Halloween Countdown Day 25: Spider Countdown

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We’re one week away from Halloween, and it was time for a countdown-within-our-countdown! With only a few days left, I had to up the ante on the anticipation for the kids.

I had originally planned to hang plastic spiders on a large piece of black felt for this activity, adhering them with Velcro sticky dots. But I couldn’t find a large enough piece of black felt, so had to improvise a bit.

I painted a piece of poster board black, then added Velcro dots (and some hot glue for extra security) to attach white yarn in the shape of a spider web.

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o make the “spiders”, first fill plastic Easter eggs with a few small candies (we love Giggles, an organic alternative to Skittles), or other Halloween trinkets, then close tightly.

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Use hot glue to add pipe cleaner legs and a Velcro dot to the back of each spider.

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Add the other halves of the Velcro dots to your poster board (or felt, if using) and then stick on the spiders. Now mark each spider with dots in permanent black marker. The first spider gets one dot, the second gets two, and so on up to seven.

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In the morning, the kids came down and discovered this web of delights. I asked Travis to find the spider with only one dot, which he then proudly pulled off and opened up for a surprise.

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Needless to say, candy before breakfast meant happy kids.

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Tomorrow they’ll move on to spider #2. This should tide them over until the big day!

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Spaghetti Spider Web Craft

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Thanks to some recent sensory play with Veronika, I’ve learned a few tricks about how best to make sculpture from spaghetti. I realized the same method could be used to add to our Halloween decor, because it would result in perfect “spider webs”.

To start, mostly this activity was just spaghetti sensory play again. This time, I tinted a big batch of spaghetti a witchy green hue and instead of adding glue, I added corn syrup.

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Just pour it on until you have a nice coating over the noodles. This not only means the noodles won’t clump together as your child plays, but also means the final artwork can still dry like glue, but stay edible.

And good thing, because Veronika was in the mood to nibble on pasta today! I gave her a small dish of plain noodles, but she ate big handfuls of the green stuff right from the pot!

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Eventually I diverted her attention from eating noodles to making the spider web craft. Lay out squares of wax paper and help your toddler arrange noodles in a circle. The thinner the overlap of the noodles, the faster and better these webs will dry.

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Being a toddler, of course she also wanted to make big gloppy piles of noodles, which was half the fun.

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She loved calling them webs, though, as she worked.

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Once we had three neat web shapes, I placed them on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 175 degrees F for 2 hours. This was sort of a guess, but it worked perfectly. The webs came off from the wax paper without tearing or breaking at all.

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Thread yarn through the top of each “web” and hang in spooky corners or windows. Bonus points for plastic spiders to live in each web!

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Spider Sticky Wall

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We had our roll of contact paper out this morning, so I thought it would be fun to make a sticky wall for Veronika. And what better theme for an October sticky wall than spiders of course!

For this activity, tape a large piece of contact paper to the wall, sticky side out.

I cut circles from brightly colored construction paper for the spider bodies and then trimmed pipe cleaners into smaller pieces for legs. I wanted each spider to have multi-colored legs so they were silly, not scary.

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Veronika loved playing with the pipe cleaners while I prepped all our materials! Then we starting hanging up bodies. She immediately latched on to what we were doing, and loved giving each spider its legs.

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Although I briefly mentioned that real spiders have eight legs, we weren’t really concerned about scientific accuracy today. As a two-year-old, she simply began adding legs wherever she wanted. Also, our pipe cleaners kept falling down (they don’t stick well to the contact paper unless you press really hard on them), which made for lots of spiders who were constantly losing limbs.

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But that was half the fun! Veronika thought it was so funny when the legs fell, and she narrated her play to herself as she worked. “Let’s give this guy yellow legs. Pink fell down! He needs a green leg!” and on and on for about 20 minutes.

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Between their bright fuzzy legs and their happy smiles, it’s safe to say we had the cutest spiders in town.

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Spider’s Web Discovery Basket

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This activity for toddlers isn’t technically Halloween-themed, but certainly there’s a connection between spiders and the spooky holiday so it felt like the right time of year to play! Of course you could also do this activity any time of year.

To set up, I wound long strands of white yarn in and out of the holes of the laundry basket until they made a messy crisscross web shape.

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I originally considered adding only bug stuffed animals, but decided this might hit too close to home (Veronika is sometimes scared of webs). Instead, I added lots of small stuffed animals of every variety, including forest creatures like foxes and chipmunks, as well as a puppy and kitty.

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She discovered the web first thing in the morning!

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Could she figure out how to reach in and free the stuffed animals? After a little demonstration and some trial and error, she soon had a knack for it.

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She also loved putting animals back in the web!

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I’m not sure she entirely understood that the yarn was meant to look like a spider’s web, but either way, she enjoyed the challenge and the play.

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Halloween Sensory Bottle

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Veronika recently enjoyed a few autumnal sensory bottles, so today I made another version, this one specifically with a Halloween theme. The items inside include both “tricks” and “treats”!

I first filled an empty bottle about three-quarters of the way with water. Next I added faux candy corn. (Note: In a pinch you can add real candy corn, just be aware that it will dissolve over time). These were the treats of course.

Then I added a few spider rings. These were the tricks!

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A little bit of orange-red glitter topped things off. Because Veronika had attempted to unscrew the caps from her fall sensory bottles, this time I judiciously used hot glue on the cap before handing it over.

Knowing she couldn’t open it, she was much more focused on what was inside. She loved shaking it!

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And rolling it. The candy corn and spiders would sort of float to the surface and then settle back to disappear again. Perfectly Halloween spooky!

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She also thought it was a delight to throw it on the floor, and although I wasn’t as big a fan of this version, she was having so much fun that I let it be.

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This sensory bottle is enjoyable for young toddlers or even for babies doing tummy time. Perfect for a first Halloween, in sum.

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Halloween Countdown Day 2: Spider Web Stroll

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Now that our kitchen is nice and spooky, it was time to continue our countdown to Halloween with a hunt for outdoor spookiness!

Veronika has a love-hate relationship with spiders; she’s clearly a little fearful of them, but also drawn to looking at them, particularly one that lives in our kitchen window.

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That tension is probably why spiders are the perfect just-scary-enough Halloween decoration for little kids. There’s a fear factor, but you can also show your child that there’s nothing to really fear. To help, go on a spider web walk!

As we strolled around our neighborhood, we kept our eyes open for pretty webs. You can demystify spiders for your toddler by looking up close, and finding webs that are close to a perfect circle.

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Bonus points for any you find with dew drops or a spider in it! But for all that, Veronika prefers the fake spiders strung up on our bushes, which is just fine too.

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Not-So-Spooky Spider Handprint Window Cling

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It’s October which means it’s officially time for all things spooky! For this particular decoration, we started the night before to give the paint time to dry. In the morning, we then could quickly assemble a few spiders in the window.

Tape a piece of contact paper onto a table, with the backing still on. Paint your child’s hand with black washable paint, making sure to paint only the palm and 4 fingers, but not the thumb.

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Press onto the contact paper, then immediately repaint the hand and press again so the palms overlap and the 4 fingers stick out in the opposite direction. An 8-legged spider!

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Veronika loves getting paint all over hands, so I didn’t have to sell her on this project one bit. We made two baby spiders and then she giggled as I painted my own hand for a mommy spider. We invited big brother Travis to contribute a medium spider, but he didn’t want his hand painted.

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Once the paint dried, we added wiggle eyes for decoration. You can add smiles or other accessories to your spiders, too, if desired!

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For the web, use white glue to create a web design in the corner of a windowpane. The internet tells me that this will peel off easily when the time comes, and I sure hope so!

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In the meantime, peel the backing off the contact paper spiders, and simply stick to the window. They look just spooky enough up there.

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Glowing Creepy Crawly Sensory Bag

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I used a black light and glow-in-the-dark spiders for this novel sensory bag. I thought Veronika would be very into the glowing bugs, but it turns out the black light was too interesting and distracting! I had read online that tonic water glows under black light. It was hard to tell if this was actually true, but the project was still fun!

To set up, combine 1 bottle of hair gel (use clear or yellow) and about 1/4 cup tonic water in a large zip-top bag.

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Seal and mix, then open the bag back up to add your “creepy” stuff. I had glow-in-the-dark spiders, as well as a few googly eyes from the craft bin.

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Seal the bag, then place on the ground and turn out the lights. Turn on your black light and watch it glow!

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When the black light was on, the hair gel mixture was most evident. If we turned it off, the glow of the spiders became more apparent.

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Veronika loved poking at the eyes and bugs with a finger, and generally just squishing her hands all over it.

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But as mentioned, the black light was very distracting, so I’m going to think of ways to make a glowing sensory bag that doesn’t involve the light. Stay tuned!

Animal Craft Challenge

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Travis loved this month’s craft challenge from Highlights magazine: to make an animal using nothing more than an empty egg carton, pipe cleaners, pom poms, and googly eyes.

I was thinking something cute and fluffy, but Travis immediately knew he wanted a snake! Pipe cleaners were the obvious choice for the body.

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We twisted several lengths together to make long snakes. He wanted to attach eyes next, but I asked him if he thought the eyes would affix well to the pipe cleaners. He decided no, and realized an egg carton piece could be the head!

We poked holes through the egg carton segments to attach heads to bodies, and glued on the eyes.

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With leftover egg carton portions all around him now, he toyed around with gluing pom poms and eyes to single segments, but this didn’t work very well. Could we use the bigger, lid portion of the carton we wondered, for a body?

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Now Travis knew what he wanted: a spider! We threaded four pipe cleaners through from one side to the other, to make 8 legs. He wanted to glue on 8 eyes, but we only had room for 5 eyes to march across.

Then Travis decided it needed to be furry with pom poms – a tarantula! He was so thrilled with this spider that he couldn’t wait for the glue to dry.

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What a wonderful craft challenge, thanks Highlights!

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Rubber Band Launchers, Two Ways

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Ok, we’ve launched marshmallows from cups and rockets from straws, so now it was time for Travis to play around with how he could launch things with rubber bands!

First up, thanks to a renewed fascination with bugs, was a Spider Launcher. This project was a little tricky; we had to redo it twice before we got the elastics right!

First, cover a sturdy cardboard tube (such as an empty roll of packing tape) with construction paper.

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We chose orange because, well, spiders and Halloween and all that, but any color would work. Glue or tape the paper on.

Glue 4 lollipop sticks around the tube so that they form a square.

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Leave these to dry for at least 2 hours, so your structure is sturdy. Full disclosure: we did have one pop off, and I duct-taped it back on.

To make your “web,” slip an elastic over all 4 posts. Loop it around each post, then push down to the bottom of the sticks.

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Slip a second elastic over the post. Completely lift the first one up and over the second elastic (so only your second elastic is now looped on the lollipop sticks, if that makes sense).

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Repeat with a third elastic, slipping it around the post, and then lifting the second elastic completely up and over it.

Repeat with a fourth elastic, slipping the third elastic completely up and over it. Confused yet? I hope the visual helps!

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Now place a toy spider in the middle. Pull back on the tautest, center of your web. Snap the elastic back, and spider flies!

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This was tricky for my four year old, but he could do it with help for bigger launches, and by himself for shorter launches.

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Even better, his bug toys now had a web to call home, so overall it was a success!

Since this turned out to be so complicated, I also asked him if he wanted to make a much simpler rubber band launcher, using just with a couple of elastics and a cup. Here, then, is the Rubber Band-Powered Cup Launcher.

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Put two rubber bands on a sturdy paper cup so they form a cross.

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(Note: It may help to stretch your rubber bands out a few times to loosen them, or your paper cups will crumple).

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Place a third rubber band around the cup to hold the other two in place.

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Press this cup down over a second paper cup. The elastics will go taut, and when you release… Boing!

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This one is simple enough to do with a crowd of kids, and would be a fun one outdoors, perhaps for any upcoming Memorial Day barbecues!