Outdoor Games to Play on Halloween
Trick-or-treating gives families a great reason to venture out after sunset
With all the excitement about costumes and treats on Halloween, it's easy to overlook one of the best parts of this holiday: going outside at night. It's thrilling to experience the cool autumn air, crunchy leaves underfoot, and mysterious shadows all around.
As your family treks from house to house in search of treats, try playing one of these fun games to stir up spells of learning and laughter along the way. (Then, brush up on your nighttime nature knowledge to impress the kids.)
This game is a great way to encourage kids to observe the world around them. Start the game yourself, and the kids will follow your example.
1. Scan your surroundings for an interesting Halloween-related object such as a happy-face pumpkin, animal costume, spider web, or spooky tree.
2. Say "I spy with my little eye..." and then describe the object as "something orange and smiling," "furry and brown", and so on.
3. Players take turns guessing what the object is. (Offer extra clues if needed.)
4. The player who guesses correctly gets to "spy" the next object.
5. Extra tip: Expand the game to another of the five senses: “I hear with my little ear…”
Take a break from trick-or-treating to play a game that encourages something very challenging for kids: Standing still!
1. One player, with a flashlight in hand, closes his or her eyes and counts to 10 while other players strike spooky (or silly) poses in their costumes.
2. The kid with the flashlight then goes from statue to statue, shining the light to examine them. (Rule: no shining the light in people’s eyes!)
3. The first statue to "crack" into a smile or move from his or her pose becomes the next to wield the light.
Storytelling is a long-standing Halloween tradition. Carry on the custom by creating your own spine-tingling tales.
1. At the start of trick-or-treating, begin your own story or use one of these simple story starters:
- It was a dark and stormy Halloween night when I found a...
- As soon as I put a candle into the pumpkin, it started to...
- Looking up in the bare tree branches, I saw...
- The black cat started to yowl and hiss when...
- When the old woman in the black cloak put the pot on the fire...
2. After each trick-or-treat stop, pass the plot on to the kids. Let them take your story in their own crazy direction!
3. At the end of the night, whoever is telling the story after the last house has to wrap up the story neatly – not an easy feat!
Here’s an exciting game to play before or after trick-or-treating.
1. Designate a yard or another green space in the neighborhood for the playing field and clearly establish the boundaries of the game.
2. Decide on a home base that everyone can stand on or touch at the same time. (The back door, a picnic bench, or a large tree works well.)
3. Choose one person to be the "ghost.”
4. Everyone but the ghost stands at home base, while the ghost hides somewhere outside.
5. Chant slowly as a group, "One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock..." and so on, up to twelve o'clock. Then shout, "Midnight! I hope I don't see the ghost tonight!"
6. Leave home base and search for the ghost in the yard. The ghost's job is to jump out, surprise, and tag a player. When anyone encounters the ghost he or she should yell "Ghost in the graveyard!" and try to run away.
7. When the ghost catches someone, that person becomes a ghost, too. Anyone who is able to run back to home base is safe.
8. Have all the new ghosts go and hide with (or close to) the original ghost. The people on the home base start again with the chant, "One o'clock... two o'clock..."
9. Continue the game like this until everyone is caught. The last person caught becomes the ghost for the next round.
Now, check out these fun Halloween Activities from Ranger Rick magazine:
Jennifer Bové, mom and former field biologist, is an award-winning contributor to Your Big Backyard® and the editor of three anthologies including Wild With Child: Adventures of Families in the Great Outdoors. Jennifer's blog is filled with timely tips and family fun. Stop by for a visit at www.bovesboots.blogspot.com.
Get Outdoors with Your Family