Trick or Treat, smell my feet!
In this crafty Halloween #WhatsInMyTray activity, you will make spooky decorations for your classroom, community space or home and learn more about the history and origins of Halloween.
You will be able to:
- Design and create your own Halloween inspired art works.
- Outline the origins and history of Halloween and describe how this has led to our current traditions (in an age appropriate way).
- Write a Halloween inspired poem.
You will need:
- 2 x Shallow Gratnells (F1) trays or Gratnells Art Trays (A1)
- 1 x Black A4 card or paper per participant
- 1 x White crayon
- 1 x Bottle of orange paint
- 1 x Pot of glitter (optional)
- 2 x Pipe cleaners
- 1 x Hole punch
- 1 x Damp cloth and a towel
- 1 x Pair of feet
- 1 x Sheet of recycled newspaper
- 1 x Chair
- 1 x Camera (optional)
If you would like several participants to undertake this activity you will need additional pieces of card.
Take a look at our Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet video here for inspiration and read the ‘’What is happening?’ section to learn about the history and origins of Halloween and trick-or-treating.
What to do:
To create a Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet sign…
- On a piece of black card or paper, write the words ‘Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet’ and set aside.
- Squirt some orange paint into a shallow Gratnells tray and place the tray on the floor.
- Place one piece of black A4 card into a second shallow Gratnells tray and place it on the floor next to the paint tray.
- Place a piece of newspaper on the floor next to the card tray and place a chair next to the newspaper.
- Take off your shoes and socks and carefully step into the paint tray. Move your feet around a little to ensure the soles are fully covered with paint.
- Step carefully into the second tray, placing your feet down next to each other on the black card.
- Step off the black card and on to a piece of recycled newspaper. Sit down on the chair and clean your feet with the cloth and towel.
- While the paint is still wet, sprinkle over some glitter (optional).
- Carefully lift your work and trip the excess glitter into the tray. This glitter can be used for another activity.
- When dry, attach your feet print to the sign using a hole punch and pipe cleaners.
- Write your name under the feet print.
- Discuss the history of Halloween and the origins of trick-or-treating. Can you come up with your own ending to ‘Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet’ and create your own poem? Write down your poem and display it with your artwork.
- Take photographs of your creations.
What is happening?
The history and origins of Halloween
Halloween is a festival celebrated in several countries across the world on the 31st of October. A shortened version of All Hallows Eve or All Hallows’ Evening, Halloween is thought to have originated from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain (Summer’s end), which celebrated the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. During Samhain, pagans checked their food stores and prepared for winter. Celts from Britain and Ireland celebrated the start of their new year, All Souls Day or All Hallows’ Day, on the 1st of November. This date marked the end of summer and harvest time and the start of winter. It was believed that on the 31st October the world of the living and the dead overlapped before the start of the new year. The Celts believed that on All Hallows Eve, ghosts of the dead could return and destroy the harvest and food stores. To prevent this from happening, they lit bonfires on hill tops to ward off the evil spirits and protect their winter stores. For Christians, this was the start of a three-day observance of Allhallowtide, during which the dead, saints (hallows), martys and the faithful departed were remembered. Even now, modern Christians may attend church to light candles to remember departed relatives on the 31st October.
To ward off the evil spirits, Celts would carve scary faces into turnips, this evolved into pumpkin carving in America because pumpkins are plentiful at this time of year and easier to carve.
During the Samhain festival, people wore masks and disguises to hide themselves from evil spirits. This was known as ‘guising’ and may have developed into the modern-day tradition of dressing up on Halloween and has been capitalised on, creating a lucrative consumer holiday.
At Samhain, offerings of food and drink were left outside for the ancient gods. In Celtic tradition, poor children would go door-to-door on All Hallows Eve and were given food in return for the promise of praying for the giver’s dead relatives on All Souls Day and for protecting their harvest from evil spirits (or theft by poor children!). This was known as ‘souling’, and when combined with guising, is thought to be the origins of trick-or-treating. Some historical reports state that in order to receive a treat, guising required participants to perform a song or poem. The first use of the term ‘trick or treat’ dates back to 1927! One of the expansions to the term takes the form of a short poem:
“Trick or treat, smell my feet.
Give me something good to eat.
If you don’t, I won’t be sad.
I’ll just make you wish you had!”
Other things to try…
- You may not need to use a second piece of card/paper for your sign, if your feet are small enough, you could write the words at the top of the piece of card and place your footprints directly underneath.
- Hang your sign in a window or on your front door at Halloween.
- Experiment with different coloured paper, paint and crayons.
- Embellish your print with crayons or other decoration.
- Make use of recycled or reusable materials to create your artworks.
- Further research the history and origins of Halloween, you could expand your work to include the Mexican Day of the Dead, which has distinctive designs and artworks.
- Write your own Halloween inspired poems and share them with your classmates or at an assembly.
- Share photographs of your spooky creations on social media using #WhatsInMyTray.
Health & Safety
As with all Gratnells Learning Rooms What’s In My Tray activities, you should carry out your own risk assessment prior to undertaking any of the activities or demonstrations.