Halloween Reflections

I know I’ve been accused of turning everything into a Learning Experience, and some people think that means sucking the fun out of everything.  I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that because I think we had a great Halloween, thank you very much.

We traipsed up and down the streets of our neighborhood with the “park friends” and their parents.  We had a dinosaur, a fairy princess, a ballerina and my little witch all excitedly carrying around their bags of candy and doing what they are rarely allowed to do: be out walking around after dark.

But that isn’t all there is to it.  Wait for it…. Halloween is also an opportunity to build social skills.  For the shy kids, this means meeting new people in a safe space.  For all kids, you can talk about (& model) the ways we are good neighbors–respecting property, being friendly, not littering, etc.   In our group, we also addressed not asking for more candy, not ringing a door bell more than once, and staying on the sidewalk.  We also discussed  whether it was polite to ask if there were treat alternatives for kids with food allergies.  We weren’t sure on that one.

It was a learning experience for us too.  Next year we may try to go with a smaller group.  I will definitely wear better walking shoes, and I’ll at least throw a witch’s hat on or something.  Everyone ought to get in the spirit of things, including me.  Even if I do suck the fun out of everything. :)

More about the Hidden Lessons of Halloween from Parent Further.

Halloween Beyond Candy

Costumed kids dancing at Calhoun Square HallowEve

I didn’t grow up celebrating Halloween, and I fully admit it: I didn’t get it.  Why would you take your kids out after dark to strangers’ homes to get candy?  I could not fathom why people would do this.  I guess it was something I had to experience to appreciate because I definitely get it now.  I enthusiastically wrapped up in a blanket to sit outside my apartment building with a giant bowl of candy yesterday evening to watch my neighborhood come alive.

It isn’t about candy or costumes.  It’s about community.  A Canadian mom offers 7 Reasons Why Your Kids Should Trick or Treat in Your Neighborhood.  For one:

“For parents of young children walking around the neighbourhood with their little trick-or-treaters, it’s a chance to meet other parents doing the same thing. It’s another chance to talk to your neighbours, share a laugh and help to turn a bunch of people who live in the same geographic location into a community.”

This year, we did it all.  We went to a library Halloween program, the local mall-o-treating event (pictured above), and up and down our block with the neighborhood kids.   I’m already excited to do it again next year.


In the Shadows…

Happy Halloween, everyone!  There is a lot going on this weekend–some great parties and concerts for grown-ups and fun events for families.  Check out Citypages Halloween for a pretty complete listing of what’s happening yet today and tomorrow.

As for us, we went to the library.  I hate to be predictable, but the Walker Branch of the Hennepin County Library held a shadow puppet program for kids yesterday during which we got to see lots of interesting puppets in the collection of local educator Shelley Itman.  The show, Hansel and Gretel, was pretty creepy without scaring the kids, and Ladybug was excited to make her own shadow puppet afterwards.

The library is also offering adults an opportunity to learn about shadow puppets in a “Library Lab” class about animation in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Next Saturday, November 5th.  Register here.

I have long been fascinated with cut-paper illustrations in picture books.  Nikki McClure is a particular favorite illustrator of mine.  Her work in Mama, Is It Summer Yet? is lovely.  I blogged about reading it last spring.

But a recent TED Talk took me beyond the world of picture books to a place where cut-paper becomes art & storytelling in many different contexts–from the cape the artist wears as she walks on stage to permanent installations around the world.  This is well worth watching for those interested in what you can do with scissors and paper.

Happy Halloween (only a little late…)

I know it’s a bit late to be posting about Halloween, but I hate to let such a great experience go unblogged. ;)


My little fairy coloring a picture in her costume at a local Halloween event.


My little fairy girl had a fabulous Halloween.  She didn’t remember last year, so it was new all over again, which made it all the more exciting.  As usual we started with books from the library.  We read J is for Jack o’Lantern.  This book is part of the alphabet series from Sleeping Bear Press, which I like because they work well on multiple levels.  I usually just read the verse aloud, but the sidebar text is there for me to explain if necessary.  We also read Celebrate Halloween.  Another series I really like.  It is written for primary grades, but it is easily simplified for my preschooler.  The photographs were particularly interesting to my little one.


Alice the Fairy by David Shannon


Since she chose to be a fairy this year, I also thought it would be fun to read about fairies.  Mostly I just wanted to get beyond Tinker Bell.  I wanted my girl to see herself as a fairy. So we got Alice the Fairy from the library, in which a girl wearing a fairy costume talks about all the fairy things she can almost do.  Like turning oatmeal into cake with her magic wand (and a lot of sugar).  It was funny, but still mostly over my almost-three-year-old’s head. Somehow, though, my girl got the idea that fairies are heroes because when asked what she was, she would respond, “I’m a fairy, and I’m here to save the day!”
I had great intentions to make her costume this year.  I even had a book from the library that had simple fairy costume instructions that looked like something I could attempt.  But a co-worker of mine suprised me by offering her now-college-age-daughter’s old fairy wings and dance outfit, which made the perfect costume for my girl.  Thanks, Karen! :)

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