Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays, especially for children. With the CDC advising against traditional trick or treating in these covid-19 pandemic times,
we need creative ways to celebrate Halloween safely.
Here are some creative indoor ideas for children to still get their dose of Halloween fun.
- Indoor/backyard candy hunt
- Individually-packed candies for pick-ups at the door (Coordinate with family/close friends)
- Indoor Halloween dress-up photoshoot
- Dessert table in spooky theme
- HALLOWEEN TOWN SMALL WORLD PLAY
Emphasized the last point because that was the first Halloween idea I executed, which was met with great enthusiasm from my toddler, a similar reaction to the previous cardboard small world I had made -- an amusement park, inspired by Chalk Academy's cardboard playground.
My toddler is at the developmental age whereby pretend play is really taking off, so this Halloween town small world was wonderful in helping her explore and learn about this holiday event through open-ended (unstructured) play.
Benefits of Halloween Town Small World
- Sparking creativity and imagination: Pretend play allowed my toddler to create and act out stories as she dressed up the peg dolls and guided them around the community town to do trick or treating.
Language development: The play conversation allowed me to use rich vocabulary with my toddler and introduce holiday terms not commonly used in daily life. Chinese labels also helped with new language print awareness and familiarisation.
Fine motor refinement: There were many actions that required delicate, deliberate and small movements like putting costumes onto the peg dolls.
Development of teamwork skills: The co-creation process gave my toddler an opportunity to learn to be a team player. She helped to cut and glue cardboard as well as give inputs on what she would like to see in the Halloween town small world (e.g. I asked her to suggest types of candies to give out).
Emotional benefits: Departing from traditions to spend Halloween indoors could result in negativity. The co-creation and playing experience gave both of us a big, fun and memorable project to work on.
Social development: Role-playing helps children develops social skills as they create and test out scenarios as well as problem-solve (e.g. what happens if there aren't enough candies for all the peg dolls?)
DIY Cardboard Halloween Town for Small World Trick or Treat
I constructed this original cardboard Halloween town small world mainly using recyclables like cardboard boxes, egg crates and wet wipe lids. Feel free to use my Halloween small town design as a guide and substitute with any household items you have!
Materials for this DIY Project
- Small cardboard boxes for the different houses
- Wet wipe lids that can be opened and shut
- Velcro dot stickers
- Egg crates to make little costumes for the peg dolls and a wagon to transport the candies
- Ribbons/yarn string and small beads for interactive elements (spider + bat)
- Upcycled straws and elastic rubber bands for wall hooks to hang up Halloween costumes
- Hot glue gun
- Cutting tools (Scissors/pen knife)
- Decorating supplies (Black and orange markers)
- Green construction paper for the grass
Tour of the Halloween Town Small World
Here's a tour around the DIY cardboard Halloween town small world to see the features and details upclose. I'll attempt to describe the steps I took to craft them.
There are many ways to construct, so feel free to use my method as inspiration/guidance and your own creativity to make it work better.
Halloween Town Small World (万圣节小世界 / Wàn shèng jié xiǎo shì jiè):
- House Visiting (上门拜访 / Shàng mén bài fǎng)
This is my setup for the peg dolls to do trick or treating at their neighbors': I drew peg dolls onto cardboard pieces and glued wet wipe lids onto them, before gluing these merged wet wipe lid + cardboard pieces onto the cardboard houses as the doors.
I decorated the cardboard houses by drawing tiles for the roofs and windows above the doors. For the peg dolls to 'hold' candies to give out, I placed one side of the velcro dot stickers onto the cardboard peg doll illustrations and the corresponding sides onto assorted cardboard candy illustrations.
This was an opportunity to include Chinese print labels so I wrote 糖 (Táng / Candy) on one of the candy illustrations.
Note: Be sure to glue the doors tightly to the cardboard houses as there'll be tugging, yanking and pulling involved to open the doors and retrieve the candies. I applied layers of hot glue to reach the intended tightness.
- Communal Table (公共桌 / Gōng gòng zhuō)
The centerstage of the Halloween town small world was a communal 'candy-sharing' table for the peg dolls to allocate their 'spoils'.
This is where I encourage my toddler to count the candies collected, which makes great one-to-one correspondence learning.
We also did naming of the candies in English and Chinese, which allowed my toddler to learn bilingual terminology about confectionery.
These are the candy terms I introduced:
- 巧克力 (Qiǎo kè lì / Chocolate)
- 糖果 (táng guǒ / Candy, a generic term)
- 棒棒糖 (bàng bàng táng / Lollipop)
- 薄荷糖 (bò hé táng / Peppermint candy)
- 冰棒 (bīng bàng / Ice popsicle)
I was mindful to include rich vocabulary to describe the candies:
- 甜 (tián / sweet)
- 美味 (měi wèi / flavorful)
- 诱人 (yòu rén / tempting)
- 各式各样的糖果 (gè shì gè yàng de tángguǒ / Assortment of candies)
- 薄荷是辣的 (bò hé shì là de / Peppermint is spicy)
- 冰棍冰凉爽口 (bīng gùn bīng liáng shuǎng kǒu / Ice popsicle is cold and refreshing)
My toddler had fun distributing the candies and pretend feeding the peg dolls.
This setup is great for independent, open-ended play as toddlers could easily manage the full activity cycle of opening the cardboard doors, retrieving the sweets, distributing them then placing them back onto the velcro dot stickers.
During the play conversation, I also explained what trick or treat is about, that it is a tradition for children to say, "Trick or treat!" when greeting neighbors at the door on Halloween day. If the children don't get candies, they could play a trick on the neighbor.
My Chinese translation was along the lines of 万圣节孩子们敲门索糖果时会说, "不给糖就捣蛋!" (Wànshèngjié háizimen qiāo mén suǒ tángguǒ shí huì shuō,“bù gěi táng jiù dǎodàn!)
This is how I summarised and explained Halloween to my toddler. "万圣节是一个社区节日，人们喜欢恶作剧吓家人和朋友。" ("Wàn shèng jié shì yī gè shè qū jié rì, rén men xǐ huān è zuò jù xià jiā rén hé péng yǒu." / Halloween is a community festival and people like to play pranks to scare family and friends.)
- Halloween Banners (万圣节横幅 / Wàn shèng jié héng fú)
I wrote Halloween greetings in English, "Happy Halloween", and in Chinese "万圣节快乐" (wàn shèng jié kuài lè).
I hang them up using strings attached to the roofs and chimney of the cardboard houses.
- Wagon (手拉车 / Shǒu lā chē)
I constructed an egg crate wagon for the peg doll to store collected candies. I placed dot stickers illustrated to look like wheels on the egg crate, and made a string that could be looped over the peg doll.
- Clothes Wardrobe (衣橱 / Yī chú)
Within one of the houses, I made a walk-in clothes wardrobe with wall hooks (壁钩 / Bì gōu) made from upcycled straws and elastic bands to hang up the pumpkin outfits.
The straws were hot glued to the wardrobe illustration and the elastic bands were tied around the ends of the straws to stop the outfits from falling off the hooks easily.
- Halloween Outfits (万圣节服装 / Wàn shèng jié fú zhuāng)
I dissected an egg crate and used each compartment for a pumpkin outfit. I cut out holes in the egg crate compartments that were big enough to fit the peg dolls' heads through. Then, using black and orange markers, I drew expressive Jack O Lantern pumpkin illustrations on the egg crate outfits.
- Climbing Spider (攀爬蜘蛛 / Pān pá zhī zhū)
There are a couple of climbing spider crafts out there so unfortunately I don't know who's the originator of this idea.
Specifically I would like to credit Kids Craft Room for inspiring my version. She glued cut straws onto the back of the spider illustrations and threaded the strings through, which was what I emulated.
- My spider was drawn on cardboard, instead of crafted from popsicle sticks
- To prevent the spider from sliding out of the string, I attached small wooden beads to the bottom of the string.
- Flying Bat (飞行蝙蝠 / Fēi xíng biān fú)
I attached a straw (horizontally positioned) onto a cardboard bat drawing and threaded ribbon through it. The bat could move sideways along the ribbon.
Note: Draw the bat's side profile instead of frontal view so the bat doesn't look like it's flying sideways :p Only realised this after I was done with the setup.
If pretend play is a hit with your child(ren), try out this fun Halloween town craft project! Wishing everyone a happy and safe Halloween! 祝大家万圣节快乐安全!
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.