In the endless sea of Samhain/Halloween crafts for kids (and grown-ups too), I have found (and come up with) a few that actually convey meaning and purpose:
I first came across this as an idea suggested in Circle Round. The craft is to make a doll that represents an ancestor using materials (fabric from clothing or bedding, jewelry) that the ancestor once owned, if you have them. If you don’t have anything like that, just use materials that remind you of her/him (like favorite colors of the ancestor or yarn the color of that ancestor’s hair, or strips of fabric from that time period) . One easy way to do this is to make a yarn doll using strips of fabric belonging to the ancestor in place of some of the yarn. You could also make ancestor cornhusk dolls or apple dolls (apple dolls were a very popular Ozark craft a few generations ago, so may be a good representation of ancestors from that era). Tell your kids stories about their ancestors while you make the dolls together. This is an especially good activity if you don’t have any other image to represent your ancestors. Place the dolls on the family ancestor shrine.
This is a craft that I made quite a few years ago to represent my ancestors collectively. The ancestor dolmen has a permanent place on the household shrine and represents all of my ancestors- known and un-known, from ancient to the recent. You can use any kind of clay that will harden when dry. Roll out three flattened tube shapes and stack them one on top of two to make a dolmen. Now use smaller pieces of clay to make little skulls and spirals- the Celts believed that the soul resided in the head, and spirals represent the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. To make the skulls, roll clay into balls and make the eyes and nose cavity by poking holes with the pointy end of a pencil and drawing lines for teeth with a toothpick. Make the spirals by rolling clay into snakes and coiling up. Lay the dolmen down flat and arrange skulls and spirals on the inside. If you want, make a back for the dolmen with rolled out clay to help keep everything in place. Bake or air dry- make sure the bottom of the dolmen will be flat so it will stand without falling over. If pieces are loose you can glue everything in place after clay is dry. You might want to paint when dry. Definitely place on your family ancestor shrine.
Tell the story of the Voyage of Bran (this story can be found in The Names Upon The Harp: Irish Myths And Legends by Marie Heaney- look for it at the library) and make a magical silver branch.
Find a fallen tree branch- not too big or small- a good size to put on your shrine or hang on a wall in your home. Paint it silver with craft paint and let dry. Attach silk apple blossoms and silver or gold bells. You can use the silver branch when calling/praying to spirits and deities, use it as a purification tool (the sound drives away malevolent spirits), and to announce the beginning and the ending of a ceremony- it is a symbol of the Otherworld, the Isle of Apples.
It just wouldn’t be Samhain if we didn’t carve a jack-o-lantern out of pumpkins or turnips- I prefer the old-fashioned turnip lanterns. Many of the crafts I posted previously for Autumn Equinox are also good to make for Samhain. There will be more colored leaves in October for the leaf crafts (you can do gravestone rubbings as well as leaf rubbings), and the apple crafts hold special significance for Samhain.