Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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For most families, Halloween is a walk down your neighborhood at twilight. To add a touch of outdoors magic, how about enjoying some time outdoors to see how little goblins and ghouls fare in the woods? Halloween and the great outdoors offers you a list of ideas to enjoy some fresh air with a touch of spookiness. Whether you’re camping out in October, doing nature crafts or telling ghost stories by the campfire, there are lots of easy activities that you can borrow to upcycle Halloween from a strictly-city affair to a nature-outdoors jaunt with the kids. Bring in a dose of crisp autumn air and have fun!
Halloween and Camping
If anybody knows about camping – or, kamping – in the USA, that would be KOA. Their blog has tons a fun ideas on how to make the most of the season during camping trips. The best thing about camping is an essential Halloween ingredient – a night out under the stars. After a long day out, kids need to settle down before dinner. To carve your special jack’o lantern, check out these free camping-themed pumpkin carving templates. I find the s’mores ghost and the maple leaf jack’o lantern great ideas.
When the sun is down and candles are aglow in pumpkins, it’s time to get dinner ready and move on to my girls’ favorite time of a camping day – a big old campfire. What better time to bring in story time? Ghost story time, that is. Each one of these campfire Halloween ghost stories will have your children check twice behind the tent before they go to bed. For younger ones I recommend Valley Witch and the S’more Sasquatch. For tweens and teens, Night of the Trees and The Legend of the Great Texas Wobblefink are tons of creepy fun. Just for the sake of quiet nights, I would suggest saving Creature of the Pit Toilet til morning.
For a more “old fashioned” but still spooky folklore take on campfire ghost stories, American Folklore has a selection of funny ghost stories that are ideal for the scary-but-not-too-scary-savvy school crowd, and for vampire-thirsty teens, scary Halloween stories. In the latter collection, The Storm Hag is a particularly eerie story and you have to listen to the recorded version. Indeed these stories come in text form but some are recorded with spooky sound effects. Perfect to download on your ipod and play when the night is dark.
Halloween and Hiking
Hiking is another great opportunity to savor some Halloween spirit from a nature perspective. To get started, Outside Mom has a few ideas on incorporating the outdoors in your Halloween festivities and I love her idea of looking for spooky branches in the forest. On a related note, you can take the kids on a creepy crawly or a spider hike in your area. If you feel brave enough to face the biggest crawlies of all, a tarantula trek will teach you lots about the fuzzy spiders with an – unjustified – bad rep. To listen to my KQED radio program on this topic, click here.
For younger kids, Family Food and Travel features beautiful photographs in her post about the beauty of fall and those will inspire you to look for what you like about the autumn.
Days might be great for nature hikes, but night is when forests and riversides become a whole different kind of beast because of nocturnal animals and night sounds. I once went on a wonderful night hike on the stars of Harry Potter and with some prep, you could reproduce the spirit of the hike in your region. All you need is some night sky and owl knowledge. The rest is Harry Potter magic – a great way to lure school-age kids outside and have them see nature through the lens of one of their favorite wizard stories.
For a how-to on night hikes, this article on Savvy Source gives you activities to get the kids involved and excited about the nocturnal world. Finally, should you live in the New York City area, do check out these 5 NYC Cemeteries to Visit During Halloween … or Anytime courtesy of Mommy Poppins. In Milwaukee, the parks and recreation go all out to add a natural twist on Halloween with an elaborate nature trail at the Hawthorne nature center. Hopefully it’ll inspire some of you to create a similar event in your area.
Halloween and Nature Crafts & Fun
Last but never least, crafts! It’s always a good time to start crafts projects and these will tickle your young witches and wizards. From Red Ted Art, you can learn how to make these autumn crafts: horse chestnut spiders. From Go Explore Nature (hi Debi!), you can discover the ultimate guide the Backyard Nature Fun: Halloween Edition. If you live near the coast or have a cool crafts store next to your house, you’ll love these drawings with colored sand from Buggy and Buddy.
The fun will not be forgotten. Invite your family friends in your backyard, throw a spooky party and learn how to make a spider web obstacle course. It looks easy enough when spiders make them but read the process in Wildlife Fun 4 Kids‘ story. It’s actually a tad more tricky when you’re human. Regardless, it’s a great backyard game and will delight even the most arachnophobic guests.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN AND DON’T FORGET THE OUTDOORS!