I cannot tell a lie. I love Fall. And Halloween. Not so much for the trick or treating, but because there is so much rich literature and song material that helps teach musical concepts! I know not everyone can use Halloween songs and stories in their classroom, so I've included some of my favorite fall songs and stories too!
Shake Dem Halloween Bones
This is hands-down our favorite song story of the season. One of the reasons I love it is that I get to work with my media specialist. Each character in the story is a character from another well-known children's book. My media specialist and I coordinate our lessons to encourage our students to become familiar with the characters and their stories. She pulls all of the storybooks of the other characters and does lessons with the classes. Although my main focus is always teaching music, I love seeing my children excited about reading too!
My friend, Dr. Heather Shouldice, wrote a tune to accompany the story. It truly makes the story come to life in a whole new way. I always start the story using Feierabend's "arioso" before breaking out in song. It's a great opportunity to model arioso to children. Dr. Shouldice gave me permission to share her tune. You can access it here.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
Another classroom favorite is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. This story is full of sounds and perfect for instrument and vocal exploration. I use a variety of unpitched percussion instruments and have students work to match an instrument with the desired sound effect. It's a fun activity for class or to use in music centers!
This book was brought to my attention by my friend Gina Godoy. The song is part of the Music Together Early Childhood Music series. I've used the song for years because the structure of the song aligns beautifully with teaching minor tonality and outlining a minor tonic chord. I ordered the book this summer to use in my classroom. This is a perfect story for music classrooms that cannot sing/celebrate Halloween songs!
Down by the Farm
This is another classroom favorite - especially with my little ones. Many of us know the folk song, Down By the Station. This is a variation of the original folk tune using a fall theme.
This is the only book in my list that I don't read/sing in class. When I was a grad student at Temple University, a group of music education students presented a demo music class at a Halloween event. One of the activities we taught was an adaptation of one of the stories in this book. A composition student arranged the story as a chant that could be performed as a round. Click on this link to access a copy of the chant. It works wonderfully in the classroom and is a great stepping stone to teaching round with children. I teach it with motions (see below).
Three little ghosts (hold up 3 fingers)
Eating buttered toast (pretend to eat a sandwich)
Sitting on posts (one hand is a fist, other hand with three fingers rests on top of the fist)
They had butter on their fists (point to your fist)
Running down their wrists (point to your wrist)
Butter on their sheet (point to your body)
Running down their feet (point to feet)
What slobs! (hands out to sides)
Let me know some of your favorite children's books you use in your classroom! Leave me a comment below!