Halloween and a “Jennie Story”

Our ‘Day in the Dark’ and ‘Pajama Day’ at school was fun.  Glow sticks and black play dough were a big hit.  Wearing pajamas to school is cool.  Things are different this year, yet the constant is storytelling.

Storytelling is, and has always been, the foundation for language and learning.  I write about children, yet storytelling applies to all people.  Words and ideas are how we start to learn, and how we continue to learn.

Everybody loves a good, gripping story.  I am the storyteller at school, and all my stories are true- things that happened to me in my childhood.  A pretend story starts with Once Upon a Time.  A true story starts with It Happened Like This.

Whenever I say the words, “It happened like this”, children are captivated.  They know it is a ‘Jennie Story’ and a true story.  Best of all, they are getting far more words and language into their brains because storytelling has no pictures.

This is “The Halloween Story”.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Children beg for this story even in the summer.  I told it today to a captive audience.  You could have heard a pin drop.

“It Happened Like This”… When I was eight years old I went trick-or-treating with my little sister, Sarah.  Back then children went trick-or-treating alone.  There were no Moms or Dads.  And, we never went out until it was really dark.  All the way dark.  I dressed up as Raggedy Ann and Sarah dressed up as a scarecrow (although she looked more like a hobo than a scarecrow).  We each had a pillow case to collect all the candy which we called our ‘loot’.  We were so excited!

Then my mother said, “Jennie, don’t forget to go trick-or-treating at Mrs.  Crotty’s house.”  Mrs. Crotty!  Oh, no!  She was really old.  She always looked mean and she never smiled.  Her house was dark brick with big bushes and trees everywhere.  Everything was always dark.  Her house was as old as she was.

I said nothing to my mother.

Sarah and I headed out trick-or-treating.  We had the best time!  We got tons of candy, too.  When we got back home we dumped our pillowcases out on the rug in the den and sorted through all the candy.  I gave Sarah all my Tootsie Roll Pops and she gave me all her Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Yum!

Then my mother said, “Did you go trick-or-treating at Mrs. Crotty’s?”  I had forgotten, of course.  When I heard her words I felt like a lightening bolt had hit me while I was falling off a roller coaster.  Again she said, “Well, did you go to Mrs. Crotty’s house?”  All I could do was look down and shake my head.  My mother was not happy!  She said, “Jennie, I told you to go.  So take your sister’s hand and go right now”.

I took Sarah’s hand and we went back outside together.  Now it was really dark and trick-or-treat was over.  Over!  There were no lights on at anyone’s house.  We slowly walked to Mrs. Crotty’s house.  As we turned the sidewalk and walked up her walkway I squeezed Sarah’s hand and she squeezed mine.  I was so scared.  We got to Mrs. Crotty’s porch which was pitch black and surrounded by weird branches.  As we approached the front door I said to my sister, “You knock.”  “Oh, no” she said, “Mother told you to do it.”  So, I took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

A moment later I heard the door slowly creak open.  Just as I was ready to run away, the lights came on and there stood Mrs. Crotty, smiling.  I’d never seen her smile before.  She said, “Hi Jennie.  Hi Sarah.  Come in.”  We stepped inside the door.  “Wait right there!”  We didn’t move.  She ran to the back of the house and returned with two gigantic popcorn balls, covered in melted butter and caramel.  They were still warm.  Yum!

And I was so afraid.  Silly me.


P.S.  This is a popular ‘Jennie story’ in my classroom.  Happy Halloween!

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Halloween, Imagination, preschool, storytelling, Teaching young children and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Halloween and a “Jennie Story”

  1. Ritu says:

    Lovely story, Jennie. I’m sure you’ve shared this before!
    Can I ask, did you make it so each child has their own playdough? We aren’t allowed to let it be shared, so it is so tough!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Ritu! I have shared the story before, along with a few other Jennie Stories. Yes, each child has their own playdough. We keep it in a labeled zip lock bag, and they play with it on a tray. Then, we clean the tray for the next child. The favorite that lasts forever is Kinetic Sand. Do you have that in your arts and craft stores? One bag has enough to divide among 4 children. It is awesome!

      • Ritu says:

        Kinetic sand is fantastic!! Can I ask (again) how many children you have in, at the moment? Xx

      • Jennie says:

        12 children. That’s our max with Covid. Typically we have 15. If you get small plastic containers, the kinetic sand will last forever! Lately it’s been #1 with the children. What do you do with markers? Does every child have their own set? We do, and I hate it. A welcoming table with markers, paper, stencils, etc. for everyone is so much better.

      • Ritu says:

        We have 30 in a class! All we’ve been told to do is to stay within our ‘bubbles’ . the chn are too young to.understand full social distancing. PPE is not worn within our bubbles. Pencils etc are able to be used as they are withing a safe ‘bubble’. (I hate bubbles now.) If a case was to arise, a bubble is then shut for 14 days self isolation.
        And now national lockdown 2 has been announced from Thursday, but nurseries, schools, colleges and universities to stay open.

      • Jennie says:

        I’m trying to picture 30 in a classroom. Wow! How do you physically separate the bubbles? How many children are in a bubble? Each class at school is like a family, so we can all play with the toys (with major cleaning at the end of the day.) I wish masks were optional. And I don’t see why markers are different than toys. We have the 14 day isolation, too, but no Covid (yet) at school. Much of the spread here is college students and parties. As soon as a case hits a school, the school goes to remote learning for at least 14 days. Many colleges are sending students home for Thanksgiving, and having them stay home and due remote learning til after Christmas. Smart!

      • Ritu says:

        Each class of 30 is a bubble, and we have two classes as a hub.
        For the most part these classes are independent of each other. They only mix outdoors.
        If a case was to arise, a year group is sent home to self isolate for 14 days.
        So within my classroom, there is no social distancing, but as adults, we are to try and maintain our distance, as much as possible, with the children.
        It’s tough, Jennie!

      • Jennie says:

        I see. It really is tough!! We can’t even mix outside.

  2. What a wonderful story to share Jennie, especially these days where judging by appearances has become so prevalent. Happy Halloween!🎃🧛‍♀️👻🧟‍♀️

  3. beth says:

    How great- Happy Halloween!

  4. I remember this one! It’s a great story.

  5. Opher says:

    I bet she was so pleased to see you!!

  6. Darlene says:

    I love this story and could read it over and over. Happy Halloween.

  7. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you so much for this lovely story!

  8. Love that story, Jennie! I’m smiling from ear to ear. The popcorn ball sounds yummy!

  9. Love that story, Jennie! I’m smiling from ear to ear. The popcorn ball sounds yummy!

  10. beetleypete says:

    I always love the story of Mrs Crotty. And it teaches such a valuable life lesson too!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      I think it does. Sometimes when I tell it at school I talk about Gloria and how people might think she’s a witch. Very effective. Best to you, Pete.

  11. “…they were still warm…” (As was Mrs. Crotty – a warm woman)
    IMHO: the only way popcorn balls taste good are when they are ‘still warm’

  12. Awww, What a great story, Jennie. A little scary and ending with such a heartwarming message. I can understand why the kids love it.

  13. Great story, thanks for sharing! As a child, there was an older lady in my neighbor who gave away popcorn balls and gingerbread cookies for Halloween, but she had a reputation for being very sweet, so we weren’t afraid of her.

  14. Love this story! 🎃 I can just see the kids’ eyes popping now! xo

  15. Dan Antion says:

    I love Jennie stories. I’m guessing the kids do as well.

  16. John Kraft says:

    I sometimes went to 8 AM classes in college like that. Professors were not amused.

  17. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is a lovely story from that excellent teacher, Jennie!

  18. Don Ostertag says:

    What a beautiful story. Thank you, Jeanne

  19. willedare says:

    This blog post — including your “it happened like this” story — bring happy tears to my eyes. I wish everyone in the USA could read your blog — but then you’d be so busy responding to comments that you’d have no time for the wonderful children in your wonderful classroom… Thank you for teaching all of us with your wise and loving blog posts!

  20. Mireya says:

    Good story and thanks for sharing as I read on Halloween.

  21. I remember cutting eye-holes in an expensive sheet one year, dressing up as a devil in our home-made haunted house another, the first costume I was a shaggy dog and couldn’t see out of the mask…But I also remember the kids that covered cardboard boxes in foil and used vacuum cleaner attachments to become robots, princesses made of their mothers’ cocktail dresses and evening gloves, cowboys and pirates and witches and kitties…. I remember walking dark streets with eerie lighting and crunchy fall leaves and meeting up with other treat-or-treat groups to compare goodies and find out which houses had the best decorations and best candy… I wish kids could have that again…

  22. petespringerauthor says:

    I’m like the kids. Jennie stories are better than any regular story.

  23. Norah says:

    This is a great story, Jennie. I’m sure you’ve shared it before, but it’s worth hearing again. All good stories are.

  24. I love that you share stories from your past. it adds a reality and vividness to the story and the children can see the connection between stories and life

  25. Thank you for this wonderful story, Jennie! Together with the image of this well carved pumpkin (Oh, i love this art very much!) a wonderful composition. Michael

  26. I remember this story form a previous post, Jennie. It was lovely to read it again. I wonder why small children are scared of elderly people who live alone?

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