Halloween Theme in Early Years?

Inspired by nature instead of drawn into the topic or theme of Halloween, at The Curiosity Approach® we have stepped away from the traditional Early Years environment, its bright colours, display boards and downloaded resources.

At The Curiosity Approach® we are inspired by nature and are huge advocates of ‘in the moment‘ teaching / planning instead. 

We are consciously aware not to get drawn back into following the theme and topic of Halloween and instead are  inspired by nature and Waldorf education. Looking to celebrate the wondrous gifts of Mother Earth.

To celebrate the seasons and rhythms of life.

Let’s consider ...

How can children ever look after this planet if they have NO love or connection to it?

Richard Louv's book 'Last Child in the Woods', informs us of the humongous decline of children's engagement with nature, he tells us that this, is even faster than the collapse of the natural world!

Therefore we HAVE to get children outdoors and experience nature at every possibility. To fill their play and learning experience with opportunities to see feel and connect.

Let’s celebrate NATURE and bring Mothers Earth’s beauty into children’s lives. We need to get outside and allow children to experience nature first hand, instead of a theme or topic that we have chosen. 

As the season start to change, let’s reflect on our WHY?

* The images shown are BEFORE images from an accreditation setting and given with consent *

Let’s reflect on why we bombard our settings with visual noise? Stuff hanging from the ceilings and stapled to the walls. Who is it for and what is its purpose? We understand Halloween is a tradition that children enjoy, they love going out trick a treating. But shouldn’t these experiences be talked about after the event. Opportunity for conversations, discussions and retelling of real life experience. Learning isn’t about the decorations draped across the room. 

Children don’t learn information from looking at a display board, they learn concepts and about the world around them through play. Following their own ideas, schematic learning styles and urges. 

Instead of Tuff Trays full of cold spaghetti and food items, let us rethink our practice and remember that food poverty is a real issue for many children and their families. Sensory play isn’t about handling food.   

Isn’t it time we followed the child’s ideas, thinking and creativity, instead of a single day marked on the calendar? To recognise that through hands on learning experiences children will be developing holistically across all learning outcomes in the EYFS and we cannot see them in isolation. Children are developing their senses through tangible real life experience that interest them, excite them and motivate them. Not because we the adults are bored and what to conjure up the next crazy tuff tray experience. Allow children time to handle resources, revisit experiences  and opportunity for repetition, repetition, repetition. This is where brain development occurs and pathways become reinforced.  It’s not about elaborate messy play activities or crafts plotted on next weeks planning sheet. 

Less is more!  

Here are 10 top autumn ideas that you can bring into your provision. Set up invitations and provocations to learning and see how the free play evolves:

1. Conkers in the texture kitchen

2. Allow children to deconstruct a dried sunflower. The seeds can be saved and planted for next year or given to the birds. Ever tried toasting pumpkin seeds? Check dietary requirements first. Why not use tweezers to allow children to select and remove each seed, this will promote fine motor skills, hand and eye coordination and development of pivotal joints. All pre requisites for holding a pencil later on.

3. Autumn art atelier - Are you resources easily accessible for children? Do you ignite creativity and freedom of expression OR do children have to wait for a planned craft table to be set up, following a theme to create a ‘Halloween’ craft designed and decided by the adult? Remember Halloween is only one day a year and what if children would just rather mix and stir paint instead. Or follow their enveloping schema and paint their hands instead? 

3. Autumn entrance -What does it feel like when children enter through your doors? Does it feel institutionalised or do you provide opportunities for conversation, awe and wonder? Discussion and curiosity? Do you provide places and spaces that intrigue children and promote enquiry and discovery?

4. How do you get your parents and carers involved? Why not set up a challenge to bring autumnal treasures into your setting. To fill up a suitcase which is located at the setting entrance, or send home paper bags for individual children to take home.

5. Is the season represented throughout your provision. The sights and smells, the textures and wondrous smorgasbord of natural delights. Look at this play dough station, gone are the plastic table coverings, laminated play dough mats and plastic shape cutters. Instead children can create, make and explore the dough without restrictions or predetermined ideas. It’s a sensorial delight ! 

6. Add autumnal treasures, those natural loose parts into the small world. Provide baskets of cones, conkers and leaves and allow children the freedom to mix up resources together.

7. Printing - Bring nature indoors. Blur the lines between indoors and outside. Collect natural elements when outside in nature and then allow children to explore, experiment, investigate. Be in the moment, listening to their ideas and thinking, this isn’t about a planned activity that everyone comes to participate in. It’s about freedom of choice, autonomy and a chance to explore, discover and be curious following their own individual thoughts, thinking and ideas.

8. Colour Matching- This isn’t about academics and a planned activity whose outcome is to teach children colours. It’s a simple invitation that children can access freely. 

9.  Keep it simple - At The Curiosity Approach® we follow the seasons and rhythms of the day and year NOT a theme or topic. 

10.  Have you ever tried to make your own Geo board? Use elastic bands to make shapes and stretch to each nail. Here we have threaded dried flowers and cord in and out the rubber bands. A great skill for little hands. 

Autumn is a wondrous time of year, full of lush vibrant colours. We hope we have inspired you to reflect on the theme of Halloween and to focus on the natural world,  Mother Natures gifts instead. Follow the child, their schematic learning styles and see how they play. WHAT DO THEY DO WITH RESOURCES? 

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