Friday, November 15, 2013

Halloween Week for Toddlers - Part 1

Halloween is one of those themes I cannot seem to avoid putting in my curriculum year after year despite the fact that it doesn't really seem to fit into the Montessori mentality. Fact of the matter is, although Halloween is somewhat fantasy-based (ghosts, monsters and goblins anyone?), it's also part of a cultural experience and it's hard to deny that it "happens". I mean, for children living in the United States and Canada for example, stores are widely decorated, Halloween candies are sold as well as costumes, special haunted houses are put together, pumpkin patches are open for picking and carving and well, most kids go trick-or-treating on the 31st of October. Not putting together Halloween trays would be rather...difficult. Most kids almost expect them and are usually thrilled to see them as it means Halloween (something they usually take part in) is finally getting closer...

With the Montessori approach in mind, I tried to keep my activities hands-on and based on reality, especially as I was dealing with a not yet three year old girl but I also snuck in some Halloween elements that are a bit more "proper" to Halloween...Here's what we did during our Halloween week...

Spider Play Dough
Art/Fine Motor: Play Dough Spider
Play dough has been very popular lately in our household so I tried to bring out a few fun Halloween related activities including it. Last year, Adrian made a spider using play dough and pipe cleaners for legs so this year, I thought Zahavah could do the same. It's simple enough for a toddler after all. The spider above was modeled after the cobalt tarantula Zahavah saw in the matching spider game you'll see below by the way! :)

Matching spiders game
Language: Matching Colorful Spider Game
Although not very challenging in terms of matching, Zahavah really liked this game. I made the game myself and made sure I picked spiders that truly exist and that were of different colors. Granted the game would have been more difficult if I picked all black spiders, I knew Z would be more tempted by a colorful tray and I knew we'd also have the opportunity to talk about colors after she was done pairing the cards.

Halloween clothespin on pail
Fine Motor/Practical Life: Halloween Clothespins on Pail
Something Adrian did last year. We don't work with clothespins much yet because they are a bit difficult and frustrating but I couldn't resist these mini Halloween themed ones. I also figured that they might be easier to operate than the ones from last week as they are smaller and have a big Halloween "picture" showing where to pinch them. Sadly, it was still hard to Z to get them to open. The task was to get the clothespins off and for the first and second pins, she did well but then her fingers got tired and  she just pulled them off. :) I still think I'll get more clothespins out here and there to strengthen her fingers.

Sweeping Halloween confetti
Practical Life: Sweeping Halloween Confetti

Halloween confetti is VERY attractive to young children. Better watch what they do with it. :) I know Zahavah has passed her oral stage but I always keep an eye on her to make sure she does not inhale or put these tiny pieces in her mouth. For this activity, I prepared a small tray, marked a square with tape, provided a paintbrush for a broom and bat-themed Halloween confetti. The task was for her to sweep all the confetti into the square. 

Dot Marker and Halloween printables
Practical Life: Whole Hand Grasp : Tadoodles!

Whole hand grasp eventually develops into a fine pencil grasp so you'll see Zahavah do different kinds of activities where her entire palm and fingers are involved. Using Crayola's Tadoodles does just that. Dot markers would have worked as well but would not have involved the same muscles and control. Besides, how cute are the Tadoodles? :) For dotting material, I printed a pack of Halloween Do-a-Dot sheets made by Katie at the Gift of Curiosity. Zahavah happily dotted more sheets every single day!

Egg Carton Pumpkin patch craft
Art/Outdoors: Egg Carton Pumpkin Patch
We've been going to the pumpkin patch every year since the kids were born but this year unfortunately, the pumpkins were all green so we passed. It was very sad so I thought very hard and decided to have Zahavah make her own pumpkin patch outside. I had seen several ways of making pumpkins and eventually saw something I really liked on Sugar Aunts. They used an egg carton which the kids painted orange and hammered green golf tees in the middle to make it into a stem. Now, having already done a hammering activity this week (to be revealed in my next post), I chose to have Z insert green pipe cleaners into small holes instead (hello fine motors!). Then we took our little pumpkins out in the yard and built our our patch! :)

Magic Witch Potion Scavenger Hunt
Outdoors: Scavenger Hunt for Extra Halloween Treats!
I prepared this scavenger hunt for Adrian last year and he lad lots of fun completing it in our yard. Zahavah did too. Now, as far as the title goes, I tried to make it "Halloween-oriented" but it's really not something Montessori inspired as you can tell! :) I just wanted to get the kids outside and knowing it has cooled off significantly, having a goal makes things easier in attracting them out. :) As such, the task called for a gathering of ingredients that the kids would put into a cauldron, stir with the stick and if all the ingredients had been put in, they would have a great trick-ir-treat candy collection on Halloween night! :) P.S. It worked! :)

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  1. Looks like fun! I love how you incorporate outdoor activities into your posts!

    1. Thank you! I just try to get the kids outside each day and offer some fun activities as well. They get tired of bicycles and walks every day but telling them something special awaits them helps get them out even in cold temperatures! :)