Annual Halloween Cooperative Games
…Imaginative Fun and Skill-building In-Person or at a Distance
Perhaps you volunteer in your child’s classroom 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 an indoor celebration with siblings or a small friend group with rain threatening trick-or-treating plans. 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. I’ve listed which ones could be used over Zoom for an online classroom or group experience. To ensure a fun time, go over Zoom rules first including muting yourself until it’s your time to speak and using hand signals like raising a hand or using the sign language for clapping so that all are prepared to contribute. 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 on Zoom or in-person. Hold monster masks up to your face. You can either create them together as a craft at home prior to the event or ask children to bring any mask they might have 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, stick or wand
Gather on Zoom or in-person. For Zoom, create slides with each of the magical enchantments below. If in-person, make index cards prepared with the illusions listed below, one per card. Ask each participant to bring 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 on Zoom or in-person. 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
This is a great one for Zoom or in-person. 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
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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