This year much has changed, including the way we celebrate holidays. Many events and annual activities around Halloween and Día de los Muertos have been canceled due to COVID-19. But, that doesn't mean you can’t get into hocus pocus, candy corn, and create a Dia de Los Muertos ofrenda at home! Amtrak San Joaquins wants to help you get into the spooky and celebratory spirit with at-home activities, DIY costumes and some yummy recipes for you to try!
MAKE A LIFE-SIZE CARDBOARD TRAIN
Get creatives and make a cardboard train that the kids can use as a prop! (Below we have a DIY costume for a conductor). What you’ll need:
Two large rectangular shaped packing boxes (don’t use square)
Black duct tape
Acrylic craft paint
- On both boxes, tape one end completely shut using the black duct tape. These make the front end of your train (horizontal box) and the top of the cabin of your train (vertical box).
- Make the horizontal box as tall as possible by extending the flaps on the open end and tape the sides together to create a rectangular prism.
- To attach the two boxes, extend the open end flaps of the horizontal box and wrap the two side flaps around the vertical cabin box. Tape in place.
- Cut a front window out from the cabin and be sure to tape around the edges of the window. (Note: you can add additional windows on the sides).
- Cut out a back door so your at home conductor can get in and out of the cabin easily.
- Grab a piece of cardboard and fold into a tube. This will become the smokestack that is taped to the front of the engine
- To complete your train, paint it using whatever colors you’d like! Using construction paper you can trace circles and create wheels that are glued onto the sides of the horizontal box.
- Cut out a large yellow circle for the front light and glue on.
- Yell all aboard and let the fun begin!
MAKE HALLOWEEN SLIME
- Turn your kitchen into a witch’s lair and make this easy bubbling halloween slime recipe! You’ll need:
½ cup of (white) school glue
½ cup water
1 tbsp of saline solution (must contain boric acid and sodium borate)
¼ - ½ tsp of baking soda
Food coloring (and confetti, glitter or other fun mix-in items)
- Combine glue and water in a bowl and mix well to combine. Omit water for a putty like substance.
- Stir in food coloring (and other mix-in items you’d like to add). Remember, you may have to add a few extra drops of food coloring if you wish to have a darker slime.
- Stir in baking soda. This will make the mixture firm and form the slime. If you’d like the slime to be more firm, add ½ tsp per batch.
- Mix in 1 tbsp of saline solution and stir until the slime forms and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If your slime is too sticky add a few more drops of saline solution. Remember, you can always add but you can’t take away so it’s always!
- Knead your slime. At first your slime may appear stringy but you will just need to knead it with your hands. You can also put your slime in a new container and let it sit for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes the consistency will change! Note: before kneading we suggest adding a few drops of saline solution to your hands to avoid the slime sticking to you while kneading.
PLAN A HALLOWEEN SCAVENGER HUNT
- If you are looking for a fun way to celebrate and get the kids involved, create a scavenger hunt! Whether you make the scavenger hunt indoors or outdoors, this activity is great for children of all ages to partake in! Be sure to create clues (we suggest creating clue cards) to help them discover where the item is hidden. Below are a few clues that you can use and hide a few items! Pre-made Clues:
- What’s orange and round and can be used to make pie? You should go find one and find your item!
- We all dress up for Halloween… your next treat is hiding where you get your clothes cleaned.
- This place is cold and often stores food and drinks? (extra hint: it’s in the kitchen)
- If you had a monster friend come visit that was hungry for a meal, this is where she/he would sit and join you for dinner!
- Witches fly on a broom but your treat lays in your B_______M.
BUILD A DIA DE LOS MUERTOS OFRENDA (ALTER/SHRINE)
- Día de los Muertos originated in ancient Mesoamerica where indigenous groups (Aztec, Maya, and Toltec) honored and commemorated their loved ones who had passed away. Today, Día de los Muertos is celebrated mostly in Mexico, some parts of Central and South America, and in Latinx communities throughout the United States. Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life and filled with music, dancing, food, and activities. The ofrenda (altar/shrine) is the most recognized symbol of Día de los Muertos and is a temporary altar to honor loved ones that passed and to provide them with materials they need for their journey.
Every ofrenda includes four elements:
Water which is often in a pitcher so spirits can quench their thirst
Wind is represented with traditional papel picado or traditional paper banners
Earth is represented by food (often pan de muerto or “bread of the dead” which can be found at most panaderías)
Fire is represented with candles and provides the spirits directions
What else should you include in your ofrenda?
- A large photograph of your loved one in the center
- The deceased’s favorite knick knacks or food
- Sugar skulls
- Marigold flowers
Still looking for that last minute costume? Keep it simple with a train conductor’s outfit! Not only is this perfect for any age, but it’s easy and reusable (with some minor tweaks).
All you’ll need are pinstripe overalls with a matching newsboy cap, bandana in your choice of color, and a T-shirt or long sleeve underneath. Finish off the look with some black work boots. All of these pieces are in style and available at almost any store. Tie that bandana securely around your neck, pull on your cap, and say “All aboard!” You’re ready to travel the town- or your living room- on Halloween night.
If you made the cardboard train above, step into in and you are a conductor in your train!
Take and post a picture of you in your costume and tag #AmtrakSanJoaquins. We will share all your fun!
Halloween is a time to indulge— check out these sweet, savory and spooky recipes!
Get in the spirit and shake things up with a Halloween cocktail. Try this crimson Pomegranate-Rum Punch or keep warm with this Warm Tea-and-Cider Punch — omit the bourbon for a cozy non-alcoholic beverage!
Sweets are the main attraction during this holiday, but start your festivities off with some ghoulish appetizers and main courses, like Sweet and Sour “Eyeballs,” Mummy Brie, or Graveyard Enchilada Dip. For something a little less ghoulish, try this adorable pumpkin cheese ball.
Finally, it isn’t Halloween if it’s all tricks and no treats. Even if you don’t go trick-or-treating, you may find yourself with an abundance of leftover candy. Repurpose it into Halloween Bark, and customize with whatever candy you have on hand! Need more ideas? Check out this guide for 26 more ways to use leftover candy.