I’m on time!!! This has got to be the first time I’ve blogged about our holiday adventures BEFORE the holiday has occurred. I am fully aware this will make no difference to readers who may be finding this awesome post months after the fact, but let it be written… I am NOT always late!
I’m not actually very big into celebrating holidays as part of our “school.” We have a lot of family traditions for the more significant and meaningful holidays, but I figure if the kids want to make cutesy jack-o-lantern and candy corn crafts, they can do that on their own time.
(I’ve spent enough years doing all the crafty things with my older kids when they were preschool age and I think I’m just all crafted out! Luckily, my 3rd grader likes to play teacher and she is more than happy to teach her younger brothers how to draw monsters and make decorations for the classroom/playroom. I’m so totally good with that.)
But things wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t add the fun things we’ve done for Halloween. Isn’t the pumpkin patch kind of like a field trip? And painting pumpkins, that counts as art class. The scary music? That is definitely symposium worthy.
Well… ok, I guess it all counts as school stuff in the end. But I will readily make it known I did not require any essays, posters, dramatizations, or poetry recitations on the origins and evolution of All Hallow’s Eve.
That just sounded less fun than going to the pumpkin patch.
Anyway – if you are in need of fun Halloween ideas for your homeschool crew, take a look at what we did and adapt our adventures to fit your family.
Symposium: My favorite Halloween activity was our choice of music for symposium. I had this piece picked out months ago! Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor!
Here are the children’s drawings inspired by this magnificently haunting organ masterpiece. (I really, really like this piece if you can’t tell!)
My 5th grader has been working on the “Invisible Wizard.” Here are a few of his finest drawings, as well as a dragon attacking innocent people in their apartment building. I love how the people are all on their cell phones calling 911!
My 3rd grader spent all her time on a single more elaborate drawing. This was a week long effort. I think it turned out really well. It’s definitely really creepy.
My 1st grader quickly whipped out a Ghost Santa and two little spider elves spinning blood webs on Day One. The rest of the time he was busy drawing non scary things. So this is all I’ve got for you from him.
And my cute preschooler took the week working really hard on perfecting spiders making their webs. I think the yellow things are mounds of gold and treasure. (He’s still kind of stuck on our last history unit and the pharaoh’s tombs.)
This morning I showed the kids a fantastic video of an organist playing the Toccata. It is fascinating to watch his hands and feet move around the organ. I wish he had played the Fugue also, but this is still pretty good watching.
Unfortunately right after this I showed them a little video of a Swiss drum line that is awesome in it’s own right, but after they saw that they were less impressed with the crazy mad organ skills of Mr. Elliot. So just a word of caution… don’t watch any drum line videos after showing your kids awesome organ music, I guess.
Biology: Admittedly, this wasn’t all done within the last week or two, but more like the last two months. These activities are so fun, though, so if you are pretty free with your scheduling, Halloween is a great time to learn about blood and bones, for obvious reasons.
The greatest lesson on blood I’ve ever seen comes from R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey’s Life Level 1 book. You can try a few lessons for free here with their “Try before you buy” feature. We learned the major parts of our blood – red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma – and made our own little blood model with red hots, lima beans, corn syrup, and split peas. For my older son, who remembers doing this 4 years ago the first time we did biology, I pricked my finger and we looked at some blood under the microscope. The red blood cells are super easy to identify – but I think we saw a white blood cell in there, too! And that was fun.
For a skeleton lesson, we also used our RSO Life book. We built a model of a skeleton and labeled the bones. There are a gazillion of little worksheets like this online. But someday I’m going to buy a model skeleton! You could have a lot more fun with that!
Art: Ok, besides symposium, we actually don’t have an art “class” in our homeschool. I don’t really feel qualified to teach any art techniques or teach about various art mediums, so I’m constantly on the look out for great online sources… that are free… which usually results in unfruitful searching.
But I do it anyway.
And someday I will just pay for an online course, I’m sure.
But in the meantime, we just dabble around with different things. Instead of putting sharp knives in the hands of children, I hand them acrylic paint bottles. Some may argue the paint just as dangerous as the knives. This year, during our annual pumpkin painting, my children gave me a lesson on Leonardo Da Vinci, the painter who really was an artist and spent a lot of time sculpting and inventing as well.
“What famous works did he do?”
“He painted “The Last Supper” which is really famous, but he had a hard time figuring out how to do Judah’s face. Then he found a robber and thought the robber’s face was perfect so that is the face he used.”
While painting their pumpkins my 6 year old kept repeating to himself, “I must be careful and attend to every detail. Every detail… every detail…”
Wow! I thought. I am one pretty amazing teacher! My kids are artistic geniuses!
Actually, I just thought how grateful I was for all those free VHS tapes my neighbor gave me. Of course, now you can get them streaming online for a $1 a month or something, but VHS is retro. And in my case, free.
Hand me downs are AWESOME!
So are painted pumpkins. And one big carved one. (That was mine! Moms are allowed to use knives.)
Our Field Trip: We went on the annual field trip to the pumpkin patch. (Don’t tell my kids, but I think I’m growing out of this tradition. We’ve gone to the same pumpkin patch for the last 7 years (I know because I take a photo of my kids sitting in the same hay maze every year) and it just isn’t as fun as it used to be. Maybe this tradition will die next year. We went with our homeschool park day group, but due to the huge size of the pumpkin patch, the various activities offered, and the somewhat overwhelming number of other people there, it was hard for any of us to stay in a group for very long.
If you haven’t seen enough of other people’s pumpkin patch pictures on Facebook lately, here are some more to fill you up! Oddly, there are no actual pictures of pumpkins in any of these photos…
Here’s my 7-year-same-photo proof – just because it’s fun to see how they grow… and multiply.
We made the same pumpkin roll out cookies with orange glaze and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. Cooking? Check! And that counts for math, too, right? Double check! We went to our church congregation’s Fall Festival, dressed in our costumes, ate delicious crockpot meals and pumpkin/harvest themed desserts, played all the fun carnival games, won way too much candy, and had a great time with our friends. Socialization? check! (Hey, if the public schools can have class Halloween parties during school hours and count that as school time, I’m gonna count the church party. Plus I got first place for my crockpot meal, so I need some place to toot my own horn! Yay me!)
So really, we’ve kind of rocked this Halloween season! Maybe tomorrow, on the big day, I’ll pull out Escape to Witch Mountain!
Yeah right. I had nightmares of that movie for a long time!
How about Watcher in the Woods? No way! (What kind of movies did they let us watch when we were kids?! (But Close Encounters of the Third Kind has got to be the worst.) We’ll probably settle for some Scooby Doo and that old Disney animated Sleepy Hollow video.
Things we didn’t do: In case none of the above some very appealing, or you just would like some more ideas, there are a number of wonderful books to read during this time of year to get into the spooky spirit. Frankenstein would be excellent for high school readers! Roald Dahl’s “The Witches” is also a really, really good book, and a little easier for the younger crowd to understand. Cleary’s “Ramona the Pest” features a great Halloween chapter. Let’s just be honest, that entire book is great!
There are amazing ideas for a paint night you could do with your family with creepy moonlit scenes. I’m not sure this would work with my younger crew, but for the older kids who are less interested in using pumpkins as canvas, that would be fun.
For kids who sew, just have them make their own costumes. What a great lesson! And then you don’t have to make their costumes!! Bonus points!! You are winning at life
And of course, if you did Toccata and Fugue last year, don’t forgot Mussorgsky’s (and Rimsky-Korsakov’s – thank goodness he made that ending as beautiful as it is!) Night on Bald Mountain! (But get yourself a better recording than this one.)
Or Saint-Saen’s La danse macabre – just look up a little background on that one for some fun!
It would be fun to hear of your Halloween homeschool/family traditions! Share them in the comments!
And Happy Halloween!