October is the month of celebrating Halloween–at least it feels like it what with all the scary commercials, the pumpkin lattes, and theme parks having their Scary Halloween Nights! But, nothing scary here today, just some awesome tips on how to use this fun holiday as a teaching time.
Please welcome our favorite School Psychologist, Dr. Valerie Allen!
Dr. Valerie Allen
Licensed School Psychologist.
Halloween: Tricks & Treats for Learning
Those “teachable moments” can happen any time, any place, on any occasion. As we move into the holiday season, one such event is Halloween. Aside from your personal, school, or neighborhood activities, Halloween can be a prime learning opportunity. Here are six ways to turn Halloween into an enjoyable learning experience to share with your child.
- Vocabulary: There are many words related to Halloween which can be categorized as nouns or verbs. Words can be alphabetized. They can be used to create word pictures or to find rhyming words. They can be sorted by number of syllables. Some words to consider: black cat, boo, broom, candy, costume, Fall, Jack-o-lantern, October, pumpkin, scary, treat, trick, and witch.
- Big Word into Little Words: Using only the letters in the word Halloween, make as many small words as you can in five minutes. You can offer points for the total number of words, with a bonus for words of five letters or more. Some of these words include: he, hen, hall, all, an, law, lean, low, eon, no, own, we, and when.
- Real vs. Make Believe: Encourage critical thinking about fact and fiction. Discuss fairy tales and characters in children’s books. Decide which parts of a story are about real things and which parts are pretend. This can also be an opportunity to discuss social issues about truth, misinformation, lies, and deception.
- Creative Imagination: Talk about costumes and who they represent. Discuss how people dress in different countries and those who wear uniforms. Talk about the difference between styles of dress and costumes. Use a story character and make up an adventure story. Discuss the purpose of clothing to offer protection from the elements, safety, and identification with others in a group or organization.
- Cultural beliefs. Research the history of the celebration of Halloween. There are significant religious, cultural, and agricultural roots in the celebration of Halloween. This can open discussions about differing beliefs, understanding, and tolerance.
- Food Celebrations. There are certain foods we enjoy during specific holidays. You can find simple, no-cook recipes for children to make and enjoy together. Discussions can include favorite holiday foods. You can talk about the ingredients used in pumpkin pie, apple pie, and mincemeat pie; which items are the same and which are different. Candies can be counted, sorted by texture or color, or by flavor. Other foods might include maple syrup, apples, cinnamon, and cider. This can also lead to a discussing of sharing food and candy with others in the community.
Halloween can be used to open doors to leaning, not just to those cute little Trick or Treaters!
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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist, author, and speaker. She has published two children’s books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!
Thank you, Dr. Allen, for taking some time with us today and helping us learn how to take Halloween moments and turn them into teachable moments.