Halloween Science

GUESS THE PUMPKIN’S WEIGHT!
Need:
Large pumpkin
Bathroom or science class scale
Slips of paper
Have children write their estimates of the pumpkin’s weight on a slip of paper. Kids write their names on the paper, fold them, and place in a box. At the end of the time-frame, weigh the pumpkin and award a prize or the pumpkin to the child with the closest guess.

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GROWING IN A PUMPKIN!
Start this about two weeks before Halloween
Materials:
1 small pumpkin for each child or experiement
Paint
Cotton Batting
Mustard, Watercress or birdseed
Water

Cut the top off the pumpkin and and clean out the seeds.
Paint a face on the pumpkin. (If it is Halloween project–if it is for Fall/Autumn, leave natural)
Fill the pumpkin with cotton and spray with water.
Sprinkle the seeds on the batting.
Keep the batting moist, and seeds will sprout in about 2 weeks or sooner….just in time for Halloween!

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LEFT-OVER PUMPKIN SEEDS!

You can quickly make pumpkin seeds in your microwave. The shells are edible — and a good source of fiber. You can also use this method with other seeds such as acorn squash and butternut squash.

Ingredients:
1 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp. Olive oil or butter, Salt, seasoned salt, garlic /onion powder or other seasonings to your choice.

Rinse pumpkin seeds. Remove all the pulp. Drain the seeds and discard the pulp. Spread out on paper towel on a cookie sheet and dry them over-night. Place butter or Olive Oil l in a microwave-safe, baking dish.

Microwave on high about 7 to 8 minutes or until seeds are toasted a light golden color. Be sure to stir every 2 minutes as they are cooking. When done, sprinkle with your choice of seasonings. Coat evenly. Cool them before eating or storing. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 months or refrigerate up to 1 year.

If you like your toasted pumpkin seeds extra-salty, soak them overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup salt to 2 cups of water. Dry an additional day, and follow the above directions.

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DOES A PUMPKIN SINK OR FLOAT?

Fill a large clear storage container or aquarium with water. (If the weather is warm, you can do it outside). Have children make predictions of what will happen and graph the predictions. Do the experiments to determine if they were right or not.

Make it interesting and get a few pumpkin sizes.

You may hear predictions that the smaller pumpkins will float and the large will sink. (Pumpkins float)

  • Talk about why they float… If older kids know the answers… have them run the activity. The pumpkin (and watermelon) will float because its mass is less than the mass of water it displaces. This is due primarily because the inside of the pumpkin and melon are hollow. It is mostly air, which has a much lower mass than water.

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PUMPKIN EXPERIMENT
Prepare the experiment by cutting two pie pumpkins in half. (This will give you four halves.)
Place each pumpkin half in a plastic bag that is mostly closed (the environment needs to be moist, yet allow some fresh air to enter).

Set one bag in a sunny spot, one in a shady spot, one in the refrigerator, and one in a location of the students’ choosing.
Ask kids to predict which pumpkin will grow the most mold over the course of the experiment.

Set aside time each day for students to examine the pumpkin halves and record their observations.
Then ask students: Where is the best place to keep a jack-o-lantern in order to keep it from spoiling?

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After doing the above—here is a TIP FOR KEEPING THOSE CARVED-OUT PUMPKINS FRESH!

Some say that coating the inside of the emptied/carved pumpkin with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) should help preserve and keep the pumpkin from shriveling/getting moldy.

Trying various methods myself–the pumpkins that stayed freshest the longest were those sprayed with “Clorox Cleanup” (or a mixture of bleach and water).

Spray the bleach and water inside of the pumpkin daily. Killing off mold spores with a bleach solution helps preserve the pumpkin. If your pumpkin starts to look as if it needs rehydration– (wilting or caving in)– fill a large container with cold water and 2 or 3 tablespoons of bleach. Good results should be achieved when soaked overnight.

Pumpkins kept outdoors in very cool weather should last a week without any treatment…

These Halloween Science activities were spotted on Kids Activities.

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Halloween Party Games

Here are some Halloween Games from Kids Activities.

FLOATING PUMPKINS

Number the bottom of the small gourds that look like miniature pumpkins and float them in water for the children to choose one for small prizes.

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PUMPKIN SEED TOSS
Number and line up 5 small baskets or containers; have children stand 3 feet (or farther depending on ages) in front of the first container and toss seeds into them in sequence. Small prizes can be given for each container seeds get in.

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PUMPKIN WALK
This is like a regular cake walk except instead of numbers, place pictures of several fall items on the floor for the children to walk; call out the names of the items instead of numbers. Award the child that lands on the picture of a pumpkin—a small/miniature pumpkin! Use fall themed music such as “Turkey In The Straw” or “Jimmy Cracked Corn”.

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Idea***Have a PUMPKIN SEED SPITTING CONTEST OUTSIDE! Clean seeds, dry, save and then play…

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Things to do with Acorns and Kids

Things to do with acorns

 
1 – Glitter acorns
Whilst I wouldn’t want to add anything to Mother nature’s perfection, everything does sparkle with glitter so why not acorns!

 

 I think they look quite cute all sparkly!
2 – Acorn treasure hunt
 I thought it was a great idea so hid our glitter acorns and marked them on the map.
The map really helped as the acorns are pretty small even if they sparkled making them easier to find.

 

3 – Painted acorns
For a bit of decoration I painted some acorns, initially I used ready mix paint, but it flaked off so did them again with acrylic paints which worked much better.

 

The boys also enjoyed painting the acorns, although they mostly ended up brown – fun, but not that pretty!

 

4 – Painted acorn caps (for matching pairs)
The idea for painting acorn caps came from Paint Cut Paste they used markers to colour the inside of the acorn caps, instead I used paint, but then also like the original post used glue to make a lovely shine.

 

They look lovely!  I did these without the boys, but it could easily be done with older kids.  My plan was to then using them in a game of matching pairs – by turning them face down and matching the colours – if you get to give it a go let me know!

 

5 – Autumn Sensory Bin
We also popped the acorns as well as chestnuts (conkers) and pine cones for a sensory bin, ours was very simple, but check out some of the great ones from 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 andHappy Hooligans.

These great ideas were posted by Making Boys Men, but girls will love it too!

 

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Halloween Games for Kids

Here are some fun Halloween Games and Activities for kids from Kid Activities.

 

PUMPKIN AND FOOT RACE
Set up starting and finish lines and have the children race to see who can get their smallish pumpkin over the finish line. Only feet can be used to push pumpkins along. There can be no kicking; if any kicking is observed, that child goes back to their starting line. This would also be a good team relay race.

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PUMPKIN ROLLING
Divide children into two or more teams.
Have a start line and turnaround line, 20 ft apart.
The first child in each line rolls a pumpkin from the start line, to the turn-around line and back.
The next person does the same, etc. The first team to have everyone play wins!

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PUMPKIN & BROOM RACE (Can be played in outdoors or gym!)

  • This is a simple race but since pumpkins are not smooth balls and refuse to roll in straight lines, you’ll need plenty of room! You need medium pumpkins and sturdy sticks (or brooms); Use one pumpkin and stick/broom for each team.
  • The racers line up on the starting line with the pumpkins turned on their sides.
  • On the signal, the racers use the stick to roll the pumpkins to the finish line.
  • Younger players may want to use their hands instead of the stick.
  • If you want to play this as teams, make it a relay race.
  • When playing inside use smaller pumpkins.

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PASS THE PUMPKIN RELAY
Line up into 2 teams.

  • The first person passes the pumpkin OVER his/her head to the next person in line.
  • The next person passes the pumpkin UNDER his/her legs to the next person, and so on.
  • When you get to the end of the line the last person runs up to the front and starts it all over again.
  • Whoever has the first person that was in line at the beginning of the game— in the back of the line WINS.

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FIND THE PUMPKIN
Supplies:
Ten pieces of white paper
Five pieces of yellow paper
Five pieces of orange paper
A crayon
Scissors
Directions:
1.
Draw ten white pumpkins, five yellow pumpkins, and five orange pumpkins. (Or adjust the numbers to reflect the number of your group)
2. Cut out all the pumpkins.
3. Decorate each pumpkin with a funny face.
4. Write the “number 1” on the backs of the white pumpkins.
5. Write the “number 5” on the backs of the yellow pumpkins.
6. Write the “number 10” on the backs of the orange pumpkins.
7. Hide all of the pumpkins.
8. Kids try to find as many pumpkins as they can before the leader says “Stop!”

Players add up the numbers on their collected pumpkins. The player with the most points wins! This can also be played in teams.

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PUMPKIN BOWLING!
Supplies: 3 small pumpkins, 30 empty 2 liter clear soda bottles (less if your group is smaller!), a bag of gravel or pebbles placed in bottom of bottles

  • Ask parents to save empty, clean 2 liter soda bottles for your game.
  • Add about a cup of sand or pebbles in each bottle so they will stand without falling over.
  • Divide kids into several teams of 3-8 kids each…line up and take turn at bowling!
  • The small pumpkins are the bowling balls. If it’s for a party- consider prizes.
  • The kids that get a Strike receive another turn to bowl a strike. If they bowl another strike, they receive a prize. When using prizes BE SURE EVERYONE GETS SOMETHING for playing!

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PUMPKIN HUNT – While the kids are out of the room – hide paper or small gourd pumpkins around the room. Challenge kids to find them all! When they have found all pumpkins you can serve a special snack or give each child a ‘goodie’.

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PUMPKIN BOCCE BALL- Object of Game: Roll a pumpkin closest to the big pumpkin. You need a large pumpkin. Also purchase several miniature or round sugar pumpkins. To play: Place the big pumpkin several feet away. Give each player a small pumpkin. Each player rolls (No tossing or throwing) their pumpkin and tries to be the closest to the big pumpkin. The player closest wins …

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THROW PENNIES IN THE PUMPKIN

 

Carve out a pumpkin (Do NOT make it a Jack-O-Lantern); line the inside with plastic or aluminum foil.

 

  • Make the top opening large. Option is to use small plastic pumpkins which are quicker and not messy!
  • To play the game—place the pumpkins a couple feet away.
  • Give each player about ten pennies…and try to get them in!
  • Each time one gets in–a point is earned… (You could also use a plastic Halloween pumpkin container)

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PUMPKIN RACE (Like the above Pumpkin Race– but using sticks instead of brooms)

Can be played in a yard, garage or even inside using small pumpkins!
This is a simple race but since pumpkins are not smooth balls and refuse to roll in nice straight lines, you will need plenty of room!

You need two large pumpkins and two sturdy sticks.
The racers, line up on the starting line with the pumpkins turned on their sides.
On the signal, the racers use the stick to roll the pumpkins to the finish line.
Younger players may want to use their hands instead of the stick.
If you want to play this as teams, make it a relay race.

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CHALLENGE THE KIDS with how many words they can come up with letters in the word ‘PUMPKIN’ ? This can be an individual challenge, or two or three kids teamed together.
(Nip, pup, ink, pink, mink, in, pin, kin, pun, nun, pump, up, nip, )

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WIN THE PUMPKIN!

Place children in a circle.
Start some music and pass a mini pumpkin from one person to another.
When the music stops-the person holding the pumpkin is out.
The last one left keeps the pumpkin!

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RING THE PUMPKIN
Line up three large pumpkins with stems, to form a ring toss.
Use embroidery hoops or make hoops with rope and duct tape.
Mark a throwing line on the floor and take turns trying to ring a pumpkin stem.
Variation: Try to ring an entire large pumpkin with a hula hoop!

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MR. PUMPKIN HEAD
Do you have Mr. Potato Head game pieces???! The kids can have some Fall fun using them with small pumpkins!
Using a smallish to medium sized pumpkin, poke some holes where the eyes, nose and mouth would be (include hat and ears). Have the children decorate “Mr. Pumpkin Head” using Mr. Potato Head pieces.

 

MAGIC PUMPKIN SEEDS
Materials:
Pumpkin seeds, small paper bag and small pumpkins

  • Show the children a small bag of pumpkin seeds and explain that you believe these are magic pumpkin seeds.
  • Take the children outside to the playground (or your yard) where they toss the seeds onto the ground. Have them make up a few magic words, if they want.
  • The next day, before children go outside–gather the seeds and put small pumpkins in their place.
  • Take the children outside and delight them with the ‘magical’ pumpkins that have grown.
    If you have enough pumpkins, the children can take the pumpkins home and/or first decorate and paint them to add to theme of your space.
    Idea adapted from preschoolrainbow.org

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TRADITIONAL GAMES WITH A TWIST…

1. Instead of Simon Says, play ‘THE PUMPKIN SAYS…’

2. Instead of Duck-Duck-Goose—‘Play APPLE-APPLE-PUMPKIN’

3. Play ‘PASS THE PUMPKIN’ like Hot Potato. Use a tiny pumpkin…

4. Instead of playing Pin the tail on the Donkey—PLAY ‘PUT THE STEM ON THE PUMPKIN’

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Bats, the Moon and Nighttime Fun for Kids

Here is a great way to enjoy fall with the kids from

KC Edventures

 

Fall is a great time to explore the night!  Head out for an evening of exploration on a cool autumn evening.  Enjoy a few books and activites that highlight the night!

 

Night Hikes

Halloween isn’t the only reason to get out at night in the fall.

Any evening can be turned into a fun time with a Night Hike.

Make sure to dress warmly, and bring along a flashlight to light up anything you might see.

Keep your eyes open as you walk.  Remind that kids that there are many animals that are nocturnal (they hunt and stay awake during the nighttime).  Keep an ear out for owls, and an eye out for other animals such as opossums, badgers, mice, fox and bats!

 

kansas-city-night-sky

The Moon

Spend a few evenings watching the moon.

Kids will notice that the moon changes over the course of a week or two.  Head outside each night and take a peek at the moon.  Have your child draw it’s shape each night — here’s a moon chart you can use to keep track of how its shape changes.

To learn more about the moon and its phases, here are some great books:

The Moon Seems to Change

This early-science reader introduces the different phases of the moon and why the moon seems to change its shape each night.

 

Hello, Harvest Moon

A beautifully illustrated story about what happens at night under the harvest moon.  Follow a little girl and her cat as they enjoy a nighttime adventure.

 

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me

A cute tale about a little girl who wants her Papa to get her the moon.  But it’s too big for Papa to take home.  A creative story about the waxing and waning of the moon.

 

The Moon Book

Learn all about the history of the moon, describes its phases and explains how we’ve explored it over the years.

 

Bats

I’ll admit, bats are not one of my favorite animals.  But they are very interesting to learn about and observe.  Bats can be found in many areas but are not often easy to see. Kids may ask how bats fly at night without flying into houses and trees.  Explain that bats use echolocation to get around.  Ecolocation uses sound waves that the bats send out; sound waves bounce off items like houses and trees so bats get an idea of how close they are to an object.

 

Here’s a fun song by Jump Start about ecolocation – very catchy!

 

Since bats are difficult to view, you might want to visit a zoo that has a bat exhibit.

 

 You might also want to visit your local library to check out a few of these fun books about bats:

Bats by Gail Gibbons

Learn all about these wonderful evening creatures in this great nonfiction book for kids.  Learn about the amazing abilities of bats!

 

Bats at the Beach

A very fun series of books, this one shows what bats do when visiting the beach at night!  A fun look at how nocturnal animals would enjoy the beach.  Enjoy a fun nighttime party with these cute little guys — and don’t forget your ‘moon-tan lotion’.

 

Bat Loves the Night

Follow bat as she flys through the night sky looking for her evening meal.  See how she uses sound to find her way around and then back home to feed her baby.

 

 

The Magic School Bus Going Batty

Go along for a ride when the Bus turns into a bat and explores a spooky mansion.  Kids will enjoy this early science look with a Halloween theme!

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Batty Witch Mobile

 

Photograph: a mobile

YOU WILL NEED

  • A pencil
  • Black construction paper
  • Brown and black tissue paper
  • Transparent tape
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Two straws
  • Needle and thread

HERE’S HOW
1. Print two copies of the bat and witch drawings. Cut out the bat, witch, and witch’s cape from one printout. Only cut along the solid lines. The cutouts will be your patterns. Use the other printout as reference.

2. Place the bat pattern onto a piece of black construction paper. Trace around the bat with a pencil, then cut out the bat.

3. Glue the black bat onto a piece of brown tissue paper. With a pencil carefully draw in the dotted-line wings freehand, using the original drawing to see where they belong. (See the photograph at left.)

4. Cut out the entire bat from the tissue paper.

5. Place the witch pattern onto a piece of black construction paper and trace around it. Cut out the witch.

6. Place the cape pattern onto a piece of black tissue paper and trace around it. Cut out the cape, then glue it to the witch’s back.

7. For each mobile you’ll need a least three figures—all bats, all witches, or a combination of the two.

8. Now assemble your mobile. Build a frame by pushing a needle and knotted thread through one end of a straw and into the center of a second straw. Leave about 10 inches (25 centimeters) of thread between the two straws. Cut the thread and knot it so the thread stays in place.

9. Pull a seperate thread through the head of a bat or through the witch’s hat and draw the thread through one of the three straw ends remaining. Knot the end of the thread. Leave from 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of thread between the bat or witch and the straw. Attach the other two figures to the other straw ends in the same way.

10. Complete the mobile this way: Loop a thread over the center of the first straw and knot the ends together. This loop is the hanger. To balance the mobile, slide the loop left or right, until the mobile hangs straight. Then tape the loop in place.

This Halloween Activity was spotted on National Geographic Kids.

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Halloween Games for Kids

Here are some fun games to play with the kids on Halloween from About.com Family Fitness.

1. Monster Freeze Dance

Put on “Monster Mash” and other seasonal tunes. Have kids show off their silliest monster dance moves—but they must freeze in place when the tunes turn off!

2. Snap Apple

Instead of bobbing for apples in a bucket of water (which can really wreak havoc on costumes or face paint!), have kids try to “snap” a bite from an apple hanging on a string. You’ll need apples with stems—tie the string to the stem, then loop it around a tree branch (outside) or a broomstick or suspension curtain rod (inside).

3. Capture the Ghost

Adapt the classic backyard game of Capture the Flag with a ghostly theme! Use white handkerchiefs for the flags. This adds an extra challenge because it will be hard to tell the teams’ flags apart from one another. For smaller kids, you might want to use Halloween-themed fabric scraps or large felt pumpkins instead.

4. Relay Races

Get creative with this one—there are lots of silly ways for kids to get from the starting line to the finish! Try having them stagger like zombies, fly on broomsticks like witches, or hop like toads. They can also carry a Halloween-themed snack. Or stage a costume relay for guaranteed silly results.

5. Pumpkin Bowling

Choose smallish pumpkins with short stems (depending on the ages of your party guests). Set up 1- or 2-liter plastic bottles and tape off a starting line for an instant bowling alley. Fill the bottles with a bit of sand or rice if they topple over too easily. You can also have kids decorate the bottles with stickers, markers, and other art materials.

6. Skeleton Scavenger Hunt

Have kids roam the yard or the house on the hunt for skeleton parts (cut from paper, or plastic ones purchased from a toy store or craft shop). For an extra challenge, see if the party guests can reassemble their bony treasures into a complete skeleton set.

7. Dead Man’s Treasure

For this version of Pirates’ Treasure, use Halloween-themed objects (say, mini plastic pumpkins, or glow sticks) for the treasure. Larger plastic pumpkins, decorated paper bags, or even large stockpots (think witch’s cauldron) can serve as the treasure chests.

8. Musical Pumpkins

Cut pumpkin shapes from construction paper and arrange them on the floor; kids must move from pumpkin to pumpkin while music plays, just like in musical chairs. To keep kids from being excluded, allow them to share pumpkins as you remove a pumpkin for each round. By the end of the game, all the kids have to squeeze onto one spot. For variety, you could also use spider webs, tombstones, or witchy cauldrons for targets.

9. Wiggle Worm

This goofy race requires kids to work together (and stick together) as a team. Divide the group into two equal teams. Teams must line up and form a “worm.” The person at the front of the line reaches his left hand between his legs; the player behind him grabs it with her right hand; and so on all the way to the end of the line. When you say “Go” (or “Boo!”), each tteam must run to a goal line and back. Whichever team gets back first is the winner—but only if their worm is still intact!

10. Ghostcatcher

Challenge kids to decorate a pumpkin without being nabbed by the ghostcatcher!

 

Here is the Ghostcatcher:

Supplies:

  • 1 big pumpkin
  • Stickers
  • Blindfold

Preparation:

Decide how many teams you will make based on the number of children (2 teams for a small number of children, 4 teams for a classroom.) Have enough stickers for the team members to have one each of the same sticker.

Game Play:

Choose a child to be in the center of the circle of children. Divide the rest of the children into teams of ghosts, for example Red Ghosts, Blue Ghosts. Place the pumpkin in the middle of the circle and blindfold the Ghostcatcher.

Ghosts crawl around the circle on their knees and try to sneak to the middle to put their stickers on the pumpkin. If the Ghostcatcher hears a sound, he points in that direction and says, ‘Ghost!’ If the Ghostcatcher catches a Ghost before he places his sticker, that child must start over again.

Time the game for 5-8 minutes. The team that has placed the most stickers wins prizes.

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