Every year near Hallowe'en, we (the Visitor Interpretive Center here in Newcomb) do a Hallowe'en program for the two local schools (Newcomb and Long Lake). Students in grades K through 4 are invited to learn about three animals that are associated with Hallowe'en. Our staff of three (boss, seasonal, and me) each get a topic and a station. The kids are divided into three groups and rotate through each station, spending about a half hour at each one. Afterwards, we all feast on seasonally appropriate snacks. It's a good time.
The program runs on a five-year cycle, so that the kids in Kindergarten have a new program every year through fourth grade. Year 1: Bats, Owls and Skeletons. Year 2: Spiders, Cats, Ravens & Crows. Year 3: Snakes, Coyotes, Frogs & Toads. Year 4: Rats, Vultures, Newts. Year 5: Weasels, Raccoons and Skunks. Our goal is to teach kids the truth about animals who have bad reputations or who have been portrayed poorly due to the Hallowe'en season.
So, this year (Year 7), we were on Year 2 of Cycle 2: Spiders, Cats, Ravens & Crows. I, of course, was Spider Woman! I really do like spiders, and the more I learn about them, the more fascinating they become. For instance, did you know...
* ...spiders have light blue blood?
* ...spiders have special oils on the hairs on their feet so they won't stick to the sticky parts of their webs?
* ...not all spiders build webs, and most spider webs are not the large spokes & spiral contraptions that most of us envision when we think of spider webs?
* ...spiders do not have ears; they "listen" by feeling vibrations with the hairs on their legs?
* ...some spiders spend their entire lives under water?
* ...spider web is antibacterial and excellent to use as a bandage over bleeding wounds?
* ...some spiders are chameleon-like and can change their color to blend into their background?
I could go on and on (and some day I might).
Unfortunately, the only photo I have of the day is this one:
Fresh Graves, one of the snacks we made for the event. These are very tasty (with or without the tombstone), and relatively easy to make.
Dump a box of Devil's Food Cake mix into a bowl.
Add one cup sour cream.
Add one egg.
Mix until it looks like chocolate mousse.
Now comes the hard part. Scoop up some batter in your hand (I recommend using three fingers, like poi), and "shape" into a rectangle about 1"x 4" (good luck). Place on a greased cookie sheet. Make another one. These will really puff up when you cook them, so leave plenty of space between them.
Pre-heat oven 350 and pop these babies in for about 15 minutes. They are done when they spring back to your touch.
Meanwhile, make the headstones. I used Milano cookies, broken in half. The recipe said to pull apart the two cookies and scrape out the frosting, but Pepperidge Farm must've changed their recipe because the cookies are extremely brittle now and they do not pull apart, which is why I just broke them in half. Using black frosting, write your message on the headstone.
When the cake part is cool, cut a slit in the top. Dab a bit of chocolate frosting on the bottom of the cookie and shove it into the slit - the frosting will hold it there like glue. Voila! You are done.
You get 12-16 graves from a box of mix, depending on how big you make them.