How to survive Halloween with your toddler
Halloween can be a bit too scary and overwhelming for our toddlers and pre-schoolers so it’s important to make light of the scary-themed symbols. Running our ClapHandies PlayLabs gives us a great opportunity to try out activities with our toddlers and hear what works for other parents. Here are some not-so-spooky activities for you to enjoy together.
Gooey Play – The gooey squishy insides of pumpkins make a great sensory play activity, or even better, make some pumpkin soup together.
Homemade cookies – By making your own biscuits you can control the ingredients. Use some green or orange icing to decorate them for Halloween.
Halloween scavenger hunt – Head out to your local park or forest and collect autumnal goodies like dried leaves, acorns and berries. Give your little one a bucket or basket to hold their new-found treasure. Collecting leaves and acorns is a great way to encourage conversation about colours, seasons and numbers. Are the leaves red, green or yellow? Are there lots on the ground to scrunch and roll through, or are they all still in the trees above?
Nature cards – Collect some leaves from the garden (not too dry), paint them on one side with some orange or green poster paint and use them as stamps onto some hard card. These can either be used as cards or hung up as decorations.
Halloween food: A great Irish tradition is to have colcannon for dinner and have the fairies come with coins for the children (obviously be careful of the choking hazard!). Boiled potatoes, curly kale (a bit like cabbage) and raw onions are used in the dish. Clean coins are wrapped in baking paper and placed in the potato for children to find and keep.
Halloween gloop recipe – It’s not very often that toddlers are given free rein and invited to get really, really messy and we believe it’s important for them every now and then to do so! You’ll need 1/2 cup of water, 2 cups of cornflour and (optional) food colouring, a large mixing bowl (metallic is best as the mixture sticks less to the sides), a large spoon and an eager toddler. Don’t forget to give your toddler an apron because this WILL get messy! In the large bowl, mix together the water and cornflour until smooth. Add a tiny amount of green food colouring and stir it all up. The gloop will slowly harden as you mix it into a pliable blob that can then be removed from the bowl.
Paper plate Jack-O’-Lantern – This is a great pre-Halloween activity that you can do together which will save you spending money on decorations. You’ll need some paper plates, orange paint, green and yellow card. Get your little one to paint the plate while you cut out the face. Make lots of them with different faces and string them up along the hall.
Contact collage magic – The humble sticky, clear book-covering (contact) that we used in school makes a return in this fun and no-mess collage activity for toddlers. Using Halloween-themed colours and items (orange and green card, sticks, leaves, green glitter etc.), allow your little one place the items onto the sticky side of the contact. When finished, fold over the contact and stick both sides together to make a bright hanging decoration.
Hand-printed bats – You’ll need some black finger paint and white card paper. Use your toddler’s hand to make hand prints. Then you can either paint on the eyes or stick googly eyes on.
Hand-printed ghosts – This time use black card and white finger paint. Cover your little one’s hand in the white paint. Stamp lots of white hands on the black card and add some eyes and a mouth, cut them out and string them up around your house.
Watch out for safety – For many toddlers Halloween can be their first introduction to chocolate and sweeties. Don’t feel pressured by the bigger children into allowing your little one to gorge on lots of sugar. More importantly, please be very aware of the choking hazards small sweets and toys present.