I’d like to welcome back our favorite School Psychologist, Dr. Valerie Allen, who has some fun activities to do during this Halloween season that can also be used for teaching moments with your children.
Halloween: Tricks & Treats for Learning
Dr. Valerie Allen
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 community 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 facts 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. Urge you child to use creative story telling. 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, cultural diversity, and tolerance.
- Food Celebrations. There are certain foods we enjoy during specific holidays. You discuss their cultural significance. There are 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 discussion of sharing food and candy with others in the community.
When you open your door to those cute little Trick or Treaters, you can also open the door to Halloween learning experiences.
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!