Dear Learning Expressions Readers,
With Halloween only days away, the topic for this week’s blog seemed fairly obvious. After all, nothing is more important than keeping your little ones safe come Halloween time.
However, while researching the topic I couldn’t help but notice that many of the articles discussing Halloween safety were just…well….downright scary. Halloween is certainly meant to be the most spooktasticly frightening holiday of all – but surely because Jack O’Lanterns leer, cobwebs creep, and little ghouls and goblins haunt the streets in their terrifically terrifying costumes—and not because parents are terrified about allowing their children to participate in the Halloween revelry.
After being deluged during my online search with a litany of everything that can go wrong come October 31—kidnapping, treat tampering, and road accidents to name a few—I am mighty tempted to lock my hypothetical child safely inside the house and out of harm’s way for the duration of All Hallows Eve. One could have nightmares for weeks after reading, for example, the grimly entitled article “A Night for Treats, Not Tragedies.”
I bring this up not because I think that Halloween safety shouldn’t be discussed with children (it’s an absolute necessity and can certainly help to prevent accidents) but because I think we also need to embrace and remember the exuberant spirit of this holiday. Kids look forward to dressing up and running door to door year round, and I don’t think parental anxiety need necessarily infringe upon that enjoyment.
So, I have come to (what I believe!) is a perfect compromise. I’m going to provide you with a list of tips to help keep your kids safe this Halloween—but I’m also going to give you some tried and tested activities that should ensure spookily enchanting fun is had by all this Halloween.
1. Choose fire-retardant costumes. Look for a label that indicates flame-resistance on any costumes, wigs, and headpieces you purchase. If you're making the costume yourself, examine the fabric content and talk to the salesperson to help you choose the least flammable material.
Pumpkin Bowling: Choose smallish pumpkins with short stems. Set up 1 or 2 liter plastic bottles and tape off a starting line for an instant bowling alley. Fill the bottles with a bit of sand or rice and decorate with stickers and markers. You’re ready to bowl!
2. Use make-up instead of masks. Hypoallergenic, non-toxic face paint is a better choice than a mask, which may obscure your child’s vision and hinder breathing. If you do opt for a mask, cut oversized holes for the eyes and mouth, and encourage your children to take the masks off each time they cross the street.
Monster Freeze Dance: Turn up the stereo and play “The Monster Mash”. Have kids show off their silliest monster dance moves and freeze in place when the music turns off. If you move, you’re out! Last kid standing wins!
3. Avoid oversized costumes and shoes that can cause them to trip. Choose comfortable shoes and make sure clothes don't drag on the ground.
Pin the Spider on the Web: A modified version of a classic favorite! How close can kids get the spider to the center of the web?
4. Attach reflective tape to your child’s costume to make them easier to spot. A few strips on their back, front, and goodie bag should do the trick. If your child is planning on biking or skateboarding, stick some tape on that too. Be sure to provide flashlights as well!
How Many Guessing Game: Fill a jar with Halloween candy and have each person write down a guess as to how many pieces are in the jar.
5. Make sure children under-12 are supervised by an adult or teen chaperone if you can't take them around yourself. Teens should have a curfew and a cell phone for quick communication.
Old Costume Relay Race: Divide players into two teams. Each team should have a suitcase or box containing a complete costume, each costume should have the same number of pieces (4 or 5 is fun – Shirt, pants, shoes, wig or mask, etc). In turn each player must put on the costume and run to a certain point where they take the costume off and put it back in the box, then run back to start where the next player repeats the process until one team finishes and wins.
6.Tell children to visit well-lit, familiar houses. Make your child promise to stick to the stoop -- and never go inside unless they know the grown-ups very well. Remind them to say "thank you" for their treats.
Halloween Feel Box: This game is slimy and gross—and kids will love it! Get some cardboard boxes and make a round hole for hands to go through. Label the boxes “eyeballs” (peeled grapes), “brains” (jello), “fingers” (small cooked sausages), and “vomit” (pudding with corn and peas mixed in) and let the kids feel each one. Truly disgusting.
7. Review pedestrian rules. It's easy to overestimate your child's ability to remember to cross at corners, wait for walk signals, and stay on the sidewalks. Between the evening's excitement and the novelty of being out at night, reviewing traffic-safety is a good idea. Remind them to walk -- not run -- between houses.
Kids Costume Contest: Have your little ones and their friends strut their stuff! Prizes can be given for scariest costume, most creative costume, and cutest costume.
8. Check candy wrappers. Pinholes, tears, or unusually loose packages can indicate possible tampering. Don't let your child eat anything that isn't sealed. Unless you know the source, throw away homemade or fresh food items.
Bobbing for Apples: Just fill up a large bucket with water, add apples, and let the fun begin!
I hope you and your ghouls and goblins enjoy Halloween – stay safe and have fun out there!
Talk again soon!