Halloween Party at home/ forest

Appropriate age: 4-7

My son was born on the 30th of October so the Halloween theme really suits his birthday party. Last year I decided to have the party at home rather than in the forest because I was not sure what the weather was doing. However, you could also have this party in the forest. I printed invitations from a free website: http://www.greetingsisland.com/printables/holidays/halloween/1. You can even customise them before printing. Obviously, we asked all the kids to dress up in their scariest costumes. When everybody had arrived we all sat down in the living room and I started telling them the following story: Long time ago there was a little house in the forest in Ennis. In the house lived a little witch. She was a friendly witch and she was called Jammie.  On the other side of town lived a wicked wizzard in a haunted house. His name was Wark. 

One day the Wark came over to the Jammie’s house. Jammie was scared and would not open her door. Wark got very angry and told her that he would come back an put a spell on her.
Jammie decided to scare Wark and put a scare crow in her garden.
For the following activity, I divided the kids up in two teams.
Activity number 1: 
Find a bag with clothes and pick one person in your team to dress up as a scarecrow. The fastest team,  wins!
I used old clothes , a hat, a tie, big boots. The kids were asked to button up the shirts completely, if not they could not win.
When we finished playing the game we all sat down again and continued the story:
But one day Jammie came home and found the scarecrow tumbled over and the door of her house was open. She went inside and noticed that a few of her belongings were taken. Her crystal ball of all things was taken as well.
For the following activity, I had a good few Halloween themed items (small pumpkin, small bat, ghost, candle, etc.) You can also used pictures instead of items. that the kids had to remember. One person was asked to wait in the hallway and we would take one item out. The person who was waiting in the hallway had to guess what item was missing. The older the children, the more items you need to make it challenging.
Activity 2:
Memorise the items under the towel and guess which one is missing …
 
The story continues:
Jammie really wanted her crystal ball back and decided to go on a journey to Wark’s house to find her crystall ball. One morning she got up early and made a little picnic for the road. 
Activity 3:
Find a box with the picnic that Jammie made for the road.
 
I filled a bag with snacks (popcorn and crisps) which I hid under a big sheet that was hanging from the top of the stairs in the hallway to look like a ghost.It looked more like a Halloween decoration …
Then the story continues:
Jammie walked all day to get to Wark’s house. The house was deserted, nobody was at home. Jammie tried to get in but she did not manage. She walked around the house and found a little trail to the ened of the garden where she found her crystal ball, hanging off a tree.
Activity 4:
Find the crystall ball in the forest …
I used a pumpkin covered in tin foil as a crystal ball and hid it in the garden.
Once the crystal ball has been found, the story continues:
 
Jammie quickly got the ball out of the tree and ran off. However, Wark just came back from one of his evil missions, just in time to see Winnie run off with the crystall ball. He quickly put a spell on her. Jammie kept on running, but started to feel itchy all over her body.
Activity 5:
Bingo
Although it does not really relate to the story I always try to slot in a bingo because the kids really love it. This is a bingo that even the very young can play, since it uses pictures instead of numbers. I printed (free of charge!) from the following website:http://www.artsyfartsymama.com/2011/10/halloween-bingo-free-printable.html
You can print 6 different cards as well as one page with all the pieces on it.
You can buy some small halloween-related prices. Kids love erasers, pens, bubbles, …
After this we continue the story:
Jammie arrived home with the crystal ball but she could not stop scratching herself. She was itchy under her toes, behind her ears, under her finger nails, everywhere. She got her magic spell book and looked up the formula for the potion to stop the itch. She found it and started making the potion.
Activity 6: 
Find the ingredients for the potion to help Jammie. There should be 8 bottles hidden. Once you have found all the bottles, put it all into a cauldron to make the potion!
Halloween party in the garden

Halloween party in the garden

The ingredients were hidden everywhere in the garden. For example, there was golden syrup which was ‘snake’s slime’. Nutella was renamed ‘owl’s poo’, vinegar was called ‘snails tears’ , bread soda was called ‘magic dust’, Red food colouring was called ‘mouses blood’. Once all the ingredients were found we put them into a metal bucket and added the vinegar at the end. The result was a sizzling red potion, thanks to the combination of vinegar, bread soda and red food colouring …
 
The end of the story follows:
Jammie is very happy that the potion worked so well, and wants to thank you all for helping her. She has a few treats for everybody …
Find the treats
You can hide a box with treats. You can also first have something to eat and hide the goodie bags somewhere instead. I love to make pancakes for birthday parties. You can do it beforehand and most kids love it …

Shopping list (for ten kids): 

1. Some snacks for activity number 3 (crisps/ pop corn and drinks) : €8,-

2. A pumpkin for activity number 4: €3,-.

3.Some prices for the Bingo (activity number 5): €15

4..Ingredients for the potion: Vinegar, Bread soda:, food colouring, (blue and yellow to get green or just red), nutella, Golden syrup: total: €9,-

6. Pancake ingredients: eggs, flour and milk: €5,-

7.Cake/ cake ingredients: €10,-

Total: €50!

Obviously you can add goodie bags and more sweets/ popcorn as well …

Preparations:

  1. Print out the the invitations here.
  2. Fill two bags with the following items: trousers, button-up shirt, tie, shoes, hat, jacket.
  3. Collect items for the memory game. To save money, you can also use pictures. It might be handy to use the pictures for the Bingo in activity numero 5.
  4. Make a bag/ box with snacks and hide them. I used a big towel and pinned two black eyes to it and a big mouth and hung it up in the hallway off the stairs …
  5. Cover a pumpkin with tin foil and hide it.
  6. Print the bingo card and the form with all the pieces on it. Cut out all the pieces and put them in a box for the game. Get some pencils/ markers for the game.
  7. Discard the labels of the magic potion ‘ingredients’, replace them with homemade labels with the following names:

Golden syrup = snake’s slime, Nutella=’owl’s poo’, vinegar=’snails tears’, bread soda= ‘magic dust’, Red food colouring=’mouses blood’.

Or whatever you can come up with …

8. If you decide to go for pancakes, make them beforehand. You will only need to heat them up when the kids are going to have their food.

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Easter party/ Easter egg hunt in the forest

Appropriate age group: 4-7

These are some ideas for an Easter egg hunt or a birthday party that you may have around Easter time. It’s a trail around the forest with a few activities on the way, at the end you could organise the actual easter egg hunt.

The trail revolves around a little story about the Easter bunny. It’s very short, which will make it also very suitable for younger children.

At the start of the trail, you can read out the following:

During the winter months, the Easter bunny lives in this forest. He likes to jump around and he keeps and colours the Easter eggs here. We are going on a little adventure to find out more about the Easter bunny …
Follow the trail that is set out with ribbons, up to the first stop.
At the first stop, read out the following
 The Easter bunny wants to welcome you all to the forest with a magic egg. However, the Easter bunny cannot find it. Can you go and have a look for it. If you find it you’ll have to crack it to find it’s magic contents …
I had hidden a huge pinata in the shape of an egg. It was hanging off a tree, deep into the forest (about 100 yards from the path), so that it wasn’t that easily visible. Obviously, the kids had to hit it with the sticks that they found in the forest. Inside were bags of crisps/ popcorn.
The pinata is very easy to make with flour, water, a balloon and newspaper (more about this below).
Egg-shaped pinata

Egg-shaped pinata

We continue the trail to the next stop by following the ribbons. The story continues: 
The Easter bunny was very sorry that he could not meet you today. He had to go to an egg painting meeting with his friends. Instead, he has left a picture of himself in the forest. Can you find all the pieces and fix the jigsaw?
I got a big poster of the Easter bunny for this and glued it to cardboard, I cut it into different jigsaw pieces and hid the pieces around the area of the second stop. Once the kids had found all the jigsaw pieces they had to put them together.
Easter bunny jigsaw

Easter bunny jigsaw

Up to the next stop. We read the following:
The Easter bunny always hides all the eggs in the forest to make sure that nobody can find them before Easter. He would like to give you some as a little treat. Can you help the Easter bunny to find the eggs? 
Here we had hidden a shoebox with chocolate eggs. Again, we hid it not to close to the pathway. 

Shopping list (for 10 kids)

1. Flour €1.50, Crisps/ popcorn: €4,-, Drinks (water/ fruit shoot): €8,-

2. Punch balloons (these are the big balloons with an elastic band attached that you can punch: €3,-

3. A poster of an Easter bunny, most 2 euro shops have these around Easter: €2,-

4. Chocolate Easter eggs: €6,-

Total cost: €25,-

Preparations:

1. Print out the story here and cut it up at the lines to put it into envelopes. Number the envelopes 1-3.

2. Make the pinata, instructions can be found here. I used the big punch balloons. Also make sure that you make it a long time before hand as it need to dry for a few days before you can paint it.

3. Once the pinata is finished, fill it with the crisps/ popcorn and attach a wire to it to hang it up. The best way to do this is by sticking sellotape on the outside and inside where you want to make a hole, this will stop it from tearing.

4. Stick the bunny poster onto cardboard and cut it into jigsaw pieces with scissors or a stanley knife. If you can’t find a piece of cardboard big enough, you can also cut the poster into the jigsaw pieces and stick these to the cardboard, cutting it in the same shape.

5. Make a box for the chocolate eggs. I used a shoe box covered in tin foil.

6. Before setting out the trail, pack the following:

  • Task 1: Pinata, scissors, extra wire
  • Task 2: jigsaw pieces
  • Task 3: shoe box with chocolate eggs
  • Also: the envelopes, loads of ribbons, cello tape, scissors …

6.Setting out the trail:

  • Set out the trail an hour before the party starts, you want to make sure that the ribbons are still there for the party;
  • Place the ribbons in a visible spot high up, so that other people can’t get near them;
  • Use a lot of ribbons, especially where you turn left or right;
  • For the tasks, hang the envelopes in a high place off a tree;
  • For the items that need to be hidden, make sure you cannot see them from the path …

7. And finally a bit of advise:

  • Try to get a few parents to help you setting out the trail. Also during the party make sure that you have an adult at the tail end of the group who can make sure that no children stay behind.
  • The kids will get very excited to try to find the ribbons. Point out a few rules at the start of the trail. Every child should get a turn in leading the group. And during the tasks nobody should go ahead to look for the ribbons. The promise of a medal, or another price for whoever respects the rules might be a good incentive.
  • Always make sure that no rubbish is left behind. It’s everybody’s responsibility to clean up after them.