Halloween is quite literally at our doorstep complete with pumpkins, giant spider webs, inflatable monsters…and Trick or Treat bags waiting to be filled. This Halloween is still haunted by many ghouls and goblins - social distancing, little ones with no vaccine available, scaled-back celebrations and events, and real masks to wear under our costume masks. Halloween also brings lots of BIG, and little, emotions under those witches’ hats.
This year, we are reminded of a favorite Halloween tale, “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” Remember the many adventures that our favorite Peanuts characters experienced as they celebrated Halloween? Linus was bursting with anticipation as he planted himself in the pumpkin patch waiting for his Great Pumpkin to arrive. Then of course he was crushed with disappointment when the Great Pumpkin never made it by midnight. Lucy was strutting about, so proud of her witch's costume, which she selected because she felt one should wear a costume that best reflects their personality. And then poor Charlie Brown… he experienced such frustration and embarrassment as he tried to make his costume work, and then disappointment when he found only rocks in his Trick or Treat sack.
Snoopy, however, found the true spirit of Halloween - imagination! Snoopy envisioned himself as a great Flying Ace, determined to bring down the evil Red Baron. He created a costume and a whole world to experience and play out his Halloween adventure.
Sure, candy corn, marshmallow ghosts, and gummy witches are all staples of Halloween treat bags, but the real treats of Halloween can be found in creativity and imagination. The opportunity, even for just a few short hours, to dress up and play the part of a favorite superhero, cartoon character, sports idol, or best yet, a character that you have created and brought to life.
Imagination and creative play truly are magical, any time of the year. Children can dream up and make their own costumes and masks; crayons, glue, glitter, tissue paper, boxes, tape - you name it - can all be turned into other worlds filled with stories of adventure. The wonderful doors of imagination and creativity are wide open and allow children to explore not only who they are…but who they can become. Creative play also gives children the chance to put on those masks and play a role that allows them to express and show how they feel in a way that feels safe. They are free to reveal what might scare them, and what also might make them excited and curious - a great opportunity for them to go on adventures of learning and discovery, and for us to start those big conversations around feelings and emotions with them.
Young children’s imaginations have no limits, and they can go as far as their creative brains can take them. When they are playing and using those wild and wonderful imaginations, they are discovering not only fun, but also a lot about themselves.
This Halloween when the doorbell rings, open it wide to imagination. Sharing stories and reading together are such perfect ways to keep those doors to imagination open and the creativity flowing. Here are some super fun books to read together with your little imagineers that can inspire them to just imagine where they can go.