A Halloween themed play space for Preschoolers

A Halloween themed play space is a fun way to acknowledge the events often celebrated during the Autumn months, without it being too creepy for the youngest members of your household. The simple ideas featured in this blog post are ideal for children aged 5 and upwards.

As a super-fan of the Autumn season, I have to admit that I get frustrated by the Halloween takeover. It starts earlier and earlier every single year with poor Autumn getting nudged aside.

I am unapologetic about the fact that I do love a pumpkin spice latte, wearing thick jumpers and cosying up to read. Autumn is an introverts dream season.

Whilst we’ve always done something Halloween related each year, it’s never been at the forefront of my mind. But not in more recent years  as my daughter – Miss 7- has become obsessed. That’s why we started creating Halloween themed play spaces 

I feel like this has a lot to do with her international school rather than our location. Many of her teachers are from the United States and the annual Halloween extravaganza is the talk of the school. In Vienna itself, Halloween is pretty low-key (in comparison to the UK and USA). Not to mention the fact that apartment living makes trick-or-treating hard.

Here’s how we approach Halloween:

  • By follow and honouring the child
  • By creating a Halloween themed play space
  • Cute not creepy decorations and costumes
  • Open-ended play invitations
  • Borrowing or buying themed books


a 6 year old girl creates a trick or treat scene with Maileg mice and items from the play space along with fairy lights

The golden rule is always: Follow and Honour the child

When making decisions about whether to create a  Halloween themed play space with your young children, the best approach is to follow their lead. If your child isn’t at all interested in Halloween, then there’s no need to bombard them with activities, stories and events.

Following the child comes from the Montessori method of education. Children are far more likely to learn if they are interested in the topic.

I’ve personally found that a true interest in Halloween comes as children approach middle childhood. As I mentioned above, my 7 year-old daughter is just starting to love the Halloween season now and it was similar for my eldest son. By comparison, my youngest son (5) is just along for the ride, occasionally joining in activities with his sister.

What sparks interest?

When it comes to anything new, the following tends to spark interest:

  • personal experiences – e.g. seeing Halloween decorations in your neighbourhood
  • school celebrations
  • influence of a friend / family member
  • books
  • following up from other interests – e.g. if your child is obsessed with fairies, you might wish to make fairy potions and from there, witches potions.

What I mean by ‘honouring’ the child:

Honouring the child essentially means respecting them. There are many things that come under this umbrella term, but the one most relevant to Halloween is to acknowledge your child’s feelings.

For example:

If your child is terrified of Halloween decorations then going trick or treating in the dark would not be an appropriate activity.

Or, allowing your child to wear a superhero costume rather than forcing them to wear a spooky outfit. Let them have a choice when it comes to dressing up.

If your child finds Halloween scary, then I wouldn’t recommend creating a Halloween themed play space.

A Halloween themed play space with little gnomes and wooden houses to create a trick or treat scene

A Cute, not Creepy Halloween

This week, we  created a Halloween themed play space. Miss 7 and I put together a ‘trick or treat’ themed world for her Maileg mice and most days of the week, her and her brother have been role playing at the biggest Halloween tradition.

In addition to this, we have gotten creative, by making decorations ourselves. The pumpkin art hanging in the play space was made by the children. The Autumnal tree featured in our ‘trick or treat’ small world, was created as a result of a fine motor skills focused play invitation.

How to create a Halloween themed play space

To create your own Halloween themed play space at home, take a look in your own store cupboard for decorations and colour schemes that might work. Use a combination of oranges, purples and greens so that you can create a small world scene that can be used in play.

As shown above, we tend to use the top of our play space shelves for a scene, then keep the shelves below for our everyday open-ended toys and resources.

To note, this isn’t supposed to be perfect or ‘display only’ – the purpose of the shelves is to encourage play!

What we used:

  • orange felt table runner
  • large play silk in rainbow colours
  • Halloween themed fair lights
  • Wooden houses from Grimms wooden toys
  • Maileg Mice
  • real small and medium sized pumpkins
  • Autumn tree (from previous activity – read more here)
  • Tonies box with Halloween themed stories

Play Invitations

Play invitations can be a great addition to a Halloween themed play space.

a 6 year old girl in a floral dress creates a face from the Room on the Broom playdough invitation

If you keep play invitations open-ended, then your child can choose the direction of their play.

For example, creating a potion or ‘spooky soup’ or a play dough invitation with a variety of materials to explore.

In the ‘Room on the Broom’ play invitation above, my daughter decided to make spooky faces with the materials provided. On another occasion, she might’ve chosen to create a small world or make prints in the dough.

Borrowing or Buying Books

To be clear, the books you buy (or borrow) do not have to be specifically themed to Halloween. We like to use a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles around the themes of night time, myths, monsters and magic alongside Halloween themed books.

You can also make a Halloween themed play space more seasonal by adding a Tonies box (or alternative audio book player).

Halloween themed play space featuring a tonies box that is playing Halloween themed songs

Some of our favourites for children aged 3 upwards include:

My daughter (Miss 7) is currently making her way through the Isadora Moon and Mirabelle chapter book series by the author Harriet Muncaster at bedtime.

3 books by Harriet Muncaster are shown - these books are ideal for young children who are just starting to read chapter books

To note: I have included Amazon.com links so that you can research the books for yourself. I am not (currently) affiliated with Amazon.

At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp

If you enjoyed this Halloween themed play space post and wanted to find more fun Autumn themed activities, check out the At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp in my membership group. If you would like to access the content, you can check it out here. 

This image shows a timetable for an Autumn art & sensory camp. The pumpkin hammer art is one of the activities included


Autumn Blog posts to read next:

You might also enjoy some of our other Autumn posts. Most are suitable for both toddlers and preschoolers:

Autumn Art Ideas for Preschoolers

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Mask

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts

Autumn Loose Parts Play

Autumn Preschool Leaf Cutting Tray

Apple Playdough Activity

Farm Playdough Ideas

Sunflower Sensory Play Activity 

Pumpkin Hammer Art 

Pumpkin Gloop 

Simple Autumn Sensory: Pumpkin soup

You can also search the keyword ‘Autumn’ in the blog search bar for the most up-to-date Autumn blog post listing.


Interested in learning more?

If you enjoyed this Halloween themed play space idea  and want to learn more about sensory play and the importance of play in the early years, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Sensory Play Mini Course

Starting School Mini Course 

Play Space 101 Mini Course

Toys 101 Mini Course

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.