Celebrating Halloween with your kids: Beyond candy

These days it can seem like Halloween is all about candy and costumes. But there are plenty of ways you can celebrate the holiday with your little ones without either of those two ingredients!

You’ve probably already got the essentials down pat — you’ve picked out costumes, loaded up on candy to hand out for trick-or-treaters and carved up a jack-o’-lantern. Your kids will come home with bags or buckets loaded down with candy…and sugar galore!

But what can you do on Halloween and the days that follow to extend the fun with some family activities? Give these ideas a try.

Turn some of that candy into a craft. Neither the kids or their parents need all that chocolate, right? Use the surplus to create a Christmas tree that can be given as a gift or used as a decoration.

Gather together fun-size or mini-size chocolate bars, a large foam cone, and stick pins. Take a chocolate bar and pin it near the bottom of the cone. Repeat by placing the next bar next to the first one, then continue all around the cone.

When you finish the first row, start the next layer by placing the bottom of a chocolate bar on the top of the row below it, which will hide the pin. Continue layering until you get to the top, then add a bow, star or ribbon as a topper.

Cook up some pumpkin goodies. Do your little ones just think of pumpkins as something to carve? Or as the filling for your Thanksgiving pie? As a family, bake some other pumpkin-containing foods to let them explore the flavor, like pumpkin muffins.

This one’s an easy one: Grab a box of yellow cake mix, a 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then mix together all ingredients until smooth. Spoon into lined muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

The best part about cooking with pumpkin? It’s packed with beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

Convert your jack-o’-lantern into a science experiment. You probably usually just toss your pumpkin after Halloween. But your carved pumpkin is actually perfect for showing kids how things decompose.

Place your pumpkin outside. Take a look inside it when you do so — mold is likely already beginning to grow inside. With your kids, keep a journal and photos of what the pumpkin looks like at regular intervals. It will start to blacken and shrivel up and eventually become something that isn’t even recognizable as a pumpkin.

For some added fun, grab the book “Pumpkin Jack,” which tells the story of a little boy who leaves his jack-o’-lantern out to rot in the backyard.

Get active, Halloween-style. Play some Halloween music and have everyone dance like characters. When the music stops, everyone has to freeze in place.

Or play a Halloween-themed version of Musical Chairs. Instead of chairs, use pumpkin cutouts placed on the ground.

Pumpkin bowling is another option. Use small pumpkins as the bowling “balls” and plastic bottles as the pins.

We hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween! But if a Halloween mishap does occur, Erlanger offers the emergency care you need, including care for the unique needs of kids.