East Coast schools are closed due to Hurricane Sandy for the third day in a row, and it just happens to be Halloween. If you’re lucky enough to be safe and sound at home but unlucky enough to be facing such a day indoors with little kids, you may find yourself in the precarious position of having to come up with new ways to entertain them for more than five minutes. Maybe you have already baked, built a fort and read every book in the house. And you have likely let your children zombify in front of "Dora"/"Phineas and Ferb"/"iCarly" (depending on their ages). They might be content to do this all over again, but we’re guessing you’re not. Herewith, 20 ways to keep kids occupied and happy that you (probably) haven’t thought of yet.
Ocean in a bottleWhat to do with the large water bottle you bought before the storm. Mix water, oil and blue food coloring. Make a big production out of the project including smocks that double as lab coats and slow measurements of the “potion.” Children will be mesmerized by the results for at least as long as you spend making it. Mummy candlesWhat to do with the candles you stocked up on before the storm. Just add gauze and googly eyes.
Googly eyesTurn every magazine spread in the house into a Halloween tableau by pasting eyes of different colors and sizes onto face you can find. Halloween fashion showEach child tries on his or her intended costume and walks the runway. Then, they trade and walk again. Final round: Everyone makes up new costume ideas, writes them on scraps of paper and tosses them in a hat. Each family member has to pick one and construct a costume out of only materials in the house. Annnnd strut. Magic sticker bagYou know how there are some sticker book pages with only one sticker left on them, but those are inevitably the stickers nobody wants to use? Find those lingerers, rip them out, put them all in a bag. Each child pulls out ten stickers to tell a story with. He chooses at random and makes up the plot based on what comes out of the bag. Fortune tellersAnyone who has ever made one of these knows they’re the perfect art project because the result morphs into an addictive game. The only problem is that once you are over 20 years of age it’s impossible to remember how to make them. Thank you, Internet. Floor collageAbstract: Tape a huge sheet of butcher paper to the floor and cut out construction paper shapes to glue stick down. Realism: Recreate a town using the shapes (houses) and tape (roads).
Paper car raceStep 1. Locate paper plate, thick cardboard and straws. Step 2. Fold plate. Step 3. Cut wheels. Step 4. Put it all together. Step 5. Send cars down the longest hallway in your house and play until somebody wins the race … ten times. Bedroom treasure mapsUse graph paper to draw each child’s room to scale, filling in the right amount of squares for each piece of furniture. Once you’ve finished, you can hide goodies in the rooms and voila – seemingly blah graph-paper drawings become treasure maps.
Kid reportersBundle up. Bring camera (phone or otherwise) and notebooks. Go for a walk to observe how the hurricane has affected your neighborhood, and write down each child’s observations verbatim. Once you’re home, use the notes to create a family newspaper. Autumnal lemonade standSell hot chocolate instead of the traditional thirst-quencher, and donate the proceeds to the Red Cross or another charity helping those in need after Sandy. Hurricane playlistsAll songs on the first mix must include the word rain. Examples: “Buckets of Rain” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.” The second playlist is built around the word storm. Third and most difficult: hurricane. Of course, you can also take the slacker route and make one mix incorporating all storm-related terminology.
Repair crewPlay power repair crew with LEGOs and Tinkertoys. (Bravo to the creative mom who came up with this one.) Bathtub artUse store-bought paints or make your own. Cover the walls -- and the kids -- in colors because everybody is already where he or she needs to be to get cleaned up.
Spa dayTurn your home into the calm after the storm. Include manicures and pedicures, cucumbers for your eyes, water, tea, soothing music, yoga – and massages for all grown-ups.
Monster cakeBecause you may have already baked cookies, but they didn’t look like this.