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Monday, October 28th, 2013
As you make final adjustments to costumes, finishing decorating the house, and ensure that you have enough candy for trick or treaters, it’s also a good time to think about safety for Halloween night. Dimly lit streets, dark colored costumes, candles inside pumpkins, and traffic present certain hazards that are good to keep in mind.
“Just about everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to safety,” said Lorraine Carli, the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) vice president of Outreach and Advocacy.
Here are some additional safety tips to help everyone stay safe on Halloween:
Do a costume check. The NFPA recommends that families stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If your child’s costume is looking a bit long, give it a trim or tie it up. Also, if your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
See and be seen with glow sticks. Disposable glow sticks are fine to help kids be seen on a dark night but we love light up glow sticks from Rayovac because the light stays illuminated as long as it’s on and they come with a handy lanyard that goes around their neck to keep hands free. There’s no fumbling around as they ring doorbells, hold treat bags, and accept candy from our neighbors, plus there’s nothing in their hands in the event they stumble and fall and need to catch themselves before hitting the hard pavement.
Replace candles with battery powered lights. With decorations being the start of many home fires, the NFPA recommends avoiding candle decorations. “Costumes with billowing or long trailing fabric and candle decorations should be avoided to keep fun events from turning into tragedies,” Carli recommends. Instead, tea lights can provide a constant safe glow inside pumpkins and other decorations to replace hazardous candles but if you must use candles, the NFPA recommends keeping them well attended at all times to keep everyone safer.
Trick or treat together. Not only is trick or treating is always more fun with others but there’s also safety in being with a group. Younger ages love going out with mom and dad but tweens might balk at the idea of parental supervision. Rather than a group of parents accompany the tweens, plan to have one or two parents go with the group who can hang back on the sidewalk as they ring doorbells to help the kids maintain their cool factor.
Exercise safety when crossing the street. Sticking to one side of the street at a time, rather than zig zagging through a neighborhood, and taking an extra second to pause before crossing at intersections can keep kids safer while trick or treating when it’s dark. Older kids with trick or treating experience who are going out with friends should also receive a gentle reminder before heading out on their own.
Check candy before consuming. It’s so tempting to eat as you go but encourage kids to hand candy to a parent to give it a once over to ensure that the package is sealed before diving in. Once you’re home, dump out the candy haul out on the kitchen table and have kids help you sort to search for any candy with ripped packaging that will need to be thrown away.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!
Portrait of happy friends sitting together on stairs in Halloween outfit via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
As fun as trick or treating is for kids, Halloween can also be scary for young ages but doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of age appropriate shows, apps, and books to get you in the spirit without being frightened. Here are some ways you can enjoy some not-so-scary fun as a family.
Carve a virtual pumpkin for practice. Create some mess-free fun and practice your virtual carving skills thanks to the Parents Carve a Pumpkin app. This easy-to-use free app lets your child drag and drop shapes to carve a virtual pumpkin while saving you cleanup headaches. Other great pumpkin carving apps for older ages includes the Carve It! Pumpkin Carving ($0.99 via iTunes) and Carve a Pumpkin! app via iTunes. ($0.99)
Watch Halloween episodes featuring favorite characters. Originally broadcast on October 27, 1966, It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a Halloween classic but for those who don’t love the Great Pumpkin, PBS Kids has special Halloween specials featuring Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, and Curious George. Catch your favorite characters on special episodes airing on your local PBS stations on the following dates:
- Sid the Science Kid Halloween Spooky Science Special: October 28 and 31
- Dinosaur Train Haunted Roundhouse/Big Pumpkin Patch: October 26, 27 and 28
- Curious George: A Halloween Book Fest on October 28
- Dinosaur Train Night Train on October 29
Do some bewitching Halloween science experiments. Brew up some misty punch, create a touch box to invigorate the senses, make ghosts and bats dance with static electricity, write and reveal secret messages, or concoct some glowing bubbling brew before you head out for a night of trick or treating. 6 Spooky Science Experiments for Halloween is your how-to guide to some engaging science fun that will enthrall young learners.
Curl up on the couch with a fiction or nonfiction Halloween book. Some favorites include:
Create a no-sew costume together. If your child has changed their mind yet again and their indecision is driving you batty, go with a no sew option that’s easy to put together. PBS Parents shows parents how to easily transform their WordGirl superfan into the beloved superhero with the colossal vocabulary, by using just a few materials. There’s also a video tutorial on how to create a Halloween Ninja costume with a single t-shirt.
Decorate the house and take care of last minute costume details together. Involving little hands help kids get into the spirit of the day and even if you’re strapped for time, Fiverr provides busy parents with a helping hand with Halloween task prep at prices starting at $5. What can Fiverr do for you? Get a Halloween pendant necklace made, have a festive Halloween poster designed to hang in your home, transform into a vampire or another creature for the class party or Halloween night, ensure that your house has the coolest lit pumpkins on the block, or send a fun Halloween video greeting to loved ones far away!
Group of kids dressed up for Halloween via Shutterstock
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Thursday, October 10th, 2013
As classroom parents plan Halloween party activities to occupy the time between the school parade and the night’s sugar rush, it’s a great time to sneak in some wonderfully spooky science experiments that will allow kids of all ages to learn a little science before diving into the afternoon’s treats. Here are six easy experiments that will dazzle kids of all ages and are pretty easy to prepare.
Serve misty punch. A chunk of dry ice in a big punch bowl allows the room to be overtaken by a creeping fog. Show elementary aged kids the dry ice before it’s immersed in the liquid and talk about why it’s called dry ice. Hint: DryIceNetwork.com says that the substance is really frozen carbon dioxide. “It is called dry ice because it resembles water in many ways…but when it sublimates [when a solid or gas changes state without becoming a liquid], it turns to gas instead of liquid.” Save another chunk of dry ice for Halloween night and add it to your jack-o-lantern after lighting the candle to make some spooky fog.
Create a Halloween feel box to invigorate their senses. Get a large bowl and add a package of wet gummy worms, wet spaghetti coated in oil, and peeled grapes. Place it inside a box where you’ve cut a hole big enough for a little arm to slide inside and let early elementary ages, preschoolers, and toddlers try to guess the real foods inside your slimy bowl. It’s a fun idea that allows children to make observations based only on touch. About.com Family Crafts has more ideas for household items to place inside the feel box.
Make ghosts and bats dance with static electricity. Balloons, tissue paper, markers, scissors, tape, and your sweater or hair are all you need to make fun Halloween shapes float around thanks to static electricity. How do you do it and why does it work? Visit Inspiration Laboratories for the full instructions and explanation.
Write and reveal secret messages with Goldenrod bleeding paper. According to the American Chemical Society, “Goldenrod paper turns bright red when exposed to basic solutions, like ammonia water. Spray some ammonia-water solution on your hand to make a bloody hand print.” For full directions, visit Steve Spangler Science for directions and why this is a very cool experiment, especially if you’re short on time. Ammonia water is safe for kids. Just make sure that they wash their hands after being sprayed.
Concoct some glowing bubbling brew. Did you know that a diluted yellow highlighter will glow under a black light? Have kids make a prediction about what will happen when you turn on a black light and turn off the overhead light. Also make them guess what will happen when you mix the yellow highlighter water (aka glow water) with vinegar and then pour it over some baking soda. For some great photos of what this experiment looks like, visit Play at Home Mom.
Test the density of candy with a simple sink and float test. Once Halloween has come and gone and you’re left with the candy that hasn’t been eaten, it makes for great science experiments. CandyExperiments.com has tons of great candy experiments but a really simple one is the sink/float test. Visit the site to learn why some candies float while others sink!
Scary Halloween laboratory via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
The thought of Halloween doesn’t have to induce terror. From costumes to party planning, there are many sites that can make party planning and costume creation easier so you can kick back and enjoy a sweet treat on Halloween night.
Halloween costumes can be as expensive or inexpensive as you allow them to be. The following sites provide a wealth of costume options that will last:
- eBay— eBay is treasure trove of new and gently used supplies that can become a costume in one click or turned into a fantastic costume if you like to unleash your inner crafter. Since many costumes are often worn just once or twice before being outgrown, eBay is a great place to score practically new costumes of popular characters such as those from Star Wars or Harry Potter. It’s also a great place to find costume accessories such as light sabers, Hogwarts house patches, pirate hats, cowboy boots, capes in all colors, and more!
- SuperME— If you’re looking for a super hero costume that will have longevity after October 31, SuperME cape backpacks are fun and fuctional. Toddlers and kindergartners will delight in having a backpack that comes with an attached cape for dress up throughout the year. Interchangeable Velcro patches also ensure that your superhero always gets to express their style as their interests change plus the backpack is a handy place to stash Halloween while trick or treating!
- Etsy— Whether you want your costume to be unique or depict an icon from pop culture, support handmade small businesses by purchasing items from Etsy. Etsy is also a great place for holiday related home décor (hand stamped Happy Halloween banner, anyone?), charming accessories like this made to order eco-friendly artic fox wool costume tail and headband set, and even pumpkin marshmallow perfume oil to infuse your home with the sweet scent of Halloween.
Racking your brain for costume ideas? Class party activities? Halloween decorations? Crowd source your way to get the results you want!
- Pinterest— Idea boards abound with fabulous costume options, super cute cupcake ideas, spooky decorations, and everything that a room parent needs for class party inspiration. Type in what you’re looking for into the search box and get ready to create your own pin board to curate ideas and save them for next year because chances are you’ll find more than you can use this year!
- Wikets— And if you’re having trouble finding the items to make the perfect Halloween costume, crowd source for options through Wikets. Wikets is a free app that allows users to ask questions and receive recommendations from others. It’s a great app for puzzled parents trying to piece together a costume since other users can get real time feedback from fellow Wikets users about must-have items to make that costume just right. And those must-have add ons can even be purchased through Wikets. How’s that for one stop shopping!
What are your favorite sites to visit as you plan creative costumes, spooky treats, and fun for Halloween?
Boy and girl wearing Halloween costume via Shutterstock
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