Playtime Pinspiration: Halloween fun

I don’t usually pay much attention to Halloween but I have to admit to getting a bit caught up in it all this year. The reason? Pinterest, of course. If there’s ever a site to inspire and get swept away by, it’s Pinterest! So, there I was, finding myself admiring all sorts of wonderful and imaginative Halloween-themed activities for little ones, pinning away and thinking ‘You know what, I actually might do some Halloween stuff with ToddlerGirl this year’.

Playtime Pinspiration - Halloween fun

It’s not normally something I’m that keen on – and I have mixed feelings about the whole ‘trick or treat’ thing – but Halloween definitely offers a lot of fun opportunities to get creative. With that in mind, I picked out a few activities to do with ToddlerGirl this week, the criteria being that they were not at all scary and that they were fairly easy for me to set up and do with her!

Painting pumpkins

First up was this lovely looking activity on my favourite, The Imagination Tree: drip painting pumpkins. Take a pumpkin and some bottles of paint and simply squeeze the paint over the top of the pumpkin. The idea is that the paint then runs down the sides to create a beautiful effect.

Well, ours didn’t quite work like that! I think I must have had the wrong type of paint but it didn’t run down the sides at all! It obviously needed to be more liquid. Humph. However, after a couple of minutes of me trying to encourage the dripping paint effect, I realised that ToddlerGirl was actually loving squeezing the paint over the pumpkin and using her little paint spatula thingy to spread it all around. So I let go of my visions of the beautifully painted pumpkin and just let her have some fun exploring mixing the colours, dragging the paint tool through the paint and looking at the ooey gooey texture created by blobbing so much paint at the top of the pumpkin.

Playtime Pinspiration - painting pumpkins

We did one pumpkin in green, silver and gold and then moved onto the second pumpkin. This time, I accepted that the dripping part of this activity really wasn’t going to happen so I got out her paintbrushes. Once again, she absolutely loved squeezing the paint onto the top of the pumpkin – I think it must have been really good exercise for her little fingers as she had to squeeze hard to get any paint out! Then she used her brush to paint round and round the pumpkin. We just used the silver and gold paint for this one and it had a lovely smooth, metallic texture. ToddlerGirl was quite mesmerised as she painted, totally absorbed and calm.

The next day, when the pumpkins had dried, we decorated them further with glitter glue, to give some added sparkle. While they may not be beautiful works of art, they do look lovely, glistening under the lights. Despite this activity not producing quite the effect I was expecting, it gets a definite thumbs up from both me and ToddlerGirl!

Spider playdough

Spider playdough - cuddles and muddles and muddy puddles

This activity is one of those genius ideas that immediately make you smile. I pinned it a while back; it’s not specifically for Halloween but, as it involves spiders, it fits the theme nicely! Fantastic Fun and Learning creates an invitation to make playdough spiders by having a few simple items bagged up and ready to go: black playdough, cut up pipecleaners and googly eyes. I loved this clever activity as soon as I saw it and have been waiting for a moment to set it up for ToddlerGirl. First, I decided to make my own playdough as all the shop bought stuff I have is in bright colours. I used this four minute playdough recipe and it was fairly easy to do. I should say that it took me longer than four minutes, though! I had to knead the dough for ages and add a LOT more flour, I’m not sure if my measurements were completely accurate… Next time, I will reduce the initial amount of water I use, plus pre mix the food colouring in the water and add glitter to the dry mix (rather than try to put it in at the end, not my best idea!). I wanted to make the dough black but my mixing of food colouring produced a sort of dark sludgey green. Ho hum, it still looked spooky and spidery and ToddlerGirl really doesn’t know the difference at the moment!

Playdough made, the rest of this activity was just too easy to set up and play with. I used my sludgey green dough, some black pipecleaners cut in half, some green straws cut into small pieces and some googly eyes.

ToddlerGirl dived right in. I modelled a spider to show her what we were aiming for and she had a lot of fun making her own little creations, none of which looked remotely like a spider – but, then again, she is two! It didn’t matter in the slightest. We practiced rolling bits of playdough into balls for the bodies, which she took very seriously, and she enjoyed poking the pipecleaners and straws into the bodies. Her favourite thing by far, though, was to stick the eyes in. After a while, this became the sole focus of her attention: burying the eyes as deep into the playdough as she could squish them!

This kept her occupied for a good while and even allowed me to nip out to the kitchen to put dinner on, although I made sure I could still see and talk to her, as she’s not ready to play with this completely unsupervised yet. When the playdough began making its way into her mouth, and she started sending bits flying to the floor, I took my cue that playtime was over. I’m keeping this spider kit in a tub to bring out another day. A definite hit.

Spider hat

I love love love this adorable spider hat, also from Fantastic Fun and Learning. We finished off our Halloween Playtime Pinspiration by making one. It’s ridiculously easy to knock up and looks great, although, to be honest, this is probably an activity more suited to an older child. ToddlerGirl got a bit impatient with me as I cut the strips of card and taped them in place. In hindsight, I would have done this at the table (instead of in the middle of our dining room floor, impromptu style!) and given her a few bits and pieces to glue while I made the ‘proper’ version. She did help me to crinkle some of the legs and glue on the two googly eyes. While this wasn’t a great activity for us to do together, she’s very impressed with her spider hat and insisted on wearing it the next day when I got out the spider playdough again! I’m planning to revisit this with her again in a few months time as part of a spider themed play day, as it really is just too cute.

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