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Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

Socially Safe Halloween Masks Craft

Your Halloween celebrations might be physically distanced this year, but wearing a face covering for the festivities doesn’t mean your child has to compromise on a cool costume. Here’s how you can make your child’s face mask part of their trick-or-treating gear. 


  • Non-toxic foam sheets 
  • Washable glue sticks  
  • Hot glue gun 
  • Disposable paper masks 
  • Paper straws 


  1. Talk with your child to decide what kind of mask you should make. The possibilities are endless. If you need a little inspiration, take a look at this video for some ideas!
  2. To create an eye mask, help your child cut out a basic mask shape from a sheet of foam. Cut out foam shapes for your child to glue onto the mask with a glue stick.  
  3. Use the glue gun to attach a paper straw to the side of the eye mask as a handle. Only adults should use the glue gun. 
  4. Cut additional foam pieces to create a mouth for the face covering, and glue them in place with the glue gun.  

Now, your child is ready for a fun and healthy Halloween!  

Are you looking for more safe and spooktacular Halloween ideas? Check out this article on the Goddard School blog featuring some fun activities beyond trick-or-treating! 

Tricks, Treats and Spooky Sweets – 10 Creative Ideas for a Physically Distanced Halloween

mom with two toddlers with halloween bucket and decorcations

Halloween is going to look a little different this year as we follow physical distancing practices. Though children may not be trick-or-treating in your community, you can try the creative activities below to get your family into the Halloween spirit.  

  1. Mystery Bowls – Set up a spooky sensory experience for your children by filling bowls with cold spaghetti, grapes, gelatin and more. Blindfold your children and have them guess the foods as they feel them. For each correct guess, give your children a treat, such as pieces of candy, stickers or other fun items. 
  2. Monster Footprints – Cut out monster-shaped footprints from construction paper, and lay them out in a path throughout your house or yard. Have your children go on a monster hunt that leads to a special Halloween treat at the end of the path.  
  3. Ghost Toast – This deliciously spooky recipe is perfect for breakfast or a snack. Use a ghost-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a few pieces of bread, coat one side with butter and cinnamon sugar, and then toast them in the oven. Add miniature chocolate chips to make eyes and a mouth as a finishing touch, and enjoy!  
  4. “Boo” Someone – Help your children spread some Halloween fun! Leave an anonymous ghost-shaped note and a treat for your children telling them that they’ve been “boo-ed” with instructions to pass it on and “boo” three other friends or family members. 
  5. Bat Snacks – This Halloween snack is perfect for little fruit bats! Trace a bat-shaped cookie cutter on a piece of black construction paper, cut the bat shapes out and tape them to the end of wooden skewers. Help your children put cut-up fruit pieces onto the skewer, and enjoy the healthy treat. 
  6. Want My Mummy Game – This is a perfect way to get the whole family involved in Halloween fun! Group your household into two teams, and provide each with a roll of toilet paper. When you say go, each team will wrap a team member up like a mummy. The first team to finish the roll and wrap the mummy wins! 
  7. Monster Mash Freeze Dance – For active little ones, you can turn on the Monster Mash and have them freeze in monster poses whenever the music stops. 
  8. Spider Dance Game – This game is great for developing balance, especially in toddlers. Use painter’s tape to create a spider web on the floor, and sprinkle toy spiders in the holes of the web. Let your children walk on the web and pick up as many spiders as they can without losing their balance and stepping off the lines. 
  9. Halloween Car Parade – Try holding this physically distanced alternative to trunk or treat by coordinating with your neighbors and organizing a special Halloween car parade. Decorate your car, dress your children up in their costumes, buckle them in and drive around your neighborhood so everyone can enjoy the festivities. Take it a step further by organizing a contest with a prize for the best-decorated car! 
  10. Halloween Scavenger Hunt – Create a competition among your friends and family with this spooky scavenger hunt. Have your children dress up and take a family walk around the neighborhood as you take pictures or videos to record what you find from this list: 
  • Pretend spider webs 
  • A graveyard scene 
  • A ghost that looks like it’s flying 
  • A decoration that makes noise 
  • A real haystack 
  • A black cat 
  • Two scary skeletons 
  • A witch’s hat or broom 
  • A Halloween treat 
  • Black and orange lights 
  • A funny costume 
  • Two of the same costume 
  • A scary carved pumpkin 
  • A silly carved pumpkin 
  • A strobe light 
  • A pretend bat 
  • A spooky sign 
  • Something sparkly 
  • Three pieces of candy corn 
  • A skull 

Even though the Halloween celebrations will be physically distanced, your children can still have a blast! 


Five Child-Friendly Ways to Ring in the New Year

Pom Pom Popper from The Goddard School on Vimeo.

Celebrating the new year doesn’t have to mean staying up hours past bedtime. These activities are the perfect way to include your little one in the festivities.

  1. Fast Forward

Sticking it out until midnight can be exhausting for parents and children alike. To ensure everyone is awake enough to celebrate, choose a city a few hours ahead of yours and celebrate when it turns midnight there. It might only be 8:00 PM at your house, but it’s midnight somewhere!

  1. Get Glowing

Bring the fireworks inside with glowsticks. Choose a variety of colors and wave, dance and spin around in a darkened room to mimic the effects of fireworks without having to go outside.

  1. A Toast…with Toast!

Sure, you could pour your child a glass of sparkling grape juice for a typical New Year’s toast, but why not start a new, silly tradition? Toast up some bread, cut it into triangles and toast the new year by “clinking” your toast pieces. Your child will be delighted by this literal adaptation, and everyone will enjoy a quick snack.

  1. Reflections and Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to talk with your child about some favorite moments of the past year and plans for the new one. Here are some questions to help get the conversation going:

  • What was the best thing that happened this year?
  • What was the hardest thing you did this year?
  • What was something you learned this year?
  • What is something new that you want to learn to do next year?
  • What do you think next year will be like?

Use your child’s thoughts as a springboard to talk about New Year’s resolutions and discuss some fun goals that your family can work toward together in 2020.

5. Party Pom-Pom Poppers

This quick craft is sure to generate tons of excitement with your child as you ring in the new year together.

What You’ll Need:

  • A paper cup
  • A balloon
  • A rubber band
  • Pom-poms or confetti in your child’s favorite colors
  • Assorted stickers
  • Scissors

What to Do:

  1. Cut out the bottom of the cup while leaving the bottom rim in place. (This step is for adults only!)
  2. Have your child decorate the outside of the cup with the stickers.
  3. Cut the tip off the balloon. Make sure you cut across the balloon’s “fold” to prevent ripping when you stretch it over the cup.
  4. Knot the balloon at its end, and help your child stretch it over the bottom of the cup. Then, put a rubber band around the balloon to hold it in place.
  5. Fill the cup with pom poms or confetti and help your child stretch the knotted portion of the balloon before letting go!

DIY Snow Dough Recipe


Help your children bring the snow inside this winter with snow dough. This sensory substance is perfect for modeling snowballs and snow-people, no matter what the weather is like outside your window.

What You’ll Need:

  • A measuring cup
  • A large bowl
  • An airtight container
  • 1 cup of conditioner or lotion (Pick an unscented option if you want to add essential oil for a custom scent.)
  • 2 cups of cornstarch
  • A few drops of your favorite essential oil (This is optional, but peppermint gives the dough a crisp, wintery smell.)

What to Do:

  1. Help your children measure the cornstarch and conditioner or lotion and put them in the bowl.
  2. Add a few drops of essential oil (optional). Parents, please do this step for your children.
  3. Have your children mix the ingredients with their hands until well combined. If the mixture seems a little too dry, add more lotion or conditioner; if it’s too moist, add more cornstarch. Play around with amounts until you have a mixture that is neither crumbly nor sticky.
  4. Have your children wash the excess ingredients off their hands. Together, create some winter shapes such as snowflakes, snow-people or snowballs. When you’re finished, store the dough in an airtight container.

Here are some snow-themed books for you and your children to read together:

The Snowbear by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Claire Alexander;

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal;

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats;

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs;

Snow Friends by M. Christina Butler, illustrated by Tina Macnaughton.

Five Tried and True Ways to Ease Holiday Stress


By Kyle Pruett, M.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Do you feel you are overdoing the holidays and beginning to stress out once again this year? Most of us tend to focus on keeping our children and their schedules – especially for the young ones – under some kind of control to limit the damage and hurt feelings that frequently accompany this overdoing. The most effective way to calm holiday stress, however, is to manage our own. Children will learn far more about staying calm when we get there first. Here are some tried and true ways to help you along the way:

  1. Manage your own expectations. Perfect holidays do not exist in real time, so expect some happiness, delight, surprise, disappointment, fatigue and meltdowns. Tell your children to expect the same.
  1. Make a list. Well ahead of time, sit down and make a list of holiday things you’d like to do or achieve, then cut it in half and proceed. One or two special events spread out over two days, with a generous dose of hanging out and “just being” time, is a pretty good pace. Get some sleep with the time you save instead.
  1. Accept help from others. Remember, you have already yielded on perfection as a goal, so let people bring some food and distribute chores for the bigger events. People old and young typically love being useful, even if it adds to the chaos.
  1. Watch the sweets, fats and fermented spirits. Your (and your children’s) tensions can all be exacerbated by lousy dietary indulgences, not to mention the guilt and the weight gain, which only add more stress.
  1. Play outside. Get out of the house and exercise (children and grownups). It helps to repair the damage to routines and relationships by refreshing minds and bodies.

Feeling Thankful Around the World

On Thanksgiving, families across the United States gather together to show their appreciation for all they have by having an abundant feast. But our country isn’t the only one to dedicate a day to give thanks. Nations all over the world celebrate similar holidays with food-based traditions throughout the year.

Here are a few highlights:


China – Mid-Autumn Festival

While Americans prepare for Thanksgiving, people in China celebrate the harvest with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar, usually in September or October. Originally a time to make food offerings in honor of the moon after a good harvest, the holiday is celebrated today by spending time outside with friends and family; watching the moon; and eating traditional dishes, including mooncakes, sticky red-cooked pork belly and stir-fried seasonal green vegetables


The United States and Canada – Thanksgiving

Beginning as a day of giving thanks for the yearly harvest, Thanksgiving has expanded across the United States and Canada to commemorate family and food. On the fourth Thursday of November (or the second Monday of October if you’re in Canada), families come together to eat dishes like roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. What are your family’s favorite Thanksgiving dishes? Share them in the comments below.


Germany – Erntedankfest

In Germany, Thanksgiving, or Erntedankfest, is celebrated on the first Sunday of October. While it began as a time to celebrate the harvest, the holiday now places an emphasis on giving back. Observers of this tradition deliver baskets of food to poor families throughout German communities. While there isn’t as great an emphasis on a big meal as with the American Thanksgiving, families celebrating Erntedankfest enjoy roast goose or turkey as well as Mohnstriezel, a special Austrian sweet bread with poppy seeds.


Norfolk Island, Australia – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving on Norfolk Island off the coast of Australia comes from an American trader who held a traditional Thanksgiving celebration there during his travels in the 1800s. Observed on the last Wednesday of November, Norfolk Island’s Thanksgiving meal features some foods that stand out from typical American fare, including cold pork and chicken, pilhi and bananas. One American dish that has stuck, however, is pumpkin pie.


Korea – Chuseok

Korea’s harvest festival, Chuseok, which is much like American Thanksgiving, spans three days and is celebrated close to the autumnal equinox. Koreans spend time during the holiday visiting their families and sharing a meal complete with songpyeon, which are small rice cakes containing a variety of fillings, including sesame seeds, honey and sweet-red-bean or chestnut paste. The name songpyeon is derived from the Korean word for a pine tree with needles that are used as a base that infuses the dish with the scent of pine when the rice cakes are steaming.

Engage Your Child in Creative Thinking Over the Holidays


By Helen Hadani, Ph.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

The holidays are a mixed bag for our family. Everyone gets excited about decorating the tree, putting out our collection of menorahs and delivering all of the sweet treats that my daughter bakes to share with neighbors and friends. They can also be a stressful time of managing schedules and making sure Santa and the Hanukkah Bear are good to everyone. Over the years (my children are now teenagers), I have tried to take a step back and think of ways to make the holidays a special time for everyone in our family by starting traditions that my daughters will hopefully continue with their own families one day.

For parents of young children, the holidays can be a wonderful time to engage your children in activities that enhance their creative thinking. For instance, there are endless stories about holiday characters that can be read, told or written about in words or in pictures. One clever twist is to ask your children to make up a different ending to or detail in a story. What if Santa’s reindeer couldn’t fly? What if Frosty the Snowman turned everyone into a snowman?

In my family, the holidays are all about food. (For the record, this is also the case for the rest of the year.) Baking and cooking are great ways for children to express their creativity and build their executive function skills (e.g., by following directions, by planning or by inhibiting their impulses to stick their fingers in the brownie batter). Even the youngest children can help stir the pancake batter, crack eggs or measure ingredients.

One of my favorite things about the holidays is taking photos of special events (much to the chagrin of my family members, who say I like to document events rather than experience them). While most parents don’t want to think of more ways for their children to spend time on a mobile phone or tablet, asking your children to take photos or videos and creating a slideshow or scrapbook is a wonderful way to capture and share special moments from their perspectives.

The holidays will be here before we know it. Read, bake and take photos with your children to spark their creativity and make it a fun holiday for everyone.

How to Survive Holiday Travel with a Toddler


By Jack Maypole, M.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Are you going on a trip and looking to pass the time while you pass through security or over the river and into the woods? Screen time has its limits in helping kids cope with long trips or stretches in airport lounges, and there may be some opportunities that allow even pre-literate kids to engage in the joy of the travel adventure, even if the lines are long or you aren’t even there yet.

Consider making the journey a game, and use the time-tested scavenger hunt or bingo board to liven up your passage. If you are traveling by air, for example, you can use waypoints in your trip (the parking shuttle, the TSA, the airport gate, a food court or the passenger-assistance staff) as boxes or pictures to be marked off as they are seen. You can use simple images off the web for toddlers and preschoolers or brief titles and make a small grid before you leave.

Bigger families might break up into teams. Longer trips might mean double-sided lists of items and sights to hunt for. Everybody gets to pitch in. Who knows? Maybe the winner gets the window seat!

Finally, remember the healthy stuff. Keep tissues and hand wipes handy. Make sure there are snacks for everyone and plenty of water. Whenever possible when in long lines or a waiting area, keep your family in a contained area, away from the potentially sniffling crowds. If there are two adults traveling with children, consider having one stay in line as long as possible while the other stays with the children in a nearby, less-crowded area until it’s time to get back in line. Wash your hands and wash surfaces on planes and trains. These few steps will maximize the chance of staying healthy during the trip.

Buying Your Child a “Tech Toy” for the Holidays This Year? Read This First


By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

With the holidays quickly approaching, many families are starting to think about buying new toys for their little ones. The possibilities seem endless. Will children’s faces light up when they receive dolls, board games or blocks? The increased availability of toys that integrate digital technology into children’s play can make choosing gifts even more overwhelming. Will a robot be the cherished gift of the season, or will VR goggles or drones be? Although children will always enjoy and benefit from traditional play materials, they may be drawn to the novelty, flashing lights and sound effects of digital toys. Are these toys time (and money) well spent? Which ones will children find engaging, both out of the box and over time? Which ones will support their learning and development? A few guidelines can help parents and grandparents navigate the ever-growing landscape of so-called “tech toys.”

  • Young children learn through hands-on exploration of the world around them and through social interaction with adults and other children. Tech toys that combine physical and digital elements and that can engage multiple people in play can be powerful tools for learning in early childhood. Avoid single-user, screen-based devices, and focus on objects that you and your child can investigate together.
  • Some tech toys are little more than digital devices that prompt children to develop and demonstrate their understanding of the ABCs and 123s.  Such toys fail to take advantage of the potential of technology to engage children in playful open-ended learning. When shopping for tech toys, choose those that allow children to create, to practice flexible thinking and to communicate and collaborate with others. Robots like Code-a-Pillar from Fisher-Price’s, Dot and Dash from Wonder Workshop’s and Botley from Learning Resources allow children to work with their friends and family members to control the toys’ movements and sounds. Children have fun creating stories and navigating obstacle courses while practicing their problem-solving skills and learning about coding.
  • Some classic tech toys are still strong contenders for family game night. Bop It! and Simon are fun choices that require children to focus their attention and inhibit impulsive actions – all important aspects of children’s developing abilities to self-regulate.
  • Finally, find balance in the materials you provide your child. Children’s play with tech toys can complement their play with more traditional materials, so get out the blocks and spend time working together to make a maze for your child’s robotic Hexbugs to explore!

Tips For Having a Safe, Happy and Healthy Halloween


By Jack Maypole, MD
Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Soon those goblins, NFL stars, witches and princesses will be trotting up the front walks of the neighborhood to ring doorbells for the goodies within on Halloween. While I suspect that it is far more likely children will get the treat than try a trick, there are some things you can do this year (and every year) to make the holiday a safe and enjoyable one.

For most children, costumes are a chance for joyful creativity and play. Have fun with your expressions but keep some key ideas in mind as you craft your own or grab something at the pop-up store. Check labels, looking for nontoxic makeup (keep it out of those eyes – it stings!) and materials that are clearly noted to be nonflammable.

Materials for those getups should allow the child to see clearly when crossing streets or navigating dark stairs – and to be seen. Finding a way to add reflective material to a treat bag, flashlight or another aspect of the costume is just a good idea. To help them make their way through the gloom of a nearly moonless night (a teensy waxing crescent moon this year), add a glow stick or a flashlight with fresh batteries. Thus equipped, children are ready to go haunting.

For younger children, going out in the late afternoon may be the right move. It prevents the disruption (and derangement) of a missed bedtime. Alternatively, check your local calendar, as many communities are moving toward having child-friendly trick-or-treats in some streets or business districts. For children of preschool or young elementary school age, chaperoning is a must. Depending on your children’s ages and stages, it isn’t a bad idea to quiz them on your phone number (if they know it) or to give them an easy-to-find slip of paper with your phone number on it in case they get lost in the crowds after dark. Hey, it gets crazy out there.

When the bags are full or when the little ones’ feet get tired, it is time to go home and count their booty. I recommend having an adult help the children sort their loot while making a game of it. Count items and put different candies in different piles while a grownup looks for items that might be spoiled, have damaged packaging or potentially be a concern for a child with food allergies. After that, it is a matter of style as to what parents do next. I am agnostic on this part. My dental colleagues mostly object on all counts, and I respect them for that.

Some families subscribe to the “binge now and be done” philosophy, where children live large for the evening, eat their fill and are mostly done with the bounty. Other families might allow a limited indulgence, letting children eat a few choice items and then storing the goods somewhere safe (meaning secret) for their later enjoyment. Whatever your approach, most often children haul in more than they can ever reasonably eat. I recommend setting aside a ration for the child and donating the rest to a worthwhile cause like Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to our troops.

Keep an eye on the children who eat with gusto, as no one needs a bellyache from overdoing it on All Hallows’ Eve. Happy haunting!