I know this blog post will be on the website a few days after Halloween, but my hope is that you can save this for next year, or apply it to the next holiday you have coming up!
I wanted to share with you the ways that I snuck in learning and early learning standards even though it was Halloween, as well as give you some ideas that you can use year-round for events and holidays.
In my classroom, we have been working on creating our classroom community as a project. We’ve spent time talking about each other and our feelings, our families, our school and home communities, and now our homes and pets. Because of this, and with Halloween approaching, I dove into neighborhoods, maps, and our homes. We created a classroom web and talked about all of our homes and how they are different or the same and then I asked families to send me pictures of their homes, neighborhoods, pets, or favorite places to go in town so I could hang them near our web.
Here’s how I implemented this project in our centers and our talk about homes and neighborhoods:
In our writing center, I printed out what appeared to be a series of roads in a neighborhood and asked the kids to draw and map out their route for Trick or Treating on Halloween. I prompted them with things like their neighbors' homes, trees or bushes, mailboxes, pets, cars, parks, etc.
In the art center, we used a large piece of paper to have each child come and add their homes or other things to our community map. We talked about how not all people live in a “home” as they might imagine. After this was finished, I scattered a bunch of loose parts and building materials all over the table. I instructed the children during the whole group time that we would be building our homes out of these materials. They worked hard on this and it will be a project that we revisit many times so I made sure to save their work.
At blocks, I have a variety of laminated maps as well as people, animals, a doll house, and a wide array of blocks so that children may build their homes and neighborhoods; an activity that we introduced during small group time in hopes that they would take the idea back to their play.
In science and math, we have done work with shapes, patterns, and numbers. I began with this as pre-learning so that we could later draw and discuss the shapes and patterns in homes as well as the address of our school, home, or businesses that we frequent.
Finally, the day of Halloween. I wanted to celebrate and include all family traditions and preferences so I made sure everyone would be okay with discussion and a small celebration of Halloween. We started the day with a Halloween fashion show. Each child who wanted to was welcome to saunter through the classroom in their costume and then receive a round of applause from their classmates at the end. Next, we spent time in our centers exploring maps, creating Halloween things with play dough, and making potions with baking soda and vinegar. We ended our day with a walk through our school community to look for people to “treat” instead of us getting the treats. We filled a basket full of handmade Halloween cards to pass out. This was a great opportunity for the children to explore our little school neighborhood, practice safe walking for Halloween, and work on talking to community members.
Standards met during this unit:
Family: Standard 1.2 Children develop an awareness of and appreciation for the functions, contributions, and diverse characteristics of families.
Community: Standard 1.3 Children develop an understanding of the basic principles of how communities function, including work roles and commerce.
Expression of Emotion: Standard 1.7 Children express a wide and varied range of feelings through facial expressions, gestures, behaviors, and words.
Interactions with Adults: Standard 1.8 Children show trust, develop emotional bonds, and interact comfortably with adults.
Interaction with Peers: Standard 1.9 Children interact and build relationships with peers as they expand their world beyond the family and develop skills in cooperation, negotiation, and showing empathy.
Social Communication: Standard 3.3 Children develop skills that help them effectively interact and communicate with others.
Curiosity: Standard 4.1 Children develop imagination, inventiveness, originality, and interest as they explore and experience new things.
Places, regions, and spatial awareness (Geography): Standard 4.21 Children develop an understanding that each place has its own unique characteristics. Children develop an understanding of how they have been affected by and the effect that they can have on the world around them.
In summary; I like to make plans around what children are interested in. For the last few weeks, it’s been Halloween. I didn’t want to veer too far from our community project, so I thought hard about how I could do both. I blended together what we had already been doing with fun Halloween events. You can do this with any holiday or event that children are excited about. The holiday season is approaching now and I like to invite families into the classroom to share and speak about family traditions and culture. This often includes things like baking (math or science) stories and songs (literacy or movement) or just coming to hang out and play (communication). Listen to children’s conversations and play and this will be sure to tell you what they are curious about and you can lead them from there!
Meghan is a born and raised Montanan, a mama to a rambunctious toddler, and a bonus mom to two amazing preteens. She recently earned a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. In addition to her position as an Early Childhood Specialist at the University of Montana, Meghan enjoys a variety of odd mix of jobs; nannying, creating and selling travel play dough kits, making essential oil blends for kids, providing families with child guidance on Facebook and Instagram, and now providing ideas and tips to child care providers in partnership with Raise Montana! Meghan is also a content contributor for 406 Families, a site dedicated to connecting families to local events and resources.