The tragic events of last weekend’s helicopter crash back in Leicester didn’t exactly put me in the mood for doing this kids party to celebrate Halloween but, as they say, the show must go on. It’s all part of a teacher’s life to put on a smile and forget about whatever is happening in your own personal life, and for the most part focusing on something else usually does help me.
Since retiring from going out in Shibuya during this season (for it is definitely a season these days rather than just a solitary day like in the past!) this kids party has become my only real outlet for sampling Halloween in Japan in recent years. However this could well have been my last as, after 8.5 years, I am moving on from this particular school.
For the record, I stopped going out in Shibuya at Halloween because the bigger it got, the slightly more annoying it became as the there were too many casual clothed tourists diluting the atmosphere for those of us in costume. It used to just be that us cosplayers congregated and the rest just walked on by but then it became a “thing” and people even come to the country just for this season nowadays!
The annual Halloween kids party in Hibarigaoka has always been fun though. It sure is a hectic 6-7 hours in the school with the hardest bit being the race against time to give the school a makeover before the students start to arrive. The lessons kind of take care of themselves as, after all these years, Lai-Keun and I have an arsenal of games and activities up our sleeves.
Be that as it may, hints were dropped a few times that maybe some brand new games, activities and materials were needed but that’s no easy thing when you’ve done seven of these things and think you have covered just about everything! However, after a bit of a think I managed to come up with a few new ideas.
These days the internet is awash with Halloween-themed ideas and suggestions. One idea was a spider-web game where one sticks the spider in the web whilst blindfolded. I was all set to do something similar until I thought of a better idea. I realised the spider-web was perfect for a points game where students throw a sticky ball and get 10 points for the middle area and a subsequent lower number for each outer layer of the web. Other new games for me to try were eyeball blow race and that relay game where you put the balloon between your knees and pass it to the next person without using your hands. There was no particular Halloween theme for the latter game and likewise for the cone and balloon race.
Twister was a new game for me to try too and again there wasn’t any Halloween connection to this activity but was just fun and something different.
That was four new activities to freshen things up which I doubt I really had to do anyway as a year is a long, long time for a child and I have my doubts as to what or how much they really remember from the previous party! I also made a load of new decorations this year for a more serious counting activity using some of the more regular classroom language like ‘there are X ghosts/Y bats/Z princesses’ and so on.
After about 50 minutes the two classes merged for the craft activity. It ended up taking about 40 minutes each time which was twice as long as we thought it would be! The first time took us by surprise but we could adjust a bit for the second occasion. Subsequently, the snack break was cancelled with the kids being offered a drink and getting given some snacks to take home.
Customary closer activity ‘hit the pinata’ was, to quote a footballing term, done deep into injury time!
Lai-Keun has managed to come up with a different costume each and every year whereas I have tended to just rotate a few. Last years fox piggyback costume is very kid-friendly which is highly important in Japan where Halloween leans more towards cute than scary.
Click on the years below to see my ‘Spook-tacular Halloween’ blog entry for each one…