Inexpensive Ways to have Non-scary Fun this Halloween
Here are some inexpensive ways to have non-scary fun this Halloween with your students. Halloween doesn’t have to be expensive or scary! Try using felt when working with your younger students and get great results. The three engaging ideas featured here are easy to do and only require basic supplies, like felt, tape, and markers. Give it a try!
Felt is such an inexpensive, versatile way to make your own therapy materials! With every color available, you can make simple felt shapes to match every holiday and season. All it takes is the right color felt, a marker, a simple shape you can draw, and glue to keep it closed.
How to Make A Quick and Easy Bag
- Get a piece of felt that is double the size of the shape.
- Draw the shape on one side of the felt with the permanent marker, fold the felt in half and cut around it. Ghosts and pumpkins are easy to draw!
- Glue the sides together and voila! You have a cute little felt bag.
- In a hurry? Staple the sides together and put some tape over the staple backs if you have concerns about pricking little fingers.
Young students love to find hidden things! Try hiding small pumpkins with varied emotions faces inside a big pumpkin bag. Elicit a targeted speech or language production and then let students pick a pumpkin with feelings out of the bag. Find out what makes them feel that way!
A great thing about using felt is that students have something safe to hold onto and play with while waiting their turn!
Language you can model includes:
- spatial concepts (in, out, on)
- emotion vocabulary (happy, sad, scary)
- descriptive words (scary, spooky, funny, silly, safe)
Young students will have fun just playing the game, but you can make duplicates of the emotion pumpkins to play and see who gets the most matches.
When there are no issues of tactile defensiveness, young students love to find whatever is hiding inside the bag. It’s kind of like getting a present!
But for kids with sensory issues, you may find it helpful to put the pieces you want to place inside the bag and the bag itself on the table. Felt is a soft, familiar material and many kids will explore it on their own when they are totally in charge of the pace.
For kids who still have issues, try these ideas after exploration time.
- Play a cleanup game where you name or describe one of the felt figures and see if they can find it.
- Let the child pick it up and put it inside.
- If this is still too much, place them far apart and see if the child will look at the one you named.
- Then make a mini version that you leave on the table in front of them. Just let them peek or participate in whatever way they can handle until the activity is familiar.
- Hide a few little pieces of a food reinforcer amidst the felt pieces to reinforce exploring.
Use the bag for a fun listening activity that reinforces your work from that session:
- Describe one of the picture cards you used that session.
- See who can find the correct picture first to put in the bag.
- Therapy and clean up all in one!
Talk About It! Activities
- Place pictures of some work that needs review along with a Halloween photo in the bag. This is a great 5-minute warm-up to see what was retained from the previous sessions.
- Students take turns choosing a picture from the bag and telling about it.
- When the Halloween photo is chosen, discuss the picture, targeting each student’s current goal.
- Have copies of the picture already made to glue into the student’s communication book to talk about at home. Homework is taken care of!
Describe It! Play with it! Activities
First, place a few small Halloween toys inside the bag for your students to play with until their next turn. This is a great strategy for students who have transition problems or who have difficulty waiting. This tactic helps when you need a few minutes to concentrate on one of the other students in the group.
The photo shows some examples of the types of toys that could be used. Don’t put them all in at once. Add a new toy, maybe every other session or so. You will see when your little ones get the language you’ve been modeling or start losing interest.
After they have explored the new toy, bring out some similar or familiar ones for a little describing and comparing/contrasting. Did you notice there’s a variety of colors and textures there?
You’ll notice there are two felt ghosts there. One opens to be a puppet and the other is flat. One is small and one is big. One is fuzzy (felt) and one is smooth (fabric.) One is happy and one is sad.
Fly the ghosts around in a fun way so your students want to request it.
Elicit some descriptive language by using sabotage, watching where the student is looking so that you are sure to give the unwanted one:
“Oh, you didn’t want the little one? Maybe you wanted the BIG ghost. Tell me, which one do you want?” Just like that, you’ve set up a situation for describing!
It’s easy to make felt into puppets. Just cut out a duplicate of the drawing you made for the bag, but close the top and leave an opening on the bottom that your hand will fit into!
Puppets are a wonderful therapy tool for children! They let you adopt another voice, play games like giving and taking a toy, or interact in a way that feels less threatening to young children.
Sometimes young students who won’t talk to a speech therapist will speak to the puppet with no problems at all. Puppets even give us the freedom to be a little silly in a way that might be uncomfortable otherwise (especially with a parent observing!)
If crafting isn’t your thing, or you are looking for more detailed emotion images and problem-solving activities to support learning, click here.
This pumpkin-themed set can be used all fall to build social skills for emotions, facial expressions and problem-solving. The varied levels, with pictures, words, and short scenarios, make working with mixed-level groups easier.