A skeleton activity sounds like spooky fun, right? You’re all in for the creepy, cringe-worthy Halloween decorations. But, the second your kiddo sees a skeleton they starts screaming. It’s completely understandable. You get that they sees the ghastly, ghostly set of bones and get spooked. That being said, you can turn around their “scary skeleton” way of thinking with an awesomely imaginative (and totally kid-friendly) art activity. Check out how this crafty creation can make Halloween less scary for kids!
Along with being the focus of your Halloween décor scheme, skeletons offer benefits galore when it comes to your child’s learning. What can your child learn from this bag of bones?
The most obvious learning connection is science. Exploring the skeleton’s form helps your child to discover the wonders of the human body. This includes basic biology, understanding how the body works and getting a better picture of what (literally) supports us. Looking at a skeleton from an anatomy and physiology point of view can also help your child to feel more comfortable with the form, and not see it as something that’s so scary. Think about it—it’s not really a horror prop, it’s one of the most important parts of the body.
Okay, so skeletons equal learning about science. But, what else? There are more than 200 bones in the human body (actually it’s 206 for an adult). That might be a lot of counting for your kiddo, so try it together! Start with one, and keep going. Bonus: it’s hard for your little learner to see a skeleton as outright scary when they’re using it for math.
So, how can you take these little lessons that skeletons can teach your child and put them into play? With art! With a few (or maybe more than a few) craft sticks, some white tempera paint and dark-colored paper, your child can create their very own skeleton.
If your younger child doesn’t have the attention span to create a full-sized set of bones, that’s okay. Along with having the notoriously brief ability to focus, preschoolers typically can’t count up into the hundreds. With this in mind, making a modified skeleton is a great way to reap the benefits of this activity, without overwhelming your child. Even though it’s not 100% accurate, this artsy option still takes the spooky factor down a notch, gets your child acquainted with the human body, and helps them to count.
Older kids (or younger ones who want a little more) can take the activity a few steps further and create a full skeleton. Instead of a piece of construction paper, roll out butcher paper or plain gift wrap as a background. Oh yeah, and you’ll need a lot more craft sticks too!
The first step is painting the craft sticks. You can choose one of a few options (or combine them). Your child can paint the sticks with a brush. One side will be glued down, so there’s no need need to paint both sides. Other options include finger painting, dipping the sticks through a thin pool of paint (pour the pool onto a paper plate or thick cardboard) or use a non-brush tool. What kinds of tools can your kiddo use? Paint rollers and sponges are easy options. You can even cut up a kitchen sponge and use it to stamp paint-covered prints onto the sticks.
Now that your child has the “bones” ready to go, it’s time to build the skeleton. Have them puzzle out the picture, figuring out which bones go where. They can use a picture from a book or those not-so-scary-anymore Halloween skeletons as inspiration. When they’re done putting it together, they can glue the sticks down onto the paper.
But, what about the skull? Save some of the white paint and use it to add the skeleton’s head.
When the art-making is done you have a few options for putting the now not-so-spooky skeleton project into use. Hang it up as a totally Halloween display or use it for another educational activity (or do both!).
When it comes to educational ideas, have your child point to the bones and name them. There’s the femur! And, the clavicle! Here are the ribs!
You can also make some math magic beyond just counting the bones and have your child child use the bones to add simple equations—one rib bone plus one rib bone equals two rib bones.
Are skeletons scary? No way! But, your child still thinks so. Calm their fears, get into art-making and show her that these oh-so-common Halloween decorations are actually us.