Samhain Celebration Small Children's Activities
Samhain is the third and final harvest of the year. Although most of today's
Pagans are no longer country folkes, growing crops and tending cattle or other
livestock, this can still be celebrated as a harvest, the harvest of the "thought-seeds".
Also the Celtic (and Witches') New Year, t'is a day for remembering the past
and forecasting the future.
New Moon Occult Shop is the best place to source herbs, incense, oils and jewelry associated with Samhain. I recommend contacting them directly and asking for help finding just what you need as often they will source things they don't usually carry in stock.
Materials: 10-12 flower bulbs, A trowel or small shovel, a small spot
of earth for a flower bed.
Decide where you want the flowers to bloom in the spring. Dig the holes for
each bulb two and one half time the diameter of the bulb. Place or pour some
fertilizer into the bottom of the hole. Place in the bulb, root side down, and
cover with dirt. Water the area well. (Tell the children about how the bulbs
are buried just as the Sun God starts his journey to the Underworld. Just as
he is not really dead, neither are the bulbs. They are warm and alive beneath
the ground, in the womb of the Mother Earth, gathering strength for when they
emerge and bloom as bright as the Sun, come next spring.)
Turnip the Lights:
Materials: 1 turnip and one flashlight per child. Sharp knife and spoon
Slice off the top of each medium size purple-top turnip. Hollow out the middle
with the knife and spoon. Save the turnip meat (remind children "waste
not, want not") for cooking later. Carefully carve facial features through
one side of the turnip. Cut a circle in the bottom of the turnip to fit snug
over the head of a flashlight. Turn on the flashlight to go trick-or-treat-ing.
(Tell the children about how the Celt children would dress in all white, dress
up as the opposite gender, or wear straw disguises to fool the spirits out walking
around on Samhain)
Materials: 1 mini pumpkin and 1 taper candle for each "lantern"
to be made.
Cut the top off of a mini pumpkin. Make sure the opening is no larger than a
quarter. Remove the seeds with a small spoon or the tip of a peeler. Allow children
to paint faces on the pumpkins before sticking a taper candle into it. Carefully
cut the center out of the top of the pumpkin, slightly smaller hole than in
the pumpkin itself, and slip over the candle. Press the top down gently until
it is a tight fit. ( Explain to the children how the Pagan children used turnips
rather than pumpkins to make Jack-o-Lanterns, as pumpkins were not indigenous
to Europe, but rather introduced after the discovery of North America.)
Natural Old Maid:
Materials: 21 leaves, 21 index cards, glue, felt markers.
This is a two part activity. Start a couple of days before Samhain by sending
the children outside to gather leaves. These leaves should not be thoroughly
dried and crinkled up, but rather turning color and still pliable. Explain the
importance of getting the leaves from the ground rather than off the bushes
or trees. Press the leaves by placing them between paper towels and stacking
books on top of them. After 2 or three days, remove the leaves and select 10
pairs and one odd-one-out. Glue the leaves to the index cards, and allow the
children to decorate each pair as desired. Shuffle the cards and deal till all
the cards are dealt. Each child picks a card from the one on their left, laying
down pairs for all to see. Play continues until all pairs are matched. The child
holding the odd card WINS.
Materials: Acorns, pine cones, rocks, seeds, leaves, twigs, or any other
Have the child(ren) gather all natural items in the backyard, or if hiking along
the trail. Assign an action to each type of item, such as *rock--jump*, *twig-hop*,
etc. Start by showing one object, and the children calling out the associated
action, then acting it out. As they catch on, start laying out the items in
"sentences" on the ground. Watch the silliness and laughter grow.
(Explain to the children that in ancient times children made up games with only
natural materials. That there were no TVs or radios, or bikes, etc. Remind them
that Nature is not only beautiful, but fun, too.)
Hide and Seek:
Materials: Rocks and Sticks
This can be played in the backyard, along a nature trail, or at the beach. First
the adult goes down the path and leaves "directions for the children to
follow. The directions are made by placing piles of rocks and twigs along the
side of the path. Perhaps three rocks and a twig sticking out to the left means
that the next clue is three steps forward and to the left. One rock in a circle
of twigs could mean to stand still, turn slowly in a circle for the next clue.
Next, the child and a second adult start down the path and try to find you.
(Explain how the villagers and others would find their way to each other and
back home again by leave natural "secret clues" along the various
Samhain Door Wreath:
Materials: Items from Nature, fine wire, sheet of corrugated cardboard,
collection sack, small nail.
First, take a Nature hike. Have the child collect items from nature, such as
pine cones, seeds, leaves, berry bunches (remind the child how important it
is to thank the plant for its gift, and to take only what is needed.), acorns
and caps, flowers, etc. When you get home, spread out collection on some newspaper.
Cut out a circle about 15" in diameter, from the cardboard. Cut a smaller
circle out of the middle. Have the child choose which objects go where on the
cardboard background, and hand the object to you. Wrap the wire around each
object so it can be fastened to the cardboard. Poke two small holes in the cardboard
ring for each item. Feed the wire through and twist in back. Keep fastening
objects onto the ring until it is full and no cardboard shows. Hang the wreath
on the front door with the nail. (Explain that "wreaths of bounty"
used to symbolize giving thanks for a prosperous year, and an invitation for
others less fortunate to share in the good fortune.)
Making a Besom:
Materials: 4ft dowel- 1" in diameter, ball of twine, scissors, straw
or other pliable herb stock.
Take the straw or other herb stalk that you have chosen and soak overnight in
luke warm salted water. The water swells the stalk slightly for bending without
breakage, and the salt dispels former energies. When ready, remove stalks from
the water and dry for just a bit. Not too much or the stalk will stiffen up,
again. Place the dowel on a table where you have room to work. Start lining
the stalks along the dowel , about 3 inches from the bottom, moving backwards.
Begin binding the stalks to the dowel with the twine. Tie very securely. You
may add as many layers as you like, depending on how full you want the Besom
to be. When stalks are secure, gently bend the top stalks down over the binding.
When all have been bent over, secure the stalks again with more twine a couple
of inches under the first binding. Allow to air dry for a day or two. The dowel
can then be stained, painted, or carved into to make personal. Remember to concentrate
and charge at the next full moon. (Explain to the children that the Pagans used
to "ride" their Besoms through the fields, jumping as high as they
could. This was to show the God/dess(s-es) how high they wanted their crops
to grow the next year. Also jumping over bonfires at the Sabbat festivals was
for good health and prosperity.)
Gather 'round the bonfire, burning so bright
Watch the shadows dancing, in its flickering light
As the music starts, and we begin to dance
Just maybe, if we're lucky, ahhhhh perchance
We shall see some kindred spirits, as they pass by
On their way to the Summerlands, beneath the Samhain sky.
As I lay in my bed, 'tis the end of the year
And I thank the Goddess and the God
For bringing me to here.
Before I close my eyes, one more wish I make
I pray to the Goddess and the God
The next year through me take.
Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys
To share with all of her friends and those of like mind
Copyright remains with the original author of the work.