Here are some considerations to think about specifically when deciding whether to incorporate Halloween ideas in your centre:
Most importantly, we need to respect that some families choose not to celebrate this holiday and plan accordingly.
- Are you aware of which families celebrate Halloween and which do not?
- Do you have families who do not celebrate for religious reasons? This is an important consideration to be aware of.
- Do you have families who may struggle to source/buy costumes?
- Do you have children who may be scared of costumes or not want to wear one?
- Have the children shown interest in Halloween?
- How have we planned the activities? Are they inclusive of all children? Do they provide opportunities for children to extend on their previous knowledge and skills?
- If food is involved, have you ensured that this is also inclusive of all children/families?
- What other celebrations do you have around the same time? Are celebrations added to enhance your program alongside the child-led learning, or do adult-initiated celebrations dominate your program?
Exploring dress ups is a great way to encourage dramatic play so this can be incorporated around Halloween without explicitly being a celebration of Halloween. This is an inclusive way to include all families wishes and it also continues to extend on imaginative play and social learning opportunities.
A great suggestion here for an open-ended activity that is loosely based on Halloween, without explicitly celebrating it, is creating your own masks. Offer cardboard paper plate “masks” and a variety of craft materials for children to make their own masks.
Here are some beautiful nature masks that can be made (a great way to incorporate sustainability and increase children’s understanding of and appreciation for nature).
Incorporate Halloween with current interests and learning
To acknowledge Halloween in authentic ways, think about the learning that will occur from the activities you plan.
Here is a great fine motor/coordination/teamwork activity that your children may enjoy that extends on an interest in bugs (spiders).
First, you may like to talk about spiders/spider webs. What do children know about spiders already? You can use books to increase the children’s knowledge. Use factual books or try Eric Carle’s “A very busy spider” to add context and literacy learning to the activity. If you don’t have this book, here is a short video the children may enjoy The Very Busy Spider – Animated Children’s Book – Bing video
Turn a table (large or small) upside down and use wool to create a spiderweb around the legs.
Make your own egg carton spiders to add to the web. How many legs do they need? How many eyes do they have?
You could also choose to make a giant spiderweb with wool and have the children pretend to be bugs caught in the web. Can they carefully make their way out? This is great for gross motor skills.
Here are some healthy food ideas you may like to try. This intentionally supports children’s wellbeing, as well as extending on the insect interest further.
Make caterpillar fruit kebabs. Remember to cut grapes in half as they are a choking hazard for young children. You may also like these “magical fruit wands” using a cookie cutter to make stars from watermelon.
You could also make your own spider crackers. Spread one cracker with a dip such as hummus. Add pretzel stick “legs” and sandwich another cracker on top. Use raisins or sultanas as eyes. This is a great counting exercise, and you can introduce the concept of symmetry as you add 4 legs to each size of the spider.
Mandarins make a great base for pumpkin face drawing with textas. After finishing their “jack o lantern” mandarin and having a photo taken, they may like to peel their own to eat. This is a useful skill that promotes independence and fine motor skills. You may like to observe how a peeled mandarin looks a bit like a pumpkin! Add a tiny stick of celery or cucumber as a “stalk”.
STEM Learning: Pumpkin Decomposition
If the children are very interested in Halloween ‘Jack o lanterns’, this is a fantastic authentic way to extend this, while increasing scientific learning:
Or see this link for a video of the book being read: Pumpkin Jack Fall Books (Read Aloud) | Story time by Will Hubbell – Bing video
The book is about a jack o lantern that decomposes- this is a great way to teach children about the life cycle of plants. It would link well with an interest in vegetable growing or worm farms.
Source a real pumpkin- preferably an orange “Halloween style” one!
Cut off the top and give the children spoons to scoop out the seeds. This is a great challenging skill as the seeds and surrounding flesh are quite slippery and difficult to extract!
Here is a recipe for how to roast your own pumpkin seeds. How to roast pumpkin seeds – BBC Good Food
The children may be able to each have a turn at drawing part of the jack o lanterns facial features (depending on how many children you have)
After the excitement of having a jack-o-lantern, you can find a quiet patch of garden where it will not be disturbed by the children but can be observed. In this case, the pumpkin was left on a tray so it could be brought back inside to carefully observe the decomposition process. I’m sure many bugs would love to come and eat your pumpkin, so this could also extend on an interest in bugs. You can record the children’s predictions about what will happen to the pumpkin and check to see if they are right. Most of your older children will have some knowledge of how fruit/vegetables start to go “off” so this can be the starting point of your discussions.
Another idea to re-use your pumpkin is to add soil and some of your pumpkin seeds to half of the pumpkin and watch the seeds sprout. You can explain that the nutrients in the pumpkin will feed the new seedlings as they start to grow.