In October, the children are very interested in exploring the gifts autumn. We observe the changes in the natural world and spend lots of time exploring pumpkins, gourds, changing leaves, falling nuts, and seeds in both the indoor and outdoor classrooms. Our days are filled with questions, conversations and investigations about the similarities and differences we see in nature.
Because our curriculum responds to the lives of the children and families we serve, Halloween makes its way into our classrooms as well. Children talk to us about their costumes, decorations and what they know about the holiday. We also see evidence of Halloween themes emerge in the children’s play.
Here’s how we explore Halloween at Hobson School
We continue to provide a predictable environment so children feel safe and secure during the holiday season.
Less is more! We don’t decorate the classroom with spooky decorations, or host Halloween costume parades and parties. Holidays never dominate our curriculum but they aren’t ignored either. Teachers sprinkle in poems and fingerplays that include pumpkins and ghosts. During the week of Halloween there will be black, orange and purple paint colors at the easel, and the water in the sensory table may be green with floating purple glitter.
We use literature to discuss Halloween themes
We always read the book Humbug Witch. It is the story of a little witch and all the witchy things she likes to do. At the end of the book, the witch removes her hat, dress, scraggly hair and mask and reveals that she is actually a little girl dressed up as a witch. This book creates space to talk with children about dressing-up and how even when we pretend to be someone or something else, underneath the costume we are still ourselves.
We keep what’s best for young children at the forefront all year long
The article “Be-Aware” of Halloween” from the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media shares the developmental significance of children’s pretend play and connects how the word of pretend can feel very real to children. Author Hedda Sharapan reminds us that…
“When we’re aware of the different meanings that costumes and masks have for children, we can find ways to help with what’s scary while also encouraging what’s delightful. That awareness can help us figure out how to prepare children for Halloween in developmentally-appropriate ways — and can remind us to keep encouraging dress-up play all through the year.”
Halloween can be both exciting and scary to young children, so we explore this holiday with care. It is important to remember that another gift of the season is giving children predictable and secure environments and the time and space to process what they know and how they feel through play.