Zombie Party

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I bet at this point, some of you are checking to see if you accidentally came to the wrong blog! Zombies don’t really seem like they’d be my thing, right?! Don’t worry…you’re in the right place. For one of our son’s recent birthdays, we threw him an epic zombie party and even I couldn’t help but think it was fun!

Zombie Party Ideas...decorations, games, food, and everything else you'll need to create the most epic Hallowe'en or birthday party ever!Finally after 4 sons and many, many birthday party themes that I thought I would impress them: army, sports, Mickey Mouse, pirates, dinosaurs, fireman, hockey, I found a theme that knocked it out of the park!

Moms, if you are looking for a party theme that will make you the “cool mom” with your tweens and teens, then zombies it is! When planning a zombie party, the only thing you need to remember is “the grosser the better”.

Planning this party was a lot of fun. The kids and I laughed about me saying things like, “There isn’t enough blood on this paper. We need more blood.” and calling my friend to ask, “Do zombies only eat brains or can they eat other body parts too?”

Zombie Party Decorations:

I hit up a local dollar store for most of the decorations. We hung a banner on the front door and placed some gel ‘blood’ on the front window to set the stage for the guests when they first arrived.

Zombie Party DecorationsWe made a themed tablecloth by using a white plastic tablecloth and adding handprints, streaks and splatters with red paint.

I washed out some old pill bottles and filled some with Skittles and some with Mike and Ikes and added labels with the words “Virus Vaccine” on them. I placed these on the table.

Many of the decorations were put up outside for the scavenger hunt/wide game. We borrowed some of them from our neighbour’s Hallowe’en decoration stash. We made one area outside into a little graveyard and the items for the scavenger hunt/game served as many of the decorations in our little forest.

Zombie Party Activities:

When party guests first arrived, they had the option of having their faces painted like zombies. My girls were the face painters using little kits that included gel ‘blood’ to finish off the looks.

Another simple activity was having the party guests guess how many lollipops were in the scary head. Whoever guessed the closest without guessing over won the whole thing to take home.

We also happened to have an eyeball sensory bin made and left it out for the party. I wasn’t expecting teen and preteen boys to be too interested in a sensory bin, but it got played in A LOT during the party! Some boys spent over 20 minutes playing with it.

Zombie Party ActivitiesThe big activity was an outdoor zombie scavenger hunt/wide game. One of our older sons had hidden items outside in our yard in the trees. I wrote out a list of items that the boys had to retrieve and explained the game to them. The items needed to be brought one at a time to the safe area (the playhouse) without the person being tagged by a zombie. My three girls had dressed like zombies and were set to chase after the boys trying to get their items to the safe area.

What the boys didn’t know (including the birthday boy!) was that our oldest son had come over earlier in the day to surprise his brother. He had hidden upstairs getting zombified and then had hidden in the trees to be discovered during the game. Once they found him, he was another zombie who could tag them while they were in the open grass area.

The list of what the party guests had to find in the trees:

Zombie Food:

Creating the food for this party was a lot of fun.

Zombie Party FoodTo make the punch, I mixed frozen red fruit punch with 7-Up and then added plastic eyeballs, sliced strawberries, and ice cubes I had made with plastic flies frozen in them. (Where there are zombies, there will be flies!)

Miss Optimism cut carrots to look like fingers and we drizzled red food gel onto cauliflower to look like brains. We set out a bowl of green grapes with a tag of “rotting eyeballs”. During the party, I served “bloody fingers” which were just barbequed hot dogs with ketchup.

Instead of cake, we served two types of cupcakes. We had vanilla cupcakes with chocolate icing decorated with little gravestones and bones. I used an edible marker to write on the tombstones. I added gummy zombies to a few of them as well. The other cupcakes were chocolate with vanilla icing decorated to look like brains. Miss Optimism decorated those entirely herself. It is wonderful having a daughter who likes to help!

Zombie Party Cupcakes


For treat bags (otherwise known as loot bags), I used brown paper bags. We titled them “Zombie Survival Kits” and added some blood drips in permanent marker. My girls were a big help with these details.

Inside the favour bags, I included IV bags with strawberry syrup, syringe pens, gummy eyeballs, chocolate eyeballs, glow bracelets, gummy teeth, gummy zombies, glow-in-the-dark rats, and glow-in-the-dark bats.

Favour bags for zombie partyThis Zombie party would be great for not only a birthday but for a Hallowe’en or Night of the Living Dead or Fear the Walking Dead kickoff or finale party.

If you are looking for other fun party ideas, be sure to check out our popular Minute to Win It party.

Minute to Win It Family Fun Night

Eyeball Sensory Bin

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

This sensory bin was most popular with my older kids. In fact, I happened to have it on the counter during a zombie theme party we had for our son and the preteen and teenage guests at the party loved it! Some of those boys spent more than twenty minutes playing in it. Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you that sensory bins are only for little ones!

Eyeball Sensory Bin...even popular with older kids.To make this eyeball sensory bin, I used purple water beads, water, googly eye stickers, bright coloured eyeball finger puppet rings, and cartoon eye glasses. I began by filling a clear plastic bin with water and the purple water beads to allow them to soak up the water. When the water had been absorbed, I added the other items.

One of the ways the kids played with this bin was to play seek-and-find with the eyeball stickers that were here and there and everywhere.

Eyeball sensory bin with purple water beadsThe cardboard on the cartoon glasses got wet from the water beads after a few days so we ended up having to take those out, but they were a fun element while they lasted. The kids enjoyed trying them on and laughing at each other! They also liked playing with the ring finger puppets.

This would be a good sensory bin to go along with a Monsters theme unit or for Hallowe’en.

For hundreds of other sensory bin ideas, you can also follow my Sensory Bins board on Pinterest.

Follow Sharla Kostelyk’s board Sensory Bins on Pinterest.

If you are looking for information on making sensory bins, you may be interested in my book. The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Bins

Honing Your Child’s Problem Solving Skills

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

As parents, we want to protect our kids from any harm that could come to them. It is an understandable sentiment, but one that if taken too far can cripple our children’s ability for problem solving on their own. This can reach into adulthood.

Teaching Children how to Problem Solve. This is such an important skill to learn for life.A few months ago, two of my boys were over at my friend Michelle’s and asked if they could ride to the bike park with her sons. She texted me to make sure that it was okay and then the four of them set off to the other side of our town. There is nothing quite as thrilling for a young teenage boy than to get a taste of independence!

While at the bike park, one of my boys took a nasty spill. He hurt his arm and leg but the brunt of the fall was to his back and he bore the drag marks to prove it. He was a bit bloodied and very sore. He was in no condition to ride his bike back to Michelle’s.

The four boys conferenced about what they should do. They threw about a few ideas and decided on a plan. None of them had a cell phone (collective gasp as you realize that my 12 and 13 year old do not own phones!) but they knew they could use a phone at a nearby business or ask to borrow a phone if need be. They decided against calling because Michelle has small children at home that she would have had to pack up to bring to come and get them and then there would be too many bikes to transport back.

It was decided that two of them (including the injured one) would take the bus back while the other two rode their bikes. Michelle had given them very clear instructions that they were to stick together and they did discuss that, but were able to override that using their common sense and reasoned that as long as they buddied up, it would still be safe to split up the larger group. Not all 4 could go on the bus because one of the bikes had tires that were too wide for the bus’ bike transport.

One of my sons had his debit card with him so they went to a bank machine to get out the money they would need, looked up the right bus route to take and two hopped on their bikes to head back while the other two boarded the bus. Michelle’s oldest (who was the oldest overall) stayed with my injured son on the bus. They all got back to Michelle’s safely. No adult had to bail them out of the situation. They problem solved. They felt a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Teaching kids to hone their problem solving skillsThere were times along the way that obstacles came up such as realizing that the one bike tire didn’t fit on the bus or when the lady working at the bus terminal was less than helpful. It was at these times where they could have given up and called for help but they were confident in their ability to handle the situation. They also knew they all had parents they could call on if the circumstances grew beyond their capacity to handle.

Why? Because they have been taught problem solving skills and because they have been given opportunities to manage problems on their own. We are always there for them to come to if they cannot figure out a solution or if their ideas fail, but we first let them try. We have gradually given them more and more opportunities over the years to hone their problem solving skills.

Tips to help your child’s problem solving skills:

Start young. When kids are young, parents should handle the medium sized and big problems and let them weigh in on the small ones. Talk to them about possible situations that could arise and ask them, “How would you have handled that?” or “What ideas do you have of what you could do in a situation like that?”

Encourage. If a child complains that they don’t know how to solve a problem, remind them that they are smart and capable. Tell them that you believe in their ability to figure it out.

Offer opportunities to practise and role play. When they come to you with a problem, instead of giving them a solution right away, ask things like “What do you think you could do?” or “What ideas can you think of?” You can then help them brainstorm possible outcomes using their ideas. Another good question is, “Can you think of a way we can solve this together?”

Offer choices. If they are stuck on coming up with ideas, give them different options. Talk about problems as being an opportunity to practise problem solving skills. We let our kids practise (which sometimes means they ‘fall’) on small problems so that they get better at these skills and can manage some of the bigger ones down the road.

Let them know you have their back. Knowing that capable adults will step in and help if a problem is too big for them gives kids the confidence to first try to tackle it on their own.

Our second oldest son who is 18, recently had his car towed for forgetting to renew his registration. I know that a lot of parents would have solved this problem for their child, paying for the huge costs of the towing and overnight storage (it was on a weekend so there were multiple nights of storage charged) and telling them exactly what to do, but I think that sends the message that you do not think your child is capable of solving this problem. Our son called us right away, but already had a plan. He even had enlisted the help of a friend to drive him to the registration office when it was open. I sympathized with his problem, said that I knew he would probably never forget to renew his registration again and said that if along the way, there became something he couldn’t handle, to give us a call. It turns out that there was also a problem with his insurance so he did end up having to call us in to help and we were happy to help at that point because he was in over his head. Up to that point though, all he needed from us was our guidance and confidence that he could handle it.

I’ll close this with what may seem like a silly example, but I think it demonstrates well the concept of allowing your kids to hone their skills by practising. The other day, the kids and I went for a walk. A “walk” is a term we use loosely around our house and it means getting around our subdivision in some fashion. Two of our girls were rollerblading using their older brothers’ rollerblades, one son was on his rip stick, another on a bike and two of us were walking.

Along the way, Granola Girl got a blister on one of her feet from the too-large-rollerblades and could no longer continue. I could have stepped in and said that she could take off the rollerblades and her socks and go barefoot or I could have offered to carry her home. But I hung back, allowing her some time to problem solve, ready to step in if her level of frustration grew too high. Before long, without any input from me, the kids had come up with a solution. She wore on of her brother’s shoes (on the foot with the blister) and he wore one of the rollerblades. They had a grand time each with one rollerblade for the rest of the way home. It was so much better than the solutions I could have come up with and it was one they could feel proud of because they had worked it out all by themselves!

Teach Your Child to Problem Solve

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Fall Sensory Bins

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

Fall is here. We’ve been phasing out some of our summer activities as the weather cools. I love the colours in the Fall so that helps me make the mental transition in adapting to the crisper weather.

Last week, we made our first autumn sensory bin of the season. Actually, it was a bin-in-a-bag I got from a friend so all I had to do was dump it into a bin and let the kids start playing!

Fall Sensory Bins:
20 Fall Sensory Bins

  1. Fall Button Tree Quiet Bin for Preschoolers from Hands On as We Grow (pictured)
  2. Thanksgiving Sensory Bin from here on The Chaos and Clutter
  3. Fall Sensory Basket Ideas for Babies from Growing Hands-On Kids
  4. Apple Sensory Bin {With Free Printable} from Teaching Mama (pictured)
  5. How to Create A Fall Colored Rice Sensory Bin from Little Miss Kate & Co.
  6. Fall Sensory Play for Toddlers from Fun at Home with Kids
  7. Autumn Sensory Bin with Birdseed and Cinnamon from here at The Chaos and The Clutter
  8. Fall Sensory Bin (With Homemade Pumpkin Play Dough) from Wildflower Ramblings
  9. Fall Farm Sensory Bin from The Jenny Evolution
  10. The Best Part of Harvest: Playing in the Corn Sensory Bin from The Resourceful Mama
  11. Pumpkin Patch Sensory Bin: Practicing Matching With Preschoolers from Life Over C’s (practised)
  12. Sunflower Sensory Bin from Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes (pictured)
  13. Camouflaged Dinosaurs in Autumn Leaves from Messy Little Monster (pictured)
  14. Football Sensory Bin from Fantastic Fun and Learning (pictured)
  15. Spooky Spider Sensory Bin from The Eyes of a Boy (pictured)
  16. Fall on the Farm Sensory Bin from Gift of Curiosity (pictured)
  17. Fall Sensory Bin from Happy Hooligans (pictured)
  18. Seek-N-Find Fall Sensory Bin from Mama Miss
  19. Pumpkin Patch Small World Sensory Play from Buggy and Buddy (pictured)
  20. Fall Harvest Sensory Bin Play Fine Motor from Learning through Playing

These fall sensory bins are sure to give you creative ideas for making your very own. If you’ve never made a sensory bin before and aren’t sure if your kids would enjoy playing in one, try one just once. I think you’ll be surprised how much time they spend using it and the type of imaginative play it inspires.

fall sensory bins

For hundreds of other sensory bin ideas, you can also follow my Sensory Bins board on Pinterest.

Follow Sharla Kostelyk’s board Sensory Bins on Pinterest.

If you are looking for information on making sensory bins, you may be interested in my book. The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Bins