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Halloween Learning Activities

Kids eagerly await this time of year with dreams of candy and costumes. For parents, it’s an ideal time to mix in some Halloween-themed learning that feels like fun to the kids. Here are eight ideas based on Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to strengthen and stretch your little learner’s mind muscles in all kinds of ways.
 
Music Smarts
Associated skill sets: singing; making music with instruments, objects, or his body; deciphering different types of sounds – for instance, different types of birds or cars; using a variety of sound levels and types to convey ideas to a listener.
Talk about spooky sounds you can make with your body or objects around the house. What aspects of each sound give off a spooky vibe? Turn on some kid-friendly Halloween tunes like “Ghostbusters,” “Monster Mash,” “Purple People Eater,” or The Munsters theme and add your spooky sounding accompaniments. Got Spotify? Just search for “Halloween Kids” and you’ll discover several playlists ready to rock-and-roll. There are also great classical pieces to explore, if your kids are up for it. Favorites in our house include: Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Bartók’s Allegro Barbaro, Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
 
Word Smarts
Associated skill sets: reading, writing, translating or speaking.
’Tis the season to tell ghost stories! Brainstorm ghostly locations, actions and characters with your kids, then put each stack in a separate jack-o-lantern. Each person in your family should draw a character, action and location, and then tell a story about it. Add flashlights for effect. Want to get even more creative? One family member tells a piece of the story, then the next family member has to pick up where the last person left off.
 
Number Smarts
Associated skill sets: quantifying new information in order to process it, looking for patterns, systematizing or problem solving.
Purchase your Halloween candy early and put it to use. Pour varying amounts into a clear container each night from now until Halloween (it’s best if you use different types of candies with a range of sizes and shapes). Each family member should guess the number of candies in the container and talk about how he came to that conclusion. Whoever guesses closest to the actual number gets to eat a piece of candy that night.
 
Body Smarts
Associated skill sets: gross motor and/or fine motor movement (this can run the gamut from dance, tag, or sports to sewing, playing video games, or sculpting).
Create a haunted house obstacle course with Halloween-themed things to do. Roll under spider webs. Sneak around a skeleton. Jump over a jack-o-lantern. Make the game even more interesting by adding “treasures” to collect along the way – for instance, a movie rental, reprieve from one chore for a day, a favorite pack of gum, extra bedtime story, etc.
 
Picture Smarts
Associated skill sets: artistic activities (e.g. drawing, painting or ceramics), rearranging furniture, decorating rooms, packing a suitcase, doing puzzles or building with LEGOs.
Make Painted Jar Luminaries – a great way to get your jack-o-lanterns glowing without wielding any sharp objects. Some canning jars or milk jugs, acrylic craft paint in various colors, a paintbrush, a sharpie, and votive candles are all you’ll need to make some fabulous faces that won’t get decimated by fruit flies within a couple of days.
 
People Smarts
Associated skill sets: interacting with others in a beneficial way (for instance, sharing, cooperating, leading, networking, making others feel welcome and appreciated).
This year, treat the neighbors when you visit each house on Halloween. Think about what you could do for or say to the neighbors you visit that would make their night. It could be a song, a thank you note, a joke, or a picture – just a little something to let them know your kids were thinking about them before you knocked on their door.
 
Self Smarts
Associated skill sets: understanding one’s own behaviors, motivations, goals, and emotions.
Take out pictures of your kids’ Halloween costumes from the past few years and reminisce about what made them select those particular costumes at the time. Did they pick characters they identified with, or characters that were unlike them? Did they want to have the same costume as the other kids or did they want to be unique? How about this year’s costume – what’s different about who or what they’d like to be this year? 
 
Nature Smarts
Associated skill sets: observing the world around him, recognizing and classifying natural categories or patterns.
Talk to your kids about vegetable and fruit growth cycles and how the fruits and vegetables that are in season change throughout the year. Which fruits and veggies do the kids associate with each season? Which plants like it cold, hot, wet or dry? If your kids were fruits, in which season would they most like to grow? Plan a fall feast for your family that highlights some of the plants that thrive this time of year. You can get some ideas by visiting epicurious.com’s advanced search tool and selecting “Kid-friendly” as the recipe category and “Fall” as the season.
 
Flexing all their different mind muscles helps your kids get a better sense of all the ways that people can be smart and shows them that learning can be fun – even those subjects they find tedious or boring during the school day. As you do these exercises, key into the ones that your kids get the biggest kick out of, then try other activities that flex the same “smart.” Or pair up a subject your kids don’t enjoy as much with a type of activity they do. By playing to their strengths, you’ll be helping to cultivate an appetite for learning in your kids by feeding them subject matter in a way that celebrates and embraces their unique spirits.
 
Jen Lilienstein is the author of the award-winning Playbooks for Learning book series and Founder of Kidzmet.com, a website dedicated to helping parents and teachers understand how kids are uniquely wired to learn. At home, she is Mom to a 7 year-old girl and (almost) 4 year-old boy who are as different as yin and yang.