Halloween Activities 

Halloween Activities 

Halloween Pumpkin

 

In the spirit of Halloween I have included my Top 10 Halloween themed Sensory Activities. These Halloween activities are for all ages. Younger participants might however require some assistance from an adult. Have fun!

1. Spooky Jell-O

Spooky jell-o

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination skills Tactile, olfactory (smell) and visual senses

How to Play

Equipment needed: Jell-O and any small Halloween related creatures or objects. Dollar stores are great to get stocked up.

First make the Jell-O according to the instructions on the packet. Before it sets, you should place your objects into the Jell-O. You can choose to cool it in a shallow container.  This will help spread the light weight objects that tend to float to the top.

You can also choose to cool off the Jell-O in layers. This will ensure that all the objects are spread out throughout the entire Jell-0.

Once cooled, place the Jell-O onto a tray. Then, let your child’s hands or feet explore and find all the hidden Halloween objects.

2. Monster Mash

Monster mash

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor development (hand strengthening, pincer grasp, finger isolation), hand eye coordination and bilateral coordination. Tactile and proprioception senses

How to Play

Play dough is very versatile with endless ideas on how to play with it. For our Halloween play dough fun you can start with any of the following ideas:

  • Hide & Seek Monster Mash:
    • Pick up Halloween objects that can be incorporated into the fun play. Many stores have great collections of googly eyes, bugs, ghosts, skeletons, bats etc.
    • Have some fun hiding objects into the mash. They can include googly eyes, or small plastic bugs.
    • Once everything is well hidden they can start digging through it and pull them all out.
  • Guess who?:
    • Some kids may enjoy creating Halloween themed objects from the play dough. Kids can make a ghost, spider, spider web, pumpkin or anything else related to Halloween.
  • Monster’s dinner:
    • Take out your toy utensil and plate set and have some fun creating a spooky dinner from all the mash. Maybe some eyeballs & worms are on the menu or crispy fingers. Let your imagination run wild.
  • Dessert time:
    • Using Halloween themed cookie cutters you children can make some fun desserts
  • Monster fun:
    • See how many different monsters your child can make. You can use googly eyes, pipe cleaners, wiki stix  etc .

My favorite no–cook Play Dough Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups of boing water
  • Food coloring

What to do:

  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
  2. In another bowl add water and mix it with food coloring
  3. Add both mixtures together
  4. Stir until combined (it still might be sticky)
  5. Allow it to rest
  6. Take it out of the bowl and knead it until the stickiness is gone
  7. If after a few minutes of kneading it’s still sticky then keep adding small amounts of flour. Keep adding until you have reached perfect play dough consistency.

3. Haunted House: Indoor obstacle course with the use of the flashlight.

 

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Balance, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), body awareness, bilateral coordination, hand and shoulder strength, core strength, trunk control and visual skills. Proprioception, vestibular, tactile  and visual senses

How to Play

Equipment needed: This list is flexible.  You can pull out pillows, cushions, blankets, tables, chairs and boxes.  If available, you can hang up bats, spiders or ghosts to add to the spooky feeling.

Occupational Therapy Tip

When setting up an obstacle course, try to match its complexity to your child’s skill level. Make sure there is some challenge to improve on their skills while keeping it fun. Obstacle courses are a great opportunity to work on concepts such as under, over, through, in and out.

Try to give the obstacle course a purpose. This could be a rescue mission. Your child’s toys have been taken and hidden all around the ‘haunted house’. It is their mission to find them all.

The obstacle course should give your child the opportunity to walk on uneven surfaces (blankets, pillows), crawl or climb up and down (couches or tables). You can use yourself as a sleeping zombie and once climbed on, you can turn into a tickle monster! Get your child to crawl under the tables or through tunnels made from hanging sheets or open boxes. They can also climb in and out of boxes.

Maybe create a spider web.  You can use yarn to create it and your child has to maneuver through it and be careful not to get caught by the spider.

First complete the course in daylight. Once the daylight obstacle course has been mastered, you can repeat it in the dark. You can use a flashlight to help guide their way. Have fun!

4. Spooky bowling

Spooky Bowling

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), balance and hand eye coordination. Vestibular, visual, proprioceptive and tactile senses

How to Play

To stay within the Halloween theme first we need to make some spooky bowling pins.

Equipment needed: Empty soda bottles or aluminum cans, construction paper of various colors,  marker and glue.

To make a spooky bowling set you should first decide what your bowling pins are going to be. Is it going to be a zombie, a ghost, a jack-o’-lantern, a witch etc.

Then start decorating and voila!!

Once the spooky bowling pins are made, you can play bowling.

Occupational Therapy tip

There are various ways to play bowling. Don’t only get stuck on the traditional bowling strategy. Try knocking down the pins while lying down or kicking with your feet. What about standing backwards, bending down and while your head is between your knees roll the ball to knock the pins down.

5. Zombie’s lunch

Zombie's lunch

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination skills Tactile and visual senses

How to Play

This is a game through which another texture can be explored.

Once you complete the slime (see below recipe) hide some plastic spiders in it. Your child can explore the slime by pulling out the spiders. Then they can continue to explore and experiment with its texture.

Slime Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoon borax powder
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 4 oz Elmer’s glue, clear or white
  • Food coloring

Instructions

  1. In a small container add borax powder to 1 cup of warm water and stir to dissolve. Set aside.
  2. In a separate container pour glue and add 1/2 cup of water. Add a few drops of food coloring until desired color is reached and then stir to mix glue solution until smooth.
  3. Pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture. As you stir you will notice solids start to form. After a few moments you can use your hands to gather the mass. The mixture will initially be very soft and wet.
  4. Keep kneading until it firms up and feels dry. Discard excess liquid from your container. The more you knead the slime the firmer it will become.

6. Witch’s brew

Witch's brew

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral integration (use of two hands) Proprioception, tactile and visual senses

How to Play

Equipment: Large container of water, Halloween decorations (eyeballs, bugs, spiders), dirt or flour, rice, noodles, glitter, spoons, ladles or whatever your child decides he wants to play with in the water bath. Anything goes. A particular favorite is an ice cube in the water bath. To add to the spooky factor you can use food coloring to change color of the frozen water and maybe freeze a bug or two.

This can be a very open ended activity. Follow your child’s lead and present some guidance if they feel stuck. Some ideas include: pouring witch’s brew from one container to the next, fishing out bugs or eyeballs. You can make a more interesting concoction by adding glitter, flour, dirt, rice or anything that your kitchen can spare.

7. Pumpkin painting with drip paint

Drip paint pumpkin

 

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, bilateral integration (use of two hands) Proprioception, tactile and visual senses

How to Play

Depending on the age and skill of your child they may be able to do either part or a whole activity.

Step 1: Create a Jack-o’-lantern face on the pumpkin using tape.

Step 2: Make your drip paint. See below recipe.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of flour
  • ½ cup of salt
  • ¾  cup of water
  • Food coloring
  • Zip lock bags

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl mix flour and salt together.
  2. Once combined add water. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Divide the mixture between 4 zip lock bags, then add food coloring to each.
  4. Mix the color in.

Step 3. Now it’s time to transform your pumpkin. Cut a small hole on the end of the zip lock bag and drip the paint over the pumpkin. You will notice the paint oozing from the bag. Repeat with each color. The thicker it is dripped on, the longer it will take to dry.

Step 4.  Once dried, remove the tape to reveal the Jack-o’-Lantern.

8. R.I.P. it up

Pumpkin craft

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor, bilateral integration (us of two hands) and hand eye coordination. Proprioception, tactile and visual senses.

How to Play

Equipment: Black and orange construction paper, white crayon and glue.

Depending on the age and skill of your child they may be able to do either part or the whole activity.

Step 1: Using the white crayon draw a Jack-o’-Lantern on the black construction paper.

Step 2: Cut the orange construction paper into ½ inch strips.

Step 3: Your child should tear the orange strips and then paste them onto the pumpkin.

 

9. Pumpkin dress up

Pumpkin dress up

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor, bilateral integration (us of two hands) and hand eye coordination. Proprioception, tactile and visual senses.

How to Play

Pumpkin Decorations: Anything goes here. Glitter, paint, tissue paper, feathers, golf tee etc.

This is aimed to be an open ended activity. Give your child all the decorations and let their creation appear.

For extra challenge and hand strengthening you can use some golf tees. Your child can grab a toy hammer and hammer them into the pumpkin. It can be a funky hair design.

10. The appearing spider web

Appearing spider web

Skills Developed Targeted Senses
Fine motor skills, bilateral integration (use of two hands) and hand eye coordination. Proprioception, visual and tactile senses.

How to Play

Depending on the age and skill of your child they may be able to do either part or the whole activity.

Equipment: White paper, white crayon, dark water paint and a paintbrush.

Step 1: Use the white crayon to draw a spider web on the white paper. It will be very hard to see. Depending on your child’s skill level you may provide them with some direction or an example.

Step 2: Now it’s time to paint the picture and watch the spider web appear.

Have fun!

BONUS ACTIVITY

11. Going to a Pumpkin Patch?

Pumpkin Patch

When at the Pumpkin Patch, encourage your child to lift and carry a variety of pumpkins. These are great heavy work activities supporting the proprioceptive sensory system.

Skills Developed Targeted Skills
Balance, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan and carry out an unfamiliar task), body awareness, bilateral coordination, hand, arm and shoulder strength, core strength, trunk control and visual skills such as scanning. Vestibular, tactile, proprioceptive and visual senses.

How to play

Simply as they explore the pumpkin patch let them play with the pumpkins. They can lift, carry or push a wheelbarrow full of pumpkins. Anything goes.

Summary

There you have it. My top 10 Halloween Sensory Activities. These are bound to spark up other ideas. Let me know what activities you have tried in the comments section below. Happy Halloween!

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: Adult supervision is recommended for every activity on this blog. All activities are to be performed at your own risk.

Month 15: Top 10 Sensory Activities for  your 15 month old

Month 15: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 15 month old

Hello everyone!! It’s Josh again! This month has been interesting. I have been experiencing many different emotions. Yesterday I was trying to pull out a puzzle piece that was stuck under the doorframe. I started to get very frustrated and angry as I couldn’t get it out. My mom came over and I showed her that I was frustrated. She smiled and told me to keep trying. I kept reaching for it but it was stuck and I couldn’t get it out. Then… I decided to do something different. I moved the door to look behind it. As I moved the door the puzzle piece appeared. I GOT IT! I quickly picked it up. I was so happy and so proud that I got it all by myself. I love when I figure something out by myself.

Until next month…

Lots of smiles, Josh

I hope you enjoyed Josh’s 15th month story. It raises an important point – giving our children opportunities to figure things out by themselves. Most of the time your child just needs encouraging support. And they are happy to keep trying to solve the problem.

Look out for more stories in the monthly activities posts.

Sensory Play for a Healthy Sensory Lifestyle

As your toddler grows they will continue to test their environment. As they experiment, their body gets stronger, more coordinated and their senses become more integrated.

To support their growth and development, sometimes, we need to control our involvement. Step back and don’t interfere every time you see your child struggle. If they are safe, try to stop and observe. So much learning happens as they try to problem solve. Support and encourage them when they are frustrated. Wait to see if they can figure out their problem. Wait until they ask for help.

Below are my top 10 sensory activities for your 15th month old toddler. They will give them more opportunities to continue to experiment and develop new skills. As always these sensory activities have been tried and tested.

1. Let’s get sticky with Contact Paper

Sticking colored paper onto contact paper

Skills developed Targeted senses
Eye-hand coordination; strengthening of the muscles in their wrist, which are essential for many fine motor skills such as writing. Visual; tactile and proprioceptive.

How to play:

Stick contact paper (sticky side up) onto a wall. High enough to have your toddler standing next to it. Now the fun part begins. Have your toddler stick pieces of anything they can find onto it. In my house we used tissue paper or cellophane paper. You can even get your toddler to rip the paper first and then stick it on. My son also enjoyed pulling the paper off after he stuck it on.

2. Painting with water

This is a perfect sensory activity for those warm summer days.

Skills developed Targeted senses
Strengthening of the small muscles in their hands. Visual; auditory; tactile; vestibular and proprioceptive.

How to play:

Equipment: Bucket or a container of water, brushes, sponges, mops or anything else that can hold water when submerged.

Best places to play are either on a concrete or wooden surface. Simply let your toddler submerge the ‘paintbrush’ of their choice and then ‘paint’ with it on the wooden or concrete surface. Your toddler will love watching the marks that they make and then watch them dry out.

3. Doodle Fun

Have fun with writing instruments. This can include drawing with crayons, markers or paint. The primary goal is to have fun! It’s not about drawing perfect lines. It is about learning the cause and effect, scribbling and starting to get familiar with how to hold a writing instrument. You can encourage them to draw horizontal and vertical lines but it’s ok if they won’t do it yet.

Below are pictures of typical grasp patterns. Top two grasps (Palmar-Supinate Grasp and Digital-Pronate Grasp) is what you will most likely see from your toddler.

pencil grasp types

 

Skills developed How to play
Fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Give them paper, a crayon and let them scribble!

OT (Occupational Therapist) Tips

  • Location of the paper: You can place the paper flat on the table or on the floor. Another way is to tape it onto the wall. Working on a vertical surface strengthens muscles in the shoulders and in the wrist. Those are important for many fine motor skills such as writing and cutting.
  • Encourage your child to hold on to the paper with the other hand. This encourages bilateral integration (use of two hands).
  • If using crayons consider breaking them in half. Drawing with smaller crayons encourages the child to hold the crayon with fingers versus a fist.

4. Laundry basket play

Here are some ideas of how you can turn your household item into a versatile toy:

  • Fill and empty games. You might have noticed that your toddler enjoys placing things into containers and then emptying them. The same principle applies to the laundry basket. Your toddler can place things into it and then take them out. They can collect toys or other household items, or pull out a pile of clothing that you have just folded. Depending on the object/s being moved, it will strengthen their upper body and eye-hand coordination.
  • Pushing and pulling games. Once the basket is full, your toddler can entertain them self by pushing and pulling it around the house. This is not only a great strengthening activity but it also stimulates the proprioceptive sense.
  • Climbing in and out. Your toddler can strengthen their gross motor skills and gain better body awareness by climbing in and out of a basket.
  • Target practice. A great way to practice eye-hand coordination is by using the laundry basket as a target throwing activity. They can throw balls or bean bags into it. Try to avoid having them stand right next to the basket.
  • Soccer game. While placing the laundry basket on its side your toddler can practice their kicking skills by trying to kick a goal. This is a great activity for foot-eye coordination as well as developing their balance skills.

5. Fun with Clothes Pegs

 

Boy pulling pegs off

Skills developed Targeted senses
Fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Visual; tactile and proprioceptive.

How to play:

The main goal of the game is for your child to pull off pinned clothes pegs. Where you place them it’s completely up to you. You can pin them onto edges of boxes, pin them onto your toddlers toys or even your toddlers clothes.

One day, my husband got excited with this activity. I was cooking in the kitchen and in comes my toddler with the biggest smile. He had clothes pegs attached to each piece of his clothing. My husband got so excited he pinned his shirt, pants and even socks! Josh had a blast trying to take them all off.

OT (Occupational Therapist) Tip

Your child might use different grasps to pull off the pegs. If possible try to encourage them to use their pincer grip (using thumb and index finger) to take them off.

6. Container object wriggle (aka pom pom wriggle)

Putting pom pom into a bottle

Skills developed Targeted senses
Fine motor skills and eye- hand coordination. Visual; tactile and proprioceptive.

How to play:

There are many variations of this game. The goal is to develop the above skills by putting small objects such as a pellet, pom poms, or beads into a container. The container can be an empty drink bottle or a small cardboard box, such as a shoe box with a cut out hole.

The smaller the opening, the more challenging the task. To ensure the activity is fun, create a balance between the task being challenging and also doable.

7. Suspended balloon

 

Suspended balloon

Skills developed Targeted senses
Eye-hand coordination. Visual; tactile and proprioceptive.

How to play:

Suspend a balloon from a ceiling. Your toddler can have fun batting the balloon and watch as it flies. See it fly low as he lightly hits it and high as he bats it with all his force. For a bat you can cut a pool noodle into a shorter piece. Your toddler might even like to use a variety of kitchen utensils such as a whisk or a wooden spoon.

8. Indoor obstacle course

Get ready to make your house messy. Pull out your pillows, cushions, blankets, tables and boxes! Now it is time to set up an obstacle course around your house. Try to match the complexity of the obstacle course with your child’s skill level. Make sure there is some challenge to improve on their skills while keeping it fun. Obstacle courses are a great opportunity to work on concepts such as under, over, through, in and out.

As they maneuver through the obstacle course, they will develop many skills. Some of which include: improved balance, strengthening of their upper body, improved body awareness, improved motor planning and improved coordination of both sides of their body. Give it a try.

How to play:

The obstacle course should give your toddler the opportunity to walk on uneven surfaces (blankets, pillows), crawl or climb up and down (couches or tables). You can use yourself as a speed hump then once climbed on, you can turn into a tickle monster! Get your toddler to crawl under the tables or through tunnels made from hanging sheets or open boxes. They can also climb in and out of boxes.

OT (Occupational Therapist) Tip

Try to give the obstacle course a purpose. It can be as simple as climbing onto a couch to get their favorite toy. Using their favorite songs can also motivate to complete a more challenging task.

9. Catch me if you can!

Quite simple. Play “chase” with your toddler around the house, playground or anywhere else outdoors. Depending on your toddlers walking or running skills this can be also done with crawling. But this will mean that you also have to get down on all fours to play.

Warning: your child might laugh hysterically!

Also remember to make sure to chase them. Just make sure the area is safe i.e. there are not too many obstacles to reduce tripping hazards.

10. Exploring the outdoors

 

Playing in the river

This is a must! The opportunities for experiences and growth are endless. Whether it’s a park, playground or a beach. Every sensory system will benefit. As their sensory system develops, they strengthen all their skills including fine and gross motor skills. Check out my post on Exploring the outdoors for specific play ideas.

Summary

There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 15 month old toddler. These are bound to spark up other ideas. Let me know what activities you have tried in the comments section below.

Remember: Each baby develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in these month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

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