I realize that not all preschools are able to celebrate holidays. My school has been able to for the past four years, so I go with it and have as much fun as I can :) I think that holidays can be stressful for adults, with so much going on, but I have found a solution that makes my life as a preschool teacher so much easier: Pretend I am a kid again! This always works, and even when things get busy or overwhelming I just try to look at the day through the eyes of a four year-old. And it all seems fun and magical again!
Dress Up with Your Kids!
My best friend is an amazing seamstress and (with a Halloween birthday myself) I asked her to make me a "preschool costume" as my gift a few years back. Each year I dress up as Cinderella, and my kids just LOVE it. It makes the day so much less stressful, and much more fun, to actually partake in the celebration in the same way the kids do!
I also find that the kids behavior is much more mellow if we have one homemade treat, instead of any store-bought treats to celebrate. I go all out and make my famous Sugar Cookies (which you can sweeten with banana or applesauce if you want instead of sugar). We have one cookie as a part of a substantial/healthy Halloween snack.
My preschoolers didn't ask for candy or any type of Halloween treat all week because we were having a great time with healthy snacks and lunches that still had a Halloween theme :)
I love making food fun at my preschool! While making snacks and lunches that are healthy and appetizing for kids can be time consuming (and sometimes stressful when they don't want to eat it), I think it is very important. The more creative I can get, the more fun I seem to have. AND, the more the kids want to try it.
I spent a lot of time searching for fun ideas to use for snacks and lunches this year. Here are a few photos of things the kids enjoyed:
Monster Cheese Balls. Get the low-down about making them HERE!
Let the kids make jack-o-lanters on their Hamburgers :) Orange sweet-potatoe fries are yummy too!
There are little Halloween themed cupcake sticks everywhere. I found these at Target and they were very fun to put on our apple/ham/cheese wraps.
Any time the kids can make their food-the better! They got to wrap their high-quality sausage dogs up like little mummies! Too cute :)
Simpel and sweet: Cutie orange with a cucumber slice for a stem.
Let the kids turn their cheese slices into fun halloween shapes with mini cookie cutters.
Pumpkin muffins! Yumm.
Dried fruit eyeballs are silly and tasty!
The one sweet treat we had were homemade sugar cookies shaped like bats and pumpkins!
Our final halloween lunch was my personal fave: Tomato soup, egg eyeballs, pumpkin shaped grilled cheese, and a ghost banana. A raisin makes that great mouth!
Fun Ideas for Halloween Themed Centers or Work Stations for Preschoolers
My new favorite thing is setting up options for our Center/Work Station time at preschool. I love it. It is fun and very inspiring for both the kids...and for ME as a teacher. I hope your find something to enjoy with the preschoolers in your life!
1. Halloween Card Making
My preschoolers just finished up a week where we had a post office in our school. It seemed like a perfect transition to set up a Center for Halloween Card-making. I put out a TON of stickers, some orange construction paper cards, and a "coffin" for sticker backs.
*Money Saving Tip: I bought all of these stickers last year the week after Halloween and saved them for this year. I plan to do the same again this November :) I also used a Melissa and Doug toy bin to hold all the stickers for this station-which works great!
2. Halloween Coloring Station
The kids at my preschool can draw or do art any time during our hour-long choice time. They are wonderful at creating all kinds of pictures on their own! But, I thought it might be fun for them (and a chance to work on fine motor development with "coloring" instead of scribbling) by getting us these special Halloween coloring books :) They had them at the dollar store last year!
3. Invitation to Play: Pumpkin Patch Farm!
I set up this invitation to play in a very large, shallow storage bin. It is a great size for two or three preschoolers to use together. I set up the bin and then put out a bunch of our Little People Farm toys (tractors, animals, produce bins, etc).
I discovered that the Little People Farm accessories could fit in the tops of toilet paper rolls...so I used those to divide the bin into a dirt section and a cracked corn section. I just hot glued the tubes together. I also stuck some bird-seed in some bowls.
We raise chickens at my preschool so I used their food-grade cracked corn in this bin...that way any dirt or corn can just be put out in our yard at the end of the week for the chickens to munch on! Easy clean-up. I also picked to put this on our wood floor and it took me about 30 seconds to sweep up the tiny bit of corn that spilled over the edge.
The kids at my school commented that this was their FAVORITE center choice from all year :) And what I loved most what that aside from the mini pumpkins, I didn't have to buy anything. It all came from our yard, or our toy bins!
4. Halloween Cookie Cutter Fun!
Who doesn't love play-dough!? We have a bunch of Halloween cookie cutters out for exploration and play with our dough for Halloween week :) This is great for fine motor, but also works on sharing and taking turns in larger groups.
5. Halloween Beading
Another great way to work on fine motor development! The kids can make bracelets for themselves or to give to friends :)
One thing I do to keep myself from going crazy is to pre-cut a bunch of string and put tape on the end so the kids can do their beading independently. Then they only need help at the end when they are ready to tie it!
6. Exploring a Balance with Fall Objects
Which is heavier? What a great question to explore freely for preschoolers. A balance is a fun tool for kids to use and if you put out a bunch of pumpkins and gourds they can explore it with Fall/Halloween objects!
The kids at my school really, really enjoyed exploring at this center! I put out a bin with smaller, "toy" fall objects, and another bin with real pumpkins and gourds.
Silly Monster Cheese Balls!
Oh My Gosh! These were the funniest little snacks ever. And my kids adored them. They turned them into puppets, made them chat to each-other, and then eventually smashed them onto crackers to eat :)
First, and Most Importantly:
I got this idea HERE, on Hungry Happenings. If you want to try them, click over to her blog for directions :) Hers are much cuter, probably made with more time and care. But, it did work to make them at preschool for a large group of kids...and even if they were a little rushed they still turned out great!
Also, I made some changes that helped me out:
Change #1: I bought little candy eyeballs at Micheals, in the cake decorating area. This way I just got to stick them on. Easy!
Change #2: I left out the bacon due to vegetarian kiddos at my school, and they were still super yummy on crackers. Can you tell we had fun with them!?