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Celebrating Halloween with young kids

Family activities for Halloween

Autumn is here and Halloween is right around the corner. While older children enjoy the thrill of spooky ghosts and witches and goblins, celebrating the season with very young children can be a challenge!

Contributed by Dana Vela

Remember that preschoolers and toddlers are enchanted by playing dress up and acting out “make-believe” scenarios. Halloween costumes for young children don’t need to be creepy. This is a great time of year to explore your child’s fascination with fire fighters, police officers or princesses. Halloween is also an opportunity to encourage other wonderful traits like sharing and feeling the joy of giving by passing out the candy to the trick-or-treaters at home.

Start family tradition

Use this opportunity to create family traditions. Make a trek to the pumpkin patch to choose your pumpkin, even if your patch is only at your local supermarket. While older children can enjoy carving pumpkins, toddlers and preschoolers can paint jack-o'-lantern faces on their pumpkins, or use stickers or other craft materials.

Read, watch, sing

  • Read Halloween stories together in the weeks leading up to the holiday. The local library or bookstore will have many Halloween themed books featuring all of your favorite characters including Fancy Nancy, Little Critter, The Bernstein Bears and Clifford. Reading these stories will help your young child understand what to expect from trick-or-treating on Halloween night.
  • Watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
  • Sing silly, interactive Halloween songs, such as:
    If you’re a monster and you know it wave your arms,
    If you’re a monster and you know it wave your arms,
    If you’re a monster and you know it then your smile will surely show it,
    If you're a monster and you know it wave your arms.

    Make up your own verses!
    If you’re a princess and you know it wear a crown.
    If you’re clown and you know it laugh out loud — haha!

Dress your child for success

Any dress-up or pretend clothes will work for Halloween. Pay particular attention to complicated fasteners because you will need easy access for bathroom emergencies. Also consider whether your child will be able to walk safely, see well, or be uncomfortable due to the costume being itchy, sweaty, or restrictive. Toddlers may enjoy just wearing face paint and a hat.

If you are taking your child trick-or-treating consider visiting only the homes of family and friends. If you choose to take your little ones around your neighborhood it’s best to take them before dark. They can return home and help pass out candy before the scary and risqué costumes take over the streets.

Sorting the loot

And last, but certainly not least, what to do with all of that candy? The simple practice of making sure that the kids have had a wonderful nap and a good dinner before you head out the door should do wonders to stave off melt-downs. You may also want to have a stash of mom-approved candy or a small new toy at home to offer in lieu of their loot bucket. This will give you a chance to inspect and sort the candy, tossing out anything that is unwrapped, is homemade or might be a choking hazard — oh, and to stash some Snickers for yourself.

Happy Halloween!

Dana VelaDana Vela, president of Sunrise Preschools (located throughout the Arizona’s Phoenix-Metro area), has more than 30 years of experience in early education. Over the years, Ms. Vela has worked with each age group and has held every position that exists in a preschool setting. She brings a fresh, practical “hands-on” experience inside the workings of Arizona childcare centers. Dana Vela lives in Gilbert, Arizona with her husband, a Mesa police officer, and her three children.

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