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Sugar House Journal

Activities to Help Kids Understand Halloweens of Long Ago

Sep 29, 2016 15h15 ● By Bryan Scott

By Joani Taylor

Halloween. It’s a holiday that leaves me confused and mystified. No, it’s not the witches brew getting to me, it’s the evolution of the holiday itself. Take for example this trunk or treat tradition where kids safely walk past parked cars, with cleverly decorated trunks that hold candy lures. Then there are the costumes, which look like characters from PG-13 Disney movies and cost a king’s ransom.   

Perhaps I am confused because I had to endure candy hunting through my own neighborhood, wrapped up in a coat, with a pillowcase full of hard candy and stale raisins. I wore a costume pieced together from torn sheets, yarn scraps and toilet paper. 

It seems that the Halloweens of days gone by were much more imaginative and memorable than the picture-perfect, formulated, store-bought ones we are giving our kids today. Perhaps a trip down your own memory lane may prove helpful in gaining perspective.

With that in mind, here are five Halloween activities kids need to do to help them better understand your childhood.

1. Get your pumpkin from a pumpkin patch.

This activity is fun and can make for a great yearly tradition. Trudging through row after row of orange to find the perfect gourd delights pumpkin seekers of all ages. Yes, it may cost slightly more than the grocery store’s perfect version, but field pumpkins educate children about where and how we get our vegetables, plus it supports our local farming community. Plus, if you wait until Halloween to carve it, pumpkins make pretty good cookies, too. Visit for a recipe.

2. Decorate a Halloween cookie.

And, speaking of cookies, no I didn’t say “frost” a Halloween cookie, I said “decorate.” Get out that creativity with Halloween colors, decorative sugars and different shaped cookie cutters. 

3. Design a Halloween costume using only items found around the house.

Instead of running to the store, throw out a challenge to your little monsters to come up with a costume on their own using household materials. Sheets, scarves, old sunglasses, hangers, old clothes and shoes, pillows, cardboard boxes, wrapping paper and yes, even toilet paper can make for imaginative costumes.  

4. Enjoy a hay ride, corn maze or other fall activity.

There are many reasons you can talk yourself out of doing this activity—ignore them, and just go do it. A parent’s role in Halloween is passive as it is. Stop being the observer while your kids are having fun and do something together. 

5. Watch a vintage scary Halloween movie. 

While your kids’ ages will most certainly determine the movies you allow them to watch, scary movies of yesterday are less scary and less violent than many of today’s blockbusters. This year, with the passing of Gene Wilder, Mel Brook’s “Young Frankenstein” is calling my name. If you must cartoon it, how about “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”? 

Don’t be scared to take the time to share an evening (or two) with your family talking about the ghosts of Halloween’s past while enjoying time together in the present. You’ll be glad you did.

For a list of Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes and Halloween Events visit