Learning to Write A Scary Story with CTT Halloween (Review)

During October, I added what I had hoped would be a fun bit of schoolwork to my 10 and 12 yos schedule – the Halloween Creative Writing Elective from Connect the Thoughts (CTT).  Billed as a history/creative writing elective, I had hoped that the kid would learn more about the true roots of Halloween, and exercise  their writing skills in a fun way.

The Halloween elective is marketed for those 9 years old and up. And really in our experience, it is best of those who are comfortable writing paragraphs. The elective was a stretch for my 10 yo, who ended up dictating much of his work for this elective, but it was wonderful for my 12 yo daughter.

There are sixteen lessons, the first lesson and the last lesson are the history peices, while the other fourteen lessons are centered around how to write a scary story.  Connect the Thoughts has one of the few writing curricula that I like, and this elective does not disappoint from a creative writing perspective.

The history lessons cover the roots of Halloween, primary its Celtic history, and modern traditions like UNICEF, trick or treating, and Fall Festivals or Halloween Parties. As is standard in all CTT history lessons, the two history lessons include a geography component and vocabulary.

There is a list of suggested literature at the beginning of the elective, with suggestions for both younger students (9-10 yos) and for older, high school level students. But there isn’t any requirement in the curriculum itself to read anything.

Like all Connect the Thoughts courses, CTT Halloween is written for the student to use independently. All the lessons talk directly to the student. Materials wise, the only things the students need are a computer to type their stories on and to follow a few history links (celtic music and language examples), a world map (or one on a computer), and a globe. Everything else is right there in the instructions.

Primarily this is a creative writing lesson. During the course, students write two scary stories – Learning how to develop primary and secondary characters, plotting, and the structure of a scary story. 

My 10 yo son chose to write a story about two boys trapped in a world of all girls; while my 12 yo daughter, developed a more traditional scary story. Since her story is a little long to publish here, I thought I’d share just the beginning (unedited) as a sample of what the creative writing portion inspired:

Nightmare on Halloween by K.E.S.

Drake woke up on the floor. He groaned, his neck hurt from sleeping in the wrong position. He could hear his attic bedroom groaning in the autumn wind. he looked out the window someone was standing in the backyard staring up at the window, it was a man he was as pale as the moon, he wore a pitch black business suit his thick hair was the same color, but his eyes were nothing like Drake had ever seen they were red and they didn’t have any pupils or whites of the eye. Drake shivered the Man smiled to this, reviling fangs. Drake shut the drapes and ran to his bed tripping over Barren his Dalmatian puppy he had gotten for his 8Th birthday two months ago. Barren sat up sniffed the air and growled, he went over to the window still growling. Drake ran to him picked him up and took a peek out the window; there was no man in the yard. Drake sighed in relief and carried Barren to his bed and lay down and was about to go back to sleep when his alarm went off.

 When Drake was done getting dressed for the day, he went down stairs where his mom was making breakfast and his little 5 year old sister Nadine or as everyone called her Natty. Natty in her blue long sleeved shirt with pink butterflies and long thick jeans was trying to put a pink bow in her long red curls. Drake looked nothing like his little sister he looked like his dad with dark brown hair and a wiry figure.

 As Drake starting eating his breakfast he saw the same man staring at him through the kitchen window he was licking his lips with a forked tongue, Drake suddenly went very pale, he felt sick to his stomach.

 ”Mom Drake looks like he’s about to throw up!” screeched Natty, moving away from him as she did so.  

 ”Are you okay?” asked his Mom.

 ”Yeah Fine” Mumbled Drake still staring at the Man outside the window.

 Drake’s mother looked at the window and the man vanished instantly.

 On the way to school he kept seeing man in between buildings as he and Natty walked through the suburbs houses. Drake thought he was going insane so one time he stopped and pointed the man across the street out to Natty. When Natty looked at the spot where Drake was pointing it took only a moment for Natty’s pale skin to turn to white as paper, she opened her mouth to scream when the man smiled, but no sound came out when put a finger to his lips.

 ”Who is he?” Squeaked Natty

 ”I saw him this morning when looked out my window.” Drake squeaked back.

 They were frozen as he came towards them; he was licking his lips and reaching out a hand with nails that looked like claws. They tried to run but it was like they were covered in hard cement. Suddenly a man on a bike was racing towards them and went strait through the man who was coming towards them, as the biker went through him all his body part deteriorated until there was nothing left but a skeleton. The skeleton collapsed along with the bike onto the street, the man smiled as if he had just eaten a chocolate cake.

 

Overall, the kids had fun with this. Again it was a stretch for my 10 yo to do this much writing, but my 12 yo was able to handle it with no problems. And even though it was a stretch for my 10 yo, this was the first time he’s been willing to write (or dictate) this long of a story (his was nearly 1000 words). Personally, I had hoped for more history. But as a creative writing elective, I am happy with the choice.

Note: I did cross out a few items in the last lesson that pertained to planning a Halloween party and/or celebrating Halloween in traditional American ways, as that’s not something we do as a family. But that was the only thing I needed to change.

CTT Halloweenis regularly $25, available only as a downloadable ebook. The curriculum has great sales and I was able to pick up this elective for less than $10. I can’t guarantee that you’ll find the same deal, but, if you are interested in a fun way for your kids to learn to write a scary story, I recommend picking up CTT Halloweeen while it’s on sale.

…Shannon

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One Response to Learning to Write A Scary Story with CTT Halloween (Review)

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