This blog post may contain affiliate links.
Saturday, September 30, 2023

October Play Activity Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers + Free Play Calendar PDF

I'm putting together monthly play calendars to make it easy for you to create a month of fun for your kids at home or in the classroom, every month of the year. October 31st is Halloween, so to celebrate the spooky season the October play calendar focuses on spider, skeleton, ghosts and witch themed ideas for toddlers, preschoolers and school kids. The activities include a mix of art and craft, sensory, science and play ideas as well as books to read aloud during the month. Don't worry they're not scary.

Each activity is explained in detail below, including how you can extend or adjust the activity based on your child's age. You can also download our free interactive October activity calendar pdf with links to instructions for every activity to save for future reference. Also if you're planning on dressing up for Halloween night, have a look at our DIY costume ideas post.

October 2023 kids play activity calendar.


This play activity calendar includes activities that can easily be done using items from around your home {or classroom} and you can substitute items to make it suit what you have on hand. If you want to be fully prepared I've set up an Amazon supply list that includes all of the main items needed for every activity during October.

There are no activities listed for weekends as they can be used for free play/family time or to catch up on activities you may have missed during the week. Below you will find detailed explanations of each activity as well as how to modify them for children of different ages and some extension activities you can do if you're looking for additional ideas.

At the bottom of this post you'll also be able to download a copy of the interactive October play calendar PDF which includes direct clickable links to all of the activities featured in this months calendar. Feel free to pick and choose which activities appeal to your child.

Paper Plate Spider

Kick off October with this adorable paper plate spider craft. All you need is a paper plate, paint, black pipe cleaners, googly eyes and a hole punch. This is a great way for children to work on their fine motor skills and a good opportunity to talk about the parts of a spider, like the fact they have 8 legs and can have multiple eyes.

paper plate spider craft.


Build a Playdough Spider

Setting up a build a spider playdough and loose parts tray is a great way to do some Halloween sensory play, without being too creepy, because the kids are able to build the spiders however they want.

This playdough activity provides so many opportunities to help strengthen fine motor skills, develop language and communication skills and learn facts about spiders. You can build on these opportunities by asking questions like: How many legs does your spider have? What do you think your spider eats? Where does your spider live?

playdough spiders halloween activity.
Alternative Idea:

Halloween Playdough Mats. If your kids love playing with playdough I also have some free Halloween playdough mats that include pumpkin and spider mats that can be used with playdough, loose parts and washable markers. If you want even more designs I have a full set of Halloween playdough mats available in my Etsy store.


Pete the Cat and the Itsy Bitsy Spider {Read Aloud}

Pete the Cat and his friends help the Itsy Bitsy Spider as he tries to climb the water spout. This fun story about how friendship and encouragement can help you overcome obstacles is a twist on the classic nursery rhyme.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

pete the cat and the itsy bitsy spider book cover.

Extension Idea:

Itsy Bitsy Spider Actions. After reading the book put on this video of the nursery rhyme and get the kids to copy along with the movements.

Spider Sensory Bottle

Make this mesmerising spider sensory bottle in just a few minutes with the kids. You'll need an empty plastic bottle, water, orange glitter glue, spider sequins and some small black plastic spiders. Follow our step by step instructions to make the spider sensory bottle.

Once it's made the kids will have heaps of fun shaking it and watching the spiders slowly fall and float in the glittery orange liquid. It's also really fun to shine a torch on it at night.

Halloween spider sensory bottle.


Spider Web Slime

If your kids are fascinated by spider webs they'll love this spider web slime. This stretchy slime is a great way for kids to explore spiders in a web without going near real spiders. It's also a hands-on way to teach kids about chemistry including polymers, states of matter, elasticity and even more scientific concepts.

Spider web slime for Halloween.

Alternative Idea:

Spider Sensory Bin. If your kids don't like slime, or the thought of making it terrifies you {I totally feel you there} then a simple spider sensory bin is a fun alternative. All you'll need is some fake spiderweb and plastic spiders in different sizes. You can also add in some tweezers so the kids can get the spiders out of the web.


Funnybones {Read Aloud}

A big skeleton, a little skeleton and a dog skeleton live in the dark dark cellar of a dark dark house. Follow them on their adventure as they come out one night to find someone to scare.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

funnybones book cover.

Skeleton Sensory Bin

Let the kids pretend to be palaeontologists and investigate skeleton bones with this skeleton sensory bin. You'll need a plastic skeleton that can be pulled apart, or a bag of bones, which should be easy to find at dollar stores or department stores. You can change the sensory base to kinetic sand or moon sand if you don't want to use coloured salt.

plastic skeleton sensory bin for halloween.

Extension Idea:

Skeleton Anatomy. If your kids are old enough, pair this activity with this free printable skeleton anatomy sheet and get your kids to match the bones pieces to the poster.


Q Tip Skeleton

Make a cute skeleton craft using q-tips and glue. Follow the instructions at Mombrite to assemble your skeleton. If your doing this craft with younger children you may want to pre-cut the q-tips.

q-tip skeleton craft.


X Ray Dramatic Play

If you have a light board or light table at home or in the classroom the kids can explore the human skeleton with these transparent plastic sheets of real human skeleton x-ray photos. Remove the backing and use them on a light table to make them look like real x-rays. 

Children can learn more about the human skeleton and role play being a radiographer or doctor. 

x ray sheets for light table.

Alternative Idea:

Printable X-rays. If you don't have a light table you can use these printable x-rays for dramatic play instead. 

Full Size Skeleton

Make a full size model skeleton for kids with this printable life size skeleton {sized for a 6-8yr old}. Print out the pieces, cut them out then the kids can assemble them to create a full size skeleton. This is a great vertical play activity to assemble on the wall so children can stand next to it once it's finished.

life size skeleton printable.

Alternative Idea:

Use a large roll of black paper or large chalkboard sheet and have your child lay down on it to trace their body with chalk or chalk pens. Once the outline is done, fill in where all their bones go to create a life size skeleton of them.


Pom Pom Painted Ghost

This ghost craft is super easy to make using pom poms and pegs instead of a paintbrush. Kids will love being able to get creative and paint without using a paintbrush. Holding the pegs to paint is also a great way to build up hand strength and develop fine motor skills.

pom pom painted ghost craft


Ghost Science Experiment

Make floating ghosts with this simple ghost balloon science experiment. This experiment uses a baking soda and vinegar reaction to make the balloons inflate and turn into floating ghosts. If your kids love this experiment then they'll love our other Halloween science experiments and stem activities.

halloween ghost balloon science experiment.

The Little Ghost Who Didn't Like to be Scary {Read Aloud}

Halloween is getting closer and it's the most important day of the year for ghosts, but Layla the little ghost didn't like being scary, she wanted to be a kind ghost.

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

the little ghost who didn't like to be scary book cover.


Ghost Pom Pom Poppers

These ghost pom pom poppers are a fun craft for kids to make and then afterwards they can play with them shooting pom poms to scare people. You will probably have to help cut the bottom of the cup and attach the balloon to the base of the cup for younger children.

ghost pom pom poppers


Frozen Ghosts Sensory Tray

This frozen ghost sensory play is super easy to set up and only requires shaving cream, black beans and access to a freezer. Kids will love playing with the cool, squishy ghosts. This one may get messy so do it in the bath or shower, or outside so it can easily be cleaned up with water.

frozen ghosts sensory play tray.

Room on the Broom {Read Aloud}

The witch and her cat fly happily over forests, rivers and mountains on their broomstick until a stormy wind blows away the witch's hat, bow and wand. They are retrieved by a dog, a bird and a frog, and each animal asks for a ride on the broom. One after the next climbs on, until the broom is so heavy that it snaps in two! What will happen next as they tumble into a bog and meet a greedy dragon?

Read the story aloud in a group, read the book to your child, have your child read the book to you, or watch the story being read aloud here on YouTube. You can borrow the book from a friend or the library, or get your own copy from Amazon or Amazon AU.

room on the broom book cover.

Extension Idea:

Witch Dress Up. If you want to act out the story after, get dressed up as the witch, there's a DIY room on the broom costume here.


Paper Plate Witch

This paper plate witch is so simple even young kids can make it {although you may have to cut the witches hat shape out for them}. Painting the plate and crinkling up and gluing on the witches hair are great ways to use fine motor skills. Plus they can be as creative as they want when drawing on the face.

paper plate witch craft.

Extension Ideas:

More witch crafts. If your kids loved this craft, have a look at our post of 30 witch craft activities and play ideas to find even more fun witch ideas.


Witches Brew

Kids can make their own bubbling witches brew with just a few items from the kitchen and some plastic creepy crawlies. Add some scoops and cups and they can mix and pour their creepy concoction from their cauldron all day long.

witches brew sensory play.

Witches Broomstick Fine Motor Activity

This witches broomstick fine motor activity combines a game and threading as children thread the beads onto their witches broom. You'll need some pipe cleaners and paper for the broomstick, beads for threading and a dice. You can also do the activity without a dice if you don't have one.

witches broomstick fine motor activity.


Witches Potions Science Experiment

Kids will watch on in awe as these bright witches potions bubble and brew to life. With a twist on the traditional bicarb and vinegar science experiment, these witches potions combine science and creepy crawlies into one spooky, fun activity kids will love. 

erupting witches potions experiment.


Spaghetti Sensory Bin

If you're not adverse to using food in sensory play, try this spooky spaghetti sensory bin. Kids will have loads of squishy, squelchy, slimy fun exploring this bright {and a little bit freaky} spaghetti. They can search for creepy Halloween favours, squish it, roll it, cut it and even eat it!

spooky Halloween spaghetti tray.

Simple Halloween Sensory Bin

Reuse the plastic creepy crawlies from the previous activities to create a simple inviting Halloween sensory bin. You'll need to make some orange sensory rice {don't worry it's really quick and easy, follow our sensory rice recipe} then add some mini Halloween buckets and scoops and you're all set.

halloween sensory play tray.


Click the download template button below to download the interactive PDF file. Each image on the PDF calendar can be clicked to go directly to the instructions for the individual activity.

Please note that this activity calendar PDF is for personal or classroom use only and may not be shared, electronically uploaded or sold on any platform. If you would like to share or feature the calendar in a blog post please link back to this post directly.

finding myself young October play calendar for kids.

download template here.

october play calendar ideas

Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means I may make a small commission at no cost to you, should you make a purchase.

Would you like to comment?