Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Halloween Activity Kits for Kids in Need

As you decorate for Halloween this year, help make it a happy holiday for a local children's shelter or hospital! (I apologize in advance for the joke-a-lanters... uh oh, it's starting...)

Today's post is inspired by Mary, one of the most awesome Super Moms I know. I couldn't possibly ask this busy lady to guest blog, but I would still love to share her suggestions with you. Hopefully this post will tempt you to call up your ghost pals and ghoul gals or grab your little goblins and head to the store for an extra bag of candy, Halloween decor, or tricks and treats! (See, I couldn't help myself...)  
(PS. Project updates are available now here.)

Frightful Fun 

As I mentioned in our last Kids Helping Kids workshop post, Haven Hills is our local domestic violence women's shelter with nearly 40 years of service to our community. In addition to the many women they help in both their Crisis and Transitional shelters, Haven Hills also helps care for 40-60 kids at any given time.

Since we didn't have enough time to put together an official Kids Helping Kids workshop, I'll be hosting a craft night with friends. All of these activities are still GREAT projects to do with kids, so have fun with your family or classroom. I've expanded on Mary's awesome suggestions and put together a list of exciting and easy crafts. There were three things that she mentioned that I wanted to focus on: decorations, treats, and activities for the kids. Of course, you can always just buy these items, but isn't it so much more fun to DIY...!


Candy Corn Banner: Now, this one is so cute, I had to share. I like that it's great for all ages: bright and not too spooky! Since we technically haven't hosted our craft night yet, but I wanted to give you enough time, I'm borrowing these great images from The Pin Junkie.

Paper plates
Yellow and orange paint
Paint brush(es)
Ribbon or twine 
Hole puncher OR glue
  1. Paint the outside of the plate orange. The bumpy rim on the plate provides a good guide and will help make nice even circles. 
  2. Once the orange paint is dry, paint the inside circle yellow. Leave the center of the plate white!
  3. When the yellow paint is dry, cut the plate in half and then in half again, leaving you with eight equal pieces that look like candy corn! 
  4. You can use a paper hole punch to thread the twine though the candy corn and hang it up that way, or for a clean look you can simply glue or tape the paper plate pieces to twine or ribbon.
  5. You may want to have your recipients assemble the banner themselves since they'll be hanging in places that could vary in dimensions. Separately package the candy corn pieces in a plastic bag along with a roll of twine (*Dollar Tree has three rolls of twine for a dollar in the home improvement aisle). You can pre-punch holes or include tape if you like as well. 

I'm going to make this an activity at the craft party and hopefully we'll have enough pieces to create several banners. That way, we can not only bring these decorations to the children at Haven Hills, but I can send them off with friends to deliver them to children's hospitals, homeless shelters, and maybe even a senior home. My second graders would probably love this activity too, so if you have a classroom or art time then this is a fun activity to do with your students!

Spooky Accordion Fans: When I first thought of this next decoration project, I decided to have my students do one part, have my craft night guests do the other part, and then put them together. As neither of those have actually happened yet, I was searching online for a pictorial "how to." Originally, I planned to put spiders on spider-web-looking-fans, but then I found this Martha Stewart project that will supplement for demonstrative purposes just fine!

Pumpkin, cat, and owl templates OR hand drawn and cut ghosts and spiders
8 1/2-by-11-inch sheets of colored paper
Glue stick and/or hot-glue gun and hot-glue sticks
Ribbon or twine
  1. Accordion-fold sheets of Halloween style paper, making 1/2- or 3/4-inch folds depending on how thick you want your fan. (For small faces, accordion-fold 3 sheets of paper vertically, then bend each in half to make a fan. For medium, accordion-fold 6 sheets horizontally. For large, accordion-fold 11 sheets vertically.)
  2. Form circles by using one paper or two. For one paper, staple your accordion in the center and fan out both sides. Use glue or two more staples to secure the ends together. For two papers (and larger fans as pictured above), use glue to attach the ends of one paper, creating a 180 degree fan. Do this with another paper of the same color, and then glue them together forming a circle.
  3. Add features to your fan. I'll be having my students create spiders to put on web-like fans. You can also print these templates (pumpkin, cat, and owl) from Martha's website, enlarging by 125 percent for small circles, 150 for medium, and 200 for large. Cut them out and trace the shapes onto colored paper twice. Cut those out and attach the shapes to the decorative fan with (hot) glue. Hole-punch the top, and hang using ribbon or twine!
 I'll be sure to update photos when we have our craft party this weekend!


If you're a Michael's maniac like I may be... then you might have a few chocolate molds already! Don't worry, I only have them for Halloween and Christmas. I picked up some Wilton Candy Melts today in black, orange, and lime green - on sale now for $1.88 (compared to $2.99 I think). The molds I already have are stacks of pumpkins, creepy finger nails, mummies, etc. At the craft night, we'll fill them with different colored chocolates and insert in a lollypop stick or pretzel rod before they cool and dry!

If you're trying this at home, just be sure to follow the exact directions on the back of the candy melts pack; don't add any ingredients or heat any differently! Pops can be packaged in individual bags or you find out if the organization can accept them on a platter. We're making enough for about 50 kids, so I'll be calling the community manger at Haven Hills this week!

(If you don't already have one, look into acquiring a Food Handler's Certificate in order to learn how to properly prepare and serve food. Organizations may not be able to accept home-prepared items at all or unless you have a certificate, so be sure to find out and always practice the safest cooking methods. Different states provide different courses and assessments - I believe the CA test can be taken online for a $10 fee - some are listed on this website.)


This part I just love because I know what an important role Art plays in healing. I may have splurged a bit, but I wanted to give the kids options! First, I got three 3D foam assembly kits from Michael's: one large and two smaller. The large one is a super intricate haunted house; with 100+ pieces, this will be great for the teenagers. The two smaller kits will be great for those elementary and middle school aged kids; one is a ghostly pirate ship and the other is a piano and spooky tree! All of these are on sale at 40% off already ranging from $6-12 each.

For the youngest ones, I grabbed sticker books - over 1000+ total - and mini magical paint posters. They're magical because no real paint is required; a water-dipped cotton swab or paint brush means no mess!

Because I couldn't stop there, I picked up a few more activity kits and witchy fingers (pictured below). At the craft night, I'll be asking my guests to help assemble craft kits for each of the kids. We're already providing decorations for them, but I want to make sure they have a hands-on opportunity to create the spirit of Halloween!

What I really loved about our previous Kids Helping Kids workshop was that each bag was designed and created for a specific kid at the shelter in mind. I want to make sure that we take the time to give each child their own personal craft bag filled with: a fun activity, a witch's finger, and some Halloween candy. I think it's important for each of them to know that someone packaged that goody bag especially for them.

 Where will you be donating your DIY craftiness to this week -- 
a children's shelter or hospital?

Do you have other spooky decorations, tricks, or treats that you'll be sharing in your community? Let us know in the comments below! 

And as always, if you participate in this project, let us know!
Sharing your photo, tag us @itsthelittlethingsdotme, and hastag #TeamITLT.

Project updates is now available here.