We are loving fall and all the Halloween, dress-up, outdoor festivals, and pumpkin activities that go along with it! October is a great month to have kids under 5! Pumpkin patch photos and choosing my baby’s costume is enough to make this the best season ever. seriously.
Recently, we watched the newest pbs kids special: “Curious George’s Boo Fest,” which includes a lot of talk about their Halloween festival, including games, costume contests, haunted “fish” house/tunnel, etc. Halloween movies for preschool and toddler-age kids are definitely my favorite, just the right amount of spooky for me.
Watching this show inspired Pen Elaine and I to make our own “fall festival” at home, starting with a “haunted tunnel” that was really just a blanket thrown over toddler sized chairs and table. Pen Elaine loves making tents and tunnels already, and tunnels are helpful for my little crawler (Snugly Man) to practice and develop his gross motor skills. The three of us crawled through it like a train, and Snugly Man returned to it periodically during the whole time it was set up. The tunnel was a definite hit at the festival!
Brainstorming carnival/festival games, I thought of the Ring Toss. So, I gathered some plus rings from a baby toy, and we tried tossing them onto a pumpkin stem. This proved rather difficult for both Pen Elaine and me, so we tried using little plastic bracelets, and while those were a little easier, we only played this game a few times and never returned to it. We did feel extremely accomplished and proud when we got a bracelet to land on the pumpkin. “Pumpkin toss” had a good run.
To make our festival complete, we obviously needed a sign, so we used a chalkboard for a cute, “scary face” photo op.
The absolute hit of our DIY festival was most definitely the “Ball Toss.” Using a doorway that led to a dead end hallway, I used masking tape to taped up some butcher/wrapping paper remnants that almost spanned those whole doorway after writing “Ball Toss.” Next, I cut out the middles of three paper plates and used duct tape to attach them to the bottom of the sign. For balls, we gathered up some little plastic “ball pit” balls and toy “coins” that could fit through the paper plate openings – “balls” that would not cause any injury if accidentally thrown at Snugly Man.
Actually making the balls go through the rings was only successful for Pen Elaine if she stood very close to the goals, but she also decided that simply throwing your ball well enough to make it roll all the way to the back of the hallway also made it a “winning” throw, so this game turned out to span skill levels. Placing the ball toss in front of a dead end ensured that balls did not go flying everywhere – they were contained. As with any game played with a preschooler, this was great practice for gross motor skills, taking turns, being a good sport and encourager, teamwork and cooperation, and following rules. Plus, it turned out that Pen Elaine and Snugly Man both loved hanging out in the hall behind the ball toss rings, catching balls and throwing them back, being in the middle of the action. Because of that, we kept the ball toss game up for over a week – making visitors come in through the garage door or duck underneath our sign, since we loved playing this so much. For a few days, it was a pre-bedtime ritual to come play ball toss, with both kids retrieving balls while my Honey and I honed our aiming skills. This game will definitely be a returning DIY festival tradition!
As you can imagine from the last pic, Snugly Man did eventually rip the bottom ring, leaving two behind.