Thursday, October 30, 2014

Carving a Pumpkin…and so much more

It's that time of year again!! You know, the time of year when the leaves are changing and falling, when the temperature is finally football worthy, when apple cider is an afternoon staple, when comfy sweaters are a must and when you finally get to carve your pumpkin. It's the week before Halloween (so rotting is less likely to happen) and you arm yourself with jack-o-lantern stencils, hole punches, mini knives and scoopers (aka hands), all in the hopes of creating a masterpiece. But have you ever thought that pumpkin carving can be more than simply carving the perfect jack-o-lantern? This is how we took pumpkin carving to a new level…

It started with a pumpkin. 

The weather was amazing, so we set up our pumpkin carving station outside.
I cut the opening in the tops while we discussed our predictions about what the inside would look like this year. Would it be slimy or dry, squishy or hard? How many seeds would there be? Once I got off the tops, they got to work clearing the guts.

I had them put the guts in a bowl for later.

They picked out their stencils and I showed them how to tape it to the pumpkins. I helped the Beans poke holes, tracing his stencil and Busy was able to poke her own. 

After tracing, they helped me carve! Full disclosure: Beansie was more interested in sawing and cutting the pieces I cut out. Perfect for fine motor :) 
His pumpkin carving kit even came with
clever little tool to roll holes across
the pumpkin! 
Then he started cutting leaves :)

The bat and the ghosts turned out great! 

So now for the "other than carving" part. Along with the fine motor practice (hole punching/rolling, sawing and cutting, scooping and taping,) Busy counted how many holes she punched and Beansie counted the number of cuts he made (math). Beansie noticed that pumpkin and punch both started with the letter P "like in Preston!!" so we started brainstorming other p words (literacy). And instead of throwing out the pumpkin guts, we put them in a gallon zip lock baggie, creating a sensory bag!! I LOVE SENSORY BAGS!!!
The Beans also tried counting all of the
pumpkin seeds in the bag :)

And it turns out that there are an uncanny amount of activities you can do with a pumpkin. Here are a few: (click on highlights for links to the projects)
  • Toddlers can draw on pumpkins with markers or cover it in stickers -->
Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Teal Pumpkin Project - A Lesson In Empathy

A good friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook about a new color of pumpkin popping up just in time for Halloween. The subject title was "The Teal Pumpkin Project." Curious, I clicked on the link and read about a movement sweeping the nation that makes it possible for all children with food allergies to enjoy the aftermath of trick-or-treating a little more. Or more importantly, in my opinion, it gives the parents of these kids a little piece of mind knowing there are food-less options out there that won't cause an allergic reaction.

After reading this article, and many others, I decided to turn this great idea into a lesson in empathy. What does it mean to have a food allergy? Who has food allergies? What exactly are the kids allergic to in foods? We sat down and discussed these questions, and more, in order to understand why exactly we were getting ready to paint a pumpkin teal. Busy remembered that one of her best friends from preschool had a peanut allergy so she couldn't eat peanut butter for lunch, but other than that, she had very little knowledge about food allergies. We did some research and learned that there are many different food allergies, the most common ones being nuts, milk, shellfish, eggs and gluten. We then talked about what foods have these ingredients and what happens when kids experience an allergic reaction. Then armed with all of this new information we got to painting…

What You Need:

  • White pumpkin
  • Teal paint
  • paint brush
  • clear and/or glitter spray paint
  • Food free treats such as stickers, glow sticks, match box cars, spider rings, temporary tattoos, nail polish and any other fun things you can find in the discount isle at Target or at the Dollar Store. 
What To Do:
  1. I began by mixing my own teal with the paint colors we already had. You can of course buy teal paint (although I have never seen it in a large bottle), but I'm cheap ;)
  2. When you achieve your desired shade, get to painting! 
  3. Once dried, we spray painted ours with glitter, then sealed it with a clear coat of spray paint. (optional)
  4. Put it at your front door to show trick-or-treaters that you have food free options for kids with allergies! 
  5. Then sit back and be proud of the fact that you are part of a nation wide Teal Pumpkin Project :) Congrats!

The shade that worked for us is made using this formula:

1 part white
1/2 part blue
1/2 part green
1/2 part black
We started out using sponge brushes but switched to
large regular brushes. We never use sponge brushes, and
this project reminded me why...

This is after one coat. We applied another coat once
this one dried. 
The sponge brushes just don't cover as well.
It eventually wipes off what it has put on. 

A quick coat of glitter then gloss...

And voila! It's perfect!! 

And so are these smiles ;)

So there you have it. We are officially a part of the Teal Pumpkin Project! So if you find yourself in our neighborhood this Halloween, stop by for some allergy free treats! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fall Sun Catchers

We LOVE sun catchers!! They are super easy and the kids can get really creative with their creations. This is also an activity that I have on deck when we have a babysitter. I always have the materials for sun catchers on hand so all I do is set them out and the kids know how to do the rest!

What You Need:

  • Contact paper
  • paper plates
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • yarn or string or pipe cleaners
  • crayons, paint, stickers or markers (anything to decorate the rim of the plate)
What To Do:
  1. Collect materials to stick on the contact paper (this time we collected leaves and flowers) 
  2. Cut the center out of the plate, leaving the rim.
  3. Trace a circle on the contact paper using the center of the plate.
  4. cut out the circle about a 1/2 inch wider than the traced line.
  5. stick the contact paper circle in the center of the plate.
  6. stick collected materials on the contact paper.
  7. punch a hole in the top of the paper plate rim.
  8. hang your sun catcher in a sunny window using the yarn, string or pipe cleaners.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wonder Dough

**Disclaimer** This get's messy!! And we all know that I am totally fine with that! But if you aren't, that's okay. The paint we used is completely washable, and the colored hands in the mean time were so much fun!! So keep reading…

Wonder Dough from Growing a Jeweled Rose (aka - "Awesome Color Your Hands Dough")

What You Need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Washable paint
  • Glass bowl and spoon (we used glass simply because it's easy to clean and it doesn't interfere with the color visual)
What To Do:
  1. Scoop and large spoonful of cornstarch into a glass bowl
  2. Start by squeezing a small amount of paint into the bowl and mixing it with the cornstarch. Keep adding paint until it becomes the desired consistency. You want it to be pliable and not crumbly. 
That's it! You can mold it, squish it, flatten it and roll it. Just keep in mind that the paint color will transfer to whatever you use with it, but a simple washing should be all it takes to clean. I might be sure not to use wooden utensils so the paint doesn't stain. 

We didn't make enough to try and keep, so we left it out to see what happened. They next morning Busy's "statue" had hardened like clay! Next time we will store some in an air-tight container and let you know what happens :)