Halloween Stories for Children

Mother tells Halloween story

If you are trying to avoid the candy-focus of so many Halloween celebrations, you will probably want to create your own family traditions that your children will look forward to.

Tell your children stories. Help them see holidays as time to sit and reflect with family

Over time, you might develop your own family stories. Until you get there, I have a few last-minute suggestions for stories.

Our Halloween

For my family, Halloween in our big holiday of the year. It’s our new year. We focus on what is happening in nature as it gets colder outside but the snow hasn’t yet fallen—or hasn’t yet stayed. We rake leaves, jump in them, then rake them again. We draw on our pumpkin—our one pumpkin that grew this year—then we cut it up to make soup.

And, we tell stories. We tell stories about ancestors in the tradition of Day of the Dead, Ghost Festival, Samhain, and All Souls Night. We tell stories about the season. We tell funny stories.

We also have fun dressing up and going to parties with friends, but we reserve a part of the day and night for our family celebration.

Halloween Stories

Tell stories out of your imagination, stories that pull your children in as the adventurous protagonists. My children still love this, and they still tell one another stories. They write stories, comic books, novels, animated tales. They expect to be part of the adventure.

If you aren’t quite ready to make up stories for your children, you could collect stories and books, experimenting to find your favorites.

It’s a bit late to be looking for books for this year, so I’ve gathered a few Halloween stories you can share with your children right now.

For very young children, 2-4 years old. “Little Orange House” is a short, active story that will surprise little kids. I don’t want to give it away, so you’ll have to watch to see the surprise. Nothing scary at all. Watch the video, and look at the collection of other non-scary stories and songs for young children. You will need a couple of simple props to tell this story to your children.

For young children, 5-7 years old. “The Witch Who Was Frightened of Halloween” is an audio story, 9 minutes long, about Katie, an ordinary little girl who happens to be a witch. You can read or listen to this story.

For older children, age varies. If you want to venture into more scary stories, how about choosing old stories and folktales. American Folklore has a dozen spooky but not quite turn-your-hair-white frightening stories for children. These aren’t the sweet, predictable stories often written for young children. These are stories collected by folklorists from old tellers of tales. If you need more horror or fright, look for their “Scary Stories” and “Supernatural Stories.” You can either read or listen to these stories.

It’s Your Halloween!

To create the holiday you want your children to have, it only takes a little preparation and a little time to bring the focus where you want it to be for your family: nature, the season, celebration, fun, and maybe a little bit of scary screaming. Happy Halloween.

Image © Aldegonde Le Compte Tools Dreamstime.com

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Make Homemade Holiday Gifts

Child making homemade christmas gift

The assault has begun. Last night I saw an advertisement for a major toy store—let’s call it The Major Toy Store—trying to wash parents in the message that the only toy that will make their kids happy for the holidays is a big, plastic toy.

The advertisement plot line was this: a bus full of kids on a school trip are bored stiff by a teacher telling them how to recognize different trees by the shape of their leaves. But, it turns out the teacher was only joking. He is actually a clerk from a toy store, and he’s taking them to play at the store.

As my husband watched this, he said to me, “I’m surprised parents haven’t pressured the store to withdraw this ad yet. You should find out if people know about this.” So, I’m finding out if YOU know about it. Have you noticed this anti-nature messages in pre-holiday advertising for parents and kids?

If you intend to have a nature-centered holiday season, it’s time to make your plans now to be sure it is your natural message your children get—not the message that nature is boring and plastic toys are fun.

Making Homemade Gifts

One way to show your children the value of homemade and natural gifts is to make homemade and natural gifts.

If you are already a little crafty, 30 minutes on Pinterest should give you several months of crafting fun for you and your kids.

If you need directions, check out our DIY Envy series from last year. Most of these are appropriate crafts for adults or older children, though any child who knows how to knit can make cotton washcloths.

Make soap. “DIY Envy — Yes, You Can Make Soap!” The directions for melt-and-pour soap are very easy, and the results are beautiful. This isn’t really an activity to do WITH kids because of the hot soap, but they could watch from a short distance away. Requirements: reusable kitchen equipment and soap to melt.

Homemade DIY soap

Make cotton washcloths. “DIY Envy — Yes, You Can Knit!” You only need to know one stitch, knit (not even purl) to knit these simple, cotton washcloths. These could be a great holiday gift for friends and family. This project works for parent or child. Requirements: knitting needles and cotton yarn.

Knit cotton washcloth

Make a soft doll. “DIY Envy — Yes, You Can Sew!” This project is the most complex of the three, but all of the stitches are quite simple. You could even sew the whole doll by hand, but it would probably be a week-long project rather than an afternoon project. I included a lot of photos and step-by-step instructions to get you through the project. Once you tackle this, you are ready for a bigger handmade doll project. Requirements: sewing machine, needle and thread for hand sewing, fabric, wool for stuffing, rice or glass beads for weight.

Easy Sew Doll

Make kitchen towels. “DIY Reusable Kitchen Towels.” If you have a serger, it’s super quick and simple to make (not paper) kitchen towels. I added snaps to these, but you don’t necessarily need snaps. Requirements: serger, fabric (terry toweling and decorative outer fabric).

Reusable Kitchen Towels

Gift Crafts for Kids

Every parent and grandparent probably has a shelf ful of kid-crafted gifts. We love seeing what our children make. These wool craft posts give basic directions for a few potential holiday gifts.

Make coasters or mats. “Wool Crafts with Kids: Weaving.” With a very simple loom and a long needle, your child can transform loose yarn into a heavy fabric. That feels like a big accomplishment to a child. Use these mats as coasters or decorative hangings. Required: loom, needle, and yarn.

Child weaving on a wooden loom

Make cord. “Wool Crafts with Kids: Spool Knitting.” Another craft to transform yarn uses a simple spool for knitting cord. Then, you get to think about what to do with all of that cord: knitting, weaving, decorating. Requirements: spool and yarn.

Child using a wooden knitting spool

Make wool balls. “Wool Crafts with Kids: Felted Wool Balls.” Wool balls have become a very popular, natural way to soften clothing in the dryer. The agitation from the bouncing balls flexs the fibers and makes towels, T-shirts, and diapers feel soft. This would be a fun craft that could be given as a great, educational gift to family members. This post includes several methods for felting the wool, from easy to very easy. Requirements: wool and water.

DIY Felted Wool Balls

We also have kids craft kits in the store for older kids to make lip balm, chocolates, friendship bracelets, bath bombs, and more.

You Decide Your Holiday Gift Message

Don’t just give in to the dominant marketing messages. YOU decide how you want to shape your child’s experience and expectations of the holidays.

If you need to start talking about the holdiays this early in order to have yours be the first message your child hears, take advantage of that time to make gifts. As you plan and make gifts, talk about the people you are giving to. Encourage your child to focus on the person who will receive the gift (if they have reached that developmental stage where they CAN think of the other person).

Make your holidays intentional and natural.

Image © Monkey Business Images Ltd | Dreamstime.com

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Breastfeeding While Pregnant

Toddler with pregnant mother

Whether planned or not, a lot of us who practice extended breastfeeding find ourselves breastfeeding while pregnant. This is normal and common in many cultures.

Once you address a few potential concerns, you just need to be sure that you get enough nutrition, water, and rest as your body is nourishing three.

My first child was 24 months old and still breastfeeding frequently when I got pregnant with my second child. I had some of the common issues, like nipple sensitivity and lower milk production, but we maintained the breastfeeding relationship. Even the Braxton-Hicks contractions weren’t too much to bear until the day my son was born. That day, the bedtime feeding brought on such strong contractions that we skipped a feeding, for the first time in nearly three years. My son was born a few hours later.

Once my baby was born, I nursed both children for another two years. If I hadn’t seen a photo of one of my online friends showing how she stacked her tiny baby on top of her toddler, it might never have occurred to me that it was possible to breastfeed two children at once. Sitting with a baby and a toddler on my lap breastfeeding or holding my two children in my arms as we all fell asleep as they nursed, these are some of my sweetest memories of their young lives.

I was and am so grateful for women who share their experience so others can expand their own possibilities. That is how I expanded my own possibilities. If breastfeeding while pregnant then tandem nursing hadn’t occurred to you, I hope this opens a door for you.

“In a study of 179 mothers who had breastfed for at least six months, 61% had also breastfed during a subsequent pregnancy.1 Of these, 38% went on to nurse both newborn and toddler postpartum, an arrangement known as ‘tandem nursing.’”
Hilary Dervin Flower, “A New Look at the Safety of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy,” August 1, 2011, KellyMom.com.

Nutrition Concerns

To a great extent, you control your nutrition by what you take in. If you are pregnant AND breastfeeding an infant (not a busy toddler who checks in less often), you will probably need more calories.

Health Canada estimates energy requirements for a pregnant woman increase by 340 over the mother’s basic needs during the second trimester and by 452 calories during the third trimester. For breastfeeding, the energy requirements go up by 330 calories for a child 0-6 months and by 400 calories for a child 7-12 months. At the point when a child is no longer exclusively breastfeeding, the mother does not necessarily need to boost caloric intake over her basic needs. Not adding calories can help a mother lose some of the pregnancy weight if it is still lingering.

If you have a 4-month old exclusively breastfeeding and you are one month pregnant, you will need extra calories for the breastfeeding but not for the first trimester of the pregnancy, and you might find that your milk supply decreases too much for your newborn. You should watch your baby’s weight gain closely. If you have a 9-month old exclusively breastfeeding when you discover that you are one month pregnant, you will probably need to be aware of adding calories for both your breastfeeding baby and your pregnancy by the second trimester. That will mean about 740 extra calories a day. Your lactation consultant, midwife, or doctor can make specific recommendations.

Contraction Concerns

One of the most common worries I see associated with breastfeeding while pregnant is the possibility of miscarriage or early labor. Oxytocin released during breastfeeding does cause contractions, but these contractions are so mild that most women don’t notice them. (KellyMom)

Unless there is a specific medical reason to expect pre-term labor or miscarriage, very mild contractions during breastfeeding are not necessarily a reason to wean your child during pregnancy.

Comfort Concerns

If you experience nausea or fatigue during pregnancy, breastfeeding could potentially increase either. You will need great nutrition and plenty of rest. Fortunately, focused breastfeeding time could give you regular rest time. Keep snacks near your favorite nursing area. Eating a few crackers and having a drink while breastfeeding can take the edge off of nausea.

Many women experience nipple sensitivity during pregnancy. This is caused by hormone levels and can be mild or extreme. Breastfeeding while your nipples are very sensitive can be excruciating. Toddlers can get lazy with their latch, so be sure your child has taken a full mouthful and isn’t pulling from your nipple. You can also just ask your toddler to be quite gentle with you. Some women use this time to practice pain management techniques they learn for the birthing process.

You Are the One Who Knows

You are the one who knows whether or not you should continue breastfeeding your baby through pregnancy then continue tandem nursing both children. Watching those babies reach out and touch one another, bonding while they sit on your lap nursing, can be one of the most moving experiences of a chaotic life with young children. But, you need to ensure everyone’s nutrition, safety, and comfort before you get to that point.

Resources for Breastfeeding While Pregnant

If you plan to breastfeed while pregnant, you will probably find it helpful to talk to a La Leche League Leader who has done the same. It can be very reassuring to share the experience with someone who has been there.

For more evidence and experience, I recommend the following articles.

Image © Marina Dyakonova | Dreamstime.com

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Let’s Talk about Candy

Child dressed in Halloween costume eating cupcake

For parents who prefer that their children not eat everlasting gobs of sugar every Halloween, the holiday becomes a time to take a deep breath and figure out how we will navigate the choices this year. To candy or not to candy?

Switch to Better Alternatives

Within the dominant structure of treat or treat and begging for candy, or truck or treat, or school parties, or whatever is popular in your area, most options include a lot of candy.

One option is to participate but contribute better alternatives. Better alternatives to WHAT depends on your priorities. Is your family completely sugar free? Then maybe you look for sugar-free treats or natural sweets. Are you open to candy, but you don’t want to eat conventional chocolate? Then you might want to find bite-size fair trade chocolate. Organic? Plenty of that. Local? My grocery store has a dozen local chocolate choices, some organic and some fair trade.

So, the first question is: what part of the dominant celebration are you trying to avoid? Then ask how you can do that and still participate.

Or, Limit the Candy

Some parents who generally avoid sugar or chocolate or a list of other candy issues, relax the rules on Halloween. This approach avoids creating candy as the desired thing for a child, the thing they must have at all costs as soon as you aren’t looking.

The Switch Witch and the Magic Pumpkin are two ideas you can read more about in “Halloween Treat Alternatives.” The child chooses a few candies to keep then leaves the rest out for the Switch Witch or the Magic Pumpkin, who leaves a different gift.

I just said NO to candy when my children were small, perhaps less than 5-years old. Once my children were older, I let them keep what they gathered, but I limited them to one piece per day each. I don’t love this solution, but it worked those years when we participated in trick or treating with friends and neighbors.

Or, Switch Structure

Rather than accept the dominant idea that Halloween must involve candy, switch to another structure entirely. Have a costume dinner party for adults and children. Go to a maize maze in costume. Find a fun activity that celebrates the season without focusing on candy.

This is the option we choose most years. I like that this doesn’t put our choices as an alternative to candy but just removes thinking about the candy altogether.

Resources: Thinking about Candy for Children

We’ve collected a few of our past posts that you may find helpful.

Halloween Treat Alternatives

Four ways to shift focus from “Gimme Candy” to sweet memories, weird science, social activism, or community.

Sugar: 7 Reasons to Break the Addiction

Baby eating a sugar lollipop

Not sure whether there is a good enough reason to skip the sugary candy altogether this year? Read through our seven reasons to avoid sugar and the studies that back up the reasons. Sugar is addictive, toxic, leads to disease, saps energy, shortens your life, and can make you stupid. How is that for reason enough?

How Are Families Going Sugar Free?

A spiral of sugar

These are baby steps to break the sugar addiction for a whole family. It isn’t holiday focused, but there are good and important steps you can incorporate into a changed holiday if you are ready to make the break.

Dark Side of Chocolate

The Dark Side of Chocolate is a documentary about child labor and slavery in the cocoa industry. Fair trade or skip it. You won’t find chocolate so sweet when you see this story.

Chocolate — It’s About Dignity and Sustainability

Child with Chocolate

I wrote this post about the good reasons to choose fair trade, sustainable chocolate a few years ago. There are so many more choices now. If you want to make change, you do have options.

My Conscious Choices, Your Conscious Choices

Reasons to create your own candy-free Halloween traditions vary: health, social justice, environmental sustainability, and so on. Not all of us make the same choices, and that’s OK. If you want help thinking through whether now is the time to make those changes, ask yourself the five questions in this post. There are no right answers. You are the only one who knows if now is the time for change.

Image © Poznyakov | Dreamstime.com

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Easy Halloween Costumes—Or So Says Pinterest

bynature.ca on Pinterest

Don’t have the time or energy for an elaborate Halloween costume? I know where to find a bunch of great looking costumes to choose from. Pinterest has become my go-to craft site because I get a strong visual before I have to read anything.

These are a few of my Pinterest favorites.

5 Super Easy Costumes for Kids

1. Flowers

Easy flower costume for kids

2. Mummies

Easy mummy costume for kids

3. Charlie Brown Baby

Charlie Brown costume for a baby

4. Toad Stool

Easy mushroom Halloween costume

5. Super Man

Super easy Super Man Halloween costume for kids

What’s the easiest way of all to do Halloween costumes? Just raid the dress-up box. Use something old in a new way, the keep using it after Halloween. No waste. Plenty of imaginative play.

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