Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

The Playlist: Halloween-themed family fun

Ideas from a former school teacher for Halloween crafts, science, field trips and more

Originally published in October 2019 but updated for a COVID Halloween:

This Halloween season will look very different this year, but that shouldn’t stop kids and families from having plenty of festive, fall fun! Take a look at this list of fun ways to stay busy and get creative during the spookiest time of year, brought to you by a former teacher turned stay-home virtual instructor to five kids! 

 

Art

Oh, there are so many fun, Halloween-themed art projects out there! I’m a former art teacher, and art is my favorite thing to do with my kids, but it doesn’t have to be hard! I admit, just like most parents out there, I’m looking to Pinterest for most of my inspiration. And it works! I’ll share some of my favorite art projects, and all you need are a few supplies and a kitchen table.

On this Halloween Paper Plate Crafts page, you’ll find instructions for a swirly ghost, a handprint-hair witch, and more. You only need construction paper, scissors, glue, and markers.

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to break out the paint, I love this No-Mess Pumpkin Painting project, for which preschoolers can pour tempera paint into a plastic bag and spread it with their fingers over the pumpkin cutout.

My favorite on this Halloween Crafts page is the Pumpkin Apple Stamps. Cut an apple in half, stamp it in orange paint, print, and add Jack-o-lantern details once it dries. So simple and cute.

Speaking of Jack-o-lanterns, I love this super-fun take on the traditional carving. I’m not a fan of digging out pumpkin guts, and this Glowing Sugar Skull Pumpkin project avoids the mess and scores major points for the glow-in-the-dark puffy paint.

 

Sensory & Science

sensory bin

Spider Web Fine Motor Skills: Teachingmama.org

 

For the little ones, sensory is one of the greatest ways to explore science. This Spooky Noodles Sensory Activity is so easy to set up and just requires a large container, spaghetti noodles, food coloring, and oil. Let your tiny tots (and bigger kids too!) try different utensils to grab, and describe the slippery sensations on their fingers.

This Spider Web Fine Motor Activity allows for younger children to concentrate and problem solve as they try to avoid the “web” and grab the spiders.

My oldest son, a third grader, LOVES science (a close second favorite after recess) and engineering, and this Pumpkin Science page has us covered from candy towers to pumpkin catapults.

And if you have vinegar and baking soda lying around, your kids will go nuts over this Pumpkin Volcano Experiment, for which your pukey Jack-o-lantern ends up looking like he ate too much Halloween candy.

 

Media

 

Books are always the go-to when it comes to (print) media in our house. When we start learning about a theme, we head to the library and stock up on that topic. 

Here is a list of 20 Halloween Books Your Child Will Love, covering various reading levels, and another created just for toddlers.

That said, parents need a break. And it’s more than okay to plop the littles in front of the old telly every now and then. Do it guilt-free when you’re integrating theme learning into their viewing pleasure. This month, I’m referring often to this Ultimate List of Kid-Friendly Halloween Movies, which covers the classics (Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus, and…The Witches!!! Anyone?!) and some more modern gems like Coraline and Halloweentown.

Finally, I’ve really gotten on board with kids podcasts recently. They are so great in the car when I need my wild boys to just chill, and there are tons that offer fun learning, which we all love. Brains On is my #1, and their new spin off, Smash Boom Best, has two topics battling it out for the title of “favorite.” Some great Halloween listens are Snakes vs. Spiders and, of course, Zombies vs. Werewolves on the Mega Mini-Boom Bonanza.

 

Food

I don’t know about your family, but this is my kids’ favorite topic, period. They love to think about it, talk about it, and of course, eat it. And truly, food can be a great tool for learning. There are a ton of recipes out there, and I’ll share some of my favorites both for making with kids and for being a cool parent and surprising them with a festive treat. 

Here is a great list of 15 Healthy Halloween Recipes, my favorites being the Veggie Skeleton and the Silly Apple Bites. Don’t be afraid to let the little ones put these together themselves! My kids have a blast helping with food prep, and who cares how it turns out anyway, as long as everyone enjoys the process (and the food)?

Another staple for the fall is roasted pumpkin seeds! Here is an easy recipe, and a list of delicious ways to season them – let your kiddos chose, or make a variety and sample them all! Our favorites are “Sweet” and “Italian.”

If you’re going to do anything Halloween-themed with your kids this month and you want to win points, you’ve got to do some baking. Try these Monster Brownies, which have peanut butter cups mixed into the batter and are smothered in colorful frosting, sprinkles, and eyeballs – what more could a kid ask for?

Another cute idea is this Maple Cinnamon Mummy Cookies recipe, which is both adorable and delicious.

If you want a combo sweet and savory treat, this 5 Minute Halloween Snack Mix is irresistible and a perfect addition to your Halloween family movie night.

 

Out & About

Halloween Train. Photo: experiencechehalis.com

 

The Halloween Storytelling Train or Pumpkin Train are both very festive and act as a great field trip adventure to spark conversation and learning about trains and transportation.

Get outside and enjoy a pumpkin patch with the family, and reference this guide to help you navigate restrictions and open, Seattle-area farms.

Don’t forget to check out the Seattle’s Child Events Calendar for more virtual Halloween-themed events and open pumpkin patches. Have a howlin’ good time this Halloween season!