Halloween is just around the corner and parents, teachers, and community-based programs are looking for safe, fun, non-treat ways to acknowledge the upcoming holiday. On the heels of Food Literacy Month in California (September) and National Farm-to-School Month (October), I can’t help but think of three books that will delight your home or school gardeners. Read on for creative planting ideas to satisfy your celebratory craving.
Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks
This fun rhyming book introduces a pair of monsters who eat everything except broccoli. The refrain, “Fum, foe, fie, fee, monsters don’t eat broccoli!” is a hit with the little ones and the hints about the orange and blue monsters keep older kids’ attention as well. When I use this book with kids, I ask them, “Are you a monster?” When they respond, “No,” I tell them, “Oh, then you must eat broccoli.” They are usually puzzled, but curious.
A simple planting activity (which is really just a take on Mustard Monsters) invites kids to decorate a plant stick with funny eyes and scary mouths (think Jack-o-Lantern here) and then place it in the garden with some broccoli seeds. The idea is that the broccoli plants will not get eaten (both because most things are afraid of monsters and the monsters themselves won’t eat the broccoli). Last year, this activity was my porch-ready non-candy Trick-or-Treat takeaway.
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds
Perhaps the scariest of the three titles, Creepy Carrots is about a clan of root vegetables who decide to scare Jasper Rabbit out of eating them. They start following Jasper all around town until he is so terrified he builds a fence around the carrot patch. The carrots cheer with joy that they will be left alone from then on.
The dust jacket for this book reads, “Aaron Reynolds isn’t scared of carrots, but he is terrified of black olives.” I can’t think of a better way to introduce new foods to kids and reinforce the notion that vegetables aren’t actually scary at all. Consider pairing this book with an all orange snack foods and prompt tasters to use their five senses to explore each food before trying it. Need more inspiration? Find ideas like mummy pizza on Instagram.
How Martha Saved Her Parents from the Green Beans
In this tale with a twist, David LaRochelle personifies green beans as “the baddest beans around.” When Martha doesn’t want to eat her side vegetable served with dinner, she imagines her parents are kidnapped by the green beans! Eventually, she realizes that she misses her parents, she sets out to rescue them by–you guessed it–eating the green beans!
I’ve used the same plant sticks to make caricatures of the green beans, but for Halloween, I think I’d make a green bean costume instead. Pretty silly, I know, but I did find examples of DIY green bean and Jolly Green Giant costumes.
Whatever direction you decide to go this Halloween, stay safe from the truly scary stuff in life (like the upcoming election or the ongoing pandemic). Best wishes for a fun-filled Halloween!
More Ideas for Halloween Gardening with Kids
- Explore unique pumpkins: Sensing the Unique Characteristics of Jarrahdale Pumpkins
- Build a PVC scarecrow: A Scary Surprise for the School Principal
- Research truly dangerous veggies, herbs, shrubs, and weeds: Something Wicked This Way Comes: Deadly Plants for Halloween
- Plant garlic to repel vampires and get a head start on your salsa garden: Backward Planning for a School Garden Salsa Harvest