I'm curious if anyone has good resources for making commercial holidays like Halloween educational... My 4yo son is totally obsessed with Halloween this year and is literally counting down the days until he gets to go trick or treating. I've been trying to downplay the "get candy" aspect of the holiday and use it more as a teaching opportunity to talk about what the holiday means (I used the PG version of Halloween, no scary talk of "spirits" etc.), and to teach him the words related to the holiday he might not know yet like lack-o-lantern and haunted house (I've been doing sight words and word tracing, etc) with generic Halloween worksheets. I did manage to find some Halloween math worksheets this morning on a blog I follow so I'm going to try them with him today, but I was curious what others might have to help make the holiday at least a little bit of a learning opportunity. Any activity suggestions or crafts anyone does with their kids that they can share?
Celebrating holidays with educational materials?
I think there are many educational aspects to Halloween -- education is more than math worksheets. It's a good opportunity to talk about seasons and harvest festivals and what other cultures do to celebrate harvest time and the ending of summer. It's a good time to read great picture books, some of which have the repetitive structure that helps kids prepare to read -- try Ten Timid Ghosts or The Haunted House That Jack Built. Making your own costume (or elements of it) and carving pumpkins are creative actitivies, and you can also make decorations together. You can go apple-picking or visit a pumpkin patch and talk about how food is grown and why fall is the harvest time for so many things.
For a four-year-old, pretty much any experience is a learning opportunity! Halloween is a super-fun event and he'll get a lot out of it. And running around the neighborhood in the dark is educational in itself -- most little kids don't get to walk around outside at night much. And it gives him a chance to learn about community, that the neighborhood comes together to do nice things for each other this night, handing out candy and saying thank you.
I would not do worksheets as much as spread Halloween theme into art, counting, etc.
There are A LOT of artistic Halloween themes art you can do. Sponge painting ghosts, candy corn pattern art, cutting shapes to make Jack O Laterns, painting pumpkins (the little ones!), making garbage bag ghosts (stuff a small bag with paper or newprint- tie off with twist tie- draw on face with marker), make pipecleaner and pom pom spiders
For math: Count candy (skittles, M & Ms) , add up simple problems of spiders and snakes (cheap for a bag at dollar store), make patterns with candy or themed stickers, walk around the block and tally up how many pumpkins you see, go on a seek and find for decorations (walk by nearby houses)
reading: use fridge magnets and create Halloween words, read simple books about Halloween
Writing: illustrate and write/dictate (as he is able) a Halloween story, write in gel pens on black paper
Download songs like MONSTER MASH and dance or practice skipping, stomping, walking to the beat
I sent you a PM. :) We did lots of hands on learning, cooking, exploring pumpkins, crafts, stories, poems. It was fun! I did not doing anything with candy because my lil one is a candy junky and just would have eaten it. lol But with 4 year olds we have done counting, sorting and graphing activities with our loot after Halloween. :)