Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell

Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell

Every October, I pull out the Halloween-related books I’ve collected over the past few years.  One of the first such books I purchased was Ten Timid Ghosts, written and illustrated by Jennifer O’Connell.  It tells the story of a witch who moves into a house haunted by ghosts.  She uses different disguises and objects to scare them away one at a time, all of which are relevant to Halloween.  Though I try to rotate through all my Halloween books during the month, Ten Timid Ghosts seems to be the favorite among my students.  I have to agree with them; there is a lot to love about this book!
  • The words are just asking to be set to a tune and sung.  As a music therapist, I incorporate music into each activity I use with my students, and books are no exception.  The short length of each sentence and rhyme scheme make this book melodic in nature, which means coming up with a simple tune is a piece of cake. 
  • The illustrations are interesting, colorful, and full of detail.  They keep my students’ attention, and are perfect for object identification.  The ghosts are "hiding" all over the page, so finding them is a fun challenge.
  • The book counts down from ten as each ghost flies away, which addresses counting and number skills.
  • The ages for which this book is appropriate range widely.  The suggested reading level is ages 4-8, but I’ve used this book when working with children both younger and older who have enjoyed it.

Ten Timid Ghosts is a fun story that children don’t mind hearing again and again.  The language is simple, and it presents a great opportunity for reading sight words.  I have no doubt that I’ll be reading this with my little ones all the way up to October 31st!

Halloween Fun with Books and Music


Halloween can be a great time to explore scary things and make-believe. There are some terrific resources out there to help kids enjoy different aspects of the holiday… besides candy!

We love the book The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams. It has wonderful sound effects and movement opportunities right in the book. It’s about a little old lady who goes for a walk in the woods. On her way back she meets various items such as two shoes, a pair of pants, and so on until she meets a pumpkin head that says “BOO!” Jenny added a little singing refrain: “You can’t scare me, you can’t scare me. You can’t scare me, so let me be” each time a different object shows up in her path. Young kids love singing the refrain and making the sounds each time an object is mentioned.

The weeks leading up to Halloween are often a time when kids explore the concept of fear. There can be a certain thrill from being creeped out or scared by a story. A great book with lots of scary and fun poems and stories is Scared Silly by Marc Brown, author of the famous “Arthur” series.

Another activity kids do is to make up their own songs. They can use an existing melody or create their own. David worked with some 4th grade students who created scary lyrics and made up their own melody around Halloween one year. Their song is called This Holiday is Halloween and we recorded it on our Friends CD. It begins:

When the sky is dark and the moon is bright
Goblins dance by firelight
Wolves are howling in the night
Witches flying into sight

One of our favorite Halloween stories of all time is The Hallo-wiener by Dav Pilkey. It’s an endearing and funny story about a dachshund who gets teased for looking like a hot dog, but he saves the day in the end. This book pairs nicely Jenny’s song Hey, Hey, it’s Halloween.  It’s a fill-in-the-blank song, which gives kids an opportunity to give their costume ideas:

Hey, hey it’s Halloween!
There’s many different costumes to be seen
I’m gonna be a __________, isn’t that neat
And I’ve got a __________, to make it complete.

Two of a Kind wishes you a fun and safe Halloween!
Jenny and David Heitler-Klevans, Two of a Kind

Working with Struggling Readers: Back to Basics

September, October, November… where does the time go?
We have such limited time with our students. Determining the children’s reading levels and recognizing their specific difficulties are the first keys to helping them.

As a Title 1 Aide, I work with children that are struggling. While working with children in our first grade reading program,  we decided to get back to basics. This week we had the children say the sounds of the alphabet, and then as the week progressed they sang the sounds to the tune of the Alphabet Song. This way we learn which sounds to focus on and how build our lessons plans from there.

Our lesson plans consisted of an Alphabet Animal Coloring Page from Songs For Teaching®. We then used picture cards starting with each letter, saying the word on the picture card, then  breaking it down by phonemic sounds. We reinforced this exercise with a Rhyming Word Match. This allows us to practice oral language skills and improve phonological awareness with our students.

Every day we read a Nursery Rhyme to help reinforce sound patterns, tempo and to build fluency. It’s so cute when the children come back and recite the rhyme from the previous week.
They do remember! 

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