Ghouls, Goblins and Ghosts, Oh My! Haunted house ideas for the very youngest Halloween revelers.
Most of us like the thrill of the unknown the pleasant tingle that runs down your spine when presented with the creepy unknown. We are never too old to enjoy a good fun scare, but what about our children who are both tender in years and heart? There is no reason they should be left out of all the fun, but there is a line between a good fright and childhood traumas that your child will discuss with a therapist later in life.
How Much is Too Much?
Before you plan your haunted activities get to know your audience. You know your child well and what types of activities are likely to be fun and what pushes the line a bit too far. If are including other children in your fright night plans consider their tolerance levels as well. (If you are not sure what this may be either keep it really tame and aim for the lowest common denominator, or make a quick call to parents to be sure your plans are fun for all.)
One of the best ways to have a bit of Halloween fun, and provide a large dose of chills is a good haunted house. You can do this on your front porch, garage or if you want to go all invite the party indoors and occupy different rooms inside your house.
Just a word of warning about the dark, most kids tolerate the darkness well enough, but when scary unusual attractions are added the darkness might really push the mood too far. Be sure you have the capability to turn up the lights in case of overwrought kids. Another trick is to give each child their own light to hold. This is the proverbial magic feather that will embolden them.
To get your haunted house set up you can have one theme for whole house, or a different theme for each room. Presented below is a haunted house geared to a one theme per room approach, but if a theme resonates with you fill as much as your haunted house up with it as you want. These ideas are also aimed at the younger crowd. Remember to keep is simple and appropriately cheesy; authenticity is not what we are after just a good feeling of Halloween magic and yuck with a pinch of fright along the way.
This is a favorite because there is so much you can do, and at so many scare levels. Set up a dummy with a sheet covering it. Stuffed clothing works great if you don’t happen to have a spare mannequin in the attic. Stain the sheet appropriately or leave it crisp and white. The person in this room can wear scrubs and a doctor’s mask, and really ham it up. Tell the children that they can touch the brains (cold noodles) or the eyeballs (peeled grapes) or the guts (jell-o). All these items are hidden under the sheet. Children who want to touch put their fingers under the sheet and feel. Eww!
Have professor Snape or another witch host this room. For décor fill quart jars with liquid (different colored vinegars work great) and suspend various items in them. Spend some time deseciting dolls or unloved stuffed toys for this. Light the jars from behind with Christmas lights and set a cauldron out to foam. Have the kids explore potion ingredients and perhaps have a few samples for them to eat.
Glow in the Dark
This is a fun and simple activity. Begin with a spooky story teller. The kids just think they are in for a ghost story, but at key intervals have the lights go out to reveal the glow in the dark paint, stars or chalk that is spattered all over the room. Using a black light is also fun, because the kids themselves become part of the ghost lights. Play spooky music or have sound effects for the story to heighten the effect.
Don’t worry you won’t need your wooden stake for this one, unless you’re a slow runner. This room is also easy, but no haunted house would be complete without an appearance by the lord of bats. Set up a simple coffin constructed of cardboard, and painted black. (If you would rather dispense with the coffin have a bed will do.) Have Dracula complete with white pallor and fangs laid out in the coffin or bed. Let all the kids look, perhaps tell a story about the last time Dracula awoke. If your kids are of stout heart at some point have Dracula rise from the coffin. This is always great for a scream or two. For less of a scare Dracula can rattle the coffin lid or simply open his eyes and look at the children.
To get the most from a hallway or other narrow spaces as the kids walk from room to room, create your own nest of giant spiders. To play it up warn the kids before they enter that your house has been having problems with spiders, but that they probably won’t bother the children. To get the look you can either unravel cotton balls, or opt for the easy route of store made spider webs. A little goes a long way, and it looks best when it is pulled thin and wispy like real cobwebs. To make your giant spiders use styrofom balls and pipe cleaners suspended from fishing line. If you want a few of them to fall on the kids us a hidden helper armed with a fishing pole with a spider on the end of it. If you opt to not have the spiders chase the kids be sure you still have a few spiders hanging around just so they can be seen.
These are just a few haunted house ideas. Other ideas that can get your haunted juices flowing are: a grave yard with fresh graves, mummies, the witch’s cave, Frankenstein’s lab or a fortune teller with a crystal ball. Happy haunting!