Hubble, bubble…time for spooky fun
Halloween is a really big deal in the USA. Everybody likes to get involved, I had an American friend in London a few years ago who wondered why she couldn’t buy a Halloween costume for her baby, at the time I thought that was a really peculiar thing to do (dress a tiny baby up as a blood sucking vampire? Frankenstein’s monster? One of the undead? Really?) but Halloween has gradually morphed into a huge deal here in the UK, thanks in no small part to American movies and TV programmes. Whether you are in the US or UK, you can make it fun for the kids you look after, whatever their age.
Most kids love the thrill of dressing up and going out trick or treating at Halloween, if you have kids who are about five and older, they will love roaming the streets with you collecting candy…OK it’s little more than begging in fancy dress, but it’s only once a year, and as long as you only go to houses with lit pumpkins outside, everyone involved knows what’s expected.
The golden rules for trick or treating are: only go to houses of people you know, stay in a group or with your grown up and be careful – hold a torch or a glow stick so you can be seen, and only take sweets that are wrapped.
If you have tiny kids in the mix, then they might not enjoy the idea of being out in the dark…and the cold…seeing werewolves, witches and ghosts, even if it there is the promise of sweets involved! But you don’t have to miss out, there are loads of things you can do during the hours of daylight to make Halloween fun for even the tiniest kids:
• Make a spooky lunch – melon eye balls, witches fingers (sausages), bat shaped sandwiches, ketchup for blood, green jelly for zombie brains.
• Go on a creepy crawly hunt looking for spiders , worms, earwigs, woodlice, slugs and snails. Leave them where they are, because eeeeeew, who wants to touch them?! Maybe take pictures to look at when you are safely home again.
• Collect different sized autumn leaves and do leaf printing.
• Make paper vampire fangs, tell your kids that vampires take good care of their teeth and love eating apples, as well as drinking blood.
• If your kids are really scared of monsters and ghosts, fill a plant squirter with a little bit of water and write Monster Repellent or Monsters Go Away on it. If they need it, they can squirt it
• I know a very logical eight year old who couldn’t sleep because he thought there was no way to kill zombies because they are already dead. Just so everybody can rest easy: washing up liquid kills zombies (and cockroaches) fast, so keep some handy, not just on Halloween.
• Use glow-in-the- dark paint and stickers to make Halloween pictures and cards.
• Make your own costumes – a black bin liner can be a bat, spider, vampire, witch or black cat. A white sheet, ta dah!, is a ghost. (Teach them that plastic bags on heads are dangerous at the same time).
• You don’t have to leave the house to have trick or treat fun, you can hide sweets (or dried fruit if your host family are anti-sugary snacks!) for the children to find (make sure they don’t eat mouldy or furry stuff lurking under the furniture – maybe do a bit of an Autumn Clean together first!)
• Paint everyone’s faces, simple is best: white with a bit of blood for a zombie or a vampire, orange with black stripes for a pumpkin, green for a witch, wizard or monster, cat whiskers, a zigzag and glasses for Harry Potter.
• Hairspray and gel – make everyone’s hair stand on end. Take loads of pictures.
• Make pumpkin soup, or try bright green pea soup, witches broth! – they might eat some vegetables without realising!
• Be a zombie scientist – do some kitchen experiments with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, add some red or green food colouring and washing up liquid and make the potion fizz! (Don’t drink it).
• Cut bat and cat shapes out of black paper and stick them on the windows.
• Make spooky mini horror films on your phone. Get the kids to dance to Thriller, or make the room dark, play a spooky tune and move glow sticks to the music.
• Learn the words to The Monster Mash (it was a grave yard smash) or teach the kids the days of the week to the Adams Family tune “days of the week., click click, days of the week, click click, there’s Sunday and there’s Monday…etc and then there’s Sat-ur-day, days of the week, click click…(It’ll drive you nuts though).
• Make a wiggly worm pot (cooked, cold spaghetti) and hide things in it (key rings, wrapped sweets, nothing non-edible of choking size!), blindfold the kids and get them to find the goodies amongst the squishy worms
• Make frozen hands – fill a rubber glove with water and freeze it. Run it under the tap and peel the glove off and you’ve got a zombie hand! Don’t lick it.
• Old fashioned apple bobbing.
• Make a spooky cave in the house with boxes and blankets, chuck in plastic cockroaches and spiders and explore it with torches. Read stories in there, they don’t need to be ghost stories.
• Hide tooth brushes and mini toothpaste tubes amongst the candy and take the opportunity to show the kids how important it is to clean their teeth after eating your body weight in sugar.
• Snuggle up with popcorn and watch a Halloween-themed movie (maybe watch beforehand to make sure it’s suitable for your kids): The Addams Family, ET, Corpse Bride, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ghostbusters, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Spooky Buddies, Monsters inc, The Worst Witch, Hocus Pocus…