Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Halloween, Pumpkins & Fall - Oh my!

October arrived and you better believe I hoarded as many fall, pumpkin, Halloween and apple activities as I could find. We started off focusing solely on apples to gear up for an apple picking trip we planned for the following weekend.
We started off with apple volcanoes (which were super cool until my super cool 3 year old blazed through a whole bottle of vinegar) and we used apples to make apple and pumpkin stamps. I posted about our apple volcanoes and apple stamping in our Letter A unit post.

All you need: vinegar (food dye optional), baking soda and as many apples as you want to destroy.

Apple stamping is one of the easiest (though messy) activities to keep kids busy for a while. I'll prove it.
Step 1. Cut an apple 
Step 2. Dab in a glob of paint 
Step 3. Stamp
That easy.
We used our stamps to make a card for Grandma!
After making the most of one half of the apple, I carved a Jack O Lantern face into the other half.
Heey Guys!

Oopsey Daisy's Mommy School is fan-freakin-tastic. She has downloadable packets that are packed with a little bit of everything. I used her A is for Apple packet to get the bulk of our apple activities, songs and stories. 
In said packet were these apple counting cards we used during snack time (yes, white chocolate chips counted as a snack). 

These paper dolls I found via Pinterest (via my mom and I's shared board) were entertainment that got me through dinner until bedtime. She named them Sabrina and Finley and we drew different adventures for them to go on. (We only got through two different scenarios but it was time well spent!)
Click here for the link!
Click here for the link!

Another fine product of Mommy School's Halloween packet was a make your own storybook that reads like Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Because of the familiarity with the story and the pictures, she was able to read it herself which she very much enjoyed!

Our goofy looking egg carton bats have been creepin around our hallway for about a week now. They're actually pretty nice so I let them stay.

Pardon me while I take a moment to reveal something that has changed my life. 
Friends, neighbors, family and countrymen: I have just recently discovered the wonder and miracles of the laminator. (You have to say it like Dr Doofenshmirtz. You just have to. It says so on the box.)

It makes tediously cutting out all of these random little things worth it. And it was so easy. And best of all, get this, it was $20 at Aldi. WHAT?? I know. Anyway, onto the important stuff...

The day we went to the pumpkin patch with her preschool class we went over the life cycle of a pumpkin with the flash cards provided in Mommy School's packet.
She got to practice her scissor skills by cutting out the key at the top :)

On another occasion I cut out a pumpkin shape and let her go through my magazines to find all things orange to create a pumpkin collage. This was good color recognition practice for her (we still have trouble getting them all right) but, as you can see in the finished product, she got bored after no more than 5 minutes. Oh well. I'm using it to cover some flaws on the door.

This little monster from the aforementioned Halloween packet got a snazzy little makeover on a rainy afternoon. 

Yet another story with (laminated!) visuals from Mommy School. Her little eyes smile and shine when she watches little characters act out a story. Those are the moments that make me keep doing the print outs, the stories, the activities, the crafts. What some see as silly wasted time are times I can capture a connection with her. And it's awesome.

We made these coffee filter leaves last fall, this fall and probably next fall too. I found them at The Chocolate Muffin Tree's blog and using the same technique you can make just about anything you want to (Easter eggs, flowers, etc).

Leaf animals!

Pumpkin carving is a must in October.

I found this (seemingly) super easy carving alternative from this pin on Pinterest. Of course, it looked soooo easy, and it was, I guess. But I had hoped it was something Bella could easily participate in and it ended up being more of a chore than I anticipated.  You take a cookie cutter and hammer the shape into the pumpkin to easily carve shapes. Awesome! Easy! I have those things already! Well...
We had to hammer it pretty firmly and directly onto the cookie cutter to make any progress (I mean, duh) and neither of those things were easy for Bella to do and she ended up getting frustrated. Also, I should have thought ahead (HA! When have I EVER done that) and measured because the shell of the pumpkin was thicker than the cookie cutter. Mom fail. 
So then we hit the inside of the cookie cutter with the hammer until we punched out the shape. It ended up demolishing a layer of the shell on the inside, but whatever. We did it yaaaay just don't look too close!
Also, the hammer totally destroyed the cookie cutter. A lot of lessons learned from this activity.

Ta daaaa!
Going along with the pumpkin carving, I highly encourage you to save the pumpkin seeds and try making these 
Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds
2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spread the seeds on a baking sheet and bake until dry throughout, 50 to 60 minutes. 
Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the seeds with the butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Return the seeds to the baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

That also brings me to another activity we did: Boo our friends! (Not in the way you think!)
I found a printable from TomKat studio with directions of how to start a Boo chain with your friends and neighbors. We made treats and dropped them off to friends with the downloadable sign attached. Although it was supposed to be anonymous, every single person caught us. Whoops. (Proof we would make the absolute worst spies.)

One of our Halloween books that we've made into somewhat of a tradition of reading is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. I decided to try to think of a craft to accompany the book and, lo and behold, found some printable visual aids for it at Toddler Approved!
Look at that face! I mentioned earlier how much she loves stories with visual aids and that lit up face is proof. Her friend was visiting and loved that the story prompts were a good excuse to yell during the story! He also loved being in charge of the big scary pumpkin head. :)
Another Pinterest craft we had to do: Boo Print Ghosts! Ours came out much messier due to wrangling a 9 month old with white paint all over her. Our yellow crescent moon (made from Bella's fist) also looks a little unusual, but oh well! It was a cute little keepsake that was worth the paint mess. 

We made Jar O Lanterns last year (2012) but I wanted to add them to this list anyway because I saved it and brought it out again this year! I saved some jars (one from spaghetti sauce and one from jam) and  I let the kids paint the inside of them. I printed out some Jack O Lantern face templates that I then cut out and let them tape onto their jar. Then we put a tea lights inside and enjoyed our Halloween lanterns!

October 2012

Last, but not least, we wrapped up Halloween and the end of October with Halloween Bingo that I printed off from The Crafting Chicks. We played it once for fun but we've been using it as a way to dispense Halloween candy gradually (where you get a piece with every win) as opposed to having a free for all with it (not saying that didn't happen...).

PS: If you're feeling super Pinteresty and have an entire 3 hours to kill (which is how long it took me to do it), you can try making these 3-D pumpkin cookies from Glorious Treats.
LOL. The M&Ms inside were my favorite part.

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