Halloween is the time of celebration and superstition. The time when we believe the dead rise again and Jack-O-Lanterns are carved to ward off evil spirits. But the story behind Halloween still remains a mystery to many of us.
History Behind Halloween
Halloween or Allhalloween or All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is observed every year on October 31 – on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day, also known as All Saints’ Day.
It is believed Halloween originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain of Britain, meaning ‘Summer’s End’ and was celebrated the end of harvest season.
It was at this time, people believed, that the boundaries between world of the living and the dead become blurred, allowing spirits to pass through and come back to life and damage their crops. Places were hence set at the dinner table to appease and welcome the spirits.
With time, the festival become best known for children donning costumes and masks to scare others and collect treats. Whatever may be the reason behind the festival, it is now synonymous with scary, silly pranks, pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating.
Pumpkin carving is uniquely associated with Halloween. So much that it is impossible to think bout Halloween without envisioning a carved pumpkin. A must in the Halloween décor, the tradition of carving a pumpkin has a spooky story behind it.
According to belief, a drunk farmer named ‘Stingy Jack’ was refused entry in both heaven and hell after his demise. Lost in darkness, he carved a lantern out of a turnip to guide his soul.
The Celtics who originated the festival of Halloween, thus, placed these carved lanterns outside their houses to guide lost soul wandering during this time. That’s how the tradition of making ‘Jack O’ Lantern’ can into being.
Halloween Fun Facts
Halloween is celebrated in many countries around the world, each one having its own Halloween traditions. Some of weird ones are:
- Manila, capital of the Philippines, hosts a pet costume festival with the aims to raise funds for animal welfare groups.
- Japanese city of Kawasaki holds an annual Halloween costume parade. More than 100,000 watch it and 2,500 people take part.
- Irish people bake a fruitcake called ‘Barnbrack’ and hide treats inside it. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means a prosperous year is on its way; a pea means the person will not marry that year; a stick means an unhappy marriage or dispute; a coin represents good fortune.
- In Germany, people hide their knives to assure that no returning spirit is harmed or can harm them.
- Austrians leave food items like bread and water along with a lit lamp on the table before going to bed.
- In Czech Republic, chairs for deceased family members are placed by the fire on Halloween night alongside the chairs of living ones.
- The tradition of trick or treating is inspired by the custom of Souling. According to this tradition, poor people went from house to house asking for soul cakes in return of blessings for the family of the giver.
- Initial Jack O’ Lanterns were carved out of potatoes. But that changed after potato famine and Pumpkins were used instead.
Halloween Activities for Kids
While we play games, go trick-or-treating and dress up, we also do some FUNtastic activities aimed at enhancing the Numeracy and Literacy skills. And my little one just loves them!
This activity not only helps in letter recognition but also keeps your tot busy searching for them.
This is an excellent resource with lot of freebies and numeracy ideas.
Need help with phonics for your child? This resource is surely going to add fun to phonics and have your little one reciting them in no time.
It is always fun integrating fun with learning. This resource is just that. If you don’t have those little spiders, use pom-poms. They work equally well.
Who does not like coloring a pumpkin patch? Help your kid identify and color the shapes to discover a beautiful Pumpkin Patch.
6. I Spy
A Halloween ‘I Spy’ sure to keep your little ones engaged and enhance their concentration skills.
Lovely printable and helps little one identify ending sounds.
Exercise your kiddo’s logical skills with this halloween activity for kids. Your kids are surely going to enjoy these.
9. Spelling Fun
Another halloween literacy activity. Can be played in various ways – Older children can spell while younger one can identify beginning, middle and ending sounds.
Halloween STEM Activities and Science Experiments
Here are some more activities that inject science and engineering into the fun and take it up several notches!
Let’s start with human anatomy! On a sheet of black craft paper, get the child to draw a scary skull. Use earbuds or cotton swabs and stick them below the skull on the black card paper to make the rib cage, spine and limbs.
Hide some Halloween goodies in surgical gloves. Fill them up with colored water (use food coloring). Then, turn them ghostly by freezing them up in the refrigerator. Cut out the gloves when you remove them. Let kids sprinkle salt — salt melts ice — on the frozen hands and dig out the goodies!
Use some glue, starch and food coloring to make slime (you should be an expert at it with any Halloween-loving kid). And oh, don’t forget to add glow-in-the-dark paint to the mix!
4. Magically Inflating Jack-O-Lantern
Halloween is all about magic and jack-o-lanterns. But this time instead of just carving jack-o-lantern on a pumpkin, try summoning one with magic.
What you’ll need:
- Empty plastic bottle
- Baking Soda
- Black marker
- Orange balloon
How to do it:
Step 1: Using the black marker, draw the eyes and mouth of your jack-o-lantern on the orange balloon.
Step 2: Clean the plastic bottle and fill it one-fourth with vinegar.
Step 3: Place the funnel in the mouth of the balloon and one tbsp baking soda. Twist the neck of the balloon to secure the baking soda inside.
Step 4: Carefully slip the mouth of the balloon into the bottle top and untwist the balloon.
As the baking soda slips into the bottle, it reacts with vinegar kicking off a chemical reaction and realising bouts of carbon dioxide gas. This gas rises up and inflates the balloon, bringing your jack-o-lantern to life. Spooky fun! Try doing it in a dark room with a focused light on the bottle to add real drama!
5. Bouncy EyeBalls
Add a touch of horror to your Halloween celebration with bouncy eyeballs! This is a perfect science activity for spooky Halloween.
What you’ll need:
- Orange and black food colouring
- 2 Glasses
How to do it:
Step 1: Fill one glass – a little more than half – with vinegar and orange food colouring and the other with vinegar & black food colouring.
Step 2: Place one egg each in the coloured vinegar solutions and let them sit in the solution for a day.
Step 3: Replace the vinegar solution with fresh vinegar solution after 24 hours and let them sit for another day.
At the end of 48 hours, you will have your very own monstrous, orange squishy and bouncy EYEBALLS!! Make a bowlful of these monster eyes for a perfect Halloween night party.
Add glow-in-the dark jelly to your Halloween night menu for some extra spookiness. This jelly is super easy to make though not the most healthy option. But then Halloween is all about treats, right!
7. Pumpkin Oobleck
How about making a concoction that is neither solid nor liquid? Something that simply defies the three states of matter…sounds perfect for Halloween right! Here is what you need to whip up this magical liquid (or solid!):
- Corn flour
How to do it:
Step1: Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and keep aside.
Step 2: Add the pumpkin flesh with a tbsp of water to the blender. Run the blender on high to make a smooth paste.
Step 3: Sieve the paste to get a lump free smooth pumpkin puree.
Step 4: Take half a cup corn flour in a bowl and gradually mix in pumpkin puree till you get a smooth, free flowing consistency.
Your pumpkin oobleck it ready! Roll it into a ball and see how it acts like a solid. Place the ball in a plate to see it condense into a liquid state. Spooky and weird!
8. Oozing Bubbling Blood
This experiment sounds both terrifying and bloody, making it perfect for Halloween. To make this creepy brew, you will need:
- Tomato puree
- Baking Soda
Step 1: Take a cauldron (or a beaker) and add tomato puree to it.
Step 2: Using a spoon add baking soda to the beaker and mix.
That’s all! Bubbling, oozing blood potion is ready. Who do you think would have oozing blood like this, a witch or an elf?
9. Witch’s Colour Changing Potion
No halloween science party is complete without the witch’s colour changing potion. This potion is truly magical and will garner all the Ooos and Ahhas!
What you will need:
- Red Cabbage
- Baking Soda
- Dish soap
Step 1: Make red cabbage juice by blending it with water in a mixer.
Step 2: Sieve the mixture to get lump free red cabbage juice.
Step 3: Pour the red cabbage juice in your cauldron. Add dish soap to the juice and stir.
Step 4: Add baking soda to the cabbage juice and stir. Does it change colour?
Step 5: Now, after you have observed the colour change, time to add vinegar to the concoction and stir.
Your colour changing witch’s potion is ready! Watch out for the colour change! The bubbling, fizzy concoction is nothing short of spectacular!
This super-fun wicked experiment clubs water with Halloween. A total hit with children, this will surely make Halloween celebration memorable.
11. Halloween Clings
These gelatin based window clings make the perfect decorations for Halloween. Nothing beats window cling, full of Halloween inspired spookiness!
12. Halloween Candy Catapult
How about a science project that has candies as props? Turn trick-or-treating into a catch-your-treat game with a sample DIY catapult. This simple catapult guarantees hours of Halloween fun.
What you will need:
- Orange Craft Sticks
- Rubber Bands
- Double Sided Tape
- Plastic Bottle Cap
- Halloween candies
Step 1: Stack five craft sticks together and secure them at ends with rubber bands.
Step 2: Insert a craft stick between the first and second craft stick on the stack.
Step 3: Take another craft stick and secure it with the craft stick from step 2, so as to make a V shape. This is your launcher craft stick.
Step 4: Secure the assembly with an elastic band so as to hold all the craft sticks together.
Step 5: Using double-sided tape, paste a plastic bottle cap at one end of the launcher craft stick. This is your launcher stick.
Place a Halloween candy in the cap and pull down the launcher stick with your finger and release. The one who catches the candy wins the treat!
13. DIY Halloween Slime
Halloween is the perfect time to whip up slime. Make batches of Halloween inspired slime and your kids are set for hours of fun. Plus it is a great science experiment to do with kids.
If these aren’t enough (or if you’d like to extend the Halloween fun up to the end of the Diwali vacation), here are some great lists of Halloween science experiments and STEM activities:
DIY Halloween Costumes for Kids
The most fun part about Halloween is the dress up. Children just adore dressing up as witches, wizards and in all sorts of silly costumes. But you don’t need to spend a fortune in buying these wonderful costumes.
Here are some DIY costume ideas that will make your kids super happy and excited:
1. How does a snail sound for a Halloween costume? Only this one is super cute and certainly non-slimy.
2. Like to paint? What a better idea than to be a Paintbrush then! This easy tutorial will transform your little one into walking talking paintbrush with her/his own palette in under 30 minutes. Now that’s real quick
3. Spooky Ghost is the fave costume of all. What else, its super easy, quick and NO Stitching required. You possibly can’t ask for more!!
Quick Tip: A plain white sheet would work just as fine.
4. Fancy dressing your daughter as a Witch? No worries! Just dress her up in black and don this adorable witch hat. Wolah! She is ready to go.
5. If you are looking for something unique and have the time and energy, than this Garden Gnome is for you. It’s adorable, unisex and can be fixed under an hour.
6. For all Harry Potter Fans (count me in!), this is one of the easiest costume for the famous wizard. Just a quick tip here: If you don’t have a striped tie, don’t fret. Just print a tie-template on a craft paper and color it to represent Gryffindor house.
7. No Halloween party is complete without a Bat. Dress your little one as a Bat and let her/him fly around trick-o-treating. No Sew Wings with an all black attire make for a cute little bat.
8. This one is for the Bubble bath Baby who refuses to leave his/her tub. Super cute, cheap and fixes in less than 20 minutes.
9. Here is the popular one – The Dinosaur.
10. This last one is my personal favorite. I have been obsessed with Mummies since I was 4thgrader (Back in those days, we were a little late learning about the world) It’s simple, easy and quick!
Halloween Movies to Watch with Family
Revisit the cute ghost from your childhood with your kids this time. Casper is one must watch Halloween movie for kids. It will surely leave your children warm and fuzzy.
2. Dear Dracula
A funny movie about a boy who wants a Dracula figurine as Christmas present from Santa Claus. But instead of writing to Santa for his present, he writes a letter to…Dracula!!
3. Room on the Broom
You can never go wrong with Julia Donaldson. This is an animation on her witty story ‘Room on the Broom’ and is just lovel! Suitable for all ages.
4. Hocus Pocus
A Disney classic, this is a must watch halloween movie. Watch it find out what happens when a boy accidentally frees three witches on Halloween night.
5. Monsters, Inc.
How can you leave monsters behind you are talking about Halloween? Discover the friendly, warm side of monsters with this awesome halloween flick.
6. Hotel Transylvania
This is our favourite halloween movie! You and your kids will fall in love with this movie, which has all the spooky elements to it.
7. The Haunted Mansion
This movie will have your entire family in knots. A laughter riot, The haunted house is about a family who is struck in a haunted mansion and how they help ghosts break an old curse.
The latest in the Halloween genre, this is a sweet movie about a boy who aspires to be a musician and how he tumbles into the world of dead.
9. Harry Potter and Scoccer’s Stone
Not technically a Halloween movie but it’s all about wizards and witches, which is why we think it should be on the list.
10. Scared Shrekless
For all of you who loved watching Shrek, this one Halloween Bonanza. Watch it to find out when mighty Shrek is struck in Lord Farquaad’s haunted palace.
Halloween Songs and Poems
Movies might be good for the family, but when kids are left to themselves, nothing entertains them like rhymes and songs. Here are some funny Halloween rhymes:
And here’s some more spooky, scary songs:
Halloween Books for Kids
Nothing beats the thrill of reading a spooky, bone-chilling story on halloween. Tuck in along with your kids and enjoy a spooky fun read this halloween.
This book from our beloved author, Sandra Boynton, is certain to delight young readers. Perfect for toddlers, this book is about the Pookie’s Halloween costume dilemma.
This is the perfect Halloween book for your baby shark obsessed toddler. Sing, dance and read on with baby shark and his friends. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo!
If Baby Shark isn’t your child’s type, we bet he loves Peppa Pig! You simply cannot go wrong with this wonderful Halloween book for kids.
We adore Clifford series and this one is equally wonderful. Read and find out what Clifford does for his most loved holiday.
6. Big Pumpkin
The witch spots the biggest pumpkin in her vegetable patch. But it is so BIG that she doesn’t know how to get it off the vine. Everyone tries, from vampire to mummy, but with no luck till a tiny bat arrives on the scene. A perfect story of the brain over brawn.
Your kids will love this rhyming tale of counting days to Halloween. Just perfect for eager kids who cannot wait to get into their costumes and go trick-or-treating.
A truly wonderful Halloween book for kids, this one is for kids across all ages. The witty tale will make your children laugh and fall in love with Skelly.
Who says only ghosts can have all the fun on Halloween? With tongue-in-cheek instructional style, this book will set your children on a giggle spree!
Find out what it takes two children to scare a Ghost! Hilariously spooky!!
You thought you are the only one having all the Halloween fun? Well! Read this book to find out what snowmen do for Halloween. Not so lame snow sculptures snowmen are!
Farmer Brown does not like Halloween. But his barn animals are not about to give up so easily! Unfold the adventure as the animals go trick-or-treating farmer Brown.
This is my personal favourite. It is a story of a girl and her haunted house! Luckily, she is no ordinary girl but a craft witch who knows exactly what to do with the ghosts.
This is a visual treat for eyes! A lovely story about loneliness, friendship and bravery, this story will appeal to every child and warm-up their hearts.
This fast-paced, participatory story is about vanishing pumpkin and the customary pumpkin-pie. One of best Halloween stories for kids.
How about some spooky, nerve-tingling Halloween riddles? This one is a BIG hit for Halloween night. Looking for more children centric riddles? Here you go!
Can a spider save Halloween from turning into a disaster? A clever tale about a clever spider and his Halloween adventures, this one is set to charm young readers.
This one will have your children in a laughter riot! Like the name suggests, it’s all about creepy-spooky underwear.
We know how kids are in the waiting game! Turn the tables around by teaching them how to tell time with this rhyming, funny story. No more ‘what’s the time?’!
Farmer MacDonald’s prized pumpkin is missing just in time for the Halloween parade! Who is behind it? Read to find out!
This funny, rhyming story is a big hit with children. They will love the goblins, monsters and the ghosts when they come face to face with human trick-or-treaters.
Join Little Blue Truck as it goes around picking its animal pals. Beautiful costumes and lovely rhymes with the trademark Little Blue Truck series.
This is yet another gem from Dr. Suess. A captivating story about fear and tolerance, this is not a classical Halloween story. But nonetheless, wonderful!
This is a twisted tale of the classical ‘Goodnight Moon’. And just like the original, it is a lovely tale packed with just the right humour for little kids.
29. The Hallo-Wiener
This is a gem from Dev Pilkey, the author of Captain Underpants and Dogman. Oscar is a little dog who is always teased by his other big friends. But his brave act on Halloween transformed him from a loser to a big hero!
This is a cute, funny tale about a little witch who is forced to stay at home on Halloween!
Another great way to make halloween rememberable and complete family fun is through games! Playing games together strengthens family bonds and give children timeless memories – something they will cherish for the rest of their lives.
1. Witch Hat Ring Toss
Give a spooky twist to the classic old game of ring toss. Instead of tossing rings over the goodies, toss them over witch hats. The one, who gets the maximum rings through, wins!
2. Pin the Boo on the Ghost
Spin off from classic game ‘Pin the donkey’s tail’. Super fun! Blindfold your children and let them pin ‘boo’ on the oh-so-cute Casper inspired ghost.
Get your kids to learn to balance while walking on the spider’s web. For older kids, ask them to hop on one leg!
Now who does not love bowling, especially when you have to bowl down the monsters.
Awesome game for the entire family! All you need is balloons and funnels and you are ready to go.
6. Mummy Wrap
No Halloween party is complete without this game. With younger kids you may omit the competing part.
This scrumptious game is sure to get your little ones wanting for more. Don’t forget to get some extra donuts, just in case!
8. Ghost Race
Add twist to sack race by decorating the sack as a ghost and let the fun begin. This is a great game to burn off the extra energy from Halloween treats.
This is an excellent gross motor Halloween game for kids of all ages. The goal is to stick the newspaper balls on the spider’s web. Sounds fun right!
10. Pumpkin Patch Stomp
Your kids will absolutely love this Halloween game – Pumpkin Patch Stomp. Like the name suggests, kids race to stomp the maximum pumpkins (orange balloons in this case!).
With all the above resources, you are all set for a fantabulous Halloween. Be spooky and have fun!