I adore the smell of maple syrup as it’s being removed from the trees? A friend of mine tapped hers one year and I remember the sweet, delicious aroma that permeated the air. I could just taste the syrup on some buckwheat pancakes, yum! Oh and let’s not forget Halloween, and the yummy treats that can put a few pounds on our bellies.
You can have your class use the sights, sounds, flavors and smells of the season to create poems using their senses. Bring in some paper cups or paper bags. Place a different object into each one. The children are to close their eyes and feel it. Use some items that work well with Halloween, for instance, a grape feels like an eyeball, yuck! Silly putty, marshmallows, even those squishy spiders or snakes that you can purchase at a dollar store, would do the trick. A dog toy shaped like a frankfurter would feel like intestines. Other objects you could use are tiny pumpkins, sandpaper, hair,and/or something rubbery. Pumpkin seeds, chocolate, hard candy, those weird tasting jelly beans would be great for tasting. Use your imagination and you’ll come up with more. I know the kids will love the creepiness of this and they’ll have fun writing poetry about it.
This recalls one of my fave tales, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. When I was a child, we would often visit my Uncle Marty who had a farm near Tarrytown New York. Whenever we were up there, I would think of the Headless Horseman because that’s where the story took place. I could always visualize the Horseman with head in hand, chasing poor puny Ichabod Crane. He always scared the socks off of me, so when we drove through the wooded area up there, I would cover my eyes and spread my fingers just a bit so that I could see. My parents got such a kick out of this that they just went along with it.
I read the book to my class of 6th graders and they thoroughly enjoyed it, especially when the lights were turned off and creepy music was playing in the background. As an assignment, I had them create an ending from the point view of a character they chose: Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, Balthus Van Tassel, Brom Van Brunt and Hans Von Ripper.
This story is the inspiration for my Halloween Spooks Creative Writing Bundle for Middle School which includes the BOO-Tober Sensory Poetry Writing resource.. Kids this age just love to be scared and they’ll have a great time with these activities. Read the novel aloud to set the tone. Emphasize that there is nothing gory in the story, but it is still terrifying. Discuss what makes something frightening. Here’s a version that everyone can listen to, or use this link to an E-text version that you can all read together.
I’ve always liked working with collaborative groups, and this assignment lends itself quite well to this approach. Complete lesson plans and a grading rubric are included. There are 26 task cards and some blank ones for you to add your own ideas., as well as lined writing paper. Everything has a scary theme.
Of course your students are going to want to share their writing with the rest of the class. So set the stage by lowering or turning off the lights, closing the shades, and bringing in a flashlight or two. Then have everyone sit in a circle as if they’re around a campfire, or have them bring in blankets or beach towels and sit on the floor. Turn off the lights and play some spooky music in the background. Have fun.