Nothing makes holidays more fun than celebrating them with kids. You literally get to relive your childhood, sharing all the activities you enjoyed when you were young.
With Halloween fast approaching, you might wonder if it’s worth the effort to start traditions before your toddler can even remember them. Trust me, it’s worth it. Not only is it enjoyable for the whole family, but you’ll be fostering a sense of belonging that will contribute to your tot’s happiness and well-being. You will also give them opportunities to hone both their gross and fine motor skills, and to learn through their senses. So what are some activities that you can enjoy with your toddler this week?
A Spaghetti Sensory Bin
Remember those Halloween games where you had to stick your hand in a box and feel some eyeballs and brains that were really just jello and spaghetti? Hark back to those days by creating a spaghetti sensory bin for your tot. It’s super easy and doesn’t cost a lot either.
First, grab a plastic bin or bowl. I use a plastic storage bin that’s designed for storing clothes under the bed. I find they’re the perfect size and shallow enough for little ones to reach in properly. Next, boil some spaghetti, drain it and let it cool. Once cool, put it in a freezer bag with a few drops of orange food colouring (or another creepy colour of your choice) and about a teaspoon of vegetable oil. Seal the bag and shake it around until the pasta is coloured. Then throw the contents into a bin and let your tot have at it! That’s it!
It’s taste-safe and will provide hours of fun for your little one. You can throw in some plastic dollar store spiders if you’d like (and if your child is past the stage of putting things in his mouth), but it’s really not necessary. Your toddler will love it either way.
Halloween activities don’t have to be complicated for little ones. In fact, the simpler the better. Give your baby some orange and black paint, a large paint brush and some paper, and allow her lots of time to explore.
Try not to stress too much about the mess or it will defeat the purpose of being a fun activity that allows you to connect with your child. If the mess really worries you, there are a few things you can do to minimize the chaos. I like to strap my toddler into her high chair so that she can’t run around with her paint. I keep a wet cloth handy and wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Strip your baby down to a disposable diaper and then pop him in the bath right after your paint session. You can also let him paint right in the tub and then wash him off as soon as he’s done.
Paint Resist Art
If you’d like an art activity that looks a bit more festive, another option is to prepare some watercolour resist art. For this activity, you’ll need some thick paper that won’t tear when wet, and some watercolour paint. My daughter has had a lot of practice with traditional watercolour pucks that need to constantly be wet in order to work, but you can also purchase liquid watercolours, or make your own with food colouring and water. Using a white crayon, draw a simple Halloween picture on the paper: a spider web, witch hat, jack-o-lantern or cat are all great options. Then, using some orange or black watercolour paint and a thick paint brush, allow your toddler to cover the entire picture with paint. The white crayon will resist the paint and the secret picture you drew will show through! It’s like magic for kids. Don’t be surprised if they ask you to make more of these for them to paint.
A Visit to a Pumpkin Farm
This is a great time of year to visit a farm and enjoy the autumn weather. Do a quick search for a pumpkin farm in your area and you’re likely to find one or two close by. We’re lucky to have a great farm near us that has tons of slides and climbers for young children, a corn maze, and a hayride through the pumpkin patch all for free (although a donation is much appreciated). My kids love this yearly tradition and look forward to picking their pumpkins here. Which leads me to…
This might seem like an obvious one, but I’m always surprised by how many parents do this job themselves when they have small children. But getting their hands inside of a pumpkin is a great sensory experience for toddlers. It’s taste-safe and loads of fun for kids. I even let my toddler draw a face on her pumpkin and then carve it exactly as she drew it. Our jack-o-lanterns are never the coolest on the block, but they’re absolutely adorable.
Whatever you choose to do with your toddler this Halloween, try to relax and enjoy the process. The goal is not to create Pinterest-worthy arts and crafts, but to connect with your child. So let loose, and have fun. Enjoy Halloween like you did when you were a kid!
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