Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkins and Puddles

When I first saw these Pumpkin Drip Art Paintings by The Imagination Tree, I knew I had to try them.  Granted, it took me two years, but we finally gave it a shot!!

Monkey had never tried any sort of drip art before, but when the instructions are as simple as "squeeze the paint onto the pumpkin and see what happens", you really can't go wrong.

He had a blast and thought his puddles were just amazing too!  Clearly, he's having fun!

We had two pumpkins to paint, so he was a bit conservative with the first one, but by the time he got to the second one, his goal was to finish all of the paint we had left.  And the puddles got bigger and bigger and bigger!!

The pumpkins took a day to dry and I had to move them around a few times to get the bottoms to dry completely, but check out the finished product!  Interestingly, the glitter paint didn't look glittery until it was dried, so we had quite a surprise when we checked on them the next morning.

I definitely see more drip art in our future!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Easy Jack-O-Lantern for Preschoolers

Making a Jack-O-Lantern, though always part of Halloween fun, has never really struck me as a great activity for preschoolers.  The pulp provides endless sensory excitement, but tends to be hard to remove with little hands and the cutting of the face is obviously better left to the grown-ups, so how can we get the kiddos more involved??  Here are some tips that I found very useful for Monkey this year.

First, be sure to cut the top wide enough for your little one to reach all the way down inside easily.  I used a sturdy metal ice cream scooper to scrape all of the pulp and seeds from the sides of the pumpkin first, then it was Monkey's turn to dive in and pull it all out.  Loosening everything up first let him focus on the squishy, icky awesomeness that IS pumpkin pulp!

After he'd pulled everything out and we set the seeds aside for roasting, I handed him a Sharpie and had him draw a face.  He started with teeny dots for eyes, so I reminded him that I would need a large shape to cut out and he tried again.

Once the face was complete, I did the cutting and he was thrilled to see his drawing come to life.  He couldn't wait to see what his Jack-O-Lantern looked like in the dark, so we found a dark room and tested it out.


Happy carving!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Autumn Nature Walks in the Desert

I have an older brother, two actually, but one who gets his kicks poking fun at our dirt lot of a backyard while he is surrounded by acres and acres of lush greenery in Pennsylvania.  It's all in good fun, of course, but I got to thinking that I talk quite a bit about living in the desert and people may not actually know that we do, in fact, have more than just cacti around here.

With the arrival of cooler mornings, we've been taking an early nature walk each day to a grassy area near my home.  It's a short and very easy walk, but the affect it has on the children is almost miraculous.  We have outdoor play time each day, in the aforementioned dirt lot of a back yard, but nothing can compare to soaking in some real nature time.  I can't say it's as wonderful as lush greenery, but my community at least attempts to beautify the area with native trees and plants.  As you'll see in my photos, the grass isn't so green, but, hey, it IS the desert, grass isn't really meant to grow here anyway.

We lucked out this morning with a visit from a very unusual fellow.  How cool is this guy?  Amazingly enough, the second parent to arrive mentioned he was there and he was kind enough to stick around for photos and observations.

During our walk, we observed some plants talking about colors, shapes and sizes.

 This one reminded us of fireworks!

Once we arrived at the grassy area, we spotted a few dragonflies and the children were off and chasing!
 Next time I'll bring the telescopic lens and get a real shot of the dragonflies.

 Once we're all tired out, we head home with friends.

 Have you added nature walks to your day yet?  Give it a try!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Easy as Apple Pie

For at least half of our day, until about noon, we've been enjoying some fall-ish weather here in Arizona.  Each year, as fall approaches, I wait eagerly for apple time to come.  No, we don't have apple trees, but we can bring tons of fun apple activities into our classroom.

Among my favorite activities is baking apple pie with the kiddos, it's ridiculously easy and the children get a wonderful sensory experience.  We start apple pie day by reading one of my all-time favorite apple books, The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. 

The best thing about this book is that at the end, there is a recipe for apple pie!  I've used this recipe for all of my apple pies for years and it hasn't failed me once, it's a keeper and easy enough to do with children in a limited amount of time.

After our story, we get to work.  First, we all get a turn with the handy-dandy apple peeler/corer/slicer I picked up at a garage sale for $10.  Ok, so it looks like something out of the middle ages, but the kids LOVE it!

Once we have all those little apple rings, we have to cut them into small pieces, so we use our vegetable choppers and then pop it all into a bowl.

Add some sugar and cinnamon, give it a stir and into the pie crust it goes!  If you want to take a short cut, you can always use a refrigerated pie crust, which works just as well.

After about 45-50 minutes of your home or classroom smelling unbelievably delicious, you finally get to taste your work!

The kids always approve!!

In addition to our pie, another big part of our week is uncovering the 'secret' inside of the apple.  We recite this apple poem at circle time to build the mystery:

Apple Secrets
by Betty Jones

Who would think an apple
Red, gold, or green and round
Would have a secret deep inside
When cut it can be found!
I thought this secret only shone
In deep and darkest night
But when I cut my apple
It shines with five points bright!
And now you know the secret
Where shinning stars are found
In every crunchy apple
Red, gold, or green and round. 

If the children are listening, they can figure out what the 'secret' is, but more often than not, they just get more and more excited until we finish out our apple theme with this Apple Story.

After we've finally discovered the secret inside of the apple, we make apple stamps to take home so our families can share in all of our new apple knowledge!

Have you done any fun apple activities this fall with your kiddos??

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