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A Gentle Approach to Spooky Season

Parent's guide to non-scary autumn festivities

As we settle into the autumnal season, a favourite holiday of ours approaches. Halloween is coming! Do you celebrate Halloween? We do enjoy the fun of dressing up and the treats that abound at this time of year. Sometimes, though, we find that the ‘scary’ side of the season can be a little overwhelming for our smaller folk. With this in mind, we have put together some gentle (but still very fun!) activities to try out with your little ones, without the fear factor.

Pumpkin picking and carving

A natural one to go for, but not to be missed! Look up your local pumpkin patch to see where you can pick your own, and make a day of it. Little ones will love deciding which pumpkin (or pumpkins!) to take home, and appropriate heavy lifting is actually brilliant work for little ones with lots of energy. Lots of counting, measuring and comparisons can be made while choosing your pumpkins, and the fun only begins there. Once you are home, there’s plenty of pumpkin carving to do, as well as cooking if you have bought several. Try pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pasta and pumpkin crumble! All delicious ways to savour the season.

Apple bobbing

Another fun way to get involved in the season without the scary parts. Little ones can collect apples and add them to a big bowl or tub of water, and try getting them out hands free! Once all the apples are collected, why not return to the kitchen and make a cosy autumnal apple crumble?

Fancy dress

Whether your little ones choose to go spooky or not, fancy dress is always great fun. You could hold a fancy dress competition between the children in your family or as part of a play date - or even try making fancy dress costumes at home with what you have lying around - sheets, paper, stickers - and the like! A wonderful brand we stock for this is called The Great Pretenders. Beautifully made, high-quality dress up that will inspire hours of theatrical storytelling!

Potion making

Is there any time of the year more perfect for potion-making than Halloween? A simple activity to set up with boundless fun, giving little ones a variety of pots and pans alongside water and materials from the outdoors will be a real favourite. A great way to keep things seasonal is by incorporating an autumnal walk into this activity, encouraging little ones to collect natural loose parts like stones, leaves, conkers, pine cones and twigs. Add paper and pencils and encourage children to ‘write down’ their potion recipes - or simply let them go free! We would advise keeping this one outdoors where possible! 

Den making with natural materials

Whether for ‘fairies’ or ‘witches’, little ones will have great fun building a spooky den. Encourage them to use materials from woodland areas (that approve of foraging of course) like branches and sticks, or add in a ready-made kit to support play.

Spooky play dough

Why not make some homemade seasonal playdough with cinnamon and orange food colouring and see if little ones would like to make their own pumpkins? We have a lovely stamp set to go with the fun, too! Here is a recipe for our Founder Clo’s playdough.

Ingredients:

2 cups of white flour (T45 or T55)

1 cup of fine salt

1 cup of room-temperature water (prevents initial stickiness)

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (the secret to no-cook drying)

Instructions:

Combine the flour, salt, water, and vegetable oil in a large bowl.

Mix well. If the dough feels a bit sticky initially, that's normal. The texture will improve as you continue to mix. Add a bit of flour if necessary.

Mold your creations and place them gently onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Store the baking sheet in a dry room, away from humidity and drafts. Ideally, the room temperature should be between 18°C and 22°C.

Allow the creations to dry for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the size.

Thanks to the vegetable oil, there's no need to bake this playdough. Enjoy crafting with this smooth, pliable dough!

Happy Halloween!

We hope our activity ideas inspire lots of open ended play for you and your children this season. Happy Happy Halloween!

Emily Hanson

Freelance Writer, Education and Play Specialist

Emily Hanson is a freelance writer with specialisms in education and play. Emily holds a PGCE and M.Ed from the University of Cambridge - although her proudest achievements are her two beautiful daughters.

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