Scary Schooling - How To Get Learning Into Play This Halloween

21/10/2015 11:28 BST | Updated 20/10/2016 10:12 BST

Halloween falls on a Saturday this year and you just know the entire half term build up will be filled with spooky goings on...

Kids are naturally curious and love to learn. My time as a teacher taught me that they'll lap up all things new, weird and wonderful, so what better time to blow their minds with a little scary and down right dazzling education than at Halloween?

This is how to get scary schooling into your Halloween high jinx. My tried and tested activities will make learning stick as much as the silly string...

Make It Magic: Play Dough

It's an oldie but a goodie: play dough. It's an all time favourite of mine (and no doubt every other teacher on the planet) simply because it is so, so versatile. It's an educational no brainer.

For Halloween, make a fresh batch of dough and colour with black, orange, green and white food colouring - and any other colours suitable for creating pumpkins, ghosts, ghouls and other creepy figurines. To make it really special, add some glitter and glow-in-the-dark colouring, too.

Where's the education?

  • Creativity, language and story telling abound as your kids invent their creations.
  • You can count, learn colours, and make creations part of wider themes such as food, history, plants, weather...
  • A great option for independent play. Parents can get a little involved at first and then easily step back to allow little minds to imagine and wonder what else is possible.
  • Did you know you can bake play dough to make creations last longer?

Sow Creepy: Horticultural Horrors

From the Little Shop of Horrors to Jurassic Park, venus fly traps have long been connected with all things gruesome and weird.

Often, you'll find them nestled near the check out of your local, large scale DIY store. They can also be grown from seed for a more satisfying science project.

Whether you buy a seedling or decide to grow your own, kids will love the freaky-themed nature of the plant.

Where's the education?

  • Kids will learn what plants need to survive - biology basics
  • The (extremely low) responsibility of looking after a plant is a good behaviour to nurture
  • The added bonus here of course, is that these plants don't just need soil and water to survive - they need bugs too! Eurgh!

Getting Crafty: Make Monsters

Whether you use Lego and other connecting piece sets, pipe cleaners and play dough, egg boxes and yoghurt pots, creating creepy crafts is a fun and low cost way of bringing education into play.

Perfect for this time of year are spiders, ghosts, cats, wizards and witches. With a bunch of pens and pencils and all sorts of coloured cards and stickers, kids can have a wonderful time creating spooky monsters. Task them to make the scariest monster they can think of and see how gruesomely creative they can be.

Where's the education?

  • Fine motor skills and dexterity are developed through these kinds of activities
  • Creativity and imagination get a good outing too
  • Get stuck in at first and have a conversation about what's spiders look like perhaps, or what's scary - big teeth? Hairy hands? - and then sit back as your kids develop their own versions
  • Kids will be practicing language and reason, story telling and problem solving
  • It's a fun but focused activity

Scary Science: Trick or Trick?

'Trick or Treat' basically just means treats, right? Who ever shows you a good trick these days? Well, things might change when your kids get hold of some of these ideas!

Magic tricks are science in disguise and with the fantastic array of science kits on the market, there are loads of ideas just waiting to be explored.

From magnetism to mind reading to chemical reactions, good quality science kits are available for kids as young as eight. And many ideas use household items, too.

Over on my blog The Toy Hunter, I've collected my favourite scientific toys and gifts for the occasion, as well as my very best play dough recipe and more modelling ideas for Halloween.