Monthly Archives: October 2011

Poetry for Halloween

Poetry often feels inaccessible to people who aren’t literature majors. Sure, there’s always Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss, but hopefully children’s experiences with poetry don’t end there. Theme poetry often seems an easier way to ease readers who may be reluctant into poetry, and the following are an assortment of seasonal poems that will thrill you with Halloween terror.

Field of Skulls by Mary Karr

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

The Haunted Oak by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A Ballad: The Lake of the Dismal Swamp by Thomas Moore

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

Halloween Party by Kenn Nesbitt

Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg

Song of the Witches by William Shakespeare

Porphyria’s Lover by Robert Browning

Wedding Dress by Michael Waters

What are some of your favorite Halloween poems?

Happy Halloween, from all of us at Tutor Doctor WNY!


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Sunday Morning Shout Out

Hello! My name is Nicole Kelly. I am an additional voice for Tutor Doctor’s Blog and will most often write under the “Sunday Morning Shout Out” segment. Currently, I am an at home mom, on hiatus from the world of licensed social work. As I stay home with our three children, ages: seven, four, and four months, I continue to do free lance writing and delve into the world of tutoring. My special focus will be on school success and young children from preschool to age seven.

Like many of you, Sunday and sometimes Saturday morning is my morning for that extra cup of coffee. It’s that day of the week that lends itself to not feeling as rushed and to having a sense of catching your breath (for five minutes at least anyways). Saturdays can also be full of dance, games, sleepovers, errands, etc. etc. But, it is my hope that from the more personal to the more serious study based “shout out”, these entries will leave you thinking about your child and learning in a slightly different and perhaps more excited way. Like you, I am eager to get my children on a good footing for their school years and school careers, as they start off as toddlers and emerge many years later, post school, as young adults.  It is my hope that their education and your children’s too, will be enlightening to them and to us through its challenges, discoveries, and successes.  Happy Weekend!

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Spoooky Treats

Here at Tutor Doctor WNY, we firmly believe that almost any activity can be made educational if approached deliberately. One of the most rewarding educational activities is baking. From reading recipes to using math skills, baking is a great way to show how the things students are taught in school directly relate to everyday life. Adventures in the kitchen also yield delicious treats, and what better way to celebrate Halloween than by baking some seasonal treats? The following are some of our favorite recipes that allow your artistic side to shine through.

Witch Finger Cookies

These delicious shortbread cookies make a creepy treat with a nail made out of an almond! One way to up the scare-factor is to add a few drops of green food coloring to the batter, which will yield witch fingers that look like they could belong to the Wicked Witch of the West!

Swamp Juice 

What’s green and fizzy and deliciously gross all over? Swamp juice, a blend of lemonade, green food dye, and gummy creatures, looks like something you scooped out of an industrial waste land fill. Younger kids can help you count out how many of each kind of gummy you need, while older kids can help prepare the tapioca.

Spooky Spider Cupcakes 

You might be scared of spiders…but these delicious spidery treats wouldn’t scare anybody!

Wiggle Worm Dirt Pudding

This super-easy, classic recipe allows even the youngest cooks to lend a hand in the process.

What are some of your favorite Halloween-themed recipes?




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Have a Happy, Healthy (?) Halloween

Halloween and healthy are not two words you would usually associate with one another. Halloween and overflowing bags of sugar, on the other hand…

Growing up, my Halloween followed a very particular routine. On All Hallow’s Eve, I would gorge myself with candy until it was time for bed, and then the rest of my candy would be judiciously consumed at a rate of approximately two-three mini candy bars per day. This was a fair ruling on how candy would be dispensed, and I still think my parents had one of the best ideas around. They didn’t deny me the “I ate too much candy” experience, and because I knew how painful it could be to eat twelve miniature Twix candy bars in a row, I didn’t care to repeat the experience until the next year.

Are you going to finish that? (Image Credit:

My friends had different experiences. Some gorged themselves on candy for a few days until their horde was entirely depleted. A few notable others ate all their candy while trick-or-treating, making the experience into a walking buffet. But the friend I always felt the worst for was Maggie (name changed to protect the deprived).

Maggie was the only girl in pre-kindergarten who dabbed the grease off her pizza. She talked about “calories” and worried about her appearance in a way that I would have to wait ten years for. It might be easy to argue that Maggie was only health conscious, but her parents were also a little over the top. Case and point, Maggie was not allowed to eat candy at Halloween. Maggie trick-or-treated for Unicef and any candy she got had to be surrendered at the end of the night to her parents. Maybe they were just being protective: after all, we all know the kinds of things that people can do to Halloween candy. But Maggie’s parents did nothing to replace her stolen goods. The day after Halloween, Maggie came to school with the same lunch she always did, with an apple for dessert. The rest of us traded candy bars and other candies, but Maggie looked demurely down at her apple and didn’t participate.

I would never have known that Maggie minded about her healthy regimen except that I caught her. Before and after lunch, we had recess, and I found her crouched in a corner, surrounded by candy wrappers. Maggie confessed that she hid some of her candy from her parents, and had managed to get it to school hidden in her backpack. Maggie’s issues with food continued through junior high, when she moved away, but it taught me an important lesson.

Even if you want your kids to grow up healthy adults, you still need to let them indulge sometimes. Otherwise, they won’t have the ability to make smart decisions and understand the importance of moderation when eating. So rather than refusing candy, find a compromise both you and your child can live with.

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Trick or…Education?

Halloween is designed to be fun. From scary movies and haunted houses to costumes and candy, kids usually aren’t thinking too much about learning when they could be having fun. However, for parents and educators, Halloween provides an opportunity to bring together education and fun in some really unique ways.


Education World has a ton of great ideas for Halloween-themed math projects. Halloween also means lots of candy, which brings plenty of opportunities to sort, count, and even graph the different kinds of candy your child gets.


Science Bob offers science-based activities that range from creating a glowing drink to grotesque looking slime.


This is perhaps the most obvious out of all the categories…but why not try carving a pumpkin? Let your imagination run wild, or try using a pattern you can find online? Get younger kids in on the action by helping to clean out the pumpkin and design the carving, but leave the actual cutting to someone with a little more coordination.


There are tons of Halloween-themed books and movies, so why not try focusing in on one particular Halloween staple this year? Look at the different ways vampires, werewolves, or ghosts are represented in films and literature, and talk about what makes them scary (or not so scary!). Try having your child write his or her own scary story, and perform it for the family.


Have your child explore the internet to find out about Halloween’s origins. Try starting out at the History Channel site, which offers interactive activities and educational video clips  to hold your child’s interest!

What are some other ways you’ve found to make Halloween educational?

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Halloween Costumes for All Ages

When I was little, I covered most of the usual bases for Halloween costumes. Black cat, vampire, alien, witch, clown, cow…and in the past few years, I haven’t had the opportunity to really dress up for the holiday. After all, I’m past the age when trick-or-treating is appropriate, and most of the Halloween parties I’ve been invited to have conflicted with midterms and essays. This year, though, my university’s graduate student union is throwing a zombie-themed party, and I’m DYING to go.

Choosing a costume can be lots of fun, but appropriateness is often an issue that arises around Halloween. What’s appropriate for children to wear? What’s inappropriate for adults to wear? For kids, the most basic question you can ask is “will my kid be comfortable wearing this for an evening of trick-or-treating?” If the answer is no, go with another costume. A lot of Halloween costumes tend to show a lot of skin, especially for grown-ups, and the weather should also be a factor. Many of my childhood Halloweens were cold, rainy, and even occasionally snowy!  Another thing to keep in mind is whether a costume is offensive. If you’re uncomfortable with a costume, go with your instincts and find something else. Even if the offensiveness is intended to be funny, it may cross lines, especially if a child is younger.

Whether it's a peacock or a butterfly, this baby costume is adorable (and allows you to put warm clothes on underneath!) (Image Credit:

Some of the best kids costumes that I’ve found are: animals, vampires, witches, clowns, pumpkins, princesses, fairies, knights, ghosts, or cartoon characters. These tend to be fairly inoffensive, easy to find, and offer lots of variety. Don’t forget the face paint!

What are some of your favorite Halloween costumes for kids? Do you have any great pictures you want to share?

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Scary Movies…Ready or Not?

I was in sixth grade when The Sixth Sense was released on DVD. My mom rented it from Blockbuster (ah, the good ol’ days) and watched it alone, telling me that it was too grown-up for me to watch. She promised that I would have nightmares, but I was insistent. I wanted to watch that movie. “Fine,” she agreed, “but after you watch it you have to go immediately to bed, with no lights on, and you can’t leave your room for the rest of the night.”

My conviction wavered.

“I guess I won’t watch it,” I grumbled, and when I finally did watch it (four years later), I had nightmares for over a week.

Now, I’m a scary movie afficionado. Zombies, vampires, monsters, serial killers…you name it. But even now, I still have boundaries I won’t cross. Straight-up gore fests, or movies that glory in their own debauchery without any redeeming value, are something I still avoid. Sometimes I still freak myself out and have trouble sleeping. But how old is old enough to start watching scary movies? And how do you decide what is appropriate for your child?

I have a lot of friends who are terrified of clowns, thanks to an early viewing of the film It. One great resources for children and horror movies is Common Sense Media. So don’t leave your kids out of the Halloween scary movie fun. Just save the scarier stuff for after they go to bed. And remember, it’s all about development. Don’t you remember being terrified of the cartoon ghosts and ghouls on Scooby Doo?

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