Go With The Flow: Door Swag into Pumpkin Painting

Sometimes the craft just doesn’t work out like you think it will. This was the case with my door swag project. I envisioned a lovely bow or bunch of fall leaves with pine cones interspersed. When I made the sample, I found that it was very challenging to attach the pine cones to the mass of ribbon and fake leaves, so instead they hung down like odd appendages. Sometimes, even when the sample doesn’t look that awesome, the teens are able to invent something really great. I thought this would be the case with the door swag. This was not the case with the door swag. People were not even sure what a door swag was, and they weren’t interested in making one. (I have to admit, I am still learning about the word “swag” as well. It might be more of a garland.) One of my dedicated crafters asked if she could have a surface to paint. Then, I remembered that we had a pile of pumpkins we were trying to get rid of, so I gave her one of those to paint. Soon there were many pumpkin painters. Glitter, burlap bows, and painted pine cones were some of the inventive additions to the pumpkins. I was so glad the pumpkins were being enjoyed and the crafters were having a good time. Sometimes it is best to follow the craft spirit wherever it goes, even if you end up painting pumpkins instead of making swag :)

Halloween Murder Mystery Glow Party

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Maybe you think having a glow party and a murder mystery is too crazy, but I assure you it is the right amount of crazy. We had the teens help create the characters for the script, and staff continue the writing process using a shared Google document. The party itself took about an hour, which left plenty of time for cleanup before closing. If you want to have a glow party, I strongly recommend it. Here are some things that you will need: black plastic tarp or plastic bags to cover the windows, a variety of glow sticks and necklaces (glowing roaches are fun), florescent/white decorations, florescent paint, and black lights. Also, you will need food, which was pizza for us.  Although it looks really dark in the photos, we were actually able to read the script by the light from the black lights. It was great fun!

Life-Sized Pac-Man

This was a great game to play! The teens had so much fun, and I was cracking up trying to video them. What really got me was the T-Rex hands. Invented by Scott,T-Rex hands means keeping your hands close to your chest like the dinosaur. It is not really clear how useful the hands were for that dinosaur, but for the purpose of our game, the hands were pretty useless. We used blue painter’s tape to mark out the game layout, and we used rolled up newspaper for the dots. For the ghost balls, we used spongy balls (only four of these are needed). Here are our materials and rules:

Materials: blue painter’s tape, newspaper, 2 baskets or buckets, 4 foam balls, and candy.

Pac-man-gets three lives
-has to walk normally
-cannot walk over blue lines
-gets 1 point for every small dot (ball of newspaper) they put in their bucket
-gets 10 points for every Ghost Ball they collect in their basket
-gets 5 points for every Ghost they tag
-if Pac-man runs, one life is taken away
-if Pac-man walks over a blue line, one life is taken away
-when Pac-man grabs a Ghost Ball, they shout “Ghost Ball”
-Referees (Librarians) have to count 10 Mississippis
-if a Ghost is tagged by Pac-man during this time, then they have to return home
-once the Ghost is home, they can come out and try to get Pac-man again
-If a Ghost tags Pac-man, Pac-man dies
Ghosts- there are 4 ghosts at a time, they must walk heel to toe (toes of one foot touch the heal of the other)
-one can come out of the “home” location every 5 count (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…)
-if tagged, ghost needs to return to home
-if the Ghost runs, they are kicked out for the remainder of that Pac-man’s current life
-Ghosts have to use T-rex arms so that they don’t reach over the walls
-Also, they have to keep moving
Pac-man with the most points gets candy, or maybe everyone gets candy at the end :)


acorn and spell books 001

I think acorns are cool. For this reason, I scheduled a craft that was just called Acorns. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, but then I found this: http://www.lifeisaparty.ca/2012/acorn-craft/

We had a box of pine cones from another activity and a bunch of burlap. I didn’t want to deplete the supply of Easter eggs, so we bought some Styrofoam eggs. The directions in the above link are pretty awesome. In addition, I would like to add that removing pine cone “petals” is easier with needle nose pliers. Happy Fall :)

DIY Spell Books

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We were so excited about this project that we started a day early. Here are some of the materials we used: withdrawn library books, cheap Halloween toys, brown packaging paper, glue, Mod Podge, hot glue, glass pebbles, eyes cut out of magazines, acrylic paint, gold Rub n’ Buff, and letters printed on card stock.

The first thing to do is hot-glue the larger items to the book. If you want a skeleton with wings, you have to cut the bat’s wings off and glue them next to the skeleton. If you want an eyeball, you can find one in a magazine, glue it to your book, and glue the glass pebble on top of it. Next, you need to wet the packing paper. Then, slather glue or Mod Podge over the skeleton and the cover of your book (but don’t cover the eye, of course). Gently lay the wet paper over the skeleton and tamp down with your finger. When it is dry, you can paint it black or brown. When the paint is dry, you can don a glove and add a miniscule amount of gold Rub n’ Buff (a little goes a long way).

This is where Scott found the idea online:

And I found this video: http://www.betterafter.net/2012/11/merry-halloween-plus-50-giftcard.html

One thing I didn’t realize is that the teens don’t want a fake spell book, they want a real spell book that they can write in. This led to the removal of the pages and the insertion of blank pages. It might be helpful to have a saddle stapler on hand to staple the new pages into the book. Alternatively, you could use composition journals.

Also, this activity takes a while. Even if you plan to do it for two days, some people may want to finish it the first day, so plan on setting aside a couple hours, and be careful with those spells ;)

Leaf Candle Holder

Once again, an activity involving glass containers was very popular. I had this experience with baby food jars and also with glass cookie jars. It doesn’t seem to matter what shape the glass comes in or if we are gluing or painting; glass seems to be an interesting surface for everyone to work with. In order to prepare for the activity, I gathered a bunch of freshly fallen leaves from the park. I also used the die-cut machine to cut leaf shapes out of tissue paper.

After I applied a layer of Mod Podge, the tissue paper easily stuck to the outside of the jar, but some of the leaves I gathered did not stick as easily. In general, smaller leaves stick more easily, and it helps if thicker leaves are slightly damp and flexible. It is also easier for the leaf to adhere to the glass if the side with the veins faces out.

Here are some of the materials we had available: real leaves, grasses, pine needles, tissue paper leaves, spider tissue paper, Mod Podge, acrylic paint, jars, raffia, hot glue, glass pebbles, and candles. I made sure the teens went over a little fire safety: Don’t leave your candle unattended, and don’t place flammable things near the flame. I also tried the candle holder with a little LED tea light at home, and it worked very well. I would recommend highly recommend this project. Some of the teens wanted to make more than one, so make sure you have plenty of jars. Everyone seemed thrilled with their creations!

Here is the post that inspired our activity:


Gumdrop People

At first we thought “Oh no… who scheduled this?” Then we looked at some gumdrop people online and thought “Oh, how cute, let’s make some videos.” Some of the materials that we got out included: Dots, toothpicks, acrylic paint, hot glue, wooden beads, skewers, and fabric. At first I was a little hesitant to mix non-edible stuff with edible stuff, but it work out really well. There were even fantastical creatures like the gumdrop unicorn, deer, and jellyfish. We brought everyone’s creations to life by creating video interviews. Many of the teens were hesitant to have their voices on the video, so Scott asked them a few preliminary questions and then he became their character for the interview. We also were able to make a very short stop motion video of jumping gumdrop people.