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A Halloween Scavenger Hunt: A bewitching way to take the party outside

Get together a bunch of seven and eight year old kids, some decorations, a few games and you've got yourself a party. Now, add the costumes, make sure the decorations have a touch of spooky and theme the games around witches and howling coyotes and you've got yourself a Howling Halloween Spooktacular Party!


Of course,  I had to take advantage of a great fall day and get some kind of outdoor activity on the agenda. (Especially because October in Canada is fickle. The day of the party it was sunny and warm - it was perfect.  That was one week ago. Today we've been experiencing rain, snow and sleet all day long.)

So I decided to go old-school and went with a scavenger hunt, with a bit of a Halloween story and kitchen counter science thrown in.  No GPS needed for this one (although it was very tempting) - just a few inexpensive props, some imagination and good observation skills. 

It went something like this:

"Gather around my cauldron, my little pretties. You didn't know that Emma's mamma was a witch, did you?"

Giggles and a few wide eyes.

"Now you all know that a real witch likes to make a witches brew. And I tried to make my best recipe for all of you today. But I'm not sure if it's going to work."

More giggles.

"I don't seem to have enough ingredients so pay close attention because I'm going to need you to go find me more stuff for my brew."

Wow. They're actually paying attention at this point.

"First I need some feathers from a magical bird...." And I dropped a few brightly coloured craft feathers from the craft store into my cauldron.

"I'm also going to need some bat fur.  This is a very important ingredient" . I dropped a good chunk of dryer lint into the cauldron. They looked a little icked out by the "fur" and there was lot's of discussion about what it really was. 

"Then I need snake teeth." With a little hiss and some teeth chomping I dropped a few grains of dried barley into the pot.

"I need mouse kidneys..." Dried red kidney beans.

"Eye of newt..." Heck. Every witch needs some eye of newt. 

"A thread from an invisible coat..." Fishing line.

"And finally, the most important ingredient of all - some dusty corpse!" Baking soda.

With a cackle that was perhaps a bit too realistic, I tossed the bit of dusty corpse into my cauldron and produced an awesome green, hissing brew - thanks to some vinegar and green food colouring I had already poured into the cauldron.


This is where the science came in.  The very simple act of mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a chemical reaction that causes the combination to bubble up and hiss. The green food colouring just adds to the effect.

I really had them at this point. They were hooked and ready to find me more stuff.  But I made sure they knew that THIS brew was nothing compared to the one I could produce if they found me all of the right ingredients.  So I divided them into two groups and sent them on their way with a few strict rules about staying on our property, a couple of vague hints and a list to check off the found items. One group went to the backyard. The other to the front yard.  They had 30 minutes to find the ingredients.

Where IS that Eye of Newt??
The first group to find all of the ingredients (which I'd placed in small ziploc baggies and hid around the yard in the morning) were declared the winners of the hunt. And then I sent them to help the other group.  It was great to see the teamwork!

Once all of the items had been found, we gathered around the cauldron again.  This time, the girls wanted to add the ingredients themselves.  As they added their finds to the pot, they kept waiting for the bubbles.  But I made sure the "dusty corpse" was saved to go in last.

Finally, we got to the dusty corpse.  I declared that this was the final and most important of all the ingredients. And if the witches brew was complete we'd see something amazing.....

And guess what?

As the heaps of dusty corpse were tossed in the cauldron it bubbled and hissed even more than the first time!  And as the froth from the brew rose and rose towards the top of my pot my little helpers eyes grew wide because the froth had turned from bright green to a sinister and truly bewitching deep, dark, purple.

Oh yes, my pretties. With a little help from some blue and red food colouring and more vinegar added to the mix while the hunt was on outside, the recipe for this witches brew was truly a success.

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