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8 Fun Things To Do With Your Kids For Halloween

8 Fun Things To Do With Your Kids For Halloween

While traditional methods of celebrating Halloween by letting your children wander the neighborhood are becoming less advisable because of safety concerns, you can still find ways to make the upcoming holiday exciting and fun for young children.

Creative parents can come up with of some fun DIY activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Here are 8 Ways to Make Halloween Fun for Your Kids:

1. Decorate pumpkins

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rsz_1pumpkins_courtesy_of_poppet_with_a_camera_at_fickr_creative_commons

    Every kid loves to pick out their own pumpkin at the grocery store or a local produce stand. As a mother of 3 children, I have always let it be an opportunity for them to express themselves by picking the kind that appeals to them, whether it is big or little or odd shaped, doesn’t matter. Decorating the pumpkins can be a great family tradition to build on every year.

    For young children, especially, I do not recommend carving the pumpkins. This can be a risk for injuries. If you just buy them as is, and decorate the outside, the pumpkins will last longer. There are so many neat ways to dress up pumpkins. You can use markers, glitter glue, acrylic paint, buttons, beads, various kinds of string, cords and cloth. Anything and everything can make pumpkin look cool.

    Try new ways to decorate them every year to make the event more fun. Let the children drawn their own designs and be supportive and excited by what they come up with, so they can feel proud of their original art.

    2. Fix up the yard

    Here is one of the easiest ways to celebrate Halloween. Use the trees or shrubs in your yard to hang lights, figurines or ghosts. You can even have of all different types. As long as you have a photo that can be converted to a digital file, there are many places to order figurines from that will look lifelike and scary, especially when they have lights around them. Use your imagination and let the children help with the yard decor.

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    How about a wheelbarrow full of dirt and a skeleton? Or you could create what looks like an old graveyard. Use whatever you have on hand and get the whole family involved. If you have a front porch you can make it look like a spooky mansion. You can hang cobwebs, bats, lights and decorate with various kinds of homemade candles. You can make a scarecrow type of figure that sits in a chair. Welcome anything your kids can think of as a good idea, as long as it is safe.

    3. Make their own costumes

    Help the children decide on the type of costume they want. This is one of the funnest things for them to do. Give them a few ideas, based on movies or toys they own and see what you can come up with together. Face painting is more fun than making masks and it is inexpensive. Visit the nearest dollar store and let the kids shop for cheap decorations they want. Stores are a great place to visit, just for ideas. You could buy already made costumes, or you can get ideas, and after visiting goodwill stores, buy enough inexpensive items to make up the costumes yourself.

    4. Bake treats together

    Any holiday is better with some kind of treat you can let your children make with you in the kitchen. Some ideas you can do are baking various kinds of cookies, muffins, or desserts made with fruit and yogurt, or ice cream. You could also do caramel apples. The funnest part will be using nuts, candy, and other toppings to decorate your items with. Here are some other ideas for baking. You can also do various kinds of crafts and there are tons of ideas to choose from on the internet.

    5. Have a sleepover

    The most exciting thing you can do for your kids is to help them plan a sleepover for Halloween. At any age, kids love to have their friends over from school, church or daycare. It may take a little time to plan it out, but believe me, it is the best thing you can do. You can make the invitations by hand, help them decide who to invite, and talk over ideas about possible craft activities to have or games to play. You might even want to choose a party theme.

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    For younger aged children, as parents, you will need to do most of the planning, but as your children get older, let them take over the responsibilities. Teach them to learn about the costs involved in putting a party together, so they won’t go crazy with ideas, and they will learn to stay within a budget limit you decide.

    6. Make a spooky room

    image courtesy of slworking2 at Flickr

      Even if you don’t have a sleepover, one of the cheapest ways to create Halloween fun, is to use one room in your house as a spooky room. You and your children can decorate it in outrageous ways, like putting up cardboard forms, boxes and other decor, and plastering the room with spider webs and mini lights. Make sure the lights are not too close to any other materials that could be a fire hazard. One idea is to make the entry to the room so small, that the children have to squeeze in there and go through a type of maze.

      7. Get teens involved

      An easy way to up the level of fun at your party, or even if you don’t have a party planned, is to get your teenagers involved, or even your neighbor children. Have the older children dress up in scary costumes and surprise the younger ones by popping out suddenly and chasing them around in a game of touch tag. It’s easy, it’s fun and it will be very exciting for the youngsters.

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      8. Make a scary video

      Homemade videos are another project you could do. With most cell phones, you can easily make a video of just about anything. You can record all the activities your family does together, or you can work on things with your children, and have an older child operate the phone or video camera. There are many ideas for making fun videos and having contests during the party is one idea of the activities you could record.

      Summary

      No matter what you choose from the variety of activities suggested by the 8 ideas above, just make sure to pay attention to how your children deal with stress. A younger child may not be ready for too much excitement. Or, they may get scared and upset by the costumes. Remember to talk to your children ahead of time, to make sure they are OK, with whatever activities that are planned. Keep in mind that the main objective is to spend time together as a family, or for them to get to see their friends. The most important thing you can do is make it simple, good old fashioned fun for everyone.

      Featured photo credit: image courtesy of epSos.de at Flickr Creative Commons via flickr.com

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      Published on May 7, 2021

      20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

      20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

      From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

      There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

      1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
      2. Introduce brain breaks.

      Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

      But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

      It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

      If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

      The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

      It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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      Active Brain Breaks

      Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

      1. Swapsies

      Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

      Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

      2. Dance Party

      Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

      3. Freeze Dance

      Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

      4. Keep It Up

      Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

      5. Simon Says

      This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

      6. Animal Movement

      Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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      7. Find It Fast

      “Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

      8. The Frog

      Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

      9. Pizza Delivery Time

      Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

      10. Limbo

      We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

      11. Human Knot

      Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

      12. Feather Balance

      This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

      13. Stack them high

      The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

      Relaxing Brain Breaks

      We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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      14. Meditation

      Meditation

      is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

      15. Kaleidoscope

      Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

      16. Reading/Listening to a Story

      When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

      17. Doodling

      My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

      18. Coloring Sheets

      Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

      19. Deep Breathing

      Deep breathing

      is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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      Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

      20. Going Outside

      Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

      My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

      How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

      The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

      I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

      Final Thoughts

      Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

      Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

      If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

      Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
      [2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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