The Ultimate Guide to Halloween: The Best Learning Activities & Crafts for 3 Year Olds

Three kids sitting around a jack-o-lantern in front of the fireplace and smiling

With the smell of pumpkin spice in the air and leaves changing color, it’s almost time for Halloween! With excitement for the festivities in the air it’s the perfect time to engage your child in some Halloween-themed learning activities. 

One of the most important stages of development and learning is from birth to five years old. These years are crucial to your child’s health, wellbeing, and overall learning.

Some learning goals to meet your 3 year old’s development needs can include:

Child all dressed up in her halloween costume

1. Recognizing colors: Ask your toddler what color the pumpkins are, point out the fall leaves, or talk about the decorations and costumes in detail. The more descriptive, the better. This is a great practical way to build their vocabulary too. 

2. Playing creatively: Give your child some independence in their choice of a costume. Base it on one of their many favorite characters, colors or objects and watch them invent their own stories as they engage with pretend play.

3. Remembering parts of a story: Snuggle up with your little one and read some Halloween-themed books. Exploring the local library can be a great way to rotate in some new favorites. Ask them about their favorite character or part of the story. Include anecdotes about your Halloweens as a child, or neighborhood traditions.  

4. Explore your neighborhood: Getting out of your home with your child, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block, helps your child learn as they encounter new stimuli. We’ve created a free printable Halloween-themed scavenger hunt for bigger kids, that you can adapt for your little one. For example, show your child the card with the spider web as they search for spider web decorations on your street.  

Festivities surrounding holidays like Halloween can provide the framework for introducing your little one to new ideas and situations. Just like with Skillmatics games, fun comes first! The learning simply happens along the way.

By observing your toddler, you will also start to learn their likes and dislikes. They are often eager to share! Listen to them, and try to create learning opportunities surrounding their interests. Your child will be much happier to engage in activities that reflect what they are currently cognitively working on. If they like to make noise, prefer to paint quietly, or enjoy the feel of different textures in their little hands - channel it into an activity!

Halloween DIYs to Spark Their Creative Side

These kid-friendly activities are suitable for ages 3 and up.

Apple Pumpkin Stamps inspired by thishappynanny

What you will need:

  • Apples

  • Non-toxic paint

  • Colored markers

Boost your child’s creativity and color recognition with this crafty fall-inspired art idea. Simply cut an apple in half, and use it as a pumpkin stamp. Decorate your printed pumpkins by giving them faces and stems with markers. You can also use your stamp to make Halloween decor or gift wrapping.

Fall Sound Bottles inspired by our.montessori.journey

What you will need:

  • 3 clear non breakable screw top bottles 

  • Fabric leaves/shapes of your choice

  • Wooden leaves/shapes of your choice

  • Plastic leaves/shapes of your choice

This DIY sensory activity is perfect for introducing new words into your little one’s vocabulary. Simply fill three (or more) bottles each with different themed materials - depending on what you find at your local craft store. Fabric leaves are silent, wood leaves are quiet and plastic leaves are loud. You can recreate the same thing by going on a nature walk to fill each bottle - with leaves, twigs and small pebbles or gravel. This activity is easy to recreate and allows them to identify different levels of sound that they make while they play. 

Salt Dough Ornaments inspired by montessori.spaces

What you will need:

  • For the dough: 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup water

  • Non toxic washable paints

  • Mod Podge

Another way to get your little one involved with Halloween decor is by making kid-friendly salt dough ornaments. These need a little pre-planning but are so worth it. Knead together 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1 cup of water to make the dough. Allow your kids to help get it to the right consistency. Then roll it out and get crafting! From pumpkins, to witches’ cats and friendly ghosts, the options are endless. Plan out the look of each one and bake for 3 hours, leaving them to harden overnight. The next day they can be painted with washable paints and sealed with Mod Podge for a glossy look. Once their masterpieces are complete, let your little one find a spot to hang their art so it can be admired by all.

Family carving the pumpkin out

Pumpkin Carving

Check out your local pumpkin patch as your child hunts for their perfect pumpkin. When you arrive home fill a big basin of water and offer your child a scrub brush so they can clean their find. Next, let them paint it and apply their favorite stickers so they can take 100 percent ownership of their pumpkin project!

Organize a Halloween Party

Plan a Halloween party to remember with indoor and outdoor party games that are ideal for your tiniest party guests. 

Ghost and Pumpkin Bowling

Use a few rolls of toilet paper and a black marker to make a stack of ghostly bowling pins. Cut off the stem of a pumpkin, and your bowling ball is ready to go! You can play this in teams or as individuals. The ones who knock down the most pins win. An added bonus - this helps your little one develop motor coordination. Make sure to adjust the distance of the “ghosts” and size of the pumpkin depending on your age group.

Feed The Monster

This game doubles up as a colorful Halloween decoration. Simply use a large cardboard box and some craft supplies to make a hungry monster with a large mouth, and toothy open grin. This is a game that you can construct along with your kids. Have the kids stand at an appropriate distance and feed the monster by throwing the balls into its mouth. The size of the monster’s mouth and distance should be chosen as per the age group. It’s another great way to build gross motor skills.

Skeleton Bone Relay Race:

Sort kids into teams and organize a relay race using a spooky skeleton bone instead of a baton. You can also get them to come up with an on-theme name for their teams. Relay races help kids develop coordination and movement skills while having fun and being physically active.

Girls playing with Guess in 10 Junior by Skillmatics

Once things start to wind down, you can switch to indoor games. Skillmatics Holiday Bundles have plenty of great educational games for kids to play that are fun for the whole family. Games like Guess In 10 Junior  or Memory Match are the perfect choice for this age range.

Here are some more DIY Halloween Party Games for 3 year olds (also enjoyed by big kids):

Two kids doing Halloween crafts at their craft station with

Pass the Pumpkin

Use a small pumpkin instead of a parcel to play Pass the Pumpkin. Kids need to be extra careful to keep the pumpkin intact. Have them sit in a circle for this activity, and have someone control the music while they pass it from one to the other. Whoever has the pumpkin when the music is stopped has to leave the circle. Tensions run high as the circle gets smaller! This game helps young ones understand winning and losing gracefully, boosts their listening skills, and helps develop motor coordination.

Wrap the Mummy

Pair up the kids and hand each pair a roll of toilet paper. They get to decide who wraps and who is the mummy. The first pair to successfully present a mummy wins. This is a great exercise to help your kids bond and understand teamwork and decision making.

Make sure to serve Halloween appropriate snacks at your party. You can do this as a potluck, or follow some of these “spooky” DIY recipes. Refried beans and parsley can be used to make soil for your Graveyard Dip, served up with delectable tortilla chips cut in the shape of gravestones. Try these Cheesy Spiders that use chowmein legs. Offer up a healthy alternative to candy and sugary treats with Celery Snails using apple slices and oranges & Caterpillars using grapes. Remember to include apple, pumpkin and cinnamon on the menu to make your house smell like a fall dream.

Have the kids sit and make up a story about each of their characters and how they came together for that evening. This will help them recall their own stories, while giving them a chance to explore their imaginative sides to come up with an entirely new one. This type of group thinking is essential to introduce them to before they start going to school. You will find your little one reading social cues, understanding compromise and even learning to respect their peers' ideas and opinions. It’s important to start young.

Whether you like Halloween to be extra spooky or cute and cuddly, this is a wonderful time of year to share with your little ones. These games and activities are sure to make it extra special. 

All of this excitement presents endless opportunities to mix learning with fun for kids aged 3 and up. Help them strengthen a whole range of skills with these DIY activities.

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