14 Halloween Activities With Natural and Recycled Materials

14 Halloween activities with natural and recycled materials

Repurposing materials is a great way to lessen our environmental impact, as well as a fantastic opportunity to boost creativity. Newspapers, disposable cups, bottle caps, glass jars, milk cartons, rubber bands, paper plates, tin cans, and yogurt containers turn into spooky monsters, beautiful classroom decorations, and clever building blocks for STEM structures. Nature is abundant with materials, too – think of sticks, acorns, cones, and fallen leaves.

You can create most of the ideas in this article with everyday household items and materials that would go into the recycling bin – it is a good idea to ask students to start collecting these a few weeks before Halloween. In addition, have at hand black, white, and orange paper, string, and arts and crafts paint in Halloween colors.

Use PLT’s activity Reduce, Reuse, Recycle from our new Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide to bolster recycling education. By examining trash, students can learn a lot about how and why they throw things away.

Here are 14 Halloween-themed activities for students of all ages and levels!

 

Bats

Did you know that bats are the only mammals that can truly fly? In addition to being fascinating creatures in many ways, bats are a Halloween classic! We’ve listed our favorite ways to bring them into your classroom this October.

Flying paper bats

Use disposable cups and string to make flying, string operated bats with this easy craft. Paint the clean cups black (you can wrap a layer of paper around the cup first if you’re using plastic cups) and use white paper and marker for facial expressions. Check out the rest of this post for a bat decorated classroom.

 

Pinecone bats

This easy DIY activity turns pinecones into adorable Halloween decorations. Start by collecting pinecones from your local area. Once they are dry, they become the body of the bat. You can create the wings and ears from black paper or even leftover felt or other strong fabric. Another fun idea is to use buttons for eyes!

Easy origami bats

Another way of creating classroom decoration bats is origami. This art of paper folding is a great way to create a Halloween atmosphere at home, in the classroom, or at your nearby library, or community center. You only need paper, scissors and glue — and the cute bats even double up as bookmarks. Use newspaper or paper from another project to incorporate recycled materials into this craft.

Click here for more ideas to celebrate Bat Week.

 

Pumpkins

Nothing says Halloween quite like a jack-o-lantern. Going beyond the traditional pumpkin carving, this activity turns the Halloween staple into a STEM challenge. If you have more time, the following two activities also pair well together.

Mini acorn pumpkins

October is prime time for finding acorns (also known as oak nuts) wherever oak trees grow. Let them dry and give them new life as mini pumpkins. Students can have fun drawing different facial expressions while practicing fine motor skills with these tiny items.

Pumpkin catapult

Make catapults out of wooden popsicle sticks and rubber bands. The pumpkin acorns from the previous activity make great projectiles, and older students can play around with different types of ammo and study how the weight and shape changes the trajectory.

 

Ghosts

Ghosts are said to be the souls or spirits of people or animals passed away, and they have been haunting our imaginations for decades. These ghost activities are spooky enough to create a Halloween atmosphere but won’t lead to sleepless nights.

Spooky ghost towers

Use black paper or a marker to turn empty, washed yogurt containers into spooky Halloween ghosts. Your students will practice fine motor and STEM skills by stacking the ghosts on top of each other. Turn it into a competition to see who can make the highest tower!

 

Fallen leaf ghosts

This activity transforms fallen leaves into ghosts to decorate the classroom. Start by going for a walk in the forest, park, or backyard to collect leaves from the ground. Let the leaves dry, then paint them white and carefully use a black marker for eyes and mouth.

Ghost lanterns

Dark October nights call for soft lighting. Washed glass jars and plastic bottles turn into super spooky lanterns with just a dash of paint. Use white paint for the base of the ghost, and black paint to ‘draw’ on the features. We recommend LED or battery-operated fairy lights, but you can also use candles in the glass jars.

If using real candles, remember fire safety and take this opportunity to discuss it with your students.

 

Monsters

Come Halloween, all kinds of monsters crawl out of their caves, graves, and other dark places. Here are ideas for some monstrous fun this year.

Monster bowling

Use empty, cleaned tin cans and paints to create a set of Halloween monsters. Once decorated and dried, turn the classroom into a monster bowling alley with a tennis ball (or similar). Put numbers at the bottom of the jars for added math practice!

Skeleton hands

This fun and educational project explores biology and human anatomy by letting the students build their own skeleton hands. Source the arm from fallen sticks from nature, and create the fingers from used and clean paper straws.

Snake roller coaster

With this thrilling roller coaster STEM challenge, students can practice their engineering skills, as well as creativity. Ask students to bring tissue boxes, paper plates, and toilet roll tubes to create stomach-turning roller coasters. It’s also a great starting point for a discussion on gravity and energy that operate the roller coaster.

Gooey Experiments

We know not to play with food, but common kitchen pantry ingredients can be used to create some creepy and fascinating scientific experiments. Here are a few of our favorites, tried and tested to be suitable for all ages.

Lava lamps

Use common kitchen pantry ingredients and washed glass jars or bottles to create mesmerizing lava lamps that pair perfectly with those dark, October nights. Younger students can simply enjoy watching the bubbles bounce around, whereas older students can learn more about the chemical reactions happening in the lamp, making the simple science experiment suitable for all ages.

Click here for some more glow-in-the-dark experiments and activities!

Bubbling Halloween ghosts

You may never have thought about it, but there’s a lot of science behind bubbles. With this fun activity, students make a simple science experiment comparing different types of liquids and their ability to form bubbles. Use washed cups and paper straws for best results — just be careful with soap and remind the students to wash their hands before touching their faces.

 

Monster eyeballs

Have your students ever held an eyeball in their hand? We hope not. With this fascinating and easy experiment, your students become scientists experiencing the magic of chemistry using only eggs, vinegar, and clean glass jars. Allow 48 hours for this experiment to make sure the ‘eyeballs’ have time to develop.

Take our ideas one step further by exploring how the materials can be used again after Halloween, or recycled. Just like in nature, life and resources flow in cycles and circles. This is a great opportunity for students to imagine different models of making and using everyday objects.

For more Halloween activities with recycled and natural materials, check out this Pinterest board.

Let us know in the comments which activities you’ll try this year!

Rebecca Reynandez

Rebecca Reynandez

Rebecca Reynandez is a Marketing and Communications Consultant and Principal of Spring Media Strategies, LLC. She has worked with nonprofits for the past 10 years and currently focuses on working with environmental organizations. She is based in Minneapolis, MN.

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