Halloween Picture Books for the Music Room

22 October, 2017

Since Halloween is just around the corner, I'm blogging today with four of my favorite picture books for the music room during Halloween!

Halloween books for the music room: Favorite picture books for your elementary music lessons!

Two of the four books I'm blogging about aren't specifically Halloween books, but because of their theme, can work really well during this time of the year! Here goes!

Go Away, Big Green Monster

A few years ago, I saw this book being read at my daughter's daycare and fell in love with it! I decided it would be a great book to add instruments to...so here's what I do:

First, I just read the book to students and we discuss it. Before the second reading, we decide as a class which non-pitched percussion instruments should be played for each body part. For example, for eyes, a few students might play the finger cymbals. For the nose, a few students might play wood blocks. For the mouth and teeth, some students might play the gathering drum, and so on! Every student would have an instrument and a specific part.

 Here is a video of the book being read, so you can get an idea:

On "Don't come back!" all students could play three times (like three quarter notes.)

You could also have it be cumulative, so that for eyes, the students with finger cymbals play, for the nose, finger cymbals AND wood blocks play, etc. Then, when the body parts are going away, those students assigned to that body part stop playing.

This is a fun way to have students make musical choices, AND become more comfortable with playing instruments.

Who Killed Cock Robin?

The song "Who Killed Cock Robin" is one of my favorites. Here is the notation:

Who killed Cock Robin: a great song for Halloween. Blog post includes three great picture books for Halloween in the music room!

I sing all of the verses in the book to this melody. The book does not repeat all of the same phrases as the song does. For example, in the book, "Who killed Cock Robin?" only happens once, but I repeat it so that it matches the song.

The kids absolutely love figuring out the mystery in this picture book. They try to figure out who killed Cock Robin...was it the sparrow? The dove? Or is Cock Robin even dead?? There are clues spread throughout the book, and it's a great way to teach the song!

Disclaimer: I would save this gem for third grade or above, as little ones tend to get a bit scared!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat

There are tons of books in these series, based on "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly." This is a great version--with the old lady swallowing a bat, a cat, a ghost, a goblin, and more! Singalong books are great for improving students' listening skills, and for having them sing along! (Read this post for more of my favorite singalong books!)

Ghosts in the House

I found this one at a book fair several years ago. The illustrations are just beautiful, and it's a great book for vocal exploration. You can have students make ghost sounds each time a ghost appears in the book, and you can also them create their own ghost pathways, like described in this blog post.

Looking for more Halloween activities for the music room? These no prep worksheets are great for this time of year!

What is your favorite book for this time of the year? Feel free to comment below, and Happy Halloween!


  1. During this Halloween season, one particular book my Kindergarten and First Grade students enjoy is Skeleton Cat by Kristyn Crow. It's about a cat who comes back to life for the 10th time to follow his dream of becoming a drummer in a rock band. The book is full of descriptive sound words that we add non-pitched percussion to, such as rhythm sticks, triangles, maracas, and of course drums. The rhythm of the text lends itself to a great music activity.

    Also, The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Dukas is a part of our Kindergarten curriculum. So, I use the Disney book version with Mickey Mouse to introduce the story behind the music. We then listen to the music and analyze the themes. As a fun culminating activity, we create Sorcerer hats and act out the story with the music.

  2. I love the book Shake Dem Halloween Bones. It is full of fairy tale characters that most students are familiar with. There is a chorus included which is written in italics in the book. When this occurs the students shake a rhythm instrument to the rhythm of the words. The book has great rhymes and pictures. I use this with my first graders.


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