Looking to add some spooky fun with your youngest learners? In this blog post, I highlight some simple ways to explore musical concepts while celebrating Halloween during the month of October. I focus on the pretend part of Halloween and try to make it fun and playful, not scary.
Vocal Exploration Ideas
Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara is a simple story about a girl and her cat who happen to have a spooky problem. Their house is haunted!
However, the girl turns out to be a witch, and along with her cat, catches all the ghosts. She washes and dries them and then puts them to use as tablecloths, curtains, and sheets (that part always gets a lot of laughs). The illustrations are beautiful and just the right amount of spooky for younger students.
I like to use the book as a jumping off point for vocal exploration. Some ideas:
Use a ghost wand.
I made mine by wrapping a xylophone mallet with a sheer white scarf and tying a piece of yarn around the base of the mallet head.
Model vocal exploration on “woo” while tracing the melodic contour with the wand. Students echo.
Hide the ghost wand behind your back. When the ghost wand comes out, students follow the melodic contour at the same time. When it hides behind your back again, students stop.
Try with a student leader "directing."
Partners take turns sharing ghost “woos" with each other using a scarf or tissue.
Trace Race: One Spooky Night by Megan Roth and Klara Hawkins lets students trace their way along a spooky Halloween path and follow the trail with their voice.
Afterwards, students can create their own trail using a device, piece of paper, or small white board and writing tool. They love sharing their creations with their peers!
If You’re Spooky and You Know It by Aly Fronis and Jannie Ho is a Halloween-themed twist on the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
I like to introduce the book by saying the characters are all dressed up for a Halloween dance party.
After exploring some of the movement ideas in the book, students can create dances based on their own Halloween costume.
Reading, Writing, and Creating with Picture Icons
Pumpkin and Ghost Patterns
Students create their own 4 beat rhythm pattern using "pumpkin" and "ghost" picture icons (i.e. "pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin, ghost").
First, students explore saying teacher created patterns as a whole group. Then, I pass out a set of 8 cards for partners to create their own patterns together on the floor. Finally, they go on a pattern hunt with their partner and try to say all the patterns they see on the floor.
You can always repeat this experience the following year and decode the pictures into rhythm notation.
Pumpkin, Pumpkin Round and Fat
What happens when you carve a pumpkin? It turns into a Jack O' Lantern!
I like to introduce the song by showing a big pumpkin cut out and turning it around on "just like that" to show a Jack o' Lantern face (happy, sad, angry, sleepy, silly).
Then, students can turn away, sing the song, and turn around showing their own Jack O' Lantern faces. They love playing this game with partners.
I hope these ideas inspire some spooky fun with your littles.