Now that Halloween is over, what are you going to DO with all those sweets? If you’re overwhelmed by the gobs of leftover Halloween candy in your pantry, try out these simple learning activities to give all that candy a new and noble purpose!
How was your Halloween, my friends? Ours was crazy, but the kids had a ball. The boys went trick-or-treating THREE times (trunk-or-treat at church, party at Daddy’s work, and traditional trick-or-treating in the neighborhood), so they got GOBS of candy.
Seriously, I could NOT believe how much candy we accumulated by the end of the night. YIKES! I like a good treat and all, but this year was ridiculous!
Anybody else a little disgusted with the sheer amount of sugar that is sitting in your pantry right now?
But, I have a plan to manage all that leftover Halloween candy:
Step 1: I let my boys each fill one ziplock bag with their favorite no-one-else-can-touch-it candy. All the rest of the candy went into a communal bucket.
Step 2: I’m going to slowly (yes, sneakily) stash away some of the communal candy to be given out in Christmas stockings and Easter baskets. Candy shopping is DONE for the next six months, folks!
Step 3: I’m going to make our candy multi-task! Specifically, we’ve been using our candy for all sorts of learning activities in the few days since Halloween, and it’s been a huge hit!
Why candy is a great tool for learning activities
The science: Learning is most effective when it is tied into our children’s daily lives. They are more vested in the learning and retain knowledge better when their brains see it as valuable.
Candy is VERY valuable in my kids’ minds–especially right now, so I’m using it to my advantage (and theirs)!
With a little creativity, you can use your child’s holiday treats to help them practice all sorts of essential skills and core academic knowledge–literacy, math, problem solving, critical thinking–in a play-based setting that they will love!
Without further ado, here they are…super simple, fun ways to encourage learning using leftover Halloween candy.
Sweet learning activities that use leftover Halloween candy
My oldest son loves to sort things. Last year, I found him in his room lining up his Halloween candy in rows, divided by type. First, I laughed (he is SOOO my child). Then, I got excited…he had made a lovely bar graph on the floor of his bedroom. I got down with him, and encouraged him to show me what he was doing. We counted how many candies each column had and discussed which type had the most and least. It was such a great learning activity–and it was all his idea!
If you don’t have kids who spontaneously graph their candy, you can encourage it with one simple question: “I wonder which candy you have the most of?”...then watch the learning begin.
Sorting is an essential skill that develops logical reasoning and classifying. Beyond sorting candy into a graph by candy name, encourage your kids to sort their treats into other categories. Try these to get you started:
- chocolate vs. non-chocolate
- color (we made a candy rainbow)
- shape (circle, square, rectangle, other)
3. STEM building
Grab some gummy candies and a handful of toothpicks, and encourage your child to build with them. Try building a tower, a bridge…anything. You could even grab a few types of candy and see which ones are stronger building materials.
There are virtually INFINITE free printable BINGO games out there on just about every academic topic…alphabet, numbers, sight words, US presidents, etc. Use small Halloween candies (M&Ms, Skittles, etc.) as markers for your BINGO card. Sure, they’ll want to eat the candy at the end, but at least they’ll do some good learning first!
5. Make patterns
Practicing making patterns helps kids learn observation and prediction skills. Grab a bowlful of candy and create a simple pattern for your child. (Try M&M, Reese’s, M&M, Reese’s, M&M, Reese’s, etc. or something like that.)
As they get the hang of it, progress to more complex patterns. Here are a few basic pattern ideas (numbers represent different candies):
- 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, …
- 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, …
- 1, 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, …
Let them come up with patterns of their own as well. Who knew lining up candy on the floor could promote such great logical reasoning and math skills?!
6. Do science experiments
As Miss Frizzle would say, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” Encourage your kids to make predictions and follow the scientific method to test their hypotheses as they explore the way their candy interacts with other things in the world. Here are a few fun ones I’ve done with my kids.
Want more? Here are 23 science experiments using candy to keep the kiddos busy!
7. Alphabetize your candy
Grab some alphabet flash cards, or just write the ABCs on a piece of paper, and then dig through your candy bucket to see how many of the letters of the alphabet you can find candies for. After you’re done, make some additional observations…which letter is used most frequently?
8. Write your name in candy
Write your child’s name on a large piece of paper/poster board. Encourage your child to “write” his or her name in candy by covering up the lines that make the letters of their name.
9. Practice comparison
Each of you pick one candy out of the bucket without looking. Then compare the two. Which is bigger? Which is longer? In what other ways are the candies similar or different.
You can also fill a small bowl with a few handfuls of candy and encourage your child to put them in order from smallest to biggest. Learning to evaluate, categorize and measure by comparison are important STEM skills.
10. Feed the candy monster!
For this simple math skills game, you need to make a “candy monster” like this or this. Really, any paper with a simple monster drawn on it and a hole cut for a mouth with do fine. Then, grab some dice and a pile of candy.
Tell your child that you have brought a friend to play today–the CANDY MONSTER! But he’s very hungry, so we need to feed him right away. Take turns rolling the die and feed the monster the number of candies rolled. Count out loud each piece as you put it in the monster’s mouth. This one is great for young kids who need to practice counting with one-to-one correlation.
11. Learn about the history of candy
Where did candy come from? Has it always existed? The Organized Homeschooler has an awesome, literacy-based lesson plan that answers these questions and others. I love activities like this one that broaden my kids’ world view. Besides, as long as they’re going to eat the candy, they may as well learn about where it came from, right?
That’s it! I hope your kiddos enjoy these activities and I hope it gives you a way to use ALL THE CANDY for something useful!
Do you have tons of candy lurking in your house, or is it long gone??? Let me know in the comments!