Well it’s October already. The trees are changing colours, the heating is on and the shops are full of scary masks and fake blood. This must mean that Halloween is around the corner. Gone are the days when Halloween was just one evening where you dressed in a sheet or bin bag and knocked on neighbourhood doors. Now it’s about parties, costumes that look like they’re from horror movies and Pinterest level handprint animals or ghosts. In our house we like to explore Halloween and talk about the fun side but it’s also a great opportunity to bring in fun game and learning opportunities. Here’s some of the things we are getting up to this year…
- Spider Senses
There’s lots of spider activities you can explore this year. We brought a bag of cheap plastic spiders and have used them to explore maths, fine manipulative skills, art and design and as a sensory activity.
Here’s a sensory tray with spiders, split peas, little lights and tweezers and magnifying glass. It’s fun to explore the feel of the split peas, try to collect the spiders and looking through the magnifying glass to see what things look like up close. We also made this into a maths game by counting out how many we could catch.
We then created our own spiders. We used playdough, matchsticks and googly eyes. We talked about what spiders look like and how many legs/eyes they have. We pushed the ‘legs’ into the dough using pincer movements which encourages both hand eye coordination and the skills needed for pencil control. We counted out to make sure the spiders had 8 legs, using language such as ‘add’ and ‘take away’ if we didn’t have the right number. J was adamant the spiders only needed 2 eyes…my plan is to google some images of spiders (oh joy) to show him when their eyes really look like. This is a great of ‘understanding of the world’.
2. Books and Stories
We have quite a few monster, ghost and witch books that we read all year around. We’re going to have exploring them by:
- Reading by torchlight under the covers (or in the evening now it’s darker)
- Using print outs to make props and puppets to go with the stories (we get ours from Twinkl).
- Look at the ‘That’s Not My’ monster/witch books and talk about the textures we can feel (great for introducing new descriptive language).
- Look for Halloween editions of our favourite magazines and have fun with the activities inside them.
Here’s our ‘Room on the Broom’ props that we used to get J to help ‘read’ the story and look at what/who was coming next to sit on the witches broom (you can find the print outs by clicking here).
3. Bats, Rats, Cats and Hats
We have been exploring rhymes using J’s Orchard Toys ‘Slug in a Jug’ game. One of the biggest time savers I can recommend is repurpose things you’ve already got in the house. I could have made my own rhyming cards by it’s quicker to just borrow the ones from the game. I found plastic bats and set up cards that rhymed with bat and few that don’t (so there’s a bit of challenge). We had to throw the bats to land on the cards which rhymed with the bat. Whoever got it right won that card. This was great for motor skills as it uses the hand/wrist control and hand eye coordination.
From a literacy point of view this offers chance to focus the listening skills to hear the sounds in the words. You can also change the game to focus on matching the first sound in words, to make a reading challenge with CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant eg: C-a-t) or to land on particular letters instead of a picture.
Skeletons are often seen as creepy and used a lot in Halloween decorations and costumes but actually its jut the bones in our body. This makes skeletons a great opportunity for some body awareness which is part of ‘physical development’ (and if you bring in animal skeletons to look at difference in bone structure then it can be ‘Understanding the World’ too).
We printed off a skeleton from Twinkl. It’s actually child sized but we printed it smaller simply for space. We’re going to stick the bones together to form our skeletons. This will bring in discussions of what part of the body the bone belongs too, where that is, what it connects to etc. It’s great for new language opportunities. We’ll then hang it in the window on Halloween as a decoration.
There are plenty of books about the human body that you can use to go with this activity. We like ‘What Makes Me Me?’ by Robert Winston as it has some amazing pictures and simple explanations.
5. Magic Spells
We have a plastic ‘cauldron’ that we brought for £1, and then found cooking utensils from the kitchen. We took them out into the back garden to create out own magic spells (although J changed it to soup and cake but heyho). You can use plain water or add food colouring for extra magic. Then send your child off to see what ingredients they can find around the garden (you can always prepare in advance and have left out some pine cones, sticks, coloured gems for them to ‘discover’).
We use herbs from the garden. If you don’t already have these then they can be brought fairly cheap from local supermarkets. You can let your child tear off bits of rosemary, mint, chives etc and even attempt to smell or taste them before adding to the cauldron. It’s a great imaginative experience and opportunity to explore senses.
If you have a child who is ‘pre walking’ then have everything laid out on a tray to allow for free exploration or use a large box/tent to get cosy inside. Sensory trays are amazing activities…simply google, look on pinterest etc.
6. Exploring Light
This time of year is great to explore light and shadows. We have Halloween themed lights, torches, fake candles (you can be brave and explore real candles or fire pits but please be very careful and have water and burn kit nearby) etc. Set up tents, den under the kitchen table or go for a walk in the dark. We used a cardboard box put on it’s side and explore the torch shining on different materials.
You can have fun with shadows by setting up toys by the wall and shining the torch towards it (you may have to experiment a bit to get it right) so it projects. It’s great to talk about shapes and why the shadows are created. If you feel creative try using your hands to make shadow pictures on the wall…even if its just the tradition ‘bunny fingers’ it will be enough to impress your child.
This time of time is a great opportunity to bring in new words. For children with additional needs, or in fact any child Makaton can support listening to, communicating and learning new words through actions and a symbol. Makaton Charity have a fantastic FREE download that you can print off by clicking here.
This October we are joining in with a hashtag ‘theme’ called #oct_playalong. It’s a whole month of Halloween and autumn themed activities which are fun and educational. There’s a ton of amazing Insta account joining in so it’s full of ideas. Every day (ish) we’re sharing the activities that we get up to go keep an eye out (you can find us here)
Disclaimer: I am a Twinkl blogger. This means that I get my subscription free in return for sharing what we get up to. All views and opinions are my own.