Happy Spooky Season, BCOTB Family! October is among us and so follows the time of year to decorate and celebrate with costumes, pumpkins, treats, and more! This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize that finding activities to do for Halloween may be difficult so, to help ease the stress of finding family-friendly and safe, socially-distant activities, here is a list of sensory-friendly crafts and events for all of our families to enjoy in home or safely around the Tampa Bay area.
There is nothing that I love more than a good craft. Add Halloween to the mix? YES, please! This Sensory-Friendly Pinterest Board is crawling (creepy pun intended) with fun and exciting crafts, but here are my favorites!
Pumpkin Cloud Dough
The best way to describe this “dough” is to compare it to kinetic sand—it is soft, squishy, and moldable, but also light, powdery, and smells like our favorite seasonal latte. To make it at home, you only need:
1. 4 cups of flour
2. 1/3 cup of canola or vegetable oil
3. 3 pieces of orange sidewalk chalk
4. Pumpkin pie spice
For the full recipe and instructions, visit: https://elemenopkids.com/pumpkin-cloud-dough/
Halloween I Spy Bottle
This is such a fun treat for our friends who like the sound of objects rolling, tumbling, and mixing together (ASMR, am I right?) and, when made at home, it helps us reuse some of the water bottles that we may have hanging around! When our learners are helping put this craft together, gross and fine motor skills can be applied (e.g. opening and closing the water bottle, using thumb and index finger to pick up items and drop them into the bottle, using hands or a funnel to pour beads inside, etc.) and listening skills can be used when playing with it (e.g. “I Spy with my little eye something that black and turns into a vampire!”). To make it at home, visit: http://learningandnesting.com/halloween-sensory-bottles/
Candy Corn Sensory Seek
How about some Halloween themed “needle in a haystack” fun? To make this at home, you will need:
1. Dried rice (amount of rice is your choice, depending on the size of your container)
2. Yellow and red food coloring
3. A container to place your rice
4. Candy corn
Take your rice and divide evenly into three bowls. Use 1-2 drops of yellow dye for one bowl and 1 drop of yellow dye mixed with 1 drop of red to make your orange dye. Mix your orange dye before adding it to the rice! After dying your rice, let it sit until dry to the touch. Mix your yellow and orange rice with your undyed white rice in your bin of choice and pour in some candy corn pieces. Set a timer and see how long it takes for your learner to find them all!
Monster Mystery Boxes
One of the earliest memories that I have is from when I was in kindergarten or 1st grade. My school built some sort of haunted house in the cafeteria, probably out of cardboard, duct tape, craft paint, some lights, and a million man hours but for me as a kiddo, it did the trick (another unapologetic Halloween pun). I remember walking through the haunted house and the only way I could pass into the next part of the house was if I could guess which part of a monster was presented to me. I stuck my hand into this box (probably made from a cleverly decorated Nike shoe box) and felt a bunch of peeled grapes that felt like eyeballs. From what I was told by my parents, 6-7 year-old me shrieked with laughter, yelled “EYEBALL,” pulled one out, and ate it right there. Pre-school me was hardcore.
Some ideas to use for this craft are:
1. Brains – cooked spaghetti
2. Eyeballs – peeled grapes
3. Worms – Jello (liquid Jellow mix poured into straws before placing in the fridge to solidify)
4. Monster teeth – unpopped popcorn kernels
If you are curious to see how your child would react to mystery monster parts, visit: https://christinamariablog.com/halloween-mystery-boxes/ for some more ideas and hopefully, they react better than I did!
In addition to some crafts to do at home, Tampa Bay is hosting some events that are fun for the whole family, while taking additional safe measures and precautions! Visit https://www.visittampabay.com/tampa-events/halloween/ for the full list, but here are some favorites for our learners that I have seen:
1. Glazer’s Children Museum – Sunday, October 25th from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm: This is a sensory event with a limited crowd and lights and sounds minimized. Expect costumes parades, sensory-friendly science experiments, and the Teal Pumpkin Project!
2. Zoo Tampa: Creatures of the Night – October 2nd – October 31st: Visit https://zootampa.org/creatures-of-the-night/ to purchase tickets and reserve your preferred date and time between October 2nd and October 31st. Children 12 and under are invited to wear costumes while visiting this camp-themed event. Listen to spooky stories, beware of pirates, and engage in all sorts of spooky fun!
3. Riverwalk Halloween Hunt – This is a free event for the public where families and individuals can participate in a spooky, virtual scavenger hunt along Tampa’s Riverwalk. This event could be especially exciting for our learners who love engaging in screens! Use your phones to solve riddles and puzzles, take pictures, and explore! An app download is required to participate in this event. Visit https://thetampariverwalk.com/events/trick-or-treat/ for more details!
BCOTB wishes the most fun and excitement for our learners and their families. I hope this list has helped generate some ideas for our families this year and as always, please have a very spooky and safe Halloween!