Halloween can be a lot of fun for older children – creepy costumes, spooky stories and copious amounts of candy! But for younger children the holiday can be frightening, over-stimulating and difficult to process. Toddlers and pre-school aged children are not always capable of differentiating the real from the imaginary and Halloween can blur those lines even further. We would never think of taking our 2 year-olds to a haunted house. And how do we explain all the blood, gore and evil the holiday celebrates?
At Shine, we use the creative angle Halloween provides and really get children involved on a level to which they can relate. Here are some of my favorite tips to make Halloween fun for young children while reinforcing important skills, family bonding and the joy the season has to offer.
- Use seasonal objects. Whether you are carving a pumpkin, collecting leaves or painting with flint corn, autumn provides us with unlimited amounts of natural beauty we can use to decorate our homes. Why hang a skeleton when you can paint and glitter a small pumpkin? We love to give our youngest learners mini-pumpkins, stickers and washable markers and let them make a holiday centerpiece. For slightly older kids, dip a leaf in paint and press it to make prints.
- Make your own costume or decorate your own trick or treat bag. You don’t have to be Diane Von Furstenberg to make a costume with your kids. A little planning and some basic supplies and you can work together to make something original. If you are not crafty, buy a costume but personalize one piece with rhinestones, felt shapes or iron-ons. If all of this seems too much, buy a canvas bag and have your child decorate it with fabric markers and paint. Children take so much pride in creating something and showing it off to the world.
- Bake Together. Everyone loves candy, but is it the best idea to be introducing our toddlers to it in such an overwhelming way? Why not don an apron and bake together? Pumpkin muffins, applesauce, and candy corn sugar cookies are some of our favorites. Baked goods also make a great giveaway to neighbors instead of all that candy. Children love to bake, and in doing so together, you are helping them with math and science skills while creating a wonderful opportunity for bonding.
There are countless resources and ideas out there to help inspire some Halloween fun for young children. How creative can you be with your boys and ghouls?
By Aaron Goldschmidt, Founder & Director, Shine