Are you in charge of planning a Halloween party for your child’s elementary school classroom this year?
Are you low on time and ideas?
Do you wish Halloween (and classroom parties) could have far less sugar and hyped up children than they do?
I’m here to help.
After I posted this on Facebook yesterday:
I decided to share this simple Halloween party plan with you all.
185 likes is half as many as I got when I had a child, for Heaven’s sakes! Apparently this “no sugar Halloween party” is a hot topic…
And because I am who I am, it is also a (sort of) low maintenance plan, at least as far as games go, so if you’ve got a few parents to help, you could totally pull this off by Wednesday.
We had a blast with a one-hour Halloween party for my son’s second grade class yesterday, and as a former teacher, I was totally energized being in front of the classroom carrying out a fun plan again.
I had a one-year-old strapped to my front in an Ergo the whole time, so it was kind of different from the teaching I remember, though…
No White Sugar Halloween Party Food
A few parents thanked me for planning food that didn’t include a bunch of candy, and I didn’t hear any kids say, “Hey! Where’s the cupcake with inch-thick frosting and a sugar cookie as big as my face?!??”
I’m thinking the food went over well.
Here’s a real food menu for a Halloween party, complete with some dramatic presentation:
Carrot Witches’ Fingers – I explained that I had invited a group of witches to do a singing and dancing number for the class, but instead of witch singers somehow a box came with just witch fingers. (They’re baby carrots with a sunflower or pumpkin seed stuck in the end.)
Slimy Eyeball Grapes – I held up that sticky eyeball toy and asked if anyone would like one on their plate, then sent a dad around with a bag marked “EYEBALLS” to serve. (They’re peeled grapes. I recommend peeling one per child for the touchy feely experience, then offering extra unpeeled grapes.)
Popcorn – I said I had also invited a skeleton to do a comedy routine, but the parking lot was so busy with parents that when he got out of my van and rushed out without looking both ways, he got hit by a car! I could only collect his vertebrae in the bowl… (The popcorn is popped in refined coconut oil and covered in about a stick of butter per cup of unpopped popcorn kernels…it was so good I had parents asking how I did it! Full instructions in Healthy Snacks to Go)
Cheesy Ghosts – Slices of white cheese cut into ghost shapes with a cookie cutter (or freehand with a knife). The family who did these used pre-wrapped slices and wrapped them back up so they were super easy to pass out. They wanted to keep going and make orange pumpkin shaped cheese, too!
They were SO cute, but I forgot to bring my camera to the actual party!
Drink: 100% White Grape Juice with a Gummy Worm…here’s where the only white sugar at our party entered. I apologized to the kids and said that I had been gardening before coming to the party, so “I’m terribly sorry if anything out of the ordinary got in your cups from the garden…”
It was fun.
But if I really had my druthers, I’d just serve water. In general, I’m not a fan of juice.
Skip the gummy worm and you also have a party without any artificial colors, another feat worth Facebooking about.
Simple Halloween Kids’ Party Games
Ask the children to bring in recyclables or (clean) trash for this activity. An email from the teacher will be a great quick reminder to parents.
Either in groups or individually (we introduced it as a group activity but most kids wanted to make their own, and there were lots of parents to help), tell the kids they’ll be creating monsters out of trash.
Kids can try to build the largest, scariest, most creative, etc. monster, using cereal boxes, toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, oatmeal canisters, plastic bags, and whatever else you can drum up.
Be sure to tell them that if they finish early, they should make a friend for their monster, a baby monster, a pet monster, or whatever, rather than run around and bother others.
Optional: Have a “show and tell” where the groups/individuals get to share their monsters and tell which “-est” they made (cutest, ugliest, etc.).
- trash and recycling (everyone contributes)
- duct, masking and packing tape
- string and yarn
- permanent markers (if kids are old enough, to draw faces)
- optional: embellishments like pipe cleaners or foam stickers
Time: give at least 20 minutes to build, maybe more, plus sharing time
Apples on a String
Here in Michigan, we have an apple shortage this year. I told the kids there just weren’t enough apples to bob for apples, alas, so we would make the apple fly instead.
Bonus: This method is quicker, needs no water, and has far less germ sharing than actually bobbing for apples.
Children paired up, and one child held an apple on a string while the other tried to eat it as fast as they could – without using their hands. Emphasize that rule a few times. I would say, “Without using your —” and wait for the class to fill in “hands.”
If you can, have another parent or two passing out the apples while you’re explaining the rules.
Choose a winner for round one from the whole class OR a winner from each row/table/group of desks.
Be sure to explain from the start how the winner is chosen – do they need to have the apple gone as in “in their mouths,” or do they need to run up to a leader and show that they’ve swallowed the apple, etc.
Round two is simply switching places. Kids might ask, “Can we move the apple around?” and the simple answer is that if you make it hard for your partner, they’ll probably make it hard for you!
Give prizes to any winners OR have a championship round in the front of the class where the 2-8 winners from both rounds compete for one big winner. You can be silly and have adults hold the strings and purposely make it difficult, if the class has that personality.
- apples sliced in eights (enough for one for each student plus extras for a championship round and the ill effects of gravity)
- 3-foot lengths of string tied around the middle of the apple
Time: 10-15 minutes
Note: Tie the strings tightly enough to make a dent in the apple or you’ll end up with many on the ground. This game can also be done with pretzel rods, but that’s slightly less healthy.
Divide the class into groups of four kids.
Each team will wrap “mummies” using a roll of toilet paper. They can have a child hold the end and spin around, or the kids can walk around the “mummy” to wrap him or her.
Any time the mummy gets dizzy or wants to switch, they can just tear the paper and start a new mummy on another child. In this way, all the kids can really participate and be silly, and there’s some decision making about how to be fastest. Also, hopefully no one gets toooooo dizzy. (I recommend doing this game before food, not after!)
The first team to use all their toilet paper wins!
- rolls of toilet paper, enough for each group of 4 to have one
Time: 10-15 minutes?
We didn’t actually have time for this game, but we’ve decided to make it a Christmas game of “putting garland on a spinning Christmas tree” like in a department store. We’ll put a bow on their heads as they play to keep it festive!
Backup Activity: Halloween Word Play
This is a good 5-minute game that takes zero prep and can be inserted if you (a) don’t have enough time at the end of the party for the Mummy Wrap or (b) have a bit of extra time to kill.
Simply write “HAPPY HALLOWEEN” on the board and set a timer for 3, 4 or 5 minutes. The kids work independently or in groups to make as many words as they can using the letters in Happy Halloween.
They may use letters more than once, but not in the same word.
For example, having both “low” and “wall” on a list is fine, even though there’s only one “w” available.
The word “wool” would not work, because there’s only one “o” to use in each word.
I recommend this game for 2nd grade and up, maybe first grade if it’s a pretty bright class.
Award prizes to the top 3 (or more) with the most words; bonus prizes for the longest word.
- paper and pencils
time: 5-10 minutes
Backup activity: Holiday Word Ball
This is a little twist on “quiet ball,” that rainy day school game where kids sit on their desks and toss a ball around. Anyone who misses or is not quiet has to sit down on their chair.
In this version, the leader chooses a category related to the holiday. For Halloween, I had prepared:
- orange things
- things made of pumpkin
- scary costumes
- Halloween TV specials
- Halloween decorations
- Halloween animals
The leader calls out a category, and when each child catches the ball, they have to say the name of anything that would fit that category. If someone can’t think of anything, they have to sit down in their chair and a new category begins.
For example: “things made of pumpkin” might include cookies, pies, pancakes, muffins, pumpkin seeds, jack-o-lanterns…
When anyone drops the ball after a decent throw – determined by the adult in charge – they are also “out” and have to sit down.
- ball or holiday something to throw – I had a stuffed pumpkin
- list of categories
Time: as short or as long as needed; a good time filler while waiting for the “costume parade” to come around.
I hope this helps some last-minute planners out there make their child’s school Halloween party a festive, fun, and healthy experience!
Other Halloween posts:
- 8 Ways to Have a Greener Halloween
- How to Naturally Get Halloween Face Paint Off
- Real Food Halloween Dinner: Spooky Shepherd’s Pie
- Decorating for Halloween: Keeping it Holy and Cheap
- Sweetless Trick-or-Treats: Alternatives to the Sugar Fest
- How to Make Pumpkin Seeds
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