Halloween is coming soon! I’ve been looking forward to it since the beginning of September. Every year I try to find some Halloween-ish books to read so as to capitalize on the fun of the season. Some of our past Halloween reads include: The Graveyard Book, The Witch Family, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and In a Dark Dark Room. This year I discovered this fun and not too spooky series by Cornelia Funke. The books are short and entertaining with a tinge of suspense. Both my kids enjoyed listening to them and requested the next book as soon as one was finished. We listened to the audio books and they were about 2 hours each. I was actually surprised to see how chock full of learning opportunities these books were. After a few minutes of brainstorming, I came up with a list of possibilities. Some of the activities are ones we’ve done in years past, but they would go along perfectly with this book series. So if you’re looking for something to get you into the Halloween spirit, I’d recommend checking this series out.
Flying Ghost Rockets
We have done this activity many times and it’s always a blast. The pictures are from when my babies were much younger. This goes to show that this is a very easy activity that even little guys can take part in (with proper supervision). But please note that this activity should only be done under adult supervision, given that it involves a medication & flying objects. You will need some little plastic film canisters, water and Alka-Seltzer tabs (broken into 3 or 4 pieces). Draw a cute or spooky face on your canister to make it look like a ghost. Then fill the canister with a small amount of water, less than half full. When you’re ready to see your ghost fly, drop in a piece of the Alka-Seltzer tab, snap on the lid and place your ghost, lid side down, on the sidewalk and stand back. (The little ones will definitely need help with the lid snapping/getting out of the way. You need to do this quickly). The carbon dioxide will build inside the canister and it will soon send your ghost flying high into the sky, just like Hugo!
I originally saw this idea years ago here… http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2013/09/ghost-rockets-halloween-activity.html
Irresistible Ghost Cookies
The key to defeating the Incredibly Revolting Ghost from book #1 of the series, involved cookies spiked with graveyard dirt. We decided to make some cherry topped cookies in honor of Mr Lovely, and of course we added the secret ingredient, graveyard dirt. This activity, as with all cooking activities, is great for practicing fractions, measuring, and kitchen skills.
We decided to use this recipe Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies and added a handful or two of graveyard dirt (aka crushed oreo cookies) to our mix. The dough was a bit on the crumbly side, that may have been due to the addition of our secret ingredient. They definitely need to sit on the pan and cool for a full 10 minutes. In the end they’re a bit on the messy side but totally delicious!
I love cute but simple craft. Cheesecloth ghosts are just that. They don’t require a ton of supplies, they are incredibly easy and look adorable when their done. We followed this cheesecloth ghost craft tutorial when we made ours. They turned out so great and didn’t eat our electronics or leave one lick of ghost slime behind!
Learning about Lightning
Reading book #2 of this series (The Gruesome Invincible Lightning Ghost) brought up questions of “What is a lightning rod” and “How does it work.” So we did some browsing and found some interesting information that includes science and history.
There are lots of lightning strike videos available on YouTube. I heard some not so nice language in several of them. So you may want to preview them before watching them with your kids.
Eggs are a secret weapon against certain types of ghosts, who knew? Eggs are also really cool to experiment with. We’ve done several pretty nifty egg experiments over the years. This egg in a bottle experiment is super cool. In fact I remember doing this one with my own mom when I was kid and always thought it was fascinating! Then there’s the super neat dissolving eggshell experiment. And don’t forget the ever impressive walking on eggshells experiment.
Don’t spend all your time just experimenting with eggs though. To be a successful ghosthunter you must learn to use the egg. Enter the ASG egging range. The perfect place to practice your aim should you encounter an ASG. We set up our range by first sketching up some averagely spooky ghosts. Then measuring specific distances for our ghostly targets (5, 7, 15 and 25 feet). The real fun began when we picked up some eggs and tested our throwing skills.
When our target practice was finished, we practiced some partner egg tossing. Start close together and toss the egg. When you catch the egg, take one step back and then toss it again. My son thought this activity was “eggcellent.”
I think it’s safe to say that most kids are fascinated by fire. It’s magical and a little scary all at the same time. Sounds a bit like the hotel guests turned fire ghosts encountered in book #2 of the series, The Gruesome Invincible Lightning Ghost. I personally don’t like playing with fire. It makes me way too nervous. We did try one of those black snake experiments using sand, sugar and isopropyl alcohol, it was a complete fail. So thankfully there’s that ultra awesome website called YouTube where you can watch other people do experiments with fire. It might not be as exciting as doing it in real life but it’s a lot less hassle & stress. Plus you won’t end up burning yourself or your house down, double bonus!
When you get done watching cool experiments and learning about fire. You can spend a few minutes discussing fire safety. Does your family have a plan should your house catch on fire? Does everyone know how to get out? Do you have a designated meeting area outside away from danger? Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? Do your kids understand how dangerous it can be to play with lighters or candles or other sources of fire? Have they been taught to Stop, Drop and Roll? Now is a perfect time to get talking about this stuff.
We’ve done slime, gak, and other variations, lots of times. But we’ve never done edible slime until now. This stuff looks fantastic! It looks like the stuff I imagine Hugo leaving in his wake. This recipe is extremely simple and perfect practice for following written directions.
Hetty Hyssop was a master of concocting special recipes to counter act ghostly powers. She was the inspiration for this activity. I gave my kids free range of the kitchen to develop a potion to aid in their ghosthunting adventures.
The rules for the activity were as follows:
1. The concoction had to be edible.
2. They had to write down the ingredients/directions to make it.
3. They had to write a creative little bit describing the who, what, when, where and how their potion would be relevant/useful.
I underestimated how much they would enjoy this activity. They spent nearly 2 hours working on their recipes and instructions. I was surprised when neither one of them went with a drinkable recipe. Instead we got Esfgah (Essence switcher for ghosts and humans) Balls & Dragon Balls/Cookies. Both were interesting tasting and (not surprisingly), very sweet!
I loved that they got creative with the delivery of the instructions. My son rolled his into a cute little scroll using toothpicks. My daughter printed hers in a teeny, tiny font size and handed me a magnifying glass. (As you may have learned in book 1, writing it down is the only way to ensure a ghost doesn’t overhear your plans).
In book #4 The Muddy Monster of Doom, we learn that ghosts are attracted to blood. What great news for those of us looking to make real life learning connections with our read alouds! Perfect opportunity to talk about the composition & function of blood.
Components of Blood (using candy)
Blood Cell Bingo – from Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop. Her work is so amazing!
If you have BrainPop.com membership they have games & lessons available covering blood, blood pressure, blood types & blood glucose.
If you wanted to get to the microscopic level, you could check out a video on YouTube.
You could also get your own microscope & slides. We own both of these microscopes and this slide set. The little hand held microscopes are rather impressive but a bit trickier to use. The stationary microscope is much easier to focus so as to make sure everyone gets a good look. The slide set contains a smear of human blood among other interesting little things.
There are lots of STEM ideas floating around the internet. I’ve seen leprechaun traps & gingerbread man traps. So why not a ghost trap? It doesn’t have to be a trap of course. Here are a few of the activities I’ve got my eye on for the month of October.