Trick or Treat Halloween Game

The element of suspense combined with movement makes this a spooktacular active Halloween game. Will you pick a “Treat” or have to do a “Trick?”

Materials needed:
Jack-o-Lantern Bucket or decorated Trick or Treat Bag
Orange construction paper
Pumpkin cookie cutter or stencil shape
Halloween stickers
Pen or markers
Scissors
Halloween music

Before You Begin:
1. Trace and cut pumpkin shapes out of orange construction paper. Have as many pumpkin shapes as the number of children playing plus a few more.
2. On half of the pumpkins place a Halloween sticker on one side of the paper shape and on the other side write the word “Treat.”
3. On the other pumpkin shapes write the word “Trick” on one side and a movement or exercise on the other side. Here are some ideas…
Do 10 jumping jacks
Flap your wings (arms) and fly like a bat
On hands and feet scamper like a spider
Touch your toes 10 times
Float (leap) like a ghost
Move like an elephant
Jump like a frog 10 times
Walk like Frankenstein
Hop on one foot 10 times
Gallop like a horse
Creep (on hands and knees) like a cat
Spin around 5 times
Slither (on your belly) like a snake

Let’s Get Started:
1. Have children sit in a circle.
2. Show children all the pumpkin shapes before placing them in the “Jack-o-Lantern Bucket” or “Trick or Treat Bag.”
3. When the music starts, pass around the bucket/bag.
4. When the music stops, the child that is holding the bag removes a pumpkin shape.
5. If the pumpkin shape has a sticker on it, it is a “Treat,” and the child does not have to do anything.
6. If the pumpkin shape is marked “Trick,” the child must perform the movement or exercise written on the paper (standing in the middle of the circle or moving around the outside of the circle of children).
7. The music starts again and the bag/bucket is passed. The game continues until everyone has had a turn.

Furthermore:
1. Let the children help in determining what movements to write on the “Trick” pumpkin shapes. 2. Do not read the “Trick” out loud. Instead, have the children in the circle guess what “Trick” is being performed by the child.

Morning Moving Routines

Get the blood flowin’ and brains growin’ when you begin each day with some physical activity! The start of a new school year is a great time to establish a daily morning routine that gets kids up on their feet and out of their seats. Here are some of my favorite ideas for active starts to the school day:

Super Hero Exercises
With a little imagination and your verbal cues, children will be smiling and moving as they perform each exercise. Count to ten aloud as you do each one with the children.

Superman Stretch: children attempt to keep their balance while up on their tiptoes with arms stretched over their heads. (Imagine: “Superman is flying!”)

Batman Bounce: children jump in place with feet together 10 times as they count aloud to ten. (Imagine: “Batman is jumping into his Batmobile!”)

Robin Run: children run in place as they count to 10 aloud. (Imagine: “Robin is running to catch up with Batman. Wait for me Batman!”)

Spiderman Swivel: children stand with feet are shoulder width apart. Twist from side to side with arms and hands moving across the body. (Imagine: “Spiderman is throwing his web!”)

Wonder Woman Windmills: children stand in with feet shoulder width apart and arms are stretched out to the side. Use the hand of one side of the body to touch the foot on the opposite side. To help children perform this movement say, “Turn, touch toes, and up!” “Up!” means body is in a standing tall position. Repeat instructions several times with children using opposite hands to touch opposite toes. (Imagine: “Wonder Woman is getting her Magic Lasso!”)

The As-If Game
Have the children act out each sentence:
1. Jump in place as if…. you are popcorn popping
2. Walk forward as if… you are walking through glue
3. Jog in place as if… a big, scary bear is chasing you
4. Shake your body as if… you are a wet dog
5. Move your feet on the floor as if… you are ice skating
6. Reach up as if… grabbing balloons out of the air
7. March in place and play the drums as if… you are in a marching band
8. Swim as if… you are being chased by a shark

9. Move your arms as if… you were juggling scarves

Ask the children to create their own “As-If” sentences for the group to act out.

These activities can be great fun for the young children in your classroom or home. Are you an early childhood educator or parent with an idea for an active start of the day activity? I invite you to share your favorite ideas, too!

Tumbling and Wrestling and Roughhousing, Oh My!

Preschoolers Sally and A.J. are ready to engage in some tumble play, also sometimes known as roughhousing or wrestling. The tumbling mat is out and they are in the starting position, on their hands and knees facing each other. Shoes are off and other items are removed — glasses, name tags, belts, jewelry or other impinging articles. We have gone over the rules for this kind of contact play:

1. No hitting
2. No kicking
3. No biting
4. No pinching
5. No choking
6. No hair pulling
7. Respect one’s face, eyes and other sensitive parts of the body

At the signal, ringing of the triangle or bell, the action begins as Sally and A.J. tumble and wrestle each other. When one of the pair is off the mat, the action ceases. It’s now time for another pair of children to take their places on the mat, facing each other on their hands and knees.

“Roughhousing,” as we called it, was always a positive part of my preschool curriculum. On those days when we were pent up inside due to inclement weather or when there was a buzz of high energy in the room, I would take out the tumbling mat, place it in the middle of the circle time rug or carpet, and announce that it was time for roughhousing.

Children who wanted to participate would sit around the edge of the mat and talk with their friends who had joined them about who was going to wrestle with whom (participation was voluntary and children could pick their own partners). An adult was always present. We would go over the rules and demonstrate the difference between a hit or punch, with a closed fist, and a soft push with an open palm or soft shove with a shoulder. There is a world of difference and it is necessary to illustrate it.
Usually, I would ask one of the children or one of my colleagues to demonstrate with me so that I could visually show the group what is acceptable and what is not appropriate behavior.
The children would pick a partner, usually someone who matched their own weight and height, and those two would take their place on each half of the mat. I always had the children start on the ground at the same level.
If you feel an activity like this might be appropriate for the children in your care or classroom, it’s important to note that play that involves tumbling and roughhousing is meant to be active and fun for both participants, not a time to knock each other down or intentionally hurt each other. There are differences between aggression (hostile, injurious or destructive behavior) and roughhousing (rowdy, uproarious play or behavior). When aggressive, children frown and fixate on hurting the other child. In rough and tumble play, children willingly participate while smiling and laughing. At the ring of the bell they begin and at the next ring they end (when one of the children is off the mat). The entire “match” lasts between 30 – 90 seconds. The children return to their places around the edge of the mat, ready to wrestle with another friend. After 15-20 minutes, we would be done and the mat was put away.
Children who learn the difference between play wrestling/tumbling and aggressive fighting also develop important social skills. It can, over time, improve a child’s ability to solve problems that arise in social situations — the give-and-take mimics successful social conversations and interactions. Physically, children are benefiting from the intense physical exertion of rough and tumble play which supports cardiovascular health. Tumbling and wrestling can also help develop gross motor coordination, spatial orientation, directionality, laterality, body image, visual motor control, body awareness and eye hand coordination. After active play such as wrestling/tumbling, children are much more able to sit still and concentrate because they’ve been able to participate in some physical activity.

Many boys and girls enjoy the experience of the big-body play that tumbling/wrestling offers. The preschool period is a critical period for children to develop both physically and emotionally. Tumbling and wrestling for preschoolers can indeed be developmentally appropriate and if you feel it can be appropriate for your youngsters, I encourage you to give it a try!