5 Ways to Ease Kids into Halloween
Halloween can be a pretty terrifying time for toddlers: As their imaginations are developing, they may have difficulties distinguishing between what's real and what's a party-store gimmick. Check out these ways to de-fright Halloween customs.
Is It OK for Kids to Be Scared?
Whether it’s monsters, noises, spiders, or ghosts that frighten your child, it may be assuring to know that some doctors—including our own Dr. DiLeo—say that a little bit of fear may actually be good for kids. Read his story of being in charge of
scaring his own kids.
Spiders Aren't Scary
When did spiders become scary? Not to imply that they won’t harm a fly—because they do. While teaching toddlers to be cautious with insects and animals is important, they shouldn’t fear spiders. These next activities will remind you and your child that spiders are just part of nature.
Family Spider Fun
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carle. Bright illustrations are great for practicing color and shape identification. What color spiders live around your home? Have you seen spiders on television or at the zoo? Why would people think they are scary?
Snack: When pulled apart, a stick of string cheese can become the silken threads of a snack-time spider web. Let your toddler build a spider web with the string cheese, then add black olives or oyster crackers as spiders.
Play: Sing and perform the hand motions to “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” with your child. Then go to the park and do “the spider” on a swing by sitting your child in your lap, facing you, and wriggling your arms and legs. Count them. Spiders have eight legs, and now you do too.
Gabbing 'bout Ghosts
Young children can be spooked just by talking about what it means to be spooked! Ghosts are a good topic for beginning discussions about the make-believe of Halloween. Since families have very different ideas about ghosts, be honest but selective about what you share with your child.
Family Ghost Fun
Lu and the Swamp Ghost by James Carville is depression-era story of a girl who befriends a swamp ghost. Great illustrations will lead to discussion about the story and characters. Was the swamp ghost spooky? Explain how your family feels about the idea of ghosts, Halloween, and scary things.
Snack: For a ghost-snack, gather canned pear halves, raisins, and Maraschino cherries. Cut a jagged or wavy line from the base of the pear so that it resembles a ghost shape. Let your toddler add raisin eyes and a Maraschino cherry sliver smile.
Play: Practice making ghost sounds with your child. What animals sound like a ghost might? Owls, howling dogs, doves? (Also, check out this Hanging Ghost Craft to make with toddlers and preschoolers).
A Boo-tiful Lesson
Boo is a familiar word, especially at Halloween, and besides, it’s fun to say. Babies love Peek-a-Boo, then they grow to love Hide-and-Seek. Surprise is fun—and not necessarily scary—especally in the form of Halloween games.
Family Boo Fun
Dress Up: Any costume can cause a surprise. Check out these adorable costumes.
Boo to You, Winnie the Pooh by Bruce Talkington. Can your child name the animals in the story? Can he name the characters? What will he dress up as for Halloween?
Snack: When you get a rumbly in your tumbly, try this boo-licious snack. Cut out B shapes from a slice of toast using a B-shaped cookie cutter. Slice a banana into circles. Spread peanut butter on the toast, then lay the B-shaped toast and two banana circles to spell “Boo.” Rearrange the shapes and let your toddler have a turn.
Play: Make the B sound for your child. Name some items that begin with this sound. Together, explore the house to find items that also begin with this letter. The bathroom is a great place to start. Then try a game of Hide-and-Seek out in the crisp fall air.
Everyone Loves Monsters
Monsters, like spiders and ghosts, are considered scary creatures by some kids. (Other toddlers aren’t afraid of Frankenstein or Werewolves because they don’t know what they are.) Take the fear away by exploring monster art as creative fun, then boogie down to some spooky tunes.
Family Monster Fun
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, is a classic in children’s literature. Share it with your child, then ask if Max’s monsters were scary. What animals do they look like? By turning over a coffee table, an imaginary ship is created. Read the book again while your child acts out the role of Max, sailing across the sea on your table-ship.
Snack: Monster Mashed Potatoes are a great snack and fun activity. Make a portion of instant or fresh mashed potatoes, then add green food coloring. Warm up canned or frozen mixed veggies. Let your child spread the potatoes on a plate and add veggies as eyes, nose, ears, and then sprinkle grated cheese for hair.
Play: Find a recording of “The Monster Mash,” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. You and your toddler will enjoy dancing the afternoon away and mimicking the silly monster voices.
You've picked the perfect one: It's squat and round or tall and slim or just a little lopsided. Now what? Use these tips for decorating (or disassembling!) your pumpkin, and invite the little kids to help!view gallery
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