By: Kathleen Stanley, Guest Blogger
If you are like most parents, you are noticing how excited your little one is getting about Halloween candy, costumes, pumpkin carving, and parties. As a rule, anything that excites your child opens up a world of possibility for learning. What better way to engage your kiddo than by using activities that already interest him or her?
If you are looking for ways to take advantage of the educational opportunities provided to you by Halloween, consider the following.
Use pumpkin picking as a way to learn about nature and science. Hunting for pumpkins in a patch can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your child. Ways to reveal the wonders of nature to your child include:
- Pointing out roots and showing her how pumpkins grow out of the soil.
- Looking at nearby farm equipment and discussing what functions they have for helping crops grow. (Safety tip: just look; don’t touch or climb on!)
- Asking your child about weather and how sun and rain both help crops grow.
- Dissecting the insides of a pumpkin to reveal seeds.
Help your child make all or part of a costume. Nothing is more satisfying than watching a creative project develop, especially when it brings joy and learning to a child. If you are crafty, open up your sewing box or knitting bag and teach your kiddo how to create a witch’s cape or Princess Leia wig. This will be an activity you’ll both remember for a long time.
Not so crafty? No worries! Teaching yourself a new skill can be a wonderful way to encourage lifelong learning in your child. Pick up a sewing pattern and try it out. Or, go shopping for costume parts at thrift stores and get creative at piecing a costume together on a budget. Asking your children for input is a great way to help them learn and develop excellent self-esteem, as well as problem-solving skills.
Count that candy! Once your children have trick-or-treated to their hearts’ content, they may have large stashes of candy. Help your younger kiddo work on counting and organizational skills by spreading candy out on the table and sorting it. How many Snickers are there? Which candies have caramel and which do not? These reasoning exercises can be a fun way to manage your child’s booty on Halloween night.
Share the candy. Encourage your child to share candy with family members, neighbors, or visitors to your home. Sharing is a valuable step toward raising a well-adjusted and well-liked human being. Ask your young one thoughtful questions like, “What candies would you like to give away to your friends? Which ones would you like to trade?” Sharing Halloween candy can be a character-building exercise that you lead your little one through.
Halloween can be a fun time full of games, dress up, and delicious candy. Take advantage of this wonderful time to year to engage your child in a little learning play.
Kathleen Stanley is co-owner of Kidspace Child Enrichment Center. She has taught preschool in Clark County for more than 30 years and has her degree in early childhood education. She and her husband Mark have been married for more than 30 years and have two grown children. When she isn't caring for children, Kathy also dabbles in photography and bookmaking. She enjoys many activities with her family, including hiking and watching sports.