How To Plan A Kid-Friendly Haunted House

With just the right amount of creepy and crawly, this haunted house is tailored especially for kids

Want to scare the bejeebers out of your kids and their friends this year? Try setting up a haunted room in your house and leading them through either as a Halloween night activity or along with a Halloween party. If possible, enlist as many adults or older kids as helpers, either to be part of the “activities” in the haunted room or to guide the children through.

Here are some ideas for spooky activities.

Pick the perfect place

Choose a room or rooms that you can make completely dark and one where you can move out much or all of the furniture. It works best if you can have a separate entrance and exit, but if you only have one that can be managed. Tape cardboard or dark garbage bags over any windows.

Plan out a winding path through the room and set up your props along the route. Plan to have the children take their shoes off before entering.

Set the mood

Spooky background music playing from an iPod or computer will set the scene. Be sure to cover the electronics so their lights don’t spoil the mood.

Take cardboard tubes leftover from toilet paper rolls and cut out scary eye shapes (slanted to look angry, for example). Put an inexpensive small glow stick in the middle, bent so that it lights up, and staple or tape the ends of the tube closed. Arrange these glowing eyes on shelves or other spots around the room. Jack-o-lanterns with scary expressions are another great addition.

Drape fake spiderwebs at low levels so they will brush against the child’s face. You can add tiny plastic spiders as well.

Image via Listotic

Get the kids involved

On one section of the path you’ve planned, put down a garbage bag or two and tape toy plastic bugs all over the plastic. Explain as the kids enter the room that your collection of bugs seems to have escaped and ask them to let you know if they find them.

Have a table with bowls of “body parts” for each child to feel as he comes by. The guide should identify each item (i.e. “check out these eyeballs. Can you tell which are blue eyes and which are brown?”). Some possibilities include: peeled grapes for eyeballs, cold cooked spaghetti or manicotti for “guts,” slime from decomposing bodies (cold pudding or semi-set jello), finger bones (bones leftover from eating chicken or ribs), cold cooked cauliflower for brains, a rubber or plastic glove filled with ice as a severed hand, etc.

Get the adults involved

Have another helper ready to surprise the child by either popping up suddenly (in costume) or causing something else to pop up. (For example, make a ghost out of a white bedsheet with a soccer ball to shape the head, and hang with a rope from a hook or beam; as the child approaches, the hidden adult loosens the rope and the ghost drops down in front of the child.)

A coffin (can be just made of a cardboard box, painted black) that slowly creaks open while the occupant, face painted white, slowly sits up will scare most visitors.

Alternatively, have the helpers use flashlights to shine on various Halloween props such as skeletons or masks as the child gets close.

Finish with a fortune teller who will read the child’s palm or ask him to pick a card and then deliver a scary or funny fortune: “Your teacher this year is actually a werewolf. Watch out during the full moon!”

And don’t forget to have a few spooky treats waiting for them on at the end.

You can take children through the room in small groups – perhaps two or three at a time. If you have only one entrance, you may have to wait until one group comes out for the next to go in; if you have both an entrance and an exit you can send them through one after another.

It takes a little planning, but your kids and their friends will love being scared this Halloween!

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