Guest Post!

I am excited to host a guest post today from Dan Gilbert who works with Primrose schools. I've checked out their website and love what I see! Dan writes about Frugal Halloween Fun! Hope you enjoy his ideas!

Monster Halloween Ideas Without Scary Spending:
Frugal Fun Activities for the Whole Family

Submitted by Dan Gilbert, on behalf of Primrose Schools. Primrose is a family of over 230 highly accredited preschools found across the nation. Dedicated teachers, a safe, nurturing environment, and a balanced learning curriculum make Primrose Schools the Leader in Educational Child Care.

If fall was a roller coaster, then Halloween would be the highest point of the ride that plunges riders into the twists and turns of the Thanksgiving holidays and then propels them into the death-defying loops of the winter holiday season.

During weekends, holiday vacations and even school evenings you may hear those dreaded words come from your child, “Mom! I’m Bored!” No parent wants to hear their child is bored, especially during such an exciting time of year. Fall brings many things; leaves that change colors, apple picking, pumpkins, pies and most important, Halloween! To keep your child from experiencing the “brain-drain” effect, as Primrose Schools’ Dr. Mary Zurn calls it, be prepared for those dull days with some exciting Halloween-themed activities that will stretch your child’s imagination for the month of October.

The following are 10 ways to ease your way into Halloween without scaring the greenbacks out of your wallet. They are also meant to challenge a child's critical thinking skills and stretch their imaginations.

1. Plan and Build a Haunted House
Plan your haunted house as you would approach a real-world project. Lay the ground rules so when differing opinions threaten the project, the final authority (you) decides. Do not forget to provide a budget for your haunted house team.

A double garage or extra bedroom in your house can house your project. If you do not have room in either, then visit your local appliance store. Large appliance boxes can be put together to make a portable haunted house location.

Next, decide which props and decorations will be placed in the haunted house. When you have children with different scare thresholds, it is an excellent opportunity to practice negotiation skills.

Have children sketch out a rough blueprint labeling the entrance, the path and the exit along with the placement of decorations and props. After it is finished, invite the neighbors to enjoy!

2. Make Green Halloween Crafts
Use wrinkled fall-colored tissue paper and glass jars to make decoupage Halloween lanterns. Younger children can tear up the tissue paper. Older children can man the glue pot. Cover the jars completely with the bits of tissue paper. Use a combination of different-sized jars for visual variety. Place a battery-powered tea light inside the jar and line them up along your porch or drive way to light the way for trick-or-treaters.

Collect cardboard toilet paper tubes. Cut 8x8 inch orange and black tissue paper squares. Roll the tissue paper around the roll and close one end by twisting the tissue paper and securing with curly ribbon. Fill the tube with candy or small prizes. Close this end as well and make enough to give out on Halloween night.

3. Visit a Graveyard and Study Town History
Research notable figures in your town's history. The internet, local library or chamber of commerce can be excellent sources. Then pay a visit to your local cemetery and locate their gravesite. Take along paper and crayons or pencils to make rubbings of headstones.

4. Re-write Classic Fairy Tales
Instead of "The Three Little Pigs," what about a story of the "Three Little Spiders" complete with illustrations? Take favorite fairy tales and substitute witches, goblins, monsters and vampires and turn them into scary tales!

5. Re-write Tunes with a Halloween Theme
This activity is the same concept as above except this time it is favorite tunes that are getting the re-write treatment. Find a karaoke version online and put on a spooktacular show featuring your new musical creations.

6. Plan, Cook and Serve a Halloween Menu
Every child has a favorite food item. Plan a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with a trick-or-treat twist. Rename menu items with more Halloween appropriate names. For example, spaghetti with marinara sauce becomes "Bloody Mummy Guts." Cinnamon apple oatmeal becomes "Chunky Snake Brains." Green beans become "Frankenstein Fingers." Brainstorm with your children to come up with a whole day's menu.

7. Try a Halloween Tradition from Another Country
Research another country and try out one of their popular Halloween traditions. Making "altares" or altars is a way Mexicans honor a loved one who has passed away. A simple altar can be made using a shoe box. Gather a loved one's favorite items or foods along with their picture and arrange them in a type of diorama display.

In Ireland, bon fires are a Halloween tradition meant to scare off the evil spirits that supposedly roamed freely on Halloween Night. Build a bon fire in your backyard and bring along marshmallows for roasting.

8. Explore All Things Pumpkin
Pay a visit to your local farmer's market or pumpkin patch and take a few pumpkins home. Here are a few examples of what to do with your pumpkins:

Have pumpkin muffins for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Save pumpkin seeds for your fall garden.
Have a pumpkin carving contest.
Roast pumpkin seeds in the oven for a healthy snack.
Experiment with pumpkin recipes.

9. Design and Create Original Costumes
Gather old clothes, fabric scraps, old Halloween masks and costumes, ballet recital costumes, old sports uniforms and outdated jewelry and accessories. Put them in a special box and have your children come up with designer-original costume couture. If they have some good ideas using other household items that can be recycled, let them create to their heart's content. When they have finished, put on a runway fashion show to introduce their collection.

10. Backyard Fun
Rake fall leaves and construct a leaf maze in your backyard. Gather Halloween or fall items to hide around your backyard. Have children follow your clues to find them. Older children should have the opportunity to then write their own clues so others can find items.

Next time your children get the I'm-bored blues, let them choose one of these activities to get their imaginations going. Who knows? They may even be inspired to come up with a whole new list.


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