Halloween Party Cooperative Games for Home or Classroom
Perhaps you volunteer in your child’s classroom as I do and are helping plan the annual Halloween party. Maybe you are a teacher looking for ways to both entertain, celebrate, and build skills on the holiday. Or you could be planning a costume party for family and friends. Whatever your role or goal, the following ideas are sure to make your little ghouls or goblins laugh with delight as they collaborate with their peers, approach scary characters in an entertaining way and build social and emotional skills. Check out these games appropriate for eight-years-old and up!
Monster Back Story
Materials: Monster masks, or construction paper, glue, markers and large popsicle sticks (to create monster masks)
Gather around in a circle. Hold monster masks up to your face. You can either create them together as a craft or ask children to bring any mask they might have in from home to share. The leader can introduce one monster at a time. “This is Dracula. He’s a vampire who survives by sucking peoples’ blood. But he wasn’t always as he is today…” Then go around the circle and ask each child to provide a detail from his childhood explaining why he came to be the person he is today.
Be sure to offer the “pass” option if a child cannot think of an addition to the back story.
Social and Emotional Skills Practiced: Collaboration, Empathy, Perspective-taking
Witches’ and Wizards’ Charades
Materials: Index cards, marker
Gather in a circle of students. Have index cards prepared with the magical illusions listed below, one per card. Bring in a stick or better yet, a wand for casting spells. Explain the rules of the game. One person is the witch or wizard and they get to select a card from the pile. They also hold the wand and cast the spell. The students seated directly to their immediate left and right will serve as their team. They read the card together and whisper a plan for acting out the illusion. No talking aloud or sounds can be made just acting. They continue to act out the illusion while the rest of the group guesses what they are doing. The person to guess correctly first is the next wizard or witch.
For the index cards, here are the magical illusions to be acted out: levitation, or a floating person or object; invisibility, person or object disappears; grower taller; shrinking; growing longer hair; changing from a person to a toad; flying on a broomstick; making it light and then, dark; making limbs disappear; disappearing in one part of the room, reappearing in another, charming a snake.
Social and Emotional Skills Practiced: Social awareness, Active listening, Collaboration, Negotiation, Problem-solving, Nonverbal communication
Cooperative Ghost Story Telling
Gather in a circle of students. The leader establishes the rules to get the game started. Let the group know that each person will have a turn to contribute one sentence to the ghost story. Pass around a talking stick and let participants know that only the one who possesses the stick may talk. The others must listen carefully in order to build upon the story. The leader can begin with the classic line, “It was a dark, stormy night and…” This requires no setup and no materials. Kids will delight in the creativity and imagination involved. This is also a wonderful transition game that can be used on the spur-of-the-moment when waiting for a next class or activity.
Social and Emotional Skill Practiced: Collaboration, Creative Thinking, Active Listening
Who Done It?
Materials: Accessory props like glasses, scarf, gloves, headband, costume jewelry
Gather around in a circle. Place accessory props just outside the circle like glasses, headband, bracelet, sweater, and scarf. Explain the rules of the game. All students will put their heads down, with arms over their heads, and eyes closed. Tell students that it’s the honor system and will be more fun if everyone keeps eyes closed. The leader will tap one student on the shoulder who will steal a bag of Halloween candy off of the teacher’s desk and hide it in the room. That person will then return to the circle changing one item on their person grabbing an item from the pile of props. Then students will all open eyes and see if they can identify who stole the teacher’s candy!
An alternative, perhaps slightly more challenging version, would be for the student to – instead of adding a prop – change seated positions in the circle and see who notices who has switched seats. This requires a bigger circle with space in-between each student so that the thief could sit anywhere upon returning to the circle.
Social and Emotional Skill Practiced: Collaboration, Social Awareness (Close Observation)
This one was created for Classroom Conflict Resolution Training for Elementary Schools in San Francisco, California and reprinted in the A Year of Student’s Creative Response to Conflict curriculum. It has been used effectively in classrooms. Children love it!
The parent relays a robbery report and children must remember the details of the report by listening to it. Say it once and see what they can remember. Then, read it a second and perhaps, third time and see if they’re listening improves.
Parent: “Please listen carefully as I have to go to the hospital right away. I just called the police from the gas station on the corner. Wait here and report the robbery to them. I was walking into Johnson’s Convenience Store and this guy came running out and almost knocked me over. He was carrying a white bag and it looked like he had a gun in his left hand. He was wearing a Levi jacket with the sleeves cut out and a green and blue plaid shirt and blue jeans with a hole in the right knee. He had skinny legs and a big stomach. He wore wire rim glasses and high top red Converse tennis shoes. He was bald and had a brown mustache and was six and a half feet tall, probably in his mid-thirties.” 1
Social and Emotional Skills Practiced: Active Listening
Materials: One roll of toilet paper per three kids.
Divide kids into teams of three. Each team gets a roll of toilet paper. One child is the designated mummy and the other two are mummy creators/wrappers. Give the teams time to wrap up one team member by working together encircling the mummy with toilet paper leaving holes for breathing and seeing and hearing, of course! Teams can be challenged to wrap the mummy in such a way that he is able to walk while keeping on the costume. See if the completed mummy can walk across the room without unraveling.
Social and Emotional Skills Practiced: Collaboration, Problem-Solving
Material: long rope, Halloween music (and music player)
Leader shares the rules of the game. Leader lays down rope winding it around the room representing a safe bridge while Halloween music plays (think: “Monster Mash” and “Ghostbusters”). Students link arms and follow one another in a line along the rope. Students must keep both feet on the rope while moving forward to the beat. If a student is struggling, she or he needs to ask his teammates on either side for help. Then, the surrounding students can provide strength and support to help them stay on the rope. If a foot goes off the rope onto the floor (a.k.a. the swamp), the swamp monster “eats that student” and they have to sit out while the others try to stay on. Eliminate down to the last team of three students linked and clap for that last team of three who remained strong.
Social and Emotional Skills Practiced: Collaboration, Asking for help when needed
Enjoy engaging in one or more of these games with your family, friends, or students. Happy Halloween!
1. Nia-Azariah, K., Kern-Crotty, F., & Gomer Bangel, L. (1992). A Year of Students Response to Conflict: 35 Experiential Workshops for the Classroom. Cincinnati, OH: Center for Peace Education.
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