Do you have a favorite Halloween book from your childhood? I was an illustration-obsessed kid, and some of my very favorite books were the ones that included fantastical cutaways. Like opening a doll’s house, cutaways illustrate what’s happening *inside* a home – all the goings-on in every little room, and I’ve always found them to be so imaginative and inspirational.
Every year when October 1st rolled around, I’d make a mad dash for the school library’s copy of Full Moon Soup by Alastair Graham. This wordless picture book has the BEST cutaway illustrations of a hotel – more specifically the eerie things happening there on a full moon night. This year, when I saw that a full moon would be occurring on Halloween, Full Moon Soup instantly sprang to mind.
Visually exploring the details of those spooky homes (or hotels!) could keep me busy for hours and provided such a good foundation for imaginative Halloween play and storytelling. With those special books and illustrations in mind, I designed this Halloween activity that lets little ones build their very own haunted houses.
You can design a BIG mansion or a small haunted hideaway. Add a tower (or two, or three!) Make it silly or go for something spookier. Color with crayons, paint with watercolors, decorate with art and craft supplies – it’s all about making your OWN kind of haunted house.
While this kit works great for kids who don’t necessarily enjoy starting with a blank page, budding artists who especially love drawing will find lots of little opportunities to add in dastardly details too.
Our kit includes 20 different haunted house pieces that can be arranged and re-arranged into hundreds of different haunted houses! Sometimes a bit of texture goes a very long way, which is why I made an EXTRA copy of all the elements that have the very same gloomy grey and ink-spotted textures you see in our examples. It creates the perfect macabre mood, and for kids who may not know where to begin, it can be just the bit of inspiration they need to get frighteningly imaginative.
You’ll also find yet ANOTHER set of printables in your kit – collections of spooky individual windows and doors. Make a 3D cardboard box + plastic bottle house of horrors, then paste these on for instant otherwordly feels. The countless combinations make this a true exercise in creative designing!
And keep reading below to find out how I’m going to make this into a BIG foldout Haunted House that opens to reveal a spectacularly sweet Halloween cutaway!
Looking for more artistic Halloween projects your kids can make with simple supplies? Try another DIY design project with our witch and warlock boots on a broomstick.
To make your own haunted house you’ll need:
- Heavy cardstock or watercolor paper
- Crayons, markers, watercolors or other coloring supplies
- Our Printable Haunted House Design Kit
- A paper grocery bag, butcher paper, or scrap cardboard for a building background
- A glue stick
- Art and craft supplies you can use to decorate your house or add a backdrop
TO MAKE A FOLD-OUT HAUNTED HOUSE:
- 2 large pieces of scrap cardboard
- Water-activated carton tape to bind (I use this kind from Eco-Enclose)
- Colorful construction paper
DIY Mix and Match Haunted House Instructions:
- Download and print or draw your own elements
Download our haunted house kit and print the desired pages.
Printing our kit takes all of the guess work out of sizing house elements so they’ll be interchangeable, but if you’d rather not use our kit, you can absolutley use these pictures for inspiration to draw your own set! For kids who might enjoy drawing their own from scratch, be sure to check our inspiration list below for good places to grab some haunted house design ideas.
- Design, color and decorate!
The fun part – time to start building your house! You can design a house and glue it to a big piece of paper, adding background elments like a moon, trees, graveyard etc. OR leave your building pieces seperate so you can continue to play with different designs.
This is an invitation to design and decorate that doesn’t require a lot of work on your part (although it’s hard to avoid trying out a few haunted house variations yourself!). Simply print and leave out with scissors, a glue stick and tons of art-making supplies. This is guaranteed to keep the kiddos busy!
More ways to use our haunted house kit
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Plan on using this in a classroom, library, or more than just once? Color your haunted house elements, then laminate each one separately with a self-sealing laminating pouch (I use this kind). I don’t typically like to laminate, but projects like this are the exception – it’s great for re-use, can be drawn on with dry-erase markers, and is easy to wipe clean.
- Add a few velcro dots to the back of each of your elements and use on a felt board. This works well for little ones, as the velcro holds pieces in place. It’s also a wonderful storytelling tool.
- Are you familiar with cutaways in illustration? Cutaways are diagrams of interiors (visit Mrs. Little’s collection of the best cross-sections in picture books for some magical examples). We’re turning our 2D haunted house into a big cardboard book you can open for a spell-binding cutaway! Be sure to bookmark this post and visit back on Wednesday for a surprise fold-out haunted house reveal!
- Turn your house into a 2D Halloween countdown. Use a big group of your kit elements to arrange a HUGE haunted house. When you’re happy with your arrangement, use an X-Acto knife to cut around 3 sides of each window and door (this creates a flap so you can open and close your windows and doors). Use a glue stick to glue your final haunted house to a BIG piece of scrap cardboard (avoiding glue on the window and door flaps). Draw or glue in surprises on the box behind your window and doof flaps. Write-in numbers (1-31) on each window and door for an epic October countdown to Halloween!
Looking for bewitching style inspiration?
Here are a few of my favorite haunted house picture books – filled with eye-poppingly gorgeous illustrations that are sure to give your Halloween architects tons of spooky inspiration…
- At the Old Haunted House by Helen Ketteman
- Haunted Castle by Leo Hartas
- How to Build a Haunted House by Frank Tupta
- Ghoul School by Pat Thomson
- Haunted House by Jan Pienkowski
- Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara
- Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Pop-Up by Matthew Reinhart
- In the Haunted House by Eve Bunting
- Silly Haunted House: A Not-Too-Spooky Pop-Up Book by Janet Lawler
- The Berenstain Bear’s Trick or Treat and The Berenstain Bear’s Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Speaking of the Berentain’s, The Troll Book by their son Michael Berenstain has amazing illustrations depicting Scandinavia’s troll culture. The pictures have a fantastically mythical Halloween quality, and though it’s practically impossible to purchase now (unless you want to spend a fortune) check your local library – or – visit Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves for a taste of the fantasy troll home inspiration – OR – visit this fun YouTube narration of the story by Thrift Tales (reading starts at 6:48).
For one more Halloweenish book that may keep your kids busy this year, try Graeme Base’s The Eleventh Hour. Though it’s not a spooky Halloween-specific story, it is a costume-party mystery filled with lush illustrations, hidden riddles, and secret codes. Every page holds another subtle clue to the puzzle and takes some serious thought, so this one is perfect for kids who may be missing some of their standard Halloween traditions and need some seriously fun distraction.
For a Halloween coloring and drawing activity that you can prepare in a pinch, download our free printable mini Halloween doodle books. Our haunted picture frames printable make perfectly spooky print-and-go drawing prompts. Or add a set of little ghouls to your haunted house with our printable costume-a-ghost sticker set.
*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!