SLC Book Boy

the storytime ventures of a children's librarian

Haunted Library – a Halloween party

Welcome to the Haunted Library! We wanted to include activites for teens and adults, but our audience really ended up being elementary age for the most part, and the activites still worked great for them!

Ghostly Greeter:
One of our librarians has this awesome set-up with a curtained box, black lights, and a ghost puppet who sang and told jokes as patrons came in or left the party. The ghost wasn’t very good at holding still though!

The Witch’s Kitchen:
We had cider, popcorn filled ‘witch’s hands’ and cake bites donated from The Sweet Tooth Fairy. A lovely little spread.

Guessing Jars:
We had a jar of bubble gum and worms, which the winner got to take home, and a jar of ‘blood’ (made from marachino cherry juice and ketchup). The closest guess for the drops of blood got to keep the zombie gnome.

Paper Pumpkin Patch:
We had strips of paper with holes punched in them for people to threat a pipe cleaner through. There was also black paper and scissors so people could glue on a face to jack-o-lantern their pumpkins, but our examples don’t show that.

Tarot Reading Rooms:
One of our study rooms had a staff member reading cards, and this one was open with simple instructions for reading them yourself or for a friend.

Quiet in the Library:
We had a wheel patrons could spin, and they had to do whatever challenege it landed on without making a sound! (This could also be done by drawing cards if you aren’t able to get/make a spinner) Walking across the LEGO, seen to the right, without shoes was one of the more popular challenges.

This is the spinner we made from a lazy susan, a spare board, and some nails. There are lots of instructables online you can look up, ours was easier than most because the base of the lazy susan already had a hole in it, we could just slip it onto a screw.

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Creepy Eyes Craft:
Maybe our most popular craft, you cut out the eyes of the image, then tape a strip with eyes behind it, folded so that it stands away from the page.

Festive Fingernails:
We had a nail artist painting the full two hours, everyone loved it!

Photo Booth:
We had a photographer on hand to capture all the awesome costumes! Here you can see the team that put it all together.

Word Games:
We had a sheet for these Mad-Libs (which all used the same words, in case people wanted to spend more time reading than writing) and a page of Scary Synonyms. You can see the full text for both at the bottom of this post!


In our downstairs meeting room, we had the activites geared for kids,
though everyone really ended up doing everything. =]

Tangled Tree Treat Bags:
Use scissors to cut strips in the top of the bag, then twist them to make tangled branches. Use markers to decorate them with faces or creatures. I wanted this to be very simple, but with the option to spend more time decorating.

Pin the Wart on the Witch:
Pull the hat down over your eyes for this adaptation of the traditional donkey game.

Ghost Gobble:
The ghosts are hungry! We had these ‘snowballs’ on hand, and they made perfect ghost food!

Corn Cob Bowling:
Our corn cobs were water bottles covered in bubble wrap and painted. They looked great, but the paint came off and made a terrible mess! We used pumpins from the craft store to knock them over.

The Monster March:
The kids walked around while music played, and when it stopped they made the noise of whatever monster they were on. Witches cackle, monsters moan, werewolfs howl, and ghosts go Boo!

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Spider Tunnel:
Rather than doing the traditional maze this year, we had web-like fabric in a tube for the kids to crawel through, and they loved it!

Spider Pops:
Our only real treat were the lollies they got with this craft. Four pipe cleaners wrapped around the stick make a spider! Though they would have been much cuter with sticky eyes, we opted out.

Our decorations were primarily paper bats that we hung all over them place, as well as a few webs, and these strings of lights that we attached cat faces to. (and our monster entrance, as seen in the banner at the top of the page)

The Word Games:

Mad Libs

Fill in each space with an appropriate word, then read the big pages with your words in the matching spaces!
1. A kind of weather

2. Name of a town

3. Halloween Costume

4. Another Halloween Costume

5. Character from a book

6. A greeting

7. An emotion

8. Something you own

9. Something to eat

10. Something you like

Trick or Treat

On a ___1___ Halloween in the town of ___2___, I was going to go trick or treating. I decided to dress up as a ___3___ but everyone thought I would scare people, so I decided to dress up as a ___4___ instead. I looked great! The first door I knocked on turned out to be the home of ___5___. They opened the door and said “___6___”. I tried to say “Trick or Treat” but I was very ___7___.  ___5___ said “Come in”. But I ran as fast as I could back home and hid under my ___8___. I didn’t get any ___9___ or ___10___ for Halloween that year.


The Visitor

I was trying to figure out how to get some ___10___, I’d run all out! I sat in the kitchen eating some ___9___ as I thought of a plan. My ___8___crashed to the floor in the other room. What happened? I went to see, and a ___7___ monster was climbing in through the window! “___6___” I said, then hurried out of the room and locked the door, but the monster was trying to get through! I grabbed my phone and called ___5___. As soon as they picked up I said “No time for ___6___s, get over here and help me!” They brought our superhero costumes, and we got suited up. I was a ___4___ and ___5___ was a ___3___. Then we opened the door and screamed at that monster! It was so terrified it disappeared in a flash. I don’t think it’ll show its face in ___2___ anymore. I felt like I could do anything, so I ran out into the ___1___ day, all the way to the store, and got myself some ___10___.


Pumpkin Carving

I just found the perfect pumpkin, even though it was a pretty ___1___ day in the pumpkin patch. Now I can make the best Jack-o-lantern in ___2___! But it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I tried to carve a ___3___ but it ended up looking more like a ___4___. Maybe I wasn’t going to win the carving contest after all, especially with ___5___ as the judge. But then I heard something. “___6___”. It came from my pumpkin, it was alive! Then it said, “I was so ___7___ in that pumpkin patch. But now I have a mouth to talk with. Thank you!” Then it was time! I put the pumpkin on my ___8___ and brought them to the contest. My Jack-o-lantern made ___5___ laugh when it ate their ___9___s, and I won first prize! A big box of ___10___.

Scary Synonyms
Can you name the horror movies by their synonymous titles?
Example: Concluding Journey’s End is Final Destination

1. Drowsy Empty Feeling
2. Tormenting Hallucination on a Public Thoroughfare with a Shade Tree
3. Craggy Terrifying Image Presentation
4. Horrific Vision Preceding an Occasion for Exchanging Gifts
5. Skeletal Newlywed
6. Herbal Infant
7. First Light of the Expired
8. Formal Senior Gala After Dark
9. Gentle Young Man with Cutting Appendages
10. Dark Hours of Animated Cadavers
11. Absence of Auditory Effect Produced by Young Woolen Mammals
12. Shiny Insect Secretion
13. Abnormal, Canine-like U.S. Carnivore in England’s Capital

  1. Sleepy Hollow                                       
  2. Nightmare on Elm Street                     
  3. Rocky Horror Picture Show                
  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas          
  5. Corpse Bride                                   
  6. Rosemary’s Baby                            
  7. Dawn of the Dead
  8. Prom Night
  9. Edward Scissorhands
  10. Night of the Living Dead
  11. Silence of the Lambs
  12. Beetlejuice
  13. An American Werewolf in London
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Friendly Fiends (a not-so-scary monster storytime)

Opening: Shake My Sillies Out – Raffi

Book: The Monsters’ Monster – Patrick McDonnell


(This was just a smidge wordy, with with some pages clipped together, and as a opener …so the kids were fresh… it worked out great!) 

Activity: One Little Monster


(The kids join in on the ‘Roar’ and for the counting. It was well recieved.) 

One little monster dancing on the floor
Had such fun it gave a Roar!
Then there came one monster more
How many monsters dancing on the floor?

(continue with increasing numbers)

Book: Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak


(This was a bit of a stretch for the theme, but during the Rumpus, we chatted about how they were all being friends, and why the Wild Things didn’t want Max to leave.) 

Activity: Wild Thing, Wild Thing, Turn Around
(adapted from Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear)

Wild thing, wild thing turn around, 
Wild thing, wild thing scratch the ground.

Wild thing, wild thing Roar out loud,
Wild thing, wild thing, touch a cloud.

Wild thing, wild thing, win a race.
Wild thing, wild thing, jump in place.

Wild thing, wild thing, stop and pause,
Wild thing, wild thing, touch your claws.

Wild thing, wild thing, sit right down.
Wild thing, wild thing, make no sound.

(The kids had a great time being Wild Things, and it even worked for the boy who said he didn’t want to. …I told him he could just watch.) =]

Book: Don’t Squish the Sasquatch – Kent Redeker


(A cute simple book, with full illustrations. Not really my favorite, but it works very well for storytime.) 

Activity: Bone Soup
Adapted from the book by Cambria Evans
(see the full version here)


(The villagers end up helping make the soup, and they all share it in the end! The kids love how disgusting the ingerdients are.) 

Book: Leonardo the Terrible Monster – Mo Willems


(Such a great book, the characters have personality, and the pages are big, great for group reads.) 

Activity: Monster Hands Craft
As done at the Irving Schwartz Branch


(a simple craft, and the kids had fun with it!) 

click the image to open, then copy and paste the URL to download template

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Brew and Boo! (a ghost and witch storytime)

Opening: Shake My Sillies Out – Raffi

Book: Skeleton Hiccups – Margery Cuyler


(After introducing the theme, I asked the  kids if this was a witch or a ghost, they weren’t fooled! But then his friend, a ghost, showed up to help out. Very simple and fun in the story and illustrations.)

Activity: Five Little Ghosties
adapted from The Chocolate Chip Ghost
(see the full version here)


(The kids got to identify the foods as they came out, and predict what color the ghosts would turn. They loved it!)

Five little ghosties shining clean and white,
Waiting for their mother to bring dinner for the night.
One little ghost said ‘I’m too hungry to wait!’
Grabbed up some ____ and that is what it ate.
It swallowed it all down into its hungry tum.
Do you know what color did that ghost did become?

Count down remaining ghosts end with…

One mother ghostie, shining clean and white,
Brought home to her little ones dinner for the night.
When she saw the colors her ghosts had become,
She knew just what do to, and put into their tums,
A tall glass of milk, and a marshmallow or three.
Then her little ghosties were as white as white could be!

Book: Peek-a-Boooo! – Marie Torres Cimarusti


(Another simple book, where the kids got to show off their smarts. After the revelations, we all tried making the sounds of the character. Fun) 

Activity: If You’re a Witch and You Know It
Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re a witch and you know it ride your broom…
If you’re a monster and you know it stamp your feet…
If you’re a skeleton and you know it shake your bones…
If you’re a wolf and you know it give a howl…
If you’re a bat and you know it flap your wings..
If you’re a ghost and you know it, just say Booo!…

(A great get-up-and-move activity.)

Book: Ghosts in the House – Kazuno Kohara


(A charming book, which belies the traditional view of both ghosts and witches! Adorable illustrations.) 

Activity: Humbug Witch
adapted from the story by Lorna Balian
(see the full version here)


(I loved this story, and it transitioned very well into a flannel book. The kids got a kick out of the final revelation, and the undies as well.) 

Book: What’s In the Witches Kitchen – Nick Sharratt


(A fun book, with some cool special effects. It felt a smidge long, but not enough for the kids to get restless.) 

Activity: Bubbles


(Then we had bubbles from the witch’s cauldron. Don’t let them transform you into anything nasty!) 

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Humbug Witch

adapted from the story by Lorna Balian

There was this little witch… All of her was little except her nose. That was very Big.She had long, stringy, red hair. It was so long she kept tripping over it. She wore a slightly squashed, tall, black, pointed hat like Witches always wear, orange gloves, a handknit black wool shawl, an old plaid apron, and funny-looking black shoes with gold buckles on them.

She had a good sturdy broom, and a black cat named Fred.

You can see for yourself…she was truly a frightening-looking, Horrible, Witchy, Witch!

But… when she tried to Do things they never worked the way they were supposed to for witches.

Like when she wanted to laugh wickedly and scare everyone it never soudned “Cackle-Cackle-Cackle.” It always sounded “Giggle-Giggle-Giggle.”

Or when she wanted to go somewhere she would climb on her good sturdy broom and say all sorts of magic words, and wait a few minutes… and Nothing would happen. Nothing at all. The broom would not move an inch.

And when she wanted to turn Fred into an alligator, or a hippopotamus, or a candy bar, and would say all kinds of magic words, and wait… and wait… but Fred just stayed a cat!

When she wanted to cook up a batch of magic potion, she would dump all the very best things in her very best kettle …things like Sour Milk, Molasses, Egg Shells, Apple Peelings, Genuine Rainwater, and Peanut Butter. And she would stir and stir and say all the magic words she could think of.

It never got smoky, or bubbly, or exploded like magic potions are supposed to do.

She finally decided it was just no use! She took off her funny-looking black shoes with the gold buckles.

She took off her plaid apron.

She took off her handknit black wool shawl.

She took off her slightly squashed Tall Black Pointed hat.

She took off her orange gloves.

She took off her long, stringy, red hair.

She took off her mask. And went to bed.

And so did Fred.

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What can I wear for Halloween? (Charlie and Lola)

(Since my co-worker and I are going to be Charlie and Lola for Halloween storytime, we figured we ought to have them as part of the program. This is my adaptation from the TV series. The pieces are made from construction paper, and will be used puppet-like with the costume bits stuck on with double sided tape.)


I have this little sister Lola



She’s small and very funny. Tomorrow night is Halloween so there’s going to be a special party and we’ll all wear Halloween costumes.

-What are you going to dress up as Charlie?

I’m going as a wizard!

-Guess what I’m going as Charlie! Snap snap

You went as an alligator last year.

-I’m not an alligator, I’m a crocodile. Crocodiles are more scary and spooky than alligators.

You can’t go in the same costume.

-I’ll have to think of something else.

You could be a wicked witch.


-Everybody will be going as a wicked witch, Charlie. I want to go as something different.

How about a wiggly spider.


-Ummm, I’m not sure about spiders Charlie.

You could be a sea monster.


-Too slimy!

How about a bony skeleton Lola!


-Too scary Charlie! Umm, I don’t know what to go as. 

You’ll think of something Lola, should we go check on our surprise?

-Oh Yes, Charlie!


-That is actually the biggest pumpkin I have every seen. It is big and orangy as the sun!

It will be the best jack-o-lantern in all of Halloween!

-I can’t believe we grew this from a tiny little seed.

Now It’s time to carry it inside, so we can carve the pumpkin face!

-It will be the halloweniest thing at the party.

Lift it carefully, carefully, no wobbling.


-Oh, it’s too heavy Charlie! I’m dropping it!


Oh no! Now our Halloween surprise is ruined. It won’t be a Halloween party without a jack-o-lantern.

-It doesn’t matter, I haven’t got a costume anyway. Ohh! I’ve just had the most brilliant idea! Back in a  bit Charlie.


-Now we can have a jack-o-lantern, and I have a costume!

You’ll be the biggest orangyest pumpkin in the whole of Halloween! That’s definitely the best dressing up costume.

This Flannel Friday is hosted by storytime katie

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Ghost Storytime

Opening: Shake My Sillies Out – Raffi

Book: Three Little Ghosties – Pippa Goodhart

Three Little Ghosties

(Not much story here, but the illustrations are playful, and there’s great personality.)

Activity: In the Dark Dark Woods (see the full version here)


(Just a little bit spooky. It’s great to do again and have the kids try to remember what part comes next.)

Book: Ghost in the House – Ammi-Joan Paquette


(A little ghost find lots of things in the house, but wasn’t expecting a live boy! Adorable illustrations.)


Activity: Ghost Hunt (Adapted from the traditional ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’)

We’re going on a ghost hunt

We’re going to catch a spooky one! (wiggle fingers by face)

With a wiggly body.

and a big round mouth.

Look over there!

It’s a river…

(Hop across the river, Sludge through the muddy field, sneak past the haunted house,

duck under the branchy forest, and then we find a ghost in the graveyard!)


(This was a fun adaptation of a tried and true activity.)

Book: Ghosts in the House – Kazuno Kohara


(An adorable and original story. I love everything about it.)

Activity: Five Little Ghosts (See the full version here)


(This has a fun interactive element with the kids predicting the colors that the ghosts will turn. Very fun!)

Book: Mine! – Mathilde Stein


(This book is a little bit long, but the pacing is fantastic so I left it as is. Even at the end of the program, the kids were very into it.)

Activity:  Ghost Craft


(Then we taped paper cut in strips into a plastic cup for a little ghost. With yarn attached to the top, the kids had a great time ‘flying’ their ghost friends through the air.)

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Bones Storytime

Opening: Shake My Sillies Out – Raffi

Book: Bone Dog – Eric Rohmann


(Charming illustrations, and just enough scaryness without being too scary.)

Song: This Old Man – traditional

This old man, he played one, (hold up finger)

He played knick-knack on my thumb;

With a knick-knack (clap, clap) paddywhack, (slap knees)

Give the dog a bone, (pat knees)

This old man came rolling home. (roll hands)

 Continue with increasing numbers


(This was a fun counting and rhyming activity. We’d ask the kids what rhymed with each number. Three ended up knick-knacking on pee!)

Book: Skeleton Hiccups – Margery Cuyler


(A cute book with nice big pictures, and a bit of interactive potential.)

Activity: Bones in My Body


(We stood up and wiggled each body part that we added to the list. I made up the words and tune, so you can do it chanty, or make up something!)

Book: The Skeleton in the Closet – Alice Schertle


(Such cute pictures! They keep the creeping skeleton from being too scary. A lovely find.)

Flannel Story: Bone Soup – from the story by Cambria Evans (full version here)


(My favorite part of the program. The kids all thought the soup was disgusting!)

Book: Halloween Forest – Marion Dane Bauer


(Fun pictures, and a nice Halloween ending made this a lovely finish to the program. It didn’t hurt that

Activity: Streamers

(And if we had no bones, how would we be? Just like wibbly streamers! We danced to the song Dem Bones by Five Little Monkeys)


Halloween Storytime

Opening: Shake My Sillies Out – Raffi

Book: Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin – Mary Serfozo

(A cute book that gradually introduces the Halloween theme. Fun words and rhyming.

Song: Six Little Pumpkins (inspired from the book Dragons Halloween by Dav Pilkey)

I wanted to find a pumpkin as Big as a house to make a really scary jack-o’-lantern, but all I could find were a bunch of little pumpkins. (The kids help count as they get put on the flannel board.)

I decided I’d carve them anyway, and took them to my yard by the old dead tree.

(put tree on flannel board)Then I started to carve my scary pumpkins. (Pull off orange pieces, showing the glowing yellow!)

Do they look very scary? No?! Well, I guess I’ll stack them all up against my tree anyway.
So I stack 1-2-3-4-5-6 little pumpkins. AAaaaghhh! I guess six little pumpkins can be pretty scary after all!

(This was quite fun, the kids were engaged, and the parents enjoyed the surprise ending too!)

Book: Just say Boo – Susan Hood

(A good interactive and empowering story, cute illustrations!)

Activity: If you’re a ghost and you know it

If you’re a ghost and you know it wave your arms! (Woooo)

If you’re a ghost and you know it wave your arms! (Woooo)

If you’re a ghost and you know then you really ought to show it,

If you’re a ghost and you know it wave your arms! (Woooo)

(Also did: Witch ride a broom, skeleton shake your bones, wolf give a howl, Superhero strike a pose, jack-o’-lantern give a grin)

Book: Mouse’s First Halloween – Lauren Thompson

(Another good interactive book, the kids are pretty good as guessing what’s scaring little mouse)

Shadow play: In the Dark Dark Woods

(Click the image for the full story! I ask the kid if they want to go in the house, open the box, etc. They enjoy doing it again and predicting the next step.)

Book: Little Old Lady was Not Afraid of Anything – jp Williams

(Super fun book to act out! A lot of the kids already knew the story and were excited for it.)

Craft: Lollypop Ghost

(We used tootsie pops, wrapped tissues around them, wrapped a bit of pipe cleaner to form the head, then drew the face! Simple and fun.)

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Monster Storytime

Opening: Shake My Sillies Out – Raffi

Book: Don’t Squish the Sasquatch! – Kent Redeker

(A simple, bright book with a great fold out. The kids all got to help give the Sasquatch kisses too.)

Activity: Chocolate Chip Ghost

used the idea from rovingfiddlehead‘s blog

Little ghost is left alone and mother warns him not to eat anything until she gets back, but he does anyway! And all the foods turn him different colors. Finally momma ghost gets back and fixes things with milk and vanilla ice cream.

(Kids love being able to shout out the colors they know. This was a great participation activity!)

Book: Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak

(It’s great seeing the excitement kids have when you do a familiar book. This is fantastic of course!)

Activity: Wild Thing, Wild Thing (modified from Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear)

Wild thing, wild thing turn around,

  Wild thing, wild thing scratch the ground.

Wild thing, wild thing Roar out loud,

Wild thing, wild thing, touch a cloud.

Wild thing, wild thing, win a race.

Wild thing, wild thing, jump in place.

Wild thing, wild thing, stop and pause,

Wild thing, wild thing, touch your claws.

Wild thing, wild thing, sit right down.

Wild thing, wild thing, make no sound.

(A fun activity for the kids. One little girl pointed out that she couldn’t race because she had a cast on her foot.) =P

Book: Creepy Monster, Sleepy Monster – Jane Yolen

(I was drawn to this mostly because one of the monsters gets to burp. The illustrations are still fantastic, and there are some nice talking points!)

Activity: One Little Monster

One Little Monster

One little monster dancing on the floor

Had such fun it gave a Roar!

Then there came one monster more

Now there are more monsters than before!

(continue with increasing numbers)

(I attempted to make the rhythm match 5 Little Monkeys, but after the roar it always turned chanty. The kids still had fun with it!)

Book: Leonardo the Terrible Monster – Mo Willems

(A great story, as you’d expect from the author. And it was nice to end with the monster being the boys’ friend.)

Activity: Instruments

(Monsters like to be noisy! So we made noise on instruments while the song ‘Horns to Toes’ by Sandra Boynton played. )

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In the Dark Dark Woods

Each of these sheets took about on hour, I tried just copying an image but they came out too dark, dark. So I permanent markered them. For the transitions I would lift the transparency and the image would go out of focus, then I’d swap the new one and lower it. I think it was pretty cool and effective (the ghost just ‘popped’ out though, for scare factor).

In the dark, dark woods…

…there was a dark, dark house. In the dark, dark house..

.there was a dark, dark room. And in the dark, dark room…

…there was a dark, dark cupboard.

(I have a rectangle of paper that covers the cupboard, which I remove for the shelves.)

In the dark, dark cupboard there were some dark, dark shelves. In the dark, dark shelves…

…there was a dark, dark box. In the dark, dark box…

…there was a Ghost!