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{Project 101: Weekly Library Challenge} Halloween Books + This Year's Halloween Recycled Story Box

Wild Thing has a new favorite book: 10 Trick-or-Treaters: A Halloween Counting Book written by Janet Schulman and illustrated by Linda Davick. Though we have tons of books from the library right now, I knew this was the book I had to feature for Project 101 - our Weekly Library Challenge where I share one books the boys have been loving from the library and one book that I've been reading. This is by far both Wild Thing and Caterpillar's favorite library book.
It's a fun rhyming book in which the 10 trick or treaters gradually dwindle down to one as each trick or treater gets frightened off by scary (and silly) characters, such as a spider, bat, witch, monster, etc. I love that the book involves counting backwards and introduces some early math to Wild Thing as he learns what happens when you have an existing number and you take away one to get a new number. I see why the book was selected to be a Scholastic book. 

The book is such a huge favorite and so fun that it inspired us to create a Halloween Story Box again this year. Last year, we made one for Where is Baby's Pumpkin? by Karen Katz, a lift-the-flap hide and seek book, which we turned into a Hide and Seek Story Box using recycled materials. The book, and box, were a big favorite around here -- and have been popular on the blog as well. It seemed only appropriate to do the same thing this year, so here's our Halloween Story Box using recycled materials. 

First I created number cards for each of the characters in the book. The cards reflect each character's costume, as you can see - the first character to get scared wears a spider costume, so I created a number 10 spider card that looked like a spider, then a devil number 9, cat number 8, firefighter number 7 and so on.  

Then we had to create or find different items to reflect each of the scarers in the book, which include a spider, a toad, a bat, a ghost, a skeleton, a witch, a monster, a vampire, and a mummy. 

Above is the full line-up, which each number paired with their scarer. It required lots of collaboration and creativity. The mummy toilet paper roll was inspired by the paper roll mummies Glittering Muffins shared recently and the toilet paper roll spider was inspired by the spiders Molly Moo shared recently -- hers look much better than ours meaning that hers actually really look like spiders. Caterpillar (2) really wanted to make the spider, so ours is charming and silly -- oh and has 8 eyes, which Wild Thing dotted onto the front himself having recently learned at preschool that spiders have 8 eyes, in addition to 8 legs. Wild Thing is most proud of the witch as he cut the shapes out himself that we then glued together to make a witch. (He spent most of the character creation time cutting out shapes -- the monster face is also one of his shapes). I made the ghost from a milk carton and have some cool milk carton ghost activities coming to the blog this Tuesday when we share what we've been doing for Letter G. I digress, back to the story box. We initially planned to use a priority mail box we recently received, but it seemed a bit small. Then at the grocery store Wild Thing and I spotted this box, which we knew was perfect!

When we first started putting it together, it looked a little something like this...
Wild Thing took this photo.
I knew it needed some additional elements, so I pulled out some fabric scraps and made some quick modge podge (mixing glue and water) and layered some Halloween-esque fabrics onto the bottom of the box. (Confession: I did this while the boys napped and found it surprisingly calming and therapeutic). I realized, too, that clothespins rather than paper clips to hold our number characters into place added an improved interactive experience for the boys and allowed me to write the numbers on the clothespin to subtly connect the digits to the words. While cleaning I came across pony beads that I decided looked like candy and added them to the box as well. Finally, the boys made "boo bags" for the scary items to hide inside. Here's the finished product!

The purple house is part of a cereal box, which the boys painted. The book has a similar purple house in it and a bus, so the boys added their bus to the box. In this angle you can see our boo bags too. 

The boys love interacting with this box. As we tell or read the story, one of the boys will take the number for that page (opening the clothespin themselves to get the number for the fine motor skill practice). Then, I'll find that character's scary item in the boo bag. As the scary item approaches the number, the boys love to act scared and run away with the number. Then, we put that scary item and its corresponding number into the other boo bag and move on to the next number. It's nice that there are so many numbers and the boys do well taking turns. We did the story box with Daddy the other day, and he had the boys in hysterics with his over-the-top antics with every scary item that came out of the bag. It was so much fun!

If you looked closely at the story props, you noticed that number 1 was missing. This is because she makes it all the way through the story without getting scared and climbs into bed for the night. So, we made a bed out of a feta cheese container. Caterpillar loves to open it, put the number to bed and close the container. 

If you haven't read 10 Trick-or-Treaters: A Halloween Counting Book, I definitely recommend it -- I'm sure it is clear why! 

As for what I've been reading, I went with a Halloween-esque book myself this past week. I sort of grabbed this at the bookmobile in haste the other day: Who Was Dracula? Bram Stoker's Trail of Blood by Jim Steinmeyer. Apparently, Steinmeyer is known for his books on magic and is something of an expert on the subject. In this book, he decides to delve into the life of Bram Stoker to attempt to answer the person (or persons) that inspired Stoker's famous vampire character, Dracula. 

Knowing what to say about this book challenges me. I found it interesting, but perhaps misleading in its title. A "trail of blood" hardly exists and what really interested me were the biographical details of various colleagues/peers of Stoker, such as Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman and Henry Irving. Their lives and stories as presented through their connections with Stocker definitely provided interesting reading material. In general, though, the books is speculative presenting the various theories that exist about Stoker's inspiration. What I found most interesting, given how iconic Dracula has become and the book and character's influence on the vampire genre, was the fact that Stoker's primary vocation was as the Acting Manager of the Lyceum Theater who also wrote, but never successfully until Dracula and that Dracula's primary success came after his death, particularly through a Broadway production of the story and a subsequent Hollywood film. 

Additionally, the character Dracula appears in a very small percentage of the pages of the actual original novel, which of course I now feel inclined to read. At its core, I felt that the book provided an interesting snap shot of a particularly time in England for a particular set of people -- playwrights, actors, novelists, poets, etc. living in the late 1800s and early 1900s and I appreciated that aspect of it. 

What about you? What are you reading? Does your child have a favorite Halloween book? Please share! I'm always looking for books to add to our library list

Sharing this at Montessori Monday, Tuesday Tots, Children's Book Linky Party, Artsy Play Wednesday, Mom's Library and It's Playtime! 

You might also like:
Milk Cap Pumpkin Hunt
Halloween Story Box 2012
3 Simple Fall Sensory Bins


  1. Awesome blog post and idea. I love it when we can create activities around our favorite books. It's a win/win :)

  2. 10 Trick-or-Treaters Sounds like a fun Halloween book, I love the idea of your story box! Who was Dracula also sounds like an interesting read. I love Halloween books, especially children's books. :) My blog post last week included pictures and a list of all of our favorite Halloween books that we have been collecting over the years, and our Halloween reading corner. Here is a link. Happy Halloween reading! :)


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