Halloween is coming and the children are begging for a Halloween party. I don’t think we’re up to having one this year, but we’ve been revisiting some of the games and activities we did last year. Last year I dug out my old cauldron (really a painted flowerpot a friend made for me at a ceramics class years and years ago), and I let the kids at the party make a play witches brew. Inspiration had come from reading Shakespeare and the children’s favorite verses from MacBeth. I can’t remember what all ingredients we used, but here are my suggestions for anyone interested in trying it:
- mix cream of tarter with baking soda. Call it ground dragon’s tooth. Invite the children to pour a bit of water into a tall thin cup and hold the cup over the cauldron. Dump in a bunch of ground dragon’s tooth and watch it bubble. Light a small candle and show that just tipping the air from the cup onto the candle will put it out.
- use red cabbage juice. Throw in a pinch of an acid or base to change its color. Tumeric would work too but it stains.
- use blocks of jello.
- if you have a morter and pestle let the kids grind up some spices to add. Give the spices funny names. Weighing spices on a small scale is also fun.
- buy a whole nutmeg and let the kids grate it. Tell them its petrified goblins brain.
- ice-cubes, possibly with stuff frozen in it.
- ucky-gucky really runny bread-dough. Let them play with it with their hands as they put it in.
- magic mud (corn starch and water)
Last year as well as making the witches brew we made little pop-up monsters in a box. I gave the children a sheet of cardpaper with the pattern for the box and lid, and I gave them two strips of cardpaper that they could make into a little spring by folding together, and another little circle that fit into the box that they could decorate as their monster. The monster was to be glued to the spring and placed in the box so it pops out when you open it.
You can turn this into a design project by seeing how powerful a spring you can make. Use different types of paper. Use lots of strips taped together to make a really, really long one and then squeeze it down really small. Brainstorm different ways to attach the lid so it stays shut, holding the spring down, until a person deliberately opens it.
This year we made snakes-in-a-box. I didn’t give my seven year old a pattern, but had him draw out his own box. He made a small cube and a long straight snake. He pushed a wooden dowel through the box and taped the snake’s tail to it, and rolled it up. Then he tied the snakes head to the lid of the box so when you opened it the snake unrolled, and he could turn the dowel to roll the snake back into the box.
For the younger kids I made a larger flatter box. I drew a one inch border around the edge of the cardpaper and a one-inch strip down the middle. Then I cut and folded it up so it was a box and lid joined together. I cut a spiral snake. I tied the snake’s head to the top of the box, so when the box was opened the snake would rise out of it. “Hiss” is one of my not-yet-two-year old’s favorite words.
My next goal will be a spider and spiders web in a box.