Hallowe’en – A Dark Dark Wood, Witches, Warlocks and Ghouls!

The last night in October was thought to be the most haunted night of the year. It was the night when witches, hobgobblins, wizards, and evil spirits came back to earth to cast their magic spells, enchantments and curses.


This is the night when witches fly
On their whizzing broomsticks through the wintry sky;
Steering up the pathway where the stars are strewn,
They stretch skinny fingers to the walking moon.

This is the night when old wives tell
Strange and creepy stories, tales of charm and spell;
Peering at the pictures flaming in the fire
They wait for whispers from a ghostly choir.

This is the night when angels go
In and out the houses, winging o’er the snow;
Clearing out the demons from the countryside
They make it new and ready for Christmastide.

Leonard Clark

Superstitious people kept up many strange old customs and rites in an effort to keep these evil spirits at bay. Farmers lit big fires in their fields, and the farm workers and their families would parade around the fields chanting and singing old rhymes and charms.

Farmers didn’t leave their animals in the fields putting them in the stables for the night. Above the stable door they hung rowan leaves. Witches and Warlocks will not venture near the rowan tree.

One old hallowe’en superstition  has it that young girls anxious to know the name of their future husband can carefully peel an apple taking care not to break the peel. The peel then has to be thrown over the left shoulder where it will land in the shape of the first letter of his name.

A similar superstition has it that older women without a husband can stand in front of a mirror at midnight on All-Hallows Eve. When the clock has finished striking twelve the face of her future husband will appear in the mirror.

A spooky tale that we like to tell and one that is perfect for Hallowe’en is ‘Dark Dark Wood’ which we found in Peter Medgyes’ great book ‘Laughing Matters’ (Cambridge University Press).

The first thing to do is create a suitably spooky atmosphere; close the curtains, turn the lights down, a hollowed out pumpking mask with a candle would do the trick. Read out the rhyme in a scary way, starting out slowly and quiety and then gradually speeding up and raising your voice. We like to do the chant sitting down and whilst beating out an accompanying rhythm on our knees. We say a line and the class repeats the line. When we get to ghost we shout it at the top of our voices.

A variation is to miss out the ‘ghost’ and ask the pupils what they thought was in the box. Pupils can come to the front and act out their ideas whilst their classmates have to guess.

With the second reading the class doesn’t repeat the whole line but just the last word of each line as a ghostly echo. Cupboard always gets a laugh as it’s a singularly unspooky and wooden sounding word.

With younger classes you can get them to draw the ghost or ghoull that they imagined was in the box.

Dark Dark Wood
In a dark dark wood
There’s a dark dark house.
And in that dark dark house
There’s a dark dark room.
And in that dark dark room
There’s a dark dark cupboard.
And in that dark dark cupboard
There’s a dark dark shelf.
And on that dark dark shelf
There’s a dark dark box.
And in that dark dark box
There’s a GHOST!

Hope you have a scary hallowe’en!!!!!!!


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to canmoorcroft@gmail.com or paul.zarraga@gmail.com
This entry was posted in ELT, Poetry, Storytelling and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Hallowe’en – A Dark Dark Wood, Witches, Warlocks and Ghouls!

  1. Pingback: Scary Book Review: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things | Practice Makes Better

  2. Reblogged this on The Henry Brothers' Jim Jam Slam and commented:

    A little late, but what the…….

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