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Friday, October 29, 2010

Celebrating Halloween and El Día de los Muertos through Stories

Two holidays in one week? Yippee! This alone is enough to put a smile on my face, but when you add in that the two holidays are Halloween and the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), it gets even better - costumes, calaveras and candy!

Like last year, we celebrated Halloween in bilingual family storytime with Slightly Spooky Stories / Cuentos algo escalofriantes. We started off with a vocabulary activity, reviewing the names and colors of an orange pumpkin / calavaza anaranjada, a purple bat / murciélago morado, a white ghost / fantasma blanco and a balck cat / gato negro. The cutouts of each are available here through Google Docs. They would also work for flannel patterns. To keep this piece interactive, we pretended to scoop out our pumkins, fly like bats, boo like ghosts and hiss like cats.

Our first story was the Pura Belpre award winning Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marissa Montes and illustrated by the always amazing Yuyi Morales. The story is told in rhyming English text, useful for practicing phonological awareness, with Spanish vocabulary sprinkled throughout. We then did some Five Little Pumpkins / Cinco calabazas fingerplays. Several versions are available and I included them on my Spooky Stories handout.

Next, we tried a new spin on an old classic - La viejecita que no le tenía miedo a nada by Sue Williams, also known as The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. At a presentation I attended last week at Kentucky's Widening Circles conference, a music therapist shared how she tells this story incorporating musical instruments, which I thought sounded like a great idea to try. It was great! Each piece of clothing got a different instrument, such as drums, rattles, shakers and bells. Luckily I had enough egg shakers so that every kid could participate. This story tends to run a little long, but the use of the instruments kept the kids engaged throughout.

We finished with an English song, something I don't do very often, but it was a cute thing I had seen another librarian do and wanted to try out. We first found our derecha and izquierda (right and left), and then instead of the Hokey Pokey, we sang the Hooky Spooky. Everyone had a ball! The kids trick-or-treated throughout the library on their way out with huge smiles on their faces.

This Monday, we will celebrate El Día de los Muertos with stories, calavera puppets and pan dulce. We will be sharing Bob Barner's new book, The Day of the Dead / El Día de los Muertos.  We have a community altar for folks to drop by and leave rememberances of their loved ones, such as pictures and favorite foods.  A personal note to share, is this year I lost my cat Zoey who was my faithful companion for 20 years.  I will be celebrating her long and beautiful life by bringing a picture and some of her treats for our altar.