“Shake Dem Halloween Bones” by Mike Reed is a children’s book that combines colorful illustrations of children dressed in fairy tale costumes with a catchy chorus.
“Shake, shake, shake dem bones now. Shake, shake, shake dem bones now. Shake, shake, shake dem bones at the hip hop Halloween Ball”.
We read the book and sing the chorus a lot during the month of October. We enjoy shaking different parts of our bodies like our fingers, toes and bellies. We’ve found shaking our shoulders is quite relaxing while shaking our tongues is silly and makes us laugh.
One crisp October morning two days before Halloween we were outside playing. I gathered the students around for some singing and movement to finish our preschool day.
“Find a hand you can hold so we can make a circle. Make sure we include all our friends,” I called. Once the negotiations of who was going to hold whose hand had been sorted out we made what almost resembled a circle.
“Drop your hands because we are going to need them to do some shaking!” I said. By now they knew which song we were going to sing and their bodies begin to buzz with anticipation.
“Let’s start by shaking our fingers. Can you keep the rest of your body frozen and only shake your fingers?” “Shake, shake, shake your fingers,” we sing together.
“This one might be trickier. Can you shake your toes inside your shoes?” I asked. “Shake, shake, shake your toes,” we sing while trying hard to only wiggle our toes.
Since I like to encourage student participation I called out, “What else can we shake?” I was anticipating hearing ideas like noses, backs, legs, eyes and elbows.
From across the circle Adam called out, “Let’s shake our penises.”
It’s amazing how quickly a preschool teacher can think and react when certain body parts like penises are involved. I believe there are no “bad” body parts, but I do think there are some that shouldn’t be part of our preschool curriculum.
“That’s a great idea Adam,” I replied as calmly as I could, “but we don’t all have them. Let’s think of something we all have. How about our shoulders?” “Shake, shake, shake our shoulders,” we sang enthusiastically.
“What else can we shake?” I asked with a slight hesitation.
Now I should have known, that with Adam my simple explanation of coming up with a body part we all have would not be the end of it. I had merely given him a minor challenge to overcome.
Lucky for me, Adam is a very creative thinker when it comes to solving problems. “Let’s have the boys shake their penises and the girls can shake their….. “
“Don’t say it Adam!” I thought to myself. “Don’t say vaginas.” Though truthfully, I would have been quite impressed at his knowledge of the female anatomy.
“….the girls can shake their hair”, Adam finished. He was clearly proud of himself for coming up with a solution to the fact that not everyone had a penis to shake.
Somehow in a split second several thoughts fought for a spot in my brain. “What percentage of parents would be okay with their child coming home with tales of shaking penises? “What percentage of girls hadn’t seen a penis and is this really the best introduction?” “What percentage of boys would pull their penises out in order to shake them more freely?”
If unsure, I always stick with my tried and true philosophy of better safe than sorry.
“Again, another great idea Adam,” I said as nonchalantly as I could, “Let’s think about that while we shake our knees.” “Shake, shake, shake your knees,” the students sang gleefully.
Gratefully this chorus took us to the end of our preschool day where all the students, with all their wonderful body parts, ran happily into the arms of their awaiting parents.