Halloween is a favourite holiday for children, with many parts of the world participating in the fun and festivity. The tradition dates back to the 16th century, with slight variations depending on where you live. Although the specific origins are unknown, it’s identified as an ancient Celtic festival. It originated as a pre-Christian Celtic festival, focusing on the night of Samhain. People gathered to light bonfires, pay homage, and offer sacrifices to the dead. It was the night the dead returned to earth.

For those living in Britain, Ireland, and Scotland, the tradition of guising (going house to house and offering a performance for food or treats) is standard. North America celebrates the holiday with children going door to door for candy in the 1920s. Mexico is another popular location, with the practice focusing on “little skulls” instead of traditional candy. Little skulls (calaverite) are often made of chocolate or sugar.

Trick or Treat?

The practise of trick or treating began as a practise called souling, to solicit food gifts in return for prayers for the dead. It evolved from a ritual throughout Europe and continued throughout the centuries. In Ireland, soul-cakes are left out for the departed, while other countries practice the solicitation of gifts. This has now shifted to children dressed in disguise, asking for gifts the night before November.

In North America, trick-or-treating involves children dressed in costume soliciting door to door for rewards (often candy, toys, or money). The children state, “trick or treat” as a means of collecting candy from the home or offering a threat of malice against the homeowner. These “tricks” are often never acted upon but can include egging a house, throwing toilet paper, or other similar threats. 

Evolution of Halloween in 2021

With the influence of a pandemic, many homes turned off their lights in 2020. The universal signal of not participating was more common than decorated or lit homes. It seems with the lower risk of COVID-19 due to the vaccine, Halloween may make a comeback this year. Many homes are likely to see an influx of youngsters visiting this year, a signal that the worst of the pandemic may be behind us.

How Old is Too Old to Trick-or-Treat?

When it comes to trick or treating customs, many parents wonder what age the cut-off for candy collection is. Thankfully, there is no universal rule. It’s a general rule that children under 18 years old can dress up and run around the town, although a few adults will enjoy the celebration with their children. For most participants, dressing in costume, using manners, and being respectful are most important. This is especially true for older children that still want to participate in the festivities.  

Benefits of Trick-or-Treating for Children

While many might focus on the candy reward as a benefit to children, the experience builds many skills beyond a sugary treat. As your pre-schooler begins dressing up, the confidence of asking for something and being rewarded can improve their social skills. Likewise, it can also teach children how to work with the community to accomplish goals (even if small, like receiving candy). 

Pretend play and imagination are other rewarding experiences for children. Seeing the zombies, monsters, princesses, and animals coming out throughout the evening can be a magical experience. Many communities offer Halloween celebrations throughout the month, focusing on community engagement. Stores open their doors to children for activities, crafts, and treats; neighbours work together to decorate homes; pumpkins are put out and enjoyed by the local population. 

Children learn to pretend play when emphasizing fun (explaining the scary ghouls are not real) while still enjoying the celebration. It helps establish the limits of pretend play while focusing on how people can act without it being “real”. 

5 Last minute Halloween crafts you can do at your childcare centre or home

If you’d like to bring some holiday fun to your childcare centre, these Halloween crafts for pre-schoolers can make a lasting impression. Aim for crafts that are quick and easy to manipulate without being labour-intensive. Remember, most preschool children can stay focused for 9-12 minutes, at the longest.

1. Puffy Ghost Craft

This craft is the perfect idea for anyone wanting to get into the spooky spirit without having to spend a lot on supplies. To get started, trace and cut out a ghost shape for your pre-schoolers. Fill every station with white cotton balls, liquid glue, and a few black construction card shapes for faces. Have the child glue each cotton ball on the white ghost cut-out and select the forms they’d like for the face. Allow the project to dry before hanging the ghost with a string.

2. Paper Plate Pumpkin

Cut out various shapes of black cardstock for eyes, noses, and mouths. Cut out various green rectangles for the stem of your pumpkin craft. You’ll want to have a few different options available to make every face unique. Give each child a white paper plate and non-toxic orange paint. Have the pre-schooler paint the white plate and allow it to dry. Once dry, have each child pick out shapes for the eyes, nose, and mouth. Glue these onto the orange plate and add the stem. 

3. Spooky Spider Hands

On a sheet of orange card, have each child draw out a “spider web” with white chalk, pencil, or crayon. Paint can also be used for older children. Once dry, have each child dip their hand in non-toxic black paint and apply the handprint to the card with the palms facing inward. The fingers will be the legs of the spider, with the palms being the body. Let dry and glue on two googly eyes in the middle.

4. Ghost Stamping Activity

Give every child a piece of black card to create their ghosts. Cut a large potato in half and give the cut-side a ghost shape using a knife. Have every child dip the potato into white paint and stamp it on the page. Once dry, have the child paint (or draw) two eyes and a mouth to the ghost. You can also switch the design to include a pumpkin stamp with orange paint or a spider design.

5. Monster Face Tissue Box

Have every child bring in an empty tissue box from home. Have every child paint the box in any variation they like. Solid colours are most straightforward, but stripes or polka dots can also be done. Grab white card stock and cut out various triangle shapes for the “teeth” on the monster. These will be attached at the opening of the tissue box, pointing inward toward the opening. Give the children pipe cleaners, pom poms, feathers, or other scrap papers to decorate their monsters. Once dry, attach two (or more) googly eyes to the front of the monster.

 

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