SENSORY SPOOK STATIONS
Take a deep breath. A crisp chill in the air, the sound of rustling leaves, and entire aisles at the grocery store devoted to pumpkin must mean one of two things; either I have entered utopia or Halloween is just around the corner. Part of the wonderment of this time of year is that a small part of us wants to be scared. What is more fun that one good “boo” between friends or family members? If your children happen to find haunted houses a little too anxiety provoking, then here is a way to make your house the most intriguing on the block without creating an emotionally overwhelming atmosphere.
How to create your own Sensory Spook Stations:
1) Create an entryway with a preexistent archway, borrow/rent one from a neighbor or garden shop, or purchase some chicken wire (just pick up a bit extra for other projects). Mold an entry space and decorate it with colors matching the rest of the stations. For the kids who are still too young to leave a caregiver, leave a few treats with a sign “for those who dare not enter” by the entry.
2) Start with a tunnel. You can use a large loop of chicken wire and cover it with trash bags so it looks mysterious and place dark towels or a runner rug on the inside to keep tiny hands and knees scuff-free. You can also tape large cardboard boxes together that have been spray painted black. In either case, poke just a tiny hole for light every few feet.
3) Place a small speaker by the corner of the exit of the tunnel so that it carries through at least part of the stations and fills the tunnel with sound. If you have a large enough area, you can put these same tunnels between all of the sensory spots. For an added bonus, put multiple types of fabrics down on the bottom of the tunnel and hang just a couple strips of paper, fabric, or even wet spaghetti noodles inside of the tunnel so that the kids feel it on their faces as they crawl through.
4) Have at least 3 sensory stations including any of the following:
- Black light room:
- i. Use giant boxes that you can get from your local grocery store (if you happen to be adventurous; find huge boxes at a local manufacturing plant-if you tell them your plans then they may be more inclined to offer you some free boxes).
- ii. Tape boxes together to eliminate light from the outside. Purchase a small black light (some even run on batteries so you don’t have to hide any cords).
- iii. Decorate the inside of the boxes with neon paints. Don’t worry about being neat or tidy. Just go crazy with splashing it everywhere. The kids will like it.
- Disgusting trophies:
- i. Have a few “pedestals” or smaller tables set up in a section.
- ii. Make easy to read note cards with things like “Brain of a king,” “Skull of a warrior,” “teeth of a werewolf,” etc.
- iii. Purchase a few cheaper props but get creative with the coverings or holders.
- You might want to put the brain in clear gelatin and place it in a sturdy glass bowl.
- The skull could be placed in a borrowed football case or one purchased from a local craft store.
- Small items like teeth can be strung on a chain or rope to look like a trophy necklace and placed on a piece of decorated cardboard that can sit on a recipe book stand that you might have in your kitchen.
- Feel the squeeze
- i. Set up a small enclosed area with higher walls using any substance. I prefer fiberboard because it’s lightweight. You can also use a crate border with bungee cords (see images of build your own bouncy ball creates for specifications).
- ii. Fill the space with just enough bigger bouncy balls (I prefer the large exercise balls) so that the space if full, but the balls can be manipulated by a child.
- iii. Allow the kids to walk through 1 at a time and get squished and squeezed while trying to push their way through the space.
- Secret boxes
- i. Set up a few boxes (in sizes large enough to fit mixing bowls). Place a sign on the outside giving the item a creepy name like “eerie eyeballs.”
- ii. Fill the bowls with the items-in this case grapes in cold water.
- iii. Make a hole in the box just large enough for a child to put a hand in the bowl to feel what is inside. Other options might be:
- Brain bits- chucks of Jello.
- Squishy insides-mashed bananas with a little red food coloring for added creepy factor when they pull their hand out.
- Baby squid tentacles-pull off all the nubs from a Koosh ball
- Monster blood-any cheap ooze that you can find in the toy aisle near the clay.
- Dead tarantulas-dried edible hibiscus flowers
- iv. PLEASE NOTE: leave a spot marked with a funny title like un-grossing table with baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and paper towels.
- i. Set this up similar to the entry tunnel but every few feet put a fan on high in an opening.
- ii. Guide the air in but try to keep it close to the opening so it doesn’t allow too much light into the space.
- iii. If you have a willing parent or teen, have them waiting near the exit with an air gun for added surprises.
- Boil and trouble
- i. If you happen to have a willing adult, set up a bubbling brews sensory station.
- ii. Cook a few tasty, but scary/gross looking items like black soup with a little food coloring for fun. All this takes is a little decorating of the “cooking area” and some creative adjustments to recipes like spider bites (using gluten free pretzels for legs attached to tiny, colored gluten-free cookies).
- iii. This station works best if you have a close-knit neighborhood community.
5) End Sensory Stations with a simple prize for having survived such as a bouncy eyeball, plastic spider ring, or any other fun treat that can be purchased in bulk from a local grocery store or Target. Finally, make sure your folks get a gluten free treat. See some ideas listed in our 10/30/2013 blog. My personal favorites that will be in my treat cauldron this year are the gluten free spooky fruit snacks from Target and snack size bags of Popcorners from Wegmans.
Blessed Bewitching Everyone!
Autumn Dae Miller, Ph.D. spends her days as a mild-mannered Princess fighting for the rights of individuals of all abilities to find the full extent of their fabulousness. By night, Autumn weaves her spells of wonderment while training her four cats to look as spooky as possible for the trick-or-treaters.