As a family with some serious age gaps (kids aged 4, 13 and 20…), the struggle to get the balance right at Halloween really resonates with me – small one has always loved “painting faces” but is petrified of masks and any costume that hides the face – she’s as scared of a giant Hello Kitty as her sister’s latex wolf mask!
If you’re in the same situation, here are some great tips from Caroline Crabbe at Jo Jingles for Halloween parties which won’t scare the living daylights out of them.
But amidst the excitement of pumpkin-carving and bobbing apples, it is easy to overlook the fact that for some children, Halloween can be a little scary. This is certainly the case for the toddler/preschool community – who are old enough to understand fear but too young to distinguish between fiction and reality. But when you have older siblings who may be only too happy to indulge in trick or treating, it’s worth popping a few ideas in your back pocket to ensure your toddler has fun in a not-so-frightening way. Better still, if the party is designed for older children keep the little ones distracted or out of the picture altogether.
But if you want to celebrate Halloween with your toddler, music is particularly important in helping young children to express moods and feelings so it can play a huge part in your Halloween party.
Avoid the musical ‘fear factor’ – When playing games like musical statues: play music which is light-hearted and fun. Try sticking with tradition like ‘Little Miss Muffett’ or ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ – spiders and dragons give the element of Halloween but without the fear factor.
Monstrous music: have a go at making your own Halloween musical instruments and then play them along to a song. A crisp tube and a handful of rice make a great shaker and saucepan lids make great cymbals. Whatever you do, decorate the outside with stickers of stars and moons, cats and bats (light-hearted and fun images).
Actions speak louder than words: Singing songs that include actions will help with your child’s coordination and balance as well and their sense of self-confidence. Try songs like ‘Dingle, Dangle Scarecrow’ it has actions and the scarecrow element gives you a softer Halloween theme. You could even get creative and change the words of some traditional nursery rhymes to use a familiar tune that younger children can relate to but with a Halloween theme!
Put on a show: Another nice idea is to make scary/fun finger puppets out of felt and pieces of wool or string and anything else you can find. Then you could stage a finger puppet dancing contest where each child wears their puppet while dancing to the music.
Getting everyone moving: Some ideas for interactive fun are to play a traditional song and see how many Halloween actions you can do: such as ‘Boo hands’ get the children stretch their hands as far as they can saying “boo!!” or ‘spiders-tapping fingers’ and make them do this on a table/floor or ‘Ghost flying’ have each child hold their arms out and ‘fly’ like a ghost.
A nice end: You could always create a ‘last game’ of the day by getting all of the children to ‘shake the spooky out of themselves’ – dance to a song shaking your arms and legs so you have got rid of all of the Halloween spooks!
Jo Jingles provides music, singing and movement experience classes for babies and pre-school children nationwide.