Halloween games provide an awesome opportunity to take pretend play to the next level. Through some easy dramatic play at home, kids can learn more about their character, bond with you and even cultivate empathy! Beyond just silly fun, Halloween games provide a welcome backdrop to make meaningful conversation with your kids.

I love a little structure with my dramatic play. As a parent and theater teacher, having some clear steps to an imaginative game is so important. That way, I know how to dive into the make-believe without it being too murky. Additionally, a framework for games helps me to set the playing in motion and then back off and let it take care of itself. This is especially true on a playdate, at a party or in a classroom setting.

Psychologists call this “scaffolding play”. Scaffolding describes the ways that adults can build a game—through the premise and the questions along the way— so that kids can then solve problems or meet goals that they normally would not be challenged enough to do.

Here are some of my favorite ways to engage those dramatic play muscles and scaffold Halloween games into quality playtime. These Halloween games are tried and true.  Some are twists on classic party games, some have mindfulness and executive functioning skills built in, and they are all a great way for kids to get into character before they shout, “Trick or Treat!”

Use these games for your next Halloween party or simply as a means to work off that sugar high! However you choose to play them, these gross-motor games will help kids get connected to their body through their character.

ADVERTISEMENT

Boom Chica Boom

Explore different Halloween-inspired emotions (spooky, scared, brave) while playing Boom Chica Boom.

You can also take your character on a narrative journey from beginning to end. (Watch this video to see how we do it.) The advantage of using the text of Boom Chica Boom is that kids don’t have to think of what to say. They can just go full-throttle into the feelings and actions of their character.

Talk Show

Help kids flesh out their “back story” in a lively and goofy way with a spoof on a late-night show! You can be the TV host—simply channel your own James Corden or Jimmy Fallon—while the kids are the guest celebrity. Since they have the status of the “famous” character (“Alice in Wonderland is here promoting her next trip down the rabbit hole!”) often self-consciousness fades away.

Additionally, since they are speaking in the first person, kids can practice empathy. In other words, they are really getting into the shoes of their character (literally and metaphorically). The act of thinking like another person, even if that “person” is actually an alien or a Disney princess, builds true character.

Make a Commercial

Get a clear product and really pitch it! A witch might sell a cauldron, Harry Potter sells his wand, Cinderella sells her glass slipper. Whatever your “character” finds essential is a great starting place. Then, use a jingle – create a silly song or rhyme about the product.

Show why the product is fabulous in a little re-enactment of someone using it.

Red Light, Green Light

Jump on your broomstick or Batmobile. Figure out what kind of vehicle your character rides in and let it whisk you away! Next, raise the stakes by having a challenge at every “red light” that the kids need to overcome.

Obstacle Course

Firstly, I love an obstacle course because it helps kids envision the world of their character. Furthermore, it is a super way release energy while you can still control the chaos. This classic game gets a Halloween spin on it when your child uses the world of his or her character to plan the course.

Magic Stew

Kids will enjoy contributing imaginary (yucky!) ingredients for Halloween-themed fun with the game Magic Stew. Alternatively, have them make a potion that includes their character’s favorite foods so that they turn more into that role! For example, your little dinosaur will enjoy some prehistoric plants or perhaps your cowgirl loves some BBQ and what does Maui eat actually? Now is as good a time as ever to figure it out! This game can even help kids become better eaters, too!

Test Your Touch

I love Test Your Touch—but, let’s face it, it is best played at Halloween when you can pour in bowls of water marbles as eyeballs, spaghetti as brains and twigs as bones, especially if your party crew is really into the gross stuff. While it is traditionally great as a mindfulness exercise, things are bound to get a little rowdy the more yucky ingredients you put out there.

What are some of your favorite Halloween party games?

This post originally appeared on Child’s Play in Action.