Halloween turned our maths lesson in K1 into a ghost hour

Witches, wizards, zombies or ghosts? Days in advance, we have been speculating in K1 about which Halloween costumes we will see on 31 October when it’s trick or treat time at school! 

With bags full of sweets and dressed up as scary characters, the children then came to school on Halloween for a day full of fun and spooky activities. What does this have to do with maths? And how can you connect Halloween with mathematical learning?

Children acquire their early math skills through daily routines and interactions. For example, every morning we count how many students are in school and how many classmates are absent that day. On Halloween morning, things got a bit more exciting and the pupils counted enthusiastically when we asked ‘How many witches flew into the classroom today?’ ‘One, two, three, four!!!’

The use of number words and counting objects is one of the mathematical precursor skills that children acquire in kindergarten and can be integrated playfully into the school day. And that’s exactly what we practised when our maths lesson turned into a ghost hour on Halloween.

In the morning we made little ghost crafts out of recycled paper, wool strings and white tissue paper, which we used in the afternoon for a number recognition game – the Ghost Bucket Toss! For this game, we provided different sized containers equipped with number flashcards that the students had to hit by throwing the ghost figures. 

Swiftly the paper ghosts sailed through the air on our veranda and the children cheered enthusiastically at each score or shouted the number they hit ‘Five! Six! Three!’

With our Ghost Bucket Toss, K1 did not only practise number recognition or the use of number words. Spatial awareness and the perception of distances and sizes are also practised. For example, the children learn to instinctively estimate their own distance to an object while aiming with the ghost crafts at containers of different sizes at different distances. Before each throw, we asked ‘Which number are you aiming at?’ to activate this perception.

Mathematical learning through play – when could it be more fun than trick or treating at the end of the day? Numbers and counting are naturally integrated here when the children decide how many treats they want to give away or we count together whose turn it is next. And finally? Of course, the sugary booty can be counted as well!