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Halloween Brew

Age: 0 to 8 Time: Under 1 hour
Materials: Large pot; water; vinegar; baking soda
Skills: Imagination, Sensory, Teamwork

Whether or not your family celebrates Halloween, the chance to mix, mash and mull "fall brew" can stimulate your child's imagination, activate multiple senses and strengthen emerging STEM skills. Toss in a few special ingredients, and the learning gets even more sensational.

The Guide

  1. If you celebrate Halloween, chat about what witches do: Read or watch a story like "Room on the Broom." Or, ask kids questions like, “What are Halloween witches? What do they do? Consider singing a Halloween song or rhyme together (See lyrics for one or our favorites below). Ask one another, "Do you think we should try to play witches and make our own brew!
  2. If you do not celebrate Halloween, talk about stews, ciders and other Fall concoctions that your family enjoys. Wonder together how they are made? How could we pretend to make our own?

  3. Gather around a cauldron/pot: Place out a large pot (i.e. big kitchen pot, bucket, hollowed pumpkin) and welcome kids to fill it with some water.
  4. Ingredients?: Wonder together where you can find some more ingredients. What can we add to our brew? Start gathering and adding ingredients from what has fallen on the ground around you. Bring squash, cob of corn or other seasonal vegetables if you like.
  5. Stir, add, stir, repeat: This phase of the play can last for a long time. Transporting, stirring and transforming water into brew combines several developmentally enriching behavior patterns that kids worldwide exhibit. Let this enriching play go on.
  6. Add some mystery: To add a twist, introduce and hand over “secret ingredients” that enhance the sensory experience. Our favorite? One jar of baking soda and another of vinegar/water mixture. Smell each ingredient and discuss how they smell. Feel them and do the same. Predict what will happen to the brew. Then, let the kids add them and share in their amazement!
  7. Cast some spells: If you have one or more children who are old enough to get into pretending, ask them what spell they could cast with their brew. Feel free to offer an example, "If you take one sniff of the brew, it will turn you into a toad!" Take a whiff and hop about to act the spell out. Even though children 3 and up tend to drive this kind of pretending, younger children can still benefit from move like or even just watching the big kids and just enjoying the fun that is being had.

Stirring our Brew

Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew. (motion as if to stir)
Ooooo-oooo. Ooooo-oooo. (cup hands around your mouth as you howl)
Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew.
Ooooo-oooo. Ooooo-oooo.
Tiptoe. Tiptoe. Tiptoe... (tip toe)
BOO! (jump and yell, Boo!)

Why is this activity great for kids?

Teaming up to make Fall "brew" supports children on many levels. First, the very act of transforming water into "brew" by adding, mixing and mashing different materials supports children with the transforming schema. Further, gathering ingredients fuels the transporting schema. Both schema are part of a series of brain-boosting behavior patterns in which young children engage worldwide. Children also use their senses to discover and explore various "ingredients" as they concoct their brew. Finally, children of all ages exercise their imaginations as they pretend, whether you are spooky witches or chefs at work. Even your youngest explorer can pretend to cook—a most accessible play scenario. Your older and more advanced explorers model for the younger.

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