Earlier this year I had it in my head that my daughters would dress up as the three little girls from Despicable Me; we’d pad Howard’s shoulders and glue on a pointy latex nose to transform him into Gru; and we’d convince Uncle Bob to don an orange track suit to pull off a perfect Vector. The girls were all on board with the idea until, shortly before Halloween, Mira changed her mind and announced she wanted to be the ancient Egyptian female pharaoh Hatshepsut.
As a homeschooling mom, the historical and educational aspect instantly appealed to me; but as a busy mom, the idea increased the level of work and thought required and filled with me dismay. Mira was adamant though, so I ditched my original plan and dove into the idea of a historical costume.
Not one to miss an educational opportunity, I decided to embrace the idea fully and have the girls pick a hero or heroine from history and complete a little mini-unit prior to Halloween. My 5 year old, Stella, was instantly smitten with the Classical Conversations history tune about Eleanor of Aquitaine that we had learned in co-op, and had been lustily belting it out ever since, so she declared that she would dress as the formidable Queen. (As I have written before, Eleanor has long been a subject of interest to me so this pick thrilled me.) My youngest daughter, Lyra, fixated on a pirate costume; so we purchased that and then researched women pirates in history and eventually settled on Anne Bonny. Admittedly, she’s not exactly ”role-model material” in the traditional sense. A bit blood-thirsty and violent; but she was definitely a woman who didn’t let societal norms or cultural stereotypes inhibit her.
After my girls had made their heroine selections, we researched the attire of each time period. This is where my impulse-purchase-habit once again came in handy. I had this Goodwill Bookstore find on my shelf for years and was finally able to pore over the pages and illustrations with my girls.
You could easily research costume ideas over the internet but my girls and I really enjoy this book. I can tell it will be something we’ll reference many times together in the future. If you ever stumble across this book, whether online or in a used bookstore somewhere, I really recommend it.
Next, we took our visions for the costumes and hit stores to try and make them come to fruition. But this is also where our lack of planning time counted against us. Also, our impromptu road trip brought our prepping to a screeching halt. So instead of the authentic and period costumes I had envisioned, we had to settle a bit. Mira picked up a Cleopatra costume that we renamed Hatshepsut. Stella ended up garbed more in a traditional Renaissance style than the the 12th century crusade style. And Lyra was pretty much as generic a pirate lass as one can get.
However, it’s the thought that counts.
And we put a lot of thought into it.
The girls each picked up numerous books on their characters from the library. We watched videos and YouTube clips when possible too. They spent many an afternoon dressed in costume acting out scenes from their characters lives.
It dawned on me then that we had made Halloween more about historical heroes than just a sugar-filled holiday.
After a couple weeks immersed in ancient Egypt, Mira decided she wanted a more Egyptian style hairdo and so we chopped off a few inches. Seeing her interest take root so deeply inspired me to really try to get them in character by setting up our own “historical photo shoots”.
Pharaoh Hatshepsut contemplative along the banks of the river Nile:
Queen Eleanor strolling the grounds of one of her summer palaces:
Anne Bonny relaxing on a Caribbean beach after a successful raid:
My girls and I really had such a blast this Halloween. And considering it was rather spontaneous and put together last-minute, I’m thrilled that it sparked my girls into being extra excited about historical figures. Needless to say, we’re REALLY looking forward to next year now!
Does your family do anything special or different for Halloween? Do you focus an any specific theme? Or do you plan to now? I’d love to hear from you!