With a degree in education and time spent volunteering in preschool and elementary classrooms, Vivian knows the kind of parties kids love!
Young children are easy to impress. They are so excited to have a special event, they will relish any activity you plan for them. Keep in mind young children are very impressionable, so avoid anything spooky. They don’t need to see it. Parents want their children to have fun—they don’t want to be up all night consoling a scared child who sees your decorations in their nightmares. Some schools have transitioned to Harvest Party celebrations to avoid offending families. Why focus on the pagan aspects of Halloween when there are so many delightful elements of the Fall Season to celebrate? Cozy sweatshirt days, beautiful foliage, cider, apple and pumpkin festivals, hay rides, corn mazes, trick-or-treating, fall-themed games and crafts—keep the fun innocent!
How much time is allotted for the party? Be sure to plan accordingly. Young children grow bored quickly, so it’s better to over-plan and not use all the tricks up your sleeve than to have sugar-laden little ones with free time on their hands. Transition swiftly from one activity to the next. Write down a tentative game plan so you don’t lost focus and can stay on schedule.
Your party might include a costume parade around the school, three to five games, a craft, and a time for feasting. If you plan elimination-type games, where some kids will be returning to their seats before the game is over, have seat work ready for them. This could include a craft, a coloring page, or manipulatives.
The Best Part
How Many Are On Your Team?
Are you flying solo, or do you have homeroom parents on your team? One person typically arises as the leader of the team, but everyone should be encouraged to participate and to give input on the party planning. Some parents prefer to show up on the day of the event and lend a helping hand, while others like to play an integral role in developing the ideas, games, and activities. If you encounter any snags, direct your concerns to the classroom teacher. He or she is the final authority on all matters. After all, the teacher knows the personality of the classroom and its individual members—she knows best what will work and what won’t.
Is your team willing to divide party costs? Some parents are strapped and will be unable to contribute financially. Delicately broach the subject to learn how much each volunteer is willing to donate. This will help you determine what your budget will allow you to purchase.
A list of basic supplies include the following:
- Confetti or other table decoration
- Treat bags
- Game/craft supplies
- Prizes--bubbles, glow sticks, stickers, pencils, candy
- Favors for each seat—such as candy corn in mini cups
- Food & Drinks
Is it important to deck the classroom out with Halloween decorations? No. Save money and focus your resources on fun. Kids will remember the parade, the games, and gorging on food—they won’t remember the decorations.
Ask your teacher for labels printed with the students’ names. Place these labels on the treat bags to make sure no one gets their goodies mixed up or left behind! As students win prizes, they can place them in the treat bags. After the party, make sure all students end up with one of each prize in their treat bags—you don’t want them to go home empty-handed and disappointed!
Encourage Parental Involvement
Your classroom teacher will send a flyer home to parents to inform them of the party details and give them an opportunity to participate. Some parents may volunteer to help in the classroom, some may wish to be drop-in observers, and others make choose to contribute food or supplies. Let them know what you need.
Any of the supplies listed above could be included on your parent sign-up form, but food donations should top your priority list. If the class party is conducted in the morning, ask for donuts, muffins, fresh cut fruit, breakfast bars, yogurt, juice boxes, water bottles, milk, pretzels, and goldfish. A good combination includes foods that are sweet, salty, healthy, and are accompanied by a beverage.
If the class party is held in the afternoon, solicit cookies, brownies, cheese sticks, veggies & dip, fresh cut fruit, trail mix, chips, Cheez-Its, water, and juice boxes. If you are an over-achiever who likes more festive foods, make apple teeth, spider crackers, or pumpkin shaped mini sandwiches. A quick online search will pull up more ideas than you have time!
Consult with the classroom teacher about student allergies before creating your party food list.
What games can you play with young children?
Start with the Scarecrow Pokey. Form a circle and change the lyrics like this:
You put your right hay leg in
You put your right hay leg out
You put your right hay leg in
And you shake it all about
You do the scarecrow pokey
And you turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about!
Subsequent verses include, left hay leg, right leaf arm, left leaf arm, pumpkin head, and scarecrow self. Kids will love the twist on this familiar favorite!
While you already have the kids in a circle, proceed to the next game. This could be Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Scarecrow, which is played just like Duck, Duck, Goose; however, if not enough room is available to play this game safely, try a Pass the Pumpkin Game instead. For this game, select one student to sit in the middle with her eyes closed. The rest of the class may stand or sit. Give one student in the circle a pumpkin—something soft or stuffed—to pass around the circle while music plays. When the music stops, all kids place their hands behind their backs. The student sitting in the middle opens her eyes and has three chances to guess who is holding the pumpkin. If she guesses correctly, she earns a prize. Either way, her turn is over, and the person holding the pumpkin takes his turn in the center.
While you still have your circle, it’s time to do a Pumpkin Walk. This is played just like a Cake Walk, only no one is winning a cake. Pass out laminated, numbered sheets to each student and have them place them by their feet. If you add Halloween graphics to the numbered pages it will be even more festive. While music plays, the children walk in the circle, being certain to step on a numbered page each time. When the music stops, everyone lands on a number. A number is drawn from a hat, and whoever is standing on the corresponding numbered page wins a prize.
Next, divide the students into thirds. One group may return to their seats to color, one group will go to a Pin the Grin on the Pumpkin station, and one group will be directed to a Pumpkin Toss station. Allow up to 10 minutes at each station. For the Pin the Grin on the Pumpkin game, simply construct a pumpkin face, minus the mouth, out of orange poster board. Laminate several mouth pieces and place a number on the back of each one. Students will take turns closing their eyes and attempting to affix the mouth into the correct spot. The one who comes closest wins a prize. No peeking! The Pumpkin Toss station should be simple. You can usually find pumpkin faced buckets at the Dollar Store and pumpkin balls in the Target dollar bins, which can be used for a simple toss game. You can also build your own. Find a large, corrugated box and tape the flaps closed. Hot glue a black, corrugated poster board to the front (this will make it sturdier and provide a nice backdrop). Next, create a pumpkin out of orange poster board and hot glue it on top of the black background. Using a utility knife, cut a round hole where the mouth would be. Give three pumpkin balls to each student for three tosses. Award a prize to each student for trying.
If you are brave and want to add a fourth station, you could play an Apple Spoon Roll Game. This game is played in pairs. Each player receives one apple, which is placed on the ground in front of him, and one spoon. The object of the game is to be the first player to roll the apple with his spoon to the finish line. Warning: overly hyper or aggressive children pulverize apples. Be sure to have extra apples on hand, and something to clean up the mess!
Concluding the Party
Somewhere along the way, the children have gotten infused with sugar and are bouncing off the walls. Now is the time to rein them in to help them reach a state of calm. The teacher may already have after-party plans ready. If not, start by having students remove their costumes and place them in backpacks to go home. If trick-or-treat night is the same evening, it’s imperative everyone’s costume makes it home! Get their attention with a joke or two:
How do you fix a broken Jack-o-lantern? With a pumpkin patch!
What do you call two spiders that just got married? Newlywebbs
What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog? He is mist
What instrument do skeletons play? A trom-BONE
What fruit do ghosts like to eat? BOO-berries
What did the bird say on Halloween? Trick-or-TWEET!
Read a story. Young children love stories! Some noteworthy fall selections include There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, From Seed to Pumpkin, An Apple Orchard Riddle, and How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? My all-time favorite is Turkey Trick-or-Treat by Wendy Sylvano. It's a story about a turkey who dons a variety of disguises to trick his neighbors into giving him candy for he and his farm friends. Kids squeal with delight over this silly, seasonal story! The play on words throughout this book is also delightful!
The party is over, but kids have discovered yet another reason why school is a wonderful place to learn, grow, discover, and have fun!
Vivian Coblentz (author) on September 29, 2014:
Thanks, Karen! By the way, I just realized I left out the "ending" by mistake! I edited the Hub and inserted the concluding paragraph. Oops!
Karen Ray from Oklahoma on September 28, 2014:
Good hub. Small kids get so excited to have a parent show up for their classroom parties. You offered some good ideas on how to spend party time.