Halloween story ideas for a bunch of 4-5 year olds

Well Halloween has my kids by the lugs, so much so that we agreed to host this year’s kids’ Halloween party. On the upside, I managed to get out of craft time; however I now get to enthrall the kids with a scary/fun story. Unfortunately I have no idea which story to do. Any Doper recommendations for kid Halloween stories?

I’d adapt an existing story for the kids. You get off easy 'cause the kids won’t recognize your plagerism, and you’ll get a well constructed story (assuming you choose a good one) with little effort.

Maybe come up with an adaptation of “The Raven” (a good story, but the kids will probably get lost in the poetry), or something more modern like “The Exorcist” or “Halloween”. Alter the story as needed to suit your audience.

Are you acting this out in a skit, or reading?

I’m planning on telling the story rather than reading it. With any luck I can draw them in and keep them interested for 5-10 minutes. I was thinking of an old style monster story, but I’m open to suggestions.

Inspired by something they saw on PBS Kids, my two girls (aged 6 and 4) recently set up a “clubhouse” (sitting under a bedsheet stretched over two chairs with a flashlight) and asked me to tell them a scary Halloween story. I couldn’t remember any from my own childhood, so I made one up on the spot based on one of their favorite bedtime stories, “The Three Little Pigs”. Maybe it was the way I told it (with sound effects and all), but they were quite scared. Far more than I intended, in fact (they had nightmares for a few nights).

I very quickly recapped how the wolf first blows down and eats the first pig in the straw house, then does the same for the one in the house of sticks. (Note: this is the version I usually tell anyway: no namby-pamby escaping to the next house for the lesser pigs, and the wolf falls into the fire at the end.) Then he gets to the brick house, and the fable transforms into a ghost story.

When the pig will not let him in and he fails to blow the brick house down, the wolf pretends that he is very sick and desperately needs to use the bathroom. The good-hearted pig opens the door to let him in. Once inside, the wolf pounces on him when his back is turned and devours him, cooking him in his own fireplace.

After eating the third pig, the wolf drinks the soda in the his refrigerator, watches his TV all night, then goes upstairs to sleep in his bedroom.

In the middle of the night he is awakened by a loud scratching sound. He tries to ignore it but it just seems to get louder. It’s coming from downstairs…

He goes down to investigate. It is coming from behind the closed front door. He opens it a crack to see the skeletal figure of a pig in the light of the full moon, covered in bloody straw. A spectral voice demands: "Little wolf, little wolf… where is my flesh?"

Horrified, the wolf slams the door shut, runs back upstairs into the bedroom, and closes and locks the door, bracing it shut with his back. Not long after he hears scratching again, from behind the same bedroom door. He stops up his ears, but feels something wet around his feet. He looks down to see a dark pool seeping under the door, and hears another ghostly voice ask: "Little wolf, little wolf… where is my blood?"

The wolf dives under the blankets and covers his head with the pillow. He still hears scratching… from under the bed. He refuses to open his eyes, but the sound suddenly stops. He takes the pillow off and lifts his head… to come face to face with the skull of a piggy with small red flames set deep in the eye sockets. "Little wolf, little wolf… Get… out… of… my… house!!"

Terrified out of his mind, the wolf jumps through the glass window and is found dead in the grass the next morning. No trace of the three pigs are ever found…

For four and five year olds?! You’ve got to be kidding.

Kids that age love spooky stories that have sound effects and are acted out by the story teller. I submit for your approval, The Velvet Ribbon.

Suggested props include a black velvet ribbon around your own neck or the neck of the nearest willing female, and a large pair of scissors. Make a popping sound with your thumb in your mouth at the fatal moment. Then slowly roll your hands and and move them toward the listeners to show how the head rolled across the floor.

Go off to the library and ask the children’s librarian. She’ll have a repertoire of her own that will be great.

I would suggest The little old woman who was not afraid of anything, also available at the library. It’s a picture book, and various pieces of clothing start following her home (each with sound effect). She finds a use for the spooky outfit.

Whoops, sorry, it’s *The little old LADY who was not afraid of anything*.

Not sure if this is what you were looking for, but here’s what my Dad used to do:

Get a copy of Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and set it up to play in the next room. If you have a family room near the living room, this is optimal.

Turn off most of the lights in your room (and ALL of the lights in the room where the music is coming from).

As the music plays, tell the story behind the piece. Or make one up, who cares. My Dad would narrate as the evening grew darker and darker, the moon came out, and skeletons and hobgoblins rose from the dead, danced and cavorted, witches flying, whole nine yards. Elaborate as needed.

Then you can sort of hear it in the music when the sun comes up and the dead must return to their graves. And they’re sad. Because they have to wait a whole year before they can come out again. But they vow to return (the music supports this by the way the piece ends).

Now, at the end, when the music’s over, you offer the kids a buck if they’ll go in the next room and turn on a lamp. Cheapest bet you’ll ever make.

A few classics:

Start it out with some kids playing in a graveyard. They find something and then later the ghost comes for it. Golden teeth is a good one, because then you can have the ghost visit each kid in succession, and build the tension.

The monkey’s paw. It grants wishes, but they all go bad. Wish #1: Money -> insurance payoff when <family member> is brutally killed. Wish #2: Bring back beloved <family member> -> gruesome zombie. Wish #3: Make it all go away/Wish this never happened -> Happy ending (if kidlets are freaking out), world swallowing up the people and the paw, or, the beginning of the story, with a few slight twists to make it seem like the horror just keeps repeating itself.

Guy with a hook and teenagers making out on Lover’s Lane. He either gets them or not, but it’s creepy.

A classic that my mom told to great effect many, many times in my childhood. I have now also told it to great effect to assorted groups of children. It ROCKS! You can either pick one child to “pick on” at the end, or freak out the whole group at once.

It’s called The Golden Arm. Tell this however you want, but here’s a short version, with some of the details I like. The rest are open to you:

Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived at the top of a steep hill, all alone. A long time ago, the old woman fell down the stairs that went to the bottom of the hill, and her arm was hurt so badly that she got a new arm made all out of gold. She lived with her golden arm the rest of her life, and all the people of the village got to see it. They knew it was worth a lot of money. When the old woman died, she was buried in a coffin with her golden arm.

Now, there was a man in the village who wanted that golden arm. He thought all day and all night about how much he could buy with that gold. He thought about it so much that the next day he decided to go to the old woman’s grave and dig it up so he could steal the golden arm.

So, that night, after the sun had gone down and the moon was covered with clouds, the man snuck into the graveyard and dug down to the coffin. He opened the coffin and, barely looking at what he was doing, he wrenched the golden arm out, then quickly buried the coffin again. He knew he couldn’t go back to his own house with it, so he decided to take it to the old woman’s house and spend the night, and decide what to do with the arm in the morning.

So he climbed the steep hill to the house, went inside, walked all the way up two flights of stairs, and laid down on a bed in the bedroom way in the corner of the house. He was pretty tired from all the digging he’d done, so he fell asleep quickly.

But then, he was awoken by the sound of … something. What was it? He listened very carefully. And just at the very edge of his hearing, he could make it out. It was a voice coming from outside, down at the bottom of the hill.

“Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm? Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm?”

At first, he didn’t believe it, and tried to go back to sleep. But just as he’d drifted off, he heard it again. This time, it was coming from the steps up the hill, maybe a quarter of the way up.

“Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm? Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm?”

Now he knew what it was. He knew WHO it was.

“Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm? Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm?”

Getting closer. Now the voice was coming from the front door of the old woman’s house. He heard the knob turn… click … he heard the door swing open… screeeeeeee… and first one step, then another, coming into the house.

“Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm? Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm?”

[Etc., etc., until the woman comes into the bedroom, where the man is hiding under the covers].

Just outside the covers, he knew she was standing, looking for her golden arm.

“Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm? Whooooooo stolllllllllle my gooooolllllden aaaaaarrrrrmmmmm?”

At this point, make direct eye contact and/or grab one of the kids by the shoulders and yell,


At which point everyone screams. It’s a crack-up. They always want to hear it again right away.

Try a book called The Big Spooky House by Donna Washington. I love the pictures in this book, but you would be able to tell the story effectively even without that.

“Are you going to be here when John gets here?”

There’s a song you could sing; it’s about an old lady. It goes something like this:

There was an old woman of skin and bones–ooh ooh oooooh
One night she thought she’d take a walk–ooh, ooh oooooh
She walked down by the old graveyard–ooh, ooh oooooh
She saw the bones a layin’ around–ooh ooh oooooh
She went to the closet to get her broom–ooh ooh ooooh
She opened the door and


Plus there are classics like “Humans Can Lick Too,” though those might be to scary for four year olds. One that might not be too scary is “The Helpful Hitchiker.” Basic plot synopsis: Long distance trucker spots a hitchhiker up ahead, stops the truck. and lets him in. The hitcher’s name is Sam Smith. The trucker quickly notices that even though he’s never met the man before Sam knows his name and knows that he is married and has kids. He thinks it’s even a bit more odd when the hitcher asks to be let off a few miles down the road in an area where no one appears to be living. As Sam Smith is leaving he warns the trucker to drive very carefully through the canyon up ahead because there have been problems with rockslides. He then seems to vanish into the night. The trucker continues onward but slows down a bit and sure enough as he enters the canyon there’s a huge rockslide. He slams on the brakes just in time and realizes if he’d been going any faster he would have hit the rocks. After road crews help him go around the rocks he pulls over at the nearest truck stop and recounts his adventures, saying “I’d be dead if it weren’t for Sam Smith.” The waiter drops his spatula and says “Sam Smith? He was a trucker who stopped by this joint all the time. Until a couple years ago when he got caught in a rockslide up in the canyon. He was killed.”

Maybe this would be better for slightly older kids. But here goes:

It was a dark and stormy night. (add details of scary stormy night.)

An old lady was alone in her house. (add details of creaky old house.)

Suddenly, the phone rings. BRRRING BRIIIINNNG. She picks up the phone. The voice on the other end says (in bad Dracula accent) “I am the Viper! And I am one mile away!!” The old lady slams down the phone, terrified.

A few minutes later, the phone rings again. “I am the Viper! And I am a half-mile away!”

(Continue in this vein for a while, with the Viper getting closer, and the old lady getting more and more scared.)

Finally, the doorbell rings. The old lady throws open the door. (Why she’d open the door, I have no idea. The kids won’t care at this point.)

There is a man standing there with a roll of paper towels and a bottle of Windex. He says “I am the vindow viper. I’ve come to vipe your vindows!.”

Scary Stories.

I LOVED these as a kid. Some of the stories recounted here are in there (like the viper). Lots of good ones.

Don’t discount a good scary “buffet”. Peeled grapes become eyeballs, cold spaghetti becomes intestines, etc. Kids get gooey, they giggle a lot, tons of fun.

If you don’t mind going theatrical you may want to try ‘Operation’, it’s always a big hit with the kids at our Halloween parties. Hang a sheet between you and your audience, backlight yourself and your patient and proceed to pull all sorts of guts and slimey stuff out of the body as you narrate your lifesaving procedure. Knives, axes, and saws are delightful especially if you have a variety of materials on which to use them and make great sound effects. Ketchup squirted on the sheet while your patient screams and moans is a bonus. We have a mannequin leg for the finale which always brings down the house.

You can frame it in nearly any spooky story you want to tell, just add in a morgue or hospital scene.

In the version I heard of the Viper story the old lady is usually cowering under her bed before the viper announces he wants to “Vipe ze Vindows.”

Here’s another one–not a classic, as it happened to my mother. When she was 7 her father died and she, her sisters, and her mother all wound up living with aunts and cousins. The cousins thought some sort of bogeyman lived in the attic of their house and came down at night to raid the icebox. All the kids got together one day, deciding that they were going to investigate together and that way they could take the bogeyman if they met him. They slowly crept up the attic stairs. The bravest cousin opened the door. They all peered into the attic…

and they saw a black hand.

They ran down the stairs screaming and didn’t go anywhere near that attic again.

Eventually my mother realized the hand was just a glove that her aunt had carelessly tossed on the attic floor. Still, she loved to tell that story at girl scout campouts.