Holidays were so much fun back in elementary school. Do you remember? There were themed activities, fun art, parties, and more. This year, Halloween celebrations may look a bit different for many kids, but there are some things teachers are doing for Halloween this year to make sure kids still have a blast.
“It’s really important to our community to keep the hallmarks of the holistic learning environment going as we work remotely,” Meredith Essalat, elementary school principal and author of The Overly Honest Teacher, tells Romper. Remember all summer when you worried about kids still having the best parts of school, like community engagement and friendship and, yes, themed parties? Well teachers are working tirelessly to figure things out, and are constantly coming up with fun ideas to keep kids happy and engaged — including holidays.
Patty Duncan, an education specialist with more than 30 years of experience teaching both students and educators tells Romper, “This Halloween may be disappointing to some, but when life gives us smashed pumpkins, we make pumpkin pie.” And she and Essalat have some great ideas to make Halloween 2020 a great day and to ensure kids can still have fun and celebrate, no matter if they’re learning in-person or at home virtually this year. So whether you need ideas as a room mom or are looking for ways to help your child celebrate when their usual traditions are unavailable, this is a great list.
1. Decorate A Pumpkin Virtually
Some parent cooperation may be needed for this one, but Duncan tells Romper that communication is key. “If teaching virtually, parent cooperation and help is needed for this activity, and you will need to communicate with parents ahead of time to make sure the children all have the supplies they need,” she says. “Make sure to ask children to share their pumpkins for all to enjoy.”
And Duncan says if that’s too much, kids can draw and decorate a pumpkin on paper to share.
2. At-Home Door Decorating Contest
I remember how much fun it was to see all the classroom doors decorated for every holiday at my elementary school. To ensure kids that are learning virtually aren’t missing out on this fun that kids are having in-person, Essalat suggests letting them decorate their own bedroom doors (or front doors) for Halloween and have them show them off via Zoom. Or you can submit a photo of your door, and have teachers take photos of their doors to send in one big email and have the kids vote. The Halloween stickers from this collection may look pretty adorable as door decor.
3. In-Person Halloween Parties Via Zoom
If kids are split between going to school in-person and learning virtually, see if there’s a way to have the teacher stream the Halloween party for kids at home, says Essalat. That way the kids can see each other in costume and still somewhat participate in activities.
4. Virtual Costume Parade
Essalat says her school is going to be hosting their annual Halloween parade online so students can still enjoy it at home. This way they can see their friend’s costumes and still be part of the festivities.
5. “What Am I?” Game
“Create guessing cards. This activity has to be created ahead of time, but it can substitute for the joy of seeing others in costumes and trying to guess who/what they are,” Duncan says. You can even keep this game and play it all year round, not just Halloween.
An example is to be a Spelling Bee — you’ll need a card with a bee and words written all over its body. For Smarty Pants, have a card with a pair of pants and an A+ written on them along with good report cards attached. Additional ideas include Rain Check, with a raincoat and check marks all over it, Pop Star, with a popcorn bag full of stars, Traffic Jam, with a jam jar full of cars… you get it. Get creative.
6. Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Come up with fall-themed items for students to look for, both at school and at home, Duncan says. “If teaching virtually, choose items that children can easily find in their homes.”
7. Learn about the Blue Moon
On Halloween this year, there’s going to be a Blue Moon, which is pretty spooky and a lot of fun. Have the kids learn about this phenomenon and draw their own “blue moons” to share, says Duncan.
8. Stream A Halloween Story
Duncan says vooks.com has some great Halloween stories available. She says there are also other fantastic selections for reading out loud. “All titles are animated with the words highlighted, and it’s easy for teachers to share and parents can also subscribe,” she says.
9. Create Your Own Halloween Story
Duncan suggests letting the kids write and illustrate their very own Halloween stories. “Children can then share the stories virtually during the Halloween celebration,” she says.
10. Interactive Halloween-Themed Pictures & Costume Sharing
Whether in the classroom or on a Zoom meeting, Duncan suggests sharing pictures of Halloween costumes or Halloween-themed pictures and have the kids write captions for each picture to share with the class.
11. New Uses for Pumpkins
Duncan has some good ideas for pumpkins that don’t include carving, which is a good thing since that could be difficult to do virtually. She suggests kids turn a pumpkin into a character from their favorite story, use art supplies to design their own pumpkin, use paint and paint faces on the pumpkin or chalk paint to write messages, or use a permanent marker to write words that indicate what they’re thankful for, which can be used during the Thanksgiving season.
When it comes to pumpkin decorating, Duncan suggests using specific items from your craft drawer to help. “Glue dots are less messy than regular glue, foam pouncer brushes create perfect circles, duct tape sticks well to pumpkins and cuts easily — attach to waxed paper to cut shapes — googly eyes of all sizes make the pumpkin come alive, and stickers can be used for many designs.”
12. Research Halloween & Share Fun Facts
Children can research Halloween — past, present, and future — and then have them each share one fascinating or fun fact with the class. Then the teacher can create a poster of these fun facts to share with the kids, Duncan says.
Meredith Essalat is principal of a K-8 school in San Francisco and author of “The Overly Honest Teacher.”
Patty Duncan, an education specialist for online animated read-along storybook website Vooks, and more than 30 years of experience teaching both students and educators.