Top Ten Halloween Creative Play Ideas
- 26 October 2020
How to celebrate Halloween at home with all the family this October half term
This week we have a real treat for you! We're delighted that Originary Arts workshop designer and artist Nikki Shaill has shared 10 playful, kid friendly Halloween craft ideas to spark your creativity this Halloween season...
Release your inner creative beasts and have fiendish fun with these games and monster makes to enjoy at home as a family during the October half term and over Halloween weekend on 31 October. Originary Arts would love to see how you use any of these ideas so do share with us and tag @originaryarts on Instagram if you try them out!
1. Mummified Toys
Make like an Egyptian! Transform favourite toys and familiar household objects into magical mummies. Whether wrapping up a teddy to make it look more terrifying, or turning a baby doll into a mummy, children can choose which of their toys are to be given a makeover ready to be sent to the afterlife for the afternoon.
Bandages to wrap up the toys can be made from lots of different things, from kitchen roll to tissue paper or old sheets torn into strips, and children can help prep bandage materials too. With masking tape or sellotape used to hold the layers in place. String and wool work well to wind around toys and unravelling them again afterwards is part of the fun too!
This activity can be developed to include hiding items between the layers too, as a chance to learn about ancient Egyptian rituals. Egyptian mummies included talismans, herbs and other mysterious objects between the layers of wrappings. Children may wish to include their own scrolls with written or drawn symbols or messages on them to hide in between the layers. Or wrap up a coin/bead ‘talisman’ or include leaves or herbs such as rosemary or lavender in the layers.
Extend the play idea: Perhaps you could take turns to wrap up different objects then guess what it is whilst wrapped up? Can children recognise what lies beneath the bandages/layers of wrapping by the shape and feel? Once they have guessed, they can then enjoy unravelling the layers to reveal the contents. Like a spooky version of pass-the-parcel!
2. Pumpkin Jam
Pump up the volume, play some spooky tunes and create your own monster mash Halloween disco or exercise session at home! Take turns to make up your own monster moves and follow the leader for ten beats, before it’s the next person’s turn to set the movement to copy. Accompanying sounds from howls to growls can also be added in.
Ideas for moves might be ‘riding the broomstick’, ‘flapping your bat wings’, ‘the skeleton shake’, ‘walk like an Egyptian mummy’ and ‘the robot twist’. Make up your own actions and get your whole body moving.
3. Create a Chimera
Chimeras in mythology are creatures made up of several different animals. For example, a Greek mythological chimera had the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a snake. Create your own imaginary strange creatures and chimeras together using drawing or collage.
Play the game ‘Head, Bodies and Tails’ or ‘Exquisite Corpse’ as it was named by the Surrealists arts movement together to create your own original monsters. Two or more people can play together, taking turns to draw different sections of the chimera creature. First everyone draws a head, then folds it over and passes it on, before everyone draws a body, then the bottom part (whether legs or tentacles or tails). Be careful to fold over your paper to hide what you’ve drawn before passing it to the next person to continue the drawing.
You can let your ideas move beyond animals too. What about a creature with a carrot head, robot body and bike wheels instead of legs? Once you’ve revealed the new creation, what would you call this creature? What would it’s favourite food be?
To play a collage version, you can pre-cut different faces and animals and objects out of magazines ready for children to choose from and stick down, or let children create their own monster from different things they choose and cut and stick themselves from magazines or newspapers, piecing together a creature like Frankenstein!
4. Magic Wands
Transform sticks into wands with the magic of imagination and some simple creative materials! Start off with a simple stick, then get creative customising them together to turn them into unique wondrous wands. Autumn is a brilliant time to collect up natural twigs to use on a walk to a local park, greenspace or garden. Let children scavenge to find the stick that ‘speaks to them’ and is their chosen wand! Plus collect up other materials to decorate their wand such as feathers, seed pods and leaves. Equally, if you can’t make it out, wands can be made from upcycled household items such as wooden chopsticks or garden canes.* Decorate the wand with wool, string, colourful threads or ribbons wrapped around, adding in herbs like lavender and rosemary or feathers and leaves to make the wands extra magical too.
*Watch out for any sharp ends, be sure to tape over or blunt any sharp points, and remind children to use their wands with care as they wave them around!
5. Spells, Potions and Inventions
Whether you choose to play with ideas of magical spells and potion-making, or prefer to make it more science fiction and laboratory based, Halloween provides an exciting time to play with concepts of experiments, mixing and inventing! The kitchen can provide the source of some exciting ingredients for curious children to get experimenting with. Get those aprons and messy play clothes on and get experimenting together.
Some ideas for playing with chemical reactions and kitchen ingredients include cornflour and water to make slime, making colour changing potions with red cabbage, creating lemon invisible inks or creating foaming potions by mixing alkalis and acids together. Look up the recipes online! A simple and fun experiment is to mix an alkaline (such as bicarb of soda or baking powder) and an acid together (eg lemon juice or vinegar). As they react and release gas they fizz and foam. Add a bit of washing up liquid and some food colouring and the reaction will be even more dramatic! Allow children to be involved in pouring, measuring and experimenting with whether the same things happens with water or lemon juice instead of vinegar, and testing different quantities. Different jars, bowls, kitchen utensils such as whisks and spoons can all be used to add to the experimenting.
6. Pumpkin Patterns and Fruity Faces
Whilst carving pumpkins is always classic Halloween fun that is traditional for a reason, sometimes cutting into and carving them can prove a bit inaccessible for younger children to take part in.
Here are alternative ideas for playing with pumpkins or alternative vegetables and fruit that may be more readily available to you. For children who are too young to be able to take part in carving of pumpkins, you could try decorating pumpkins, squash and gourds other ways. Take inspiration from artist Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkin art. Stick on stickers, use tape or draw on pumpkin’s outside with paint pens. Can’t get hold of a pumpkin? What about decorating and drawing sugar skull faces onto boiled eggs or potatoes instead? Their surfaces are perfect for drawing or painting onto.
As well as pumpkins, you can have fun with other orange fruit and vegetables. Satsumas/tangerines or other citrus fruit can be given a spooky twist by being drawn on using marker pens or stickers, plus after being decorated they can provide healthy Halloween themed treats that children will love to eat once peeled.
7. Shadow Play
Halloween is as good a time as ever to play with the power of shadows. Effective shadows can be created using household light sources from torches, lamps or even mobile phone on ‘torch’ setting. Everyday objects can be transformed into something more mysterious when their shadows are cast against a wall or ceiling. Collect together everyday items from around the house (toys, kitchen utensils such as whisks or colanders, plants) and play with what strange beasts and creatures can be created in the shadows cast. Children of all ages will also enjoy seeing their own shadows cast, whether hands or full bodies, and playing with how they can change shape and make strange forms as they move.
Drawing around the shadows of objects cast onto paper can also be a fun creative activity to experiment with, to extend the play.
8. Creepy Feely Play
Spooky themed sensory play is a fantastic activity that all ages can enjoy together at Halloween. What are the mysterious contents inside bowls, jars or boxes to reach in and feel without seeing them? A fun guessing game. Play with textures and temperatures (for example, children can feel cold gloopy cooked spaghetti) and let children’s imaginations run wild as they speculate on what it could be that they are feeling and touching? Prompt questions to allow imaginative guesses, “It feels squishy and round? Could it be a creature’s eyeballs? Or is it dragon’s eggs?”
Ideas for sensory mystery objects:
- Cold cooked spaghetti or tagliatelle (worms/ intestines/witch’s hair)
- Lychees (eyeballs/dragon eggs)
- Dried popped corn (monster teeth)
9. Halloween Paper Chains
Turn your home into a haunted home this Halloween! Whilst trick or treating on the streets is out of bounds this year, give your windows or a space in your home a spooky makeover to help keep up the Halloween spirits.
Similar to making chains of paper dolls or paper snowflakes, adapt paper designs to have spooky themes. You’ll need paper (you can use newspaper/crepe/tissue paper/rolls of wrapping paper or wallpaper/printer paper or coloured paper), scissors and materials to decorate (pens/pencils/crayons/stickers) plus tack or tape to put them up.
Children with developed scissor skills can enjoy and learning about symmetry, negative shapes and repetition as they help design and cut out designs. Start simple with a skull or pumpkin then see where your imagination takes you! Younger children can enjoy customising and decorating pre-cut chain designs. Whether with stickers, crayons, pens or stamps- they can think about how to add different facial expressions and character to each pumpkin face or skull face, for example. Once made, the chains can be stuck up on glass windows or used to decorate walls/hung across doorways to provide Halloween decorations.
TOP TIP: Just remember to make sure you consider that designs need to have adjoining points left at the sides, to ensure that the chain is kept in tact!
10. Blue Moon Gazing
Look up and look out for the rare astronomical ‘blue moon’ this Halloween! Between Friday 30 October and Saturday 31 October, the night sky will be extra wondrous as there will not only be a full moon but also a blue moon too!
Little ones who are up in time to see the moon rise that night can enjoy seeing and learning about the moon and Autumn night sky. If it’s a clear night, the blue moon could be a great opportunity to try some stargazing with the family. Apps like ‘Stellarium’ and star maps are available online that can assist with identifying what you are looking at, or simply use your eyes to look out for constellations and talk about astronomy.
It could be a good time to talk about the moon and its role in the night sky, and introduce the ideas of the full moon, waxing, waning and new moon with children. Perhaps find moon myths from around the world to inspire bedtime stories, create moon inspired artwork or take some time to learn about humankind’s space exploration. The night sky is full of stories, curiosity and wonder to be enjoyed.
About Nikki Shaill
Nikki Shaill is a freelance arts facilitator, workshop designer and creative director of Originary Arts based in Brighton and London. Halloween is Nikki’s favourite time of the year and she has run monstrous making and spooky creative activities with people of all ages for the past ten years. Nikki works with museums, galleries, heritage venues, schools and festivals across the UK to create participatory projects for families and adults. She loves colour, pattern and play. Throughout October, she is transforming herself into different monsters each Monday.