Posted by: kam6761 | November 3, 2008

Happy Halloween!

So this past week I did a “Halloween unit,” and it went REALLY well! I had a reading on the origins of Halloween, taught “Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate” (which for whatever reason they were totally unable to sing properly!), had them read Halloween storybooks from the library, made Halloween masks, and had a Halloween party!

I thought trying to explain All Hallows Eve would make the holiday seem less weird, but I think it just confused them more. The “Origins of Halloween” reading explained that our ancestors believed that evil things came out, but that we no longer believe that. I then explained that it’s pretty much a holiday for kids to have fun and get candy, but some kids still only absorbed the beginning. They had reading comprehension questions and the last one was, “Do you think Halloween is a good holiday for children? Explain why or why not.” Most kids understood and wrote that it was an awesome holiday for kids, but some of my brightest learners explained it was an awful and dangerous holiday because people came back from the dead and witches cast spells on people. I tried my best to clarify, and I’m pretty sure that everybody understood, but there’s a chance that some learners now believe that there’s a day once a year in America where the dead raise up and witches cause mayhem…

ANYWAY, mask-making was much more successful. I have to praise my sister for sending arts and crafts supplies earlier in the year. I dug up what was left of our pipe cleaners and pom-poms and let the kids go crazy. I showed them how they could use the stuff (they had never seen pipe cleaners or pom-poms before) and the kids were actually incredibly creative. It wasn’t really like in America where kids choose to be Cinderella or Spiderman (although one of my kids did actually make a Batman mask!). I guess there’s not the sort of marketing to children that exists in the U.S., so most of my kids just made funny or scary faces. I had shown my kids pictures of Brennan as a giraffe, a duck, and a bee, so I thought they’d understand they were supposed to be SOMETHING, but the dialogue went like this:
ME: What are you?

SELMA: I’m a woman.

ME: Oh, that’s nice! And Timo, what are you?

TIMO: I’m a man.


There were actually a lot of oshilulus (the Oshiwambo word for ghost) and I also had a lion, so that was cool. Our Halloween party was HILARIOUS. I made each of them knock and say, “Trick or Treat!” to get a sweet. After that we had a few Halloween games (The Origins of Halloween trivia and unscramble the Halloween words) and the winning group got Ring Pops (no, they don’t have those here– my Mom sent them!). Our final item was voting for “Best Mask.” I had each group nominate a person and then everyone voted, and I must say I was really impressed that each group didn’t just vote for its own nominee. 6A, in my opinion, had the best masks, and Nelson BY FAR had the best mask in the grade. Nelson is the learner who draws Pocahontas pictures (among other pictures) for me all the time and he’s also the learner who took Bingo when we were in Otjiwarongo and returned him home to us safe and sound! Here he is in all his mask glory:

I should also mention that I got some good use out of the Halloween mask we had Dan’s parents bring along when they came to visit in April. They brought a scary skull mask, which we just thought would be fun to scare the kids, and I certainly scared the crap out of my entire class. I ran in, screaming in a gruff voice: “HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEEEEEEEEN!” with the super scary skull mask, and my oh my did they scream… even the boys. After the initial shock they realized it was me and began to laugh hysterically at my trick. It was pretty excellent, although 6A (the class I had scared) must have warned 6B, because 6B’s reaction was not nearly as good!

We also had mask making with our play group (funny side note– at our end of service we each got an “award” and mine was “Matron of the Omungwelume Children’s Play Group.” The other volunteers don’t really have visitors like we do, so it’s been a running joke all year that we essentially run a kindergarten) and they came the next day to “Trick or Treat.” I ended up letting any kid, mask or not, say Trick or Treat to get a sweet, because I figured it wasn’t fair to only give them to the kids who happened to have visited us the day before. However, I did give my masked kids 2 sweets each, so I figured that was fair.

After that our friend Tomas came to visit for the weekend, which was awesome. Dan and I have both always gotten along with Tomas really well but because of distance haven’t been able to hang out with him as much as we’d like to. He’s one of this year’s extenders, which means he’s staying on to teach next year, so it will be cool to stay in touch with him during the rest of his service. I think Dan really enjoyed having a boy to watch western movies and play video games with. As I made dinner each night I just heard cries of, “AHHH! He still has three bars left! Hit him! YEAH!” So I guess I lucked out with a guy who doesn’t spend time yelling at football matches on TV, but the occasional shouts at a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is certainly much nerdier.

And so here we are, with only five more weeks of school left, only two of which are actual classes. The last three are exams and wrapping up reports and stuff, so I’m kind of freaking out. We leave our site a month from TODAY. One thing that I really don’t like is that after exams start I rarely see my Grade 6 learners all together, so I wonder if I’ll even be able to get them all together for a final goodbye. I’ve been trying to soak up the little time I have left and not get too stressed about exams, which is actually not too difficult considering I set the exam and I’m pretty sure my kids are ready for it. This makes me want to spend the next two weeks just hugging them, but my better half has convinced me to spend the time doing useful stuff. This week I’m doing healthy eating and HIV/AIDS stuff (and of course if Obama wins tomorrow I will squeeze a reading on him in…!), and next week will be a final wrap-up and review for the exam. The good news is that after we leave here we’re headed to Tanzania, which will be awesome if I don’t spend the whole time crying about how much I miss the kids.



  1. Oh,Kathryn, the masks are GREAT. I think most of the children caught on about Halloween. Do you know if anyone had done Halloween for them?Where did you get all the wonderful candy treats?Those children will sure miss you when you leave.

  2. I hope Nelson won best mask because that is seriously awesome. Also, while leaving your kids is sure to be sad, can I say how EXCITED I am at the thought of seeing you in a little over a month?!

    I am not coming home for Thanksgiving this year so that I will ahve more time to come home for Christmas specifically to see you and Dan. Miss you both!

  3. aww kathryn! i’m glad you had such a fun halloween party! and nelson’s mask IS quite awesome – so elaborate!

    that’s sooo crazy that you have just a few weeks left! AUGH! i totally understand that you’ll be really sad to leave…but since i’m selfish, i can’t WAIT for you to come back!

  4. Good afternoon, Happy late Haloween(:

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