Handling Halloween

by Judy Mullican

How do you feel about Halloween? Love it or hate it, it’s just around the corner. What’s the best way to address the holiday in a child care setting? The first thing to do is to talk to the children’s families. Some families may have a religious objection to holidays in general, and others may object to the emphasis on ghosts, goblins, and witches. Still other families may be making big plans for parties, trick-or-treating, and other celebrations and be counting on you to join the fun!

If you find that a traditional celebration is going to be a problem for some of the families you serve, you may want to consider some alternate activities. Here are some possibilities:

  • Fall Festival: Plan an event with games that celebrate the season. Toss beanbags into a hollow pumpkin and make garlands of fall leaves.
  • Favorite Character Dress-up Day: Invite children to dress as their favorite storybook characters. If you work in a church setting, you might ask the children to dress as their favorite Bible characters.
  • 942695_10152733952305450_8210164652534647792_nHat Parade: Invite children to wear their favorite hats and march around the neighborhood. They could use hats they created as part of their FunShine activities earlier in October or wear their favorite hats from home.
  • Backwards Day: Invite everyone to wear their clothes backwards. Eat dessert first! Plan other fun backwards activities.

If you decide to have a Halloween celebration, here are a few tips:

1. Keep It Healthy. Who says treats have to be bad for you? Try some of these!

Orange Fruit Dip

  • 5.3 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or more if you prefer)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Food coloring (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Taste and add additional sugar if you prefer a sweeter dip. For a brighter color, use food coloring to tint the dip. Hollow out a small pumpkin. Spoon the dip into the pumpkin and offer sliced bananas, pineapple spears, orange sections, or any fresh fruit your children enjoy.Smiley Faced Pizza

Funny Face Pizzas

  • Whole-grain English muffins
  • Pizza or spaghetti sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sliced olives
  • Bits of red, yellow, and/or green bell pepper

Spread some sauce on English muffin halves and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Use sliced olives and bits of bell paper to create faces. Bake at 400° until bubbly. Cool a bit and serve.

2. Keep It Creative. Encourage homemade costumes and masks. Not only will this save money, it allows children to express their originality. An easy way is to cut arm holes and neck holes to make vests from paper grocery bags. The children can draw or paste materials on the vests to create original designs. A bonus is that when children create their own costumes, it helps them understand how costumes work. They can see that a person wearing a costume is just pretending.

iStock_000014692796_halloween3. Keep It Fun. Plan activities and decorations that are funny and playful and avoid those that are scary. Young children are just learning to tell what is real and what is make-believe. They may not understand that scary decorations and costumes will not hurt them.

4. Keep It Safe. If any children will be going trick-or-treating, talk with them about being safe. Here are a few tips to share:

  • Go with a grown-up and always stay close enough to see that person.
  •  Hold the grown-up’s hand when you cross the street.
  • Use face paint instead of a mask. This makes it easier to see.
  • Choose a costume that does not drag on the ground so you will not trip.
  • Only go to homes of people you know.
  • Carry a flashlight.
  • Wait until you get home to open your treats. Let your parents or another grown-up check them first.

Whether you choose to celebrate Halloween or not, have a wonderful fall! Enjoy all the sights, sounds, tastes, and scents of this beautiful season.

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