Sometimes the best learning experiences occur outside of school, as children at the Westport Historical Society's Halloween Workshop discovered Monday. The event, held on Columbus Day, included various craft constructions, stories and bobbing for apples.

"I didn't think I would do it, but I just saw the technique of the other people doing it," said Layla Reejhsinghani, 10. "They said to just grab the stem, so I grabbed the stem and it worked."

"I think it's a really good idea to have a camp on a free day," she said. "It's my first time. Olivia told me about it."

"It's really fun," said Olivia Valante, 9. "It's very creative and something better to do than watching TV on your day off."

About 25 kids took part in activities led by Elizabeth DeVoll, education director for WHS.

"I started this Halloween workshop in my garage nine years ago," she said. "It's my favorite."

Along with apple bobbing, kids got a chance to carve skulls out of soap, brew magic potions, and turn bean-filled socks into scary creatures.

"She's creative," Susan Gold, WHS executive director, said of DeVoll. "She is dynamic, energetic, full of fun and out-of-the-box ideas."

"I'm thrilled that we can offer enrichment programs throughout the year during school vacations," Gold said. "We try to provide a lot of different experiences ¦ Our goal is to be a great center for the community."

WHS plans similar workshops for Election Day and Martin Luther King Day, with activities centered on those holiday's themes.

"The people here are nice," said George Menz, 14, who attended the workshop when he was younger and now volunteers to help.

"I think it's really creative and fun and it's better than just sitting at home pretty much doing nothing," said Kate Valante, 6.

"I think it's cool," said Sadie Farnsworth of the workshop. "I didn't do the apple bobbing because I thought it was a bit gross, (but) I think it's interesting that we used the socks in the first (project)."

While each activity may not be for every child, there was a general consensus regarding the joys of Halloween.

"What other day do you get to dress up ¦ and completely be someone else without being laughed at," Olivia said.

"And you can go to people's houses and knock on doors and ask for candy," Layla said.

"Trust me," Olivia said, "I've tried it other times."

Layla said, "It doesn't work!"