Trick or treat!
Halloween is a time of year that children look forward to — picking out the perfect costume and knowing they'll come home with a bag full of treats.
While it's an exciting time for most children, there are many children that may stare at that bowl of candy and not see anything they are able to eat because of a food allergy (an allergy to ingredients like peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, wheat or eggs).
Did you know:*
- There is an estimated 5.6 million children in the United States under the age of 18 with some sort of food allergy. According to FARE, "that's one in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom."
- In the UK, 5-8% of children have a food allergy.
- Food allergy occurs in 4-8% of children in Australia and New Zealand.
- Approximately 2.6 million Canadians, including 500,000 children, are affected by food allergy
The Teal Pumpkin Project
For several years now, we've participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project during Halloween. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a program created by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) as a way to raise awareness of food allergies.
It's easy to join in! Set out a teal pumpkin to let trick-or-treaters know they'll find non-food items at your house for Halloween — it's a simple way to help ensure all children feel included in the night's festivities. We used a foam craft pumpkin and painted it teal.
Non-candy treat ideas for Halloween
In the past, we assembled little favor bags with fun treats like pencils, glow sticks, stickers, temporary tattoos, glow bugs and witch fingers. And, we found that kids even without a food allergy sometimes chose the favor bag over candy!
This year, we're going to take it up a notch and offer painted rocks!
The first Halloween we set out painted rocks as an alternative to candy, we found that the kids were standing there shuffling through the tray of rocks trying to decide which rock they wanted (we don't blame them — we'd want them all!). The downside was it sort of held up the line for those eager to get some candy. So, this year, we're going to make little treat bags that include a painted rock and a fun poem insert.
We're also going to (weather-permitting) set up a table near the sidewalk to create less of a walk-up-to-the-house-and-line-up scenario and more of a passerby situation where those who wish to get candy may do so and those who wish to browse painted rocks may do so.
Be creative! Paint pumpkins, candy corn or a Halloween trick-or-treat message. We started with smooth rivers stones and primed them with bright colorful acrylic paint. Then, we used paint markers to draw fun designs (we used medium tip Posca paint pens for the ghost's body and the witch's cauldron, then fine tip Posca paint pens for the detail work like the spider's legs and eyes).
Free Printable Inserts
If you want the recipient of your rocks to be able to follow the journey of their painted rock (should they decide to hide their rock for someone else to find), you can add an ID from GoRock.com.
We created two printable inserts to include in a treat bag. One is a fun poem about painted rocks. Many kids know all about the kindness rocks movement. But, for those who may not be familiar, this poem highlights what the gift of a painted rock is all about.
The second printable provides instructions to track painted rocks. These should be used if you're giving a painted rock to someone (as a gift, etc) and if the person receiving the rock wants to hide it for someone else to find and follow that rock's journey.
Assembling the goodie bags
We used Halloween-themed treat bags from our local one dollar store. You get anywhere between 20-40 bags for $1.00. Or, use clear treat bags to save some money (bonus: you can more easily see the painted rock through the bag).
I Got a Rock!
With rocks you've taken the time to paint and hand out, no longer will children be disappointed that they "got a rock"!
Have you handed out painted rocks for Halloween or offered non-candy treats? Share your ideas below!