Maybe it is a little early for some of you but Halloween is a big deal in our house. We decorated the first weekend of September (this is the earliest we have ever decorated but my health is particularly poor this year and Tim knows Halloween always cheers me up). We started watching Goosebumps episodes and Halloween themed family movies, Vampire Dog and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf anyone?
We live in TX so Autumn can mean anything from 100 degree temperatures and dry dusty ground to 60 degrees and rain. We have had a bit of a mix so far. This has actually been a really wet year, not a week has gone by without at least some rain it seems, and we have had a lot of storms. The last few days have actually felt like a change of seasons for the first time in years. It has actually been cool (well cold for those of us with health issues that make us cold intolerant). It has been in the 60’s and 70’s, that is chilly for TX. I hate to predict what the weather will be like on Halloween, it could still be 90+ but we may actually have a cold one this year. I’m really hoping to get actual seasons!
Now Halloween means something else too. It means Halloween Homeschooling! This is a favorite here in our house. What is Halloween Homeschooling you may ask? Halloween Homeschooling is something I started several years ago (must be around the time my youngest actually started school, that’s a long time ago now) when I realized my kids didn’t really know why we celebrated Halloween. Now I am mostly an atheist these days but I spent the majority of my life a Celtic Pagan. I still have some pretty strong feelings for Halloween, it is my favorite time of the year. I love every thing about it from the ancient traditions to the cutesy bright colored decorations of modern times, and really everything in between (love me some vintage decor, those smiling jack-o-lanterns are just too cute). I wanted my children to understand where our modern traditions came from, and what the holiday was all about. I also wanted an excuse to take some time off and enjoy my favorite time of the year with my kids. I wound up giving us a month.
So what do we do for Halloween? Originally it was all about the history. When my kids were younger and didn’t know anything we started with history. We talked about the history of the Celts and Samhain. Then we discussed the making of modern Halloween. From Ferallia and the Romans to All Souls day and the Catholics. It took time, we covered a lot of ground. For the first few years we mostly did coloring sheets, activity sheets (Halloween themed math, spelling, word finds, ect), played games, and did crafts. We did the same history several years in a row. I covered the Celts more thoroughly for a month ahead of Halloween so they would be prepared. We’ve done more fall themed crafts as well, and more baking.
Now that my kids are older they retain more of the history year to year. We have covered how Halloween relates to other holidays in cultures across the world. Festivals celebrating the harvest and honoring the dead. We have found some great documentaries that we watch as well. We have also branched out to covering why monsters are included in Halloween and the practice of telling ghost stories. We have even covered the witch trials.
This year Terror asked to start Halloween School two weeks early. I told him no at first but then I decided, why not. So instead of waiting until October like we usually would we started halfway through September. That gives us 6weeks of Halloween. Another difference this year is that I did more thorough planning and managed to plan out themes for each week. So far we are a week and a half in and loving it.
Each week I have a documentary for us to watch. A informational website or two for us to read. A game for us to play. Some sort of science experiment to make. Something to bake/cook. Craft or art project (in some cases more than one). We read ghost stories as well as The Worst Witch. The boys write a ghost story and at the end of the week we all read our ghost stories around our fire pit while roasting marshmallows. In the evenings we watch our Halloween movies and shows.