Halloween games for children

All the following games and activities for kindergarten, preschool and ESL students have been tried and tested in classrooms by The Magic Crayons, who are experienced teaching professionals currently working in Japan and China.

1. Peaches Apples Pumpkin Pie

Flashcards: Witch, Ghost, Vampire
Set up: This game is like Daniel's santa claus janken game. There are three
poses for each of the monsters. Witch - put hands above head to form a pointy hat shape. Vampire - bare teeth and hold out hands like claws. Ghost - pull face into ghostly visage (showing the red bits of your eyeballs, like the japanese "akan-be!"). Start with the chant "Scary, scary Halloween!" then do one of the poses. If the kid has the same and the teacher, they lose. If different they remain in the game. When down to the last 5 or 6 then bring the kids up to front and play until 1/2 kids remain. They are the champions and they win the privilege of being put into your peaches apples pumpkin pie.

2. Ghost Game

Materials: Number FCs, ghost card
How to:
This game is fun and easy if you set it up right. First clear a clean path to a wall, making sure there are no chairs or whatever in the way. Also ensure the wall you are going to run to is flat and free of anything kids could impale themselves on.
Next, with the children sitting in front of you, introduce the scary ghost. Show them that when you reveal the ghost they are to stand up and run to the wall. Once they get to the wall they should duck down and cower in fear as the ghost card slowly (and menacingly) flies towards them. Duck down with them the first time, then practice revealing the card in front of them until they can all move to the wall as a group.
Next, review counting 1-10. After a couple of times slip the ghost card in the back and reveal after counting the last number. Play several times. For a variation put the ghost card after different numbers.

3. Snarl Chirp Rev

Flashcards to use: Witch, Vampire, Skeleton, plus some random extras
Class size: whole class
Set up: The witch, vampire and skeleton are the scary cards. The main point of this game is to teach the children "Scary!" or "I'm scared!". After shuffling the flashcards, ask the children "Are you scared?" and get them to answer "Yes/No". If no, then pull a random card off the pile. If yes, pull the scary card out then everyone has to run and hide together, including the teacher. After you run and hide, you say "I'm scared", then count to 20.

4. Relay Race

Need straws and small pieces of paper. Divide into 2 teams. Each team-member gets a straw (like a drinking straw). At the front of the line there is a bowl with the small pieces of paper in it. Each team member needs to pick up a piece of paper using only the straw (ie sucking the straw to keep the paper in place) and run to the other end of the room and deposit the paper in a bowl. Each team member must finish successfully and be sitting down in a line again for the team to win. You can’t use your hands, if you drop the paper you have to start again. *Make sure there is no possible way the paper can actually get up the straw*

5. Halloween Hats

Have tubes of black cardboard that can be rolled and stapled (or sellotaped) into a cone shape. Decorate with brightly coloured paper shapes, foam shapes from Summer School, or Halloween pictures that the kids can colour in. Certificates/awards/prizes – lollies – could be given for the most imaginative/scary/colourful etc, making enough categories so that everyone gets a prize. A last-day of Halloween activity perhaps, then they can wear their hats home.

6. Design-A-Monster

Have various “monster” body parts photocopied on cardboard/construction paper that the children can colour in and cut out. Use Sellotape or glue and the kids can create their own monster. Have different cutouts: Witch, having a pointy hat and a broomstick and a black cat… Goblin, with green slime and a bommyknocker… etc. Or you could encourage “crazy monsters” and have a witches body, a goblins head, a ghosts bottom, with vampire accessories (bat, cape etc)

7. What's In The Box?

Paint a cardboard box black with a hole cut out to put hands into. All sorts of things can be placed in the box and the Ss have to put their hands in the box and try to guess what the object is. Great fun! If done in kagai, kids could draw Halloween pictures to decorate the box too.

8. Bob For Apples

You need to prepare 1 apple per child. You can either use the sink at the school, or buy a 100 yen bucket. Children must try to pick up the apple using only their mouth (hands on head or behind back).

9. Whistling Crackers

Two teams of kids. Team leaders get three crunchy rice crackers each. When everyone yells out “One, Two, Three, GO!”, the leaders have to put all the crackers in their mouth and crunch them up. The first team leader able to whistle wins.

10. Halloween Story-Time

Books like Meg and Mog, Where the Wild Things Are. Big Green Monster, etc. Have the children point out characters in the book that match with the flashcards they have been taught – bat, monster, witch, cat etc.

11. Let’s Be…

Form a line on one side of room. Cross the room in the following ways:
Fly like a bat
gallop like a cowboy on a horse
pretend to ride a witches` broomstick
roll like a pumpkin
dance like a princess
creep like a cat
walk like a skeleton
loat like a ghost
stomp like a monster.

12. Spider Attack

Materials: flashcards, tape or chair
Time: 5 minutes
Receptive Language: instructions, ‘Spiderpose!’
Productive Language: target vocab, ‘Stop!’
Game Explanation: Review the animal flashcards & separate class into two teams (boys vs. girls). Line up each team on either side of the room & have them sit down. Make a line with tape or place a chair in the middle of the room as the Goal. Shuffle the flashcards & have the students say ‘Stop!’ Do a quick or slow reveal of the card. The first team to answer correctly stands up & takes one step together toward the goal. The first team to cross the goal/touch the chair is the winner. Show the winning team the spider card. Have the team make a spider pose &, on your command, attack the losing team with a deadly spider attack.
Note: some students may cry. Keep this in mind while deciding just how ferocious your Spider Attack should be.

13. Yummy Yummy Game

Materials: flash cards
Time: 5 minutes
Receptive Language: instructions
Productive Language: yummy, scary, stop

Game Explanation: Review the candy, chocolate, cookie & ghost cards. Demonstrate that the food cards are delicious & get the students to chant ‘Yummy yummy!’ Show them that the ghost card, on the other hand, is ‘scary’, & that when the ghost appears the best thing to do is shout ‘Scary!’ & hide your head in your hands. Shuffle through the cards until a designated student tells you to ‘Stop!’ Slowly reveal the card. The students respond by yelling out ‘Yummy yummy!’ (or ‘Yummy yummy cookies!’) or, if it’s the ghost, ‘Scary!’ before they hide their faces in mortal - or make that supernatural - terror.

Note: As a variation, review some food cards & some unappetising cards from previous units. Demonstrate to the students that the food cards are "yummy" by rubbing your belly, pretending to eat the cards, etc, & that the non-food cards are all "yucky" by choking, pretending to throw up after you taste the cards, & so on. Place a mix of yummy & yucky cards face down on the floor or whiteboard ledge.

Divide the class into two teams and pick one to go first. Ask the team, or one of its members, whether they think the card you are pointing to is "yummy" or "yucky." Reveal the card and award it to the team if the answer is the correct one or back into the pool if they’ve called it incorrectly. Continue until all of the cards are gone & celebrate wildly with the champions.

14. Duck Duck Monster

Same as “duck, duck, goose!” but use 2 halloween f/c.

Game Explanation: Students sit in a circle. Demonstrate the game by slowly walking around the outside of the circle, lightly tapping each student on the head while saying “Duck...duck...duck...” When you get to the Japanese teacher, tap her on the head and yell “Goose!” You and the teacher must then race (in opposite directions) around the circle, trying to be the first to make it back to the teacher’s original spot. Let her win, express your disappointment, and continue. Try and make sure that all of the students get a chance to be “It.”

15. Pin The Stem On The Pumpkin

Blindfold 1 child and give them a cardboard Pumpkin stem. Have a cardboard pumpkin on backing, and get them to stick the pumpkin stem on the pumpkin. Encourage children to call out directions. This could be adapted – Pin the wart/hat on the witch, pin the bolts on Frankenstein, pin the fangs on the vampire etc. If using cork board pins is a safety concern, Blu-Tak is an option, along with double-sided sticky-tape.

16. Scary Card

At the start of the lesson, when introducing the cards, have a “scary” card, for example, the skeleton card. Next week it might be the witch card, then the week after that the vampire card… and so on. Explain that whenever the kids see the card throughout the lesson, that they need to stop what they’re doing, jump up, and run and touch the wall/window/door. Play the mix-game (shuffle through cards and encourage kids to yell “STOP!” – when they do, show them the card and encourage response – “What is it?”) and have the “scary” card in there – when you show it, shout out “oh no! It’s the ____!” (or something like that) and chase the kids towards the designated “scare-free/safe” spot – so that they are touching the wall/window/door.

17. Fluffy Bunny

Have 2 teams of kids and lots of marshmallows. The team leaders start by putting one marshmallow in their mouth and saying (fluffy bunny) “Weird Witch” or “Haunted House”. Then they have to say the same thing with 2 marshmallows in their mouth, then three then four and so on. The team leader who can say the words with the most marshmallows stuffed in their mouths wins. This game may not actually be feasible (cost-wise with all the marshmallows, and mess-wise if kids happen to laugh and spit out their marshmallows – which often happens), but its lots of fun.

18. Touch the Vampire/Ghost/Monster

Kids start at one end of the classroom. The teacher is at the opposite end of the room, with their backs to the children, holding a card – Vampire, Ghost, Witch etc. The object of the game is for the children to sneak up and touch the teacher before they turn around. If the teacher turns, everyone has to freeze exactly as they are. If the teacher catches anyone moving, they get to chase him or her back to the start shouting “Vampire! Vampire!” or “Ghost! Ghost!”. The child who touches the teacher first is the winner. For Chos (or smart Chu classes), it could then be their turn to be the Vampire or the Ghost, and to turn around at certain times to try and catch people moving.

19. Pin The Tail On The Black Cat

Put as A3 size black cat somewhere up in the room at a level that kids can easily get too. Prepare a blindfold. Get students to take it in turns to come up and see who can get the closest. Very young children will not want to wear a mask, so just hold your hand in front of their eyes. Older children will cheat. Hold a large piece of card between the picture and their line of site. That should fix it.

You can add directions into the mix by allowing their classmates to shout up, down, left, upside down etc. Have two cats and two teams if you like a really excited class.

20. Melt the Witch Game

Materials: A moveable chalkboard, coloured chalk, sponges, bucket of water.  Directions: Draw a witch's head , or whole body on the chalkboard.  Fill the bucket with water and sponges. Have children stand close enough to the board to be able to hit it accurately with a wet sponge. Place water bucket and sponges near this spot. Tell the children to take turns throwing wet sponges at the witch to try and "melt" her away. As the witch becomes wet and water drips down the board, it will appear as if she is melting. Be sure the children are squeezing out to the sponges before throwing. Have a spare cloth on hand to wipe up excess water and to clean up afterwards. Variation – “Erase the Witch Game” – Draw a witch on the whiteboard. Students are blindfolded and have to see how much of the witch they can erase with one “chance.”

21. M&Ms Relay Race

Need straws and M&Ms. Divide into 2 teams. Each team-member gets a straw. At the front of the line there is a bowl with 1 M&M per person in the team. Each team member needs to pick up an M&M using only the straw and run to the other end of the room and deposit the M&M in a bowl. Each team member must finish successfully and be sitting down in a line again for the team to win. You cant use your hands, if you drop the M&M you have to start again, and if you eat the M&M before your team has finished you’re disqualified! *Make sure there is no possible way the M&M can actually get up the straw*

22. Make a Mummy/Make a Witch

Have 4 teams of kids, with each team allowed 2 rolls of toilet paper, 2 newspapers and 2-4 rolls of sticky tape each. Using only these materials, 1 child is to be dressed up as a Mummy or a Witch. Encourage decorations and capes for a witch – for the Mummy, it has to be covered as fully as possible with the toilet paper – shoes etc. Perhaps take a couple of rubbish bags into class as well to help the teachers tidy up.

23. Haunted Family

Materials: Flashcards (including Ghost/scary card)
Time: 5-7 minutes
Receptive Language: Where is Daddy?
Productive Language: Yes / No, unit vocab.
Game Explanation: Place family cards up front and (from Where is Daddy? chant) ask, “Where is Daddy?” Point to any card and pus for a “yes” or “no” response. Once they get it shuffle the cards and place them with pictures facing the wall. Slip in the ghost card. Once again ask, “Where is Daddy?” Reveal the card and let the kids tell you. When you reveal the ghost card, chase them into the corner.
Note: if you have some confident kids let them guess where Daddy is. Get them to say, “Here” and point to the card.

24. Halloween Pictionary

Introduce the idea by getting the children to guess what you are drawing, then let the children have a go. Give the child a card to look at as an idea, or let them use their imagination. First one to guess is the next one to draw.

25. Halloween Bowling

Use PET bottles. Have pictures of witches, ghosts, monsters and ghouls that the children can colour and cut out and stick to the bottles to make them more “Halloweeney”. Have 10 bottles all up and start the bowling. Stickers for prizes. Make sure you experiment with different bottles sizes and how easy it is for your students to knock them over. Also, start collecting empty bottles well in advance.

What is Halloween?

If you, like ourselves, are teaching English as a foreign language many of your students will have little or no idea other than they get to eat as many sweets as they like.

October 31st (Halloween), started as an Irish festival celebrating the end of summer and their calendar year. They believed the spirit world was allowed to intermingle with the living on this day, similar to the Buddhist Obon festival. However, the Irish thought that only the souls of those who had died the previous year would return to look for bodies to inhabit for their afterlife.

While the Obon spirits are guided home, the Halloween spirits are scared away by the living dressed up in frightening costumes. Over time, different cultures and religions have added their own traditions to Halloween, making it what we celebrate today.

Halloween is…

A day of fun and imagination - you can dress up and be whoever you want to for a day! A day of games and community – everyone gets together to celebrate, and neighbours are with children going door-to-door “Trick-or-Treating” for goodies ) candy, toys, food)! A day to play pranks and have a laugh giving people a scare!

Think Ghosts, Spiders, Witches, Black Cats, Skeletons, Jack-o-Lanterns, and Vampires!

Trick-or-Treat and Happy Halloween!

Note: Anything involving food needs to be checked with the kindergarten well in advance.