • From Pipkin to the boys convincing them to go on without him
  • From Tom Skelton to Pipkin telling why he’d picked the perfect Halloween house
  • From Tom to Moundshroud, thanking him for not completely giving away his costume
  • From the boys to Pipkin telling they’re sorry he wasn’t with them for the adventure
  • From Tom to Pipkin telling him why he shouldn’t have come out
  • From Moundshroud to the boys explaining why they should join him on his journey
  • From Fred Fryer to his family telling them about being the kite’s tail
  • From Tom to Moundshroud telling him how it felt to go back in time to Egypt
  • From Moundshroud to the boys explaining the Egyptian Halloween ritual
  • From Pipkin to Tom begging him to follow and help
  • From Ralph to Samhain telling him he’s been good this year and so doesn’t deserve to die
  • From Tom to Pipkin begging him to tell where they should meet
  • From Samhain to the Roman soldiers asking why they killed the Druids
  • From Moundshroud to the boys explaining why witches didn’t really have special powers
  • From Moundshroud to Tom telling him why the boys have to save Pipkin
  • From Tom to Moundshroud explaining the gargoyles of Notre Dame
  • From Pipkin to the boys telling them about his own adventures of the night
  • From Tom to his town telling them all the things they’ve forgotten about Halloween
  • From the boys to Moundshroud explaining why they’re tired and overwhelmed by the adventure
  • From Pipkin to Tom telling him why he’s so afraid to run the gauntlet of mummies
  • From Tom to Pipkin telling him how glad he is that Pip’s alive
  • From Moundshroud to Tom explaining what must happen for people to stop being afraid of the night and of death

Research

  • The history of trick-or-treating
  • Morse code
  • The colors of Halloween and their meanings
  • The history of jack-o-lanterns
  • Indiana Summer
  • Allez-oop
  • Circuses
  • African animals
  • Pterodactyls
  • Perdition
  • Manta rays
  • The River Nile
  • The Sphinx
  • The Pyramids
  • The Valley of the Kings
  • The winter solstice
  • Osiris
  • Saber-toothed tigers
  • Mithras
  • Phoebus Apollo
  • The Feast of Pots
  • Samhain
  • Druids
  • Seutonius
  • Dark Ages
  • European witch trials and Spanish Inquisition
  • Notre Dame
  • The Day of the Dead

Essays

  • Convey your opinion about whether or not kids should trick-or-treat and persuade your reader to agree with you
  • Find out the different ways churches, schools, and neighborhoods celebrate Halloween in your town and write about which would be the most fun and why
  • The boys seem to know they are misbehaving simply by being with Moundshroud. Write your opinion on why they follow him anyway
  • If you could go back in time, when and where would you go? Write about it.
  • Write about why the ancient Egyptians might have worshiped a sun god
  • Bradbury mentions many sun gods from many civilizations and talks about how the sun and fire are at the center of Halloween. In your own words, explain what he means.
  • Compare and contrast the sun gods of two different ancient civilizations
  • Explain what Moundshroud means about an idea getting big and why that makes religion bigger than demons or witches
  • Discuss Moundshroud’s conviction that throughout history the fear of death and the absence of the sun sparked rituals which culminated into one celebration that is Halloween. Do you believe/agree with this theory? Explain.

Arts/Crafts

Food

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Orange Crush and Nehi soda
  • Candy Corn
  • Peanuts
  • Sugar skulls

Miscellaneous

Dive in, dig in, read this book with your kids. Remember all the things you love and dread about autumn and commiserate with the 8 boys who get dragged along on Moundshroud’s adventure.

Remember that friend you had when you were young that you would have given a year off the end of your life for.

Looking for more Halloween fun?  Check out:

Recipes for Cast-Iron Skillet Pizza and Persimmon Snowballs to ohave with the film Goosebumps for a fun October family moive night

Dinner and a Movie: Goosebumps

Story Time: The Littlest Pumpkin - Crafts and activities from Lit Mama Homeschool

Story Time: The Littlest Pumpkin

Story Time: Goodnight Goon - Crafts, actvities, printables, and a recipe to go with the Halloween picture book

Story Time: Goodnight Goon

12 Must-Read Halloween Classics

12 Must-Read Classics for Halloween

 

KT Brison
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KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys.Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
KT Brison
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GET A FREE PDF OF THIS POST

About KT Brison

KT Brison is a former children’s librarian and educator who gave all that up for the most important job in her life—homeschooling her boys. Though she loves the outdoors and rambling around her farm, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. Any book. As long as it has words.
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