Halloween & Day of the Dead Unit for Preschool
It is always nice to incorporate the current holidays into our home preschool units. Normally I would do this kind of unit on the actual week the holiday occurs, but we were going to be traveling over Halloween so we did it a week early. We also want to teach our kids about all cultures so even though we don't personally celebrate Day of the Dead I wanted to include some activities so I could teach them a bit about the Mexican culture. It ended up being a shorter unit too since we were traveling that Friday. Here is what we did.
Candy Corn Math- You can't learn about Halloween without candy right? Emerson and Emmett loved this activity. I'm sure it was more about the candy corn and less about the math. Emmett worked on his fine motor skills by trying to place the candy corn on the coresponding spaces while Emerson worked on number recognition and counting. I found this free printable at thereadingmama.com. She has a whole packet you can print for candy corn. I chose just the math activity where there are numbers along the left hand side and your child has to add the same number of candy corn in that row. It helped me to see if Emerson could recognize the numbers 1-10 and if she was able to count them all out, which she was.
Web Weaving- This is a great fine motor activity for older preschool age. It is similar to a lacing card, but you have to weave the yarn across the middle instead of just around the edge. Emerson did pretty well with this activity, but she got easily frustrated so needed some assistance. Once we had the web complete we added a few of our spider rings for fun. If you want to do this activity at home all you need is a paper plate and some yarn. We cut out the middle of the paper plate and then punched holes all around the inside edge. I tied one end of a long piece of white yarn to one of the holes and threaded the other end through a large plastic needle. Then Emerson used the needle to pull the thread through the holes to make a spider web. Once we were out of yarn I tied that end to the last hole she used.
Pom-Pom Pumpkin- I designed this activity specifically for Emmett, but Emerson ended up doing it too because she liked it so much. It is a simple fine motor activity with a Halloween twist. I drew a jack-o-lantern face onto an empty water bottle and gathered a bunch of orange pom-poms of various sizes. I set them out and invited the kids to come play. Emmett loved pushing the pom-poms into the top of the bottle. It kept them both entertained for at least a half hour. It was also a great transitional activity that I could pull out if I needed a few minutes to get ready for another activity.
Pumpkin Stamping- I cut a pumpkin in half like an apple and cleaned out the seeds and guts. Then I laid out large sheets of paper and paper plates with red and yellow paint on them. Both kids enjoyed using their pumpkin halves as stamps. It ended up as a half stamping half finger painting activity by the time we were done.
Halloween Sensory Bin- I dyed some macaroni orange and purple and then added some fake spiders to it for a fun and spooky sensory bin. We left this bin up all week so they were able to use it everyday. I did catch Emmett with macaroni in his mouth quite a bit so watch your littlest ones if you do this at home. I use rubbing alcohol to dye them, but I've heard you can do it with vinegar too to make it taste safe.
Construct a Skeleton- I found a free printable skeleton online and knew it would be perfect for our theme. I used regular paper and then laminated our pieces so they would stay together better. It proved to be useful because once we completed it Emmett ripped a bone off and it only broke the yarn not the actual laminated pieces. It was a great activity for Emerson. She even ran and got her skeleton book so she would know which pieces go where. Emmett had the most fun unrolling my ball of yarn and Emerson loved cutting the pieces so I could tie it all together. We hung ours on the back of our front door for decoration.
Day of the Dead Skulls- We used paper plates and markers to create our own Day of the Dead Skulls. I cut out a skull shape and drew on eyes and a nose. The kids used markers to decorate them. They turned out really cute and it was a very simple art activity.
Icy Ghosts- This activity will need to be prepared ahead of time. I froze a small amount of water in ice cube trays with two googly eyes in each slot, turned face down. Once that was frozen I added more water so they were filled and then stuck the tray back in the freezer until frozen. Some of the eyes ended up floating to the top anyway, but my kids didn't seem to mind. Once ready to play I dumped the ice cubes into a baking pan and let them explore. Emerson liked to smash the ice cubes in order to break the eyes free and Emmett liked to suck on the ice cubes. It was a spooky and cold sensory activity.
Spider Web Game- I found this idea from No Time for Flashcards. The kids loved this game and we played it at least four times. I made a spider web out of painter's tape on our living room rug. Then I tossed a bunch of fake spiders onto the web. Emerson had to start at one end of the web and tiptoe on the spiderweb all the way across to the other side, collecting spiders as she went. It is a great indoor gross motor activity. She had to balance carefully while picking up the spiders which proved to be pretty tricky for her. Emmett had fun watching and running all over the spider web.
Sugar Skulls- We read a ton of book for this unit, both about Halloween and Day of the Dead. In the back of one of the Day of the Dead books they had a recipe for making your own sugar skulls. We had to try it! It was actually really easy. You only need powdered sugar, egg white, vanilla, corn syrup and cornstarch. Luckily I had everything already so we were able to make them the same day we read the book. Emerson really enjoyed making them and once the dough is formed it's the consistency of playdough so it's pretty easy to mold. They make skull molds specifically for sugar skulls, but since this was spur of the moment activity we just shaped them with our hands. Can you tell which ones I made and which ones Emerson made? We were going to paint them with food coloring, but they hadn't dried before we left for our trip. If we paint them when we get back I'll be sure to post a picture on Instagram.
I think so far this is the shortest unit we have done. There are so many great ideas out there that I wanted to try, but we were pressed for time. I went ahead and made a pinterest board with tons of Halloween and Day of the Dead ideas for preschool so if you would like more activities check it out here. I'd love it if you followed me!