Halloween wasn’t my favorite holiday as a kid but as a school librarian I kind of love it! One of the reasons it’s crept to the top of my holiday list now that I work in a school? Three words: Halloween Costume Parade. I mean, that’s just the best and cutest thing that happens all year! The other reason I love it as a teacher-I get to tell all my stories by our Halloween campfire!
Every year, I go down to the the library’s basement storage unit and I come back up with the makings for a little campfire:
- three real wood logs I stole from our woodshed several years ago
- three battery operated flickering flame candles
- several sheets of orange, yellow and red tissue paper
- An old tray to assemble everything on (Tray is optional. You could leave your fire out all day but I don’t want it to get messed with in between classes so I pick it up and carry it out before we start book exchange time.)
To assemble my little campfire, I wrap each of the candles in a sheet or two of the tissue paper. Don’t wrap them too tightly or perfectly, you’ll be taking them in and out all day to flip the switch on the bottom (at least I do to help preserve the batteries). I usually just lay the tissue paper flat, put the candle in the middle and bring up the tissue paper around it leaving the top open. Once all three candles are smooshed together and held in place by the logs the tissue paper usually stands up on its own just fine. I cut the ends of the tissue paper to be wispy and more flame like and I also cut some random flame like pieces that I stick in between the candles. I put the candles in the center of the tray and then put the wood logs around them and voila! Traveling campfire. Bonus points if you pretend the tray is hot while carrying it to a safe, out of the way place like behind the circulation desk.
To make the whole campfire experience extra realistic, I use a background noise app on my phone (called Noisli) to play the sound of a crackling campfire. I wedge my phone into the fire, under the log closest to me so the kids can’t see it. The crackling sounds combined with the lifelike flickering of hte battery operated candles have convinced several kids over the years that our fire is real!
Pro Tip: Put your phone on Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode before turning on the app and adding it to your campfire. That way, if you get a call or any notifications during your story, it won’t disrupt you and/or clue the kids in to the fact that there’s a phone in the fire. One year, I got a phone call from my doctor’s office reminding me about an upcoming appointment during a story time. Luckily, I always keep my phone on vibrate so I just casually used my foot to muffle the phones vibrating sounds. However, the crackling campfire sound not only suddenly died when the call came in, IT DIDN’T RESTART WHEN THE CALL ENDED-ugh! Several children noticed the sudden lack of sounds and I had to be all “guess I fire’s getting low, I’ll be sure to add some more wood before the next class comes in” about it.
As far as what we usually read around our Halloween campfire, I’m a big fan of the following options:
- If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Ed Emberley
- There Was an Old Monster by Rebecca Emberley
- When a Monster is Born by Sean Taylor
- Click Clack Boo by Doreen Cronin
- That is NOT a Good Idea! By Mo Willems
- Rules of the House by Mac Barnett
- The Little Orange House cut and tell story (I ALWAYS do this with my kinders and it’s a huge success. I don’t use the witch and ghost from the pdf, I just use my fingers as stand ins. It can be a quick story if you just read it as presented but if you’re more theatrically inclined you can really drag it out and make it into a production.) If you need to see it in action here’s a quick video you can watch.
And that’s how we do read alouds during Halloween week! Bet you can understand why it’s one of my favorite times of the year in the library now.