Need some ideas on how to entertain kids over halloween and get them outdoors?
If you’re in the UK at least, it’s likely your little monsters are on half term for the week before the spookiest weekend of the year. Trying to wrench them away from their screen and get them outdoors? Here’s a few ideas for the younger and older kids. And some ideas they can do together.
How to get the kids out into nature this halloween
Nothing truly brings halloween atmosphere more than nature itself. Dark skies, black shadowy corners, spooky ancient trees, old ruined buildings, strange animal cries, witches and zombies waiting behind every hedge … yikes! We’re scaring ourselves here!
Kids will bring their imaginations. All you have to do is throw in the idea to get the woolly hats on and get them out there.
These ideas can fill a few evenings in the run up to halloween weekend, and start to get everyone in the mood! Or you could pack them into a weekend of spook and horror! Check the weather, and see what’s possible to get them out and about in nature. But after all, a howling creepy wind and a bit of rain only adds to the atmosphere. Then, have hot chocolate, fluffy blankets and ghost stories ready for when they get back indoors.
Magic Potions (for the little ones)
Every little one becomes a witch or a wizard, and gets to make their very own hocus pocus magic potion. All they need is the eye of a toad, the tongue of a lizard … OK not really. They just need some natural stuff found outdoors!
Give each one a magic bottle with a screwable top (ones you’ve saved for recycling).
Next, they become a foraging witch or wizard. They must go out and find 5 or 6 things from nature that they will make their potion with - a red leaf, a skeleton twig, spikes from a fir tree, a dead flower head, a brown leaf for example.
When they return with their collection, pour a little water into the bottles, and each puts their finds into it. You can give them a little drop of natural food dye, for supernatural colour.
And now, with their potions ready, each little one gets to make a wish or cast a spell. They must draw and colour a ‘spell label’ for their potion, with their wish or spell written on the back and tie the label to their bottle. We find spell and wish making works much better with hot chocolate and marshmallows!
Spooky Treasure Hunt
You can organise this one in a local park at dusk or evening. Or for very little ones, the garden. You can hide two or more of the ‘treasures’ to make sure everyone finds something. Or, all treasure is brought back and put into a treasure chest - so they can all share the booty! Everyone dresses up, for extra fun!
If you’re doing it in a park, make sure each team has a ghost (adult!) for supernatural protection.
After you choose where you’ll hide each item, make a little treasure map and make up a clue - and go totally halloween with it! For example
“I will be found by the dark root of the biggest tree spirit’ or “You will find me by the deathly creaking of the swings” or “I am hidden forever in the darkness under the hedge” ..
You see where we’re going with this!
Treasure is easy. A mix of treats and halloween goodies, chocolate coins and objects like bottles of magic potions they can cast spells with after the hunt. You could even hide envelopes with dares in for after (“you must bob 4 apples, or be forever doomed to walk the earth as a ghost!”)
A little imagination and organisation, and the Spooky Treasure Hunt will be a fun filled evening.
Visit a local farm
Traditionally, this is harvest festival time. And many local farms open up their gates for lots of activities, like pumpkin carving and harvest festivities.
You’ll maybe also see animals, if the farm keeps them. And with fab farm shops, buy pumpkins, gourds and apples (it’s apple season!) and lots of other harvest time goodies. Farms usually have great natural halloween decorations, so lots of inspiration.
If there’s a farm shop, do visit for special halloween treats for the kids, gorgeous homemade jams and chutneys - all seasonal. The kids will love it! Have a look online to see where open farms are near you. It’s a perfect afternoon out and about.
Blindman’s Night Rope Walk
One of our favourites. If you have a little bit of space, or can set it up in a park, it’s great fun. You can play with two or ten kids of all sizes! More is definitely merrier with the Night Rope Walk.
You run a long rope or string from one point to a final point, but with obstacles in between and different ground - so run the rope down slopes, around trees, through soft leaves underfoot, maybe a little stream (if they have wellies!)! It can be as long as the space allows.
Start the rope somewhere all the kids can gather. Everyone is blindfolded. And everyone forms a line, holding onto the rope close to each other in a line. They must not let go of the rope and must help each other with instructions passing from the group.
One adult walks alongside the line, to make sure no-one hurts themselves. But stay as quiet as they can (unless an unexpected scary ghost noise is required!)
The real joy of this is in the kids being completely blindfolded, and the team work!
Zombie and Ghouls Hide and Seek
It’s a classic! Best fun outdoors, but it can be played indoors. Dressing up is a must! Again, a garden or the local park are ideal. If you’re lucky enough to have old ruins nearby, even better! And in the dark? Priceless!
The Zombie team hunt the ghouls, then the ghouls hunt the zombies. Whichever team finds all of the others quickest, wins! We recommend big slices of organic apple pie for all zombies and ghouls after!
Make a Horror Film
A great use for the smartphone!! It’s amazing how much imagination kids have and how well they know all the photo effects on a smartphone! If you set them this task, to make their own scary film outside - you’ll be amazed at what they can come back with. Get them to spend ten minutes planning their film. They can gather up costumes, and use face paints if they need to create a zombie or witch or two!
Send them off to be film directors, and see what fun they have! They can come home, get warm and edit their film. You can all watch their film together.
Sleep Under The Black Sky
Finally, what could possibly be better or maybe scarier than putting the tent up in the back garden under dark Halloween skies on the witching night itself?
Kids love tents and camping! If it’s cold, then just do it until bedtime. But what a great opportunity to have a campfire (or get the firepit going), wrap blankets around you, toast marshmallows, have hot chocolate - and everyone has to tell ghost stories!
And if they’re tucked up inside the tent, and they start to hear strange eerie ghostly noises, we won't tell anyone it's you! They’ll be screaming with delight!
If you don’t have a tent, then get everyone wrapped up warm, have a small campfire or fire-pit, toast marshmallows and tell scary stories.
Halloween is a golden opportunity to get kids outdoors. Instead of the usual trick or treating, why not try a few of these ideas where they get to use their imaginations, and love being out in the evenings. With the faint smell of fireworks floating through the crisp October air, the celebration of the darkening evenings and the coming of winter, it’s such a special time of year. A great time to connect with nature and have great fun doing it.
Happy halloween haunting. Stay safe.