Counting with Ghosts: A Preschool Story and Craft

Our little preschool book club of two had some Halloween fun this afternoon with Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell. I adore this story, because, while it seems a little scary at first (a witch scares a group of ghosts out of their house using a bat, a ghoul, a rat and other spooky creatures), preschoolers can easily see that the creatures are really just the witch in disguise. Then they’re onto something! “Hey!”, they exclaim. “That’s not a vampire, that’s the witch dressed up!” In the end, the scared little ghosts become very brave and take back their house.

We made our own ghosts by tracing the pudgy preschooler feet of our two book club members (my 3 year old and his 4 year old friend), turning them into ghosts, and counting our way through the story. This activity was inspired by  the ghosts puppets from Kristina at Toddler Approved.

First, I added eyes and a mouth to our ghosts and we practiced cutting. Mostly I did the cutting, as both kids needs a lot of help with this.  For my 3 year old, I wrote the numbers 1 through 10 in gray marker and he traced over the them.

Our 4 year old friend proudly wrote her own numbers and did a little coloring on her ghosts. She’s fancy like that.

Next, we taped a toothpick to the back of each ghost and inserted them into foam bricks, just some leftover packaging I had laying around but this made for a fun display of our ghosts and we could easily put them in order.

Then we were ready to act out the story. I read the book to them while they selected the ghosts, starting with 10 and working down to 1.  As each ghost was frightened by the witch in the story and flew to the woods to hide, the kids made their ghosts fly away by zooming across the room.

The best part? At the end, the ghosts summon their courage and scare the witch. The kids had a great time flying around with their ghosts, yelling “BOO!” to our pretend witch.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Halloween Fun with Stellaluna

Stellaluna isn’t a Halloween story, but Halloween is a great time of year to read it.  Think of all the bat decorations you may already own or could buy from the dollar store.  Perfect for acting out the story of Stellaluna, which is exactly what we did today. Just a little activity that only took a few minutes, but was fun and had all three kids engaged.

Stellaluna is a brave little bat who gets separated from her mother and lands in a nest of baby birds. She tries her best to fit in, eating strange foods and sitting upright instead of hanging upside down.  When she is reunited with her mother and the other bats, she goes back to find the birds, realizing that even though they are very different from her, they are very dear friends.

I brought in a branch from outside so that we could have a tree for Stellaluna to land in.  Using the bats from our box of Halloween decorations as props, the kids acted out the story as I read it.  Then we talked about being brave, and some things we have done, even though we were afraid.  We also talked about being friends with someone, even though we might be very different.

To take this a bit further, you could also explore information on fruit bats or do a batty craft.

Just a little pre-Halloween fun with Stellaluna, by Janell Canon.

Spooky Spiders – No Trip to the Craft Store Necessary

I wanted to do an easy, spidery craft with the kids,  using what we had around the house, rather than making yet another trip to the craft store. They’re getting to know me there, and it feels kind of like walking into a neighborhood bar of sorts, only with fake flowers, yarn and Mod Podge instead of cocktails.  Anyway…

You will need:

Cardboard egg carton
Paper towel tube
Black paint
Googly eyes (or paint on the eyes)

We took two attached pieces of the egg carton and painted them black, one to represent the head of the spider, and one to represent the body.

Next, we painted the cardboard tubes. Using an old baby bottle drying rack is great for this type of painting. Great for little toddler hands, especially.

Next, we cut open our tube and painted the inside.

We cut the tube into eight strips and trimmed some off of one end so the legs wouldn't be too long.

We glued the legs inside the egg carton and shaped them a bit.

Add googly eyes and you have a Spooky Spider.

This craft was perfect timing for us for three reasons:

  1. It’s Halloween.
  2. We recently studied spiders in our R.E.A.L. Science Curriculum so this was an opportunity to reinforce what we learned about spider anatomy (one head section, one body section, 8 legs with joints, 2 eyes).
  3. We’ve been reading wonderful stories about Anansi the Spider while studying ancient Africa.

Don’t you just love it when learning all comes together like that? I totally planned that. Really, I did. Well, actually, I didn’t, it’s just a cool coincidence.  Shhhh, don’t tell the kids. [wink]