Story by Kristina Schnack Kotlus | Photos by Amanda Causey
Fall is my absolute favorite season. Pumpkin spice lattes, apple picking, school shopping (no joke, I enjoy school supplies in a way most women enjoy jewelry), falling leaves. I love everything about this time of year.
With kids, fall is extra fun because of Halloween and its opportunities for crafts, candy and costumes. This month, I’d like to share two crafts that you can do with your munchkins to decorate for the season, whether you celebrate Halloween (mummy jar) or not (pumpkin pot). If you’re working with very small children, it may be a good idea to prep either of these crafts to the point where all that’s left is decorating, so they can do the project in one step. Older children could do the whole project, working on it over a few days and stopping to let their work dry between steps.
● One Mason jar, any size, but use a solid lid, not a lid and flat
● White spray paint
● Glow-in-the-dark spray paint (available at arts and crafts stores)
● Medical gauze
● Elmer’s Glue or Mod Podge
● Googly eyes or buttons
● Hot glue gun or glue dots
Spray paint the jar and lid white and allow them to dry. I like to spray paint items inside a box to contain the mess, but no matter what you use, it’s best to do this outside both for ease of cleaning and ventilation. Once the jar and lid have dried (refer to the can for drying times), pour adhesive into a small disposable bowl and dip the gauze in. Run the gauze around the jar to create a mummy wrap, and let that dry as well. Then, coat the whole project in a few blasts of glow-in-the-dark paint. Once that dries, attach the googly eyes with the hot glue or glue dots. For extra fun, put a glow stick inside on Halloween night and place it on the porch.
● Terracotta pot, any size
● Terracotta sealer (sold next to the pots in craft supply stores)
● Orange spray paint, or craft paint and a foam brush
● Black, red, white and yellow craft paint
● Flat-bottomed, round wooden beads for noses (optional)
Seal the terracotta pot according to the manufacturer’s directions on the sealant. Then paint the pot orange. (Spray paint will give a more even finish, but kids will have more fun using foam brushes, and the streaks give the pot character.) After allowing the paint to dry, draw the outline of a pumpkin face. You can do a jack o’lantern type grin in just black, but I like to do happy pumpkins with one tooth and hearts at the top of their mouths. There’s no wrong way to decorate a pumpkin! Fill in the outline with the craft paint, using as many colors as your little Picasso would like. You can also glue on embellishments such as wood beads for a nose. Once done, give the pot a final coat of sealer so it will be up to the task of holding candy, potpourri or seasonal décor.
Halloween Safety Tips from the National Safety Council
Keep children safe this Halloween by following these recommendations by the National Safety Council. To read the council’s full list of tips, visit nsc.org
and search keywords “Halloween Safety Facts.”
● Be especially alert and cautious when driving on Halloween because of the high number of pedestrians.
● Watch for children darting out from between parked cars and walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
● Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
● At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.
● Never use your cell phone while driving.
● Discourage teens from driving on Halloween. There are too many hazards and distractions for inexperienced drivers.
● All children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.
● Instruct children to travel only in familiar, well-lit areas, avoid trick-ortreating alone and never enter a stranger’s home.
● Agree on a specific time for children to come home.
● Give children flashlights with fresh batteries to help them see and for others to see them.
● Review all appropriate pedestrian and traffic safety rules with children.
● Walk on sidewalks, not in the street. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
● Inspect treats before anything is eaten, examining all treats for choking hazards and tampering.
● Give children an early meal before going out to deter them from eating anything before you can inspect it.
● Avoid homemade treats unless you know the cook well; when in doubt, throw it out.
● All costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant.
● If children are allowed out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags to make sure they are visible.
● When buying Halloween makeup, make sure it is nontoxic and always test it in a small area first. Remove all makeup before children go to bed.
● Masks can limit or block eyesight, so consider nontoxic makeup or decorative hats as safer alternatives.
● If masks are worn, they should have large eye, nose and mouth openings. Encourage children to remove their masks before crossing the street.
● Children should only wear well-fitting costumes and shoes to avoid trips and falls.
Kristina Schnack Kotlus is a local mother of three children and the owner of PWCMoms.com, a resource for parents and families in Prince William.