Shake Dem Halloween Bones by W. Nikola-Lisa with illustrations by Mike Reed is a terrific book for Halloween lessons. It works on a lot of levels.
First, it’s a very fun rhythmic read aloud, with a refrain young kids can join in on:
Come on, Li’l Red, won’t you dance with me
at the hip hop Halloween ball?
In this case, “Li’l Red” is Red Riding Hood, but the book uses a whole raft of fairy tales:
- Snow White
- Three Little Pigs
- Puss in Boots
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Tom Thumb
- Jack and the Beanstalk
- Little Red Riding Hood
This makes the book a great starting point for a fairy tale study. Click on the links above for lesson plans to go with each classic tale.
Here’s one approach to using Shake Dem Halloween Bones in your young elementary classroom:
- Read the book aloud. It begins
It’s Halloween night. Jack o’ Lanterns glow in darkened windows. Goblins crouch behind front porch stoops…
Once the spooky tone is set, it breaks into a party
Shake, shake, shake dem bones now, Shake, shake, shake dem bones now
Shake, shake, shake dem bones now at the hip hop Halloween ball!
Enjoy the story and encourage kids to join in as they recognize the pattern.We like to read the story every day during a study with young kids.
- Before the second reading, make some shakers for students to use to keep time while listening. If you have old margarine tubs or baby food jars, drop some popcorn kernels or dried beans into them. You can also staple a pair of paper plates together (let the kids decorate them) with unpopped popcorn inside. Old film canisters filled with birdseed are also great and make a slightly different sound. Frankly, we like to use Plastic Egg Shakers — way less trouble. Get a class set and keep them in a bin on a shelf and you’ll use them more often.
Have students keep the rhythm of the rhyming part of the story as they listen and chant along.
- Ask students to list all the fairy tale characters they can remember from the story. Divide the class into ten groups and have each group draw a picture of the story and try to remember how it went. Direct students to books that can help them if they’re able to read, and help them remember the key parts of the story if they cannot.
If your class is really not familiar with the stories, slow down the lesson and read the stories to the students before you do this step. Once all the groups are ready, have them tell their fairy tales to the class.
- Read the story one last time, and notice how the greater depth of contextual understanding increases the students’ response to the book.
A few more ideas:
- Ask students what would be involved in putting together a hip hop Halloween ball. List all the jobs and all the steps of the jobs. Then discuss how you might parcel out the chores to the fairy tale characters.
- Play some kid friendly hip hop such as Bob Rizzo’s Happy Hip Hop- Dance Music for Kids and dance.
- Try out our Bones Lesson Plans for great science connections.
- The Jolly Postman has fairy tale characters writing letters back and forth to each other. Have students write letters from one character to another inviting them to the hip hop Halloween ball. Put each letter into an envelope and have students draw an illustration. Staple the envelopes together at the edge to form a book patterned on The Jolly Postman.