Negative Leaf Impressions

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It’s been unseasonably warm around here — check out the flip flops and dress! And the Easter Basket there…well, would you believe it’s for collecting Fall leaves?

We don’t have a lot of Fall color yet, but enough leaf beauties have hit the pavement that we ventured out for some Leaf Pickin’.

N picked up all of her favorites. She was only limited by the amount of space she had in the basket. My plan was to take them home and make some negative space impressions of the leaves with a spray bottle.

When we got home we laid them all out on huge sheets of paper. And then had a snack. Snacks are important. If we hadn’t been so impatient, pressing the leaves for a day would have made our leaf impressions clearer, but I was working with three-year olds, and, well, they like to do things when they think of them. Patience only goes so far.

I filled a spray bottle with a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 orange liquid watercolors. And oh-my-goodness if this wasn’t the most fun part of the entire project. It could have been the project all by itself. And we could have done it outside. That would have been smart. But fortunately our table was covered with paper and plastic, and the kids sprayed to their heart’s content.

Despite the curling leaves, you can see that the impressions are still pretty clear. It worked best when the kids stood up on a chair and sprayed straight down. Once dry, we hung one above our play kitchen.

And once this was done, we went back outside for bike riding, popsicle eating, and watermelon seed spitting. Really. It’s been that warm.

How are you enjoying these first days of Fall?

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No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating

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We had a play date with some good friends last week, and N came home with two cute little pumpkins — one decorated for her little sister with glitter glue and the other decorated with glitter glue and foam Halloween stickers. She was glued to the art table (really, no pun intended) and wanted to make more of these at home.

no carve pumpkins for kids

The next morning we found ourselves at the market where she spotted, and wanted to buy, some absurd anthropomorphic pumpkins with purple and green feathers for hair. I wish I took a picture. To move us along I mentioned that we had feathers at home and could make these ourselves. She liked the idea so we bought a few sugar pumpkins on the spot and set it all up that morning.

The first thing to go on the table: a bowl of feathers. White glue worked really well for this step.

After gluing the feathers in place, she had trouble securing the buttons she selected to the pumpkin with white glue (gravity!). I didn’t feel like hauling out the glue gun and suggested we could draw on the pumpkin with permanent markers or paint on it with acrylics. Neither solution appealed to her, so she worked on getting two buttons to stick to the side before calling it a day. Maybe I should have bought a bag of foam stickers!

But I do love how this turned out…simple and sweet.

Are you making no-carve pumpkins this year? What bits and bobs would you add to your pumpkins?

Oh, how I love Pinterest: more no-carve ideas from around the web…

 

Five lovely no-carve ideas, including these made with ribbons, from Good Housekeeping

Beautiful no-carve pumpkin projects from Real Simple Magazine

Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head Pumpkins

 

 

Halloween Tree

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Are you getting into the Halloween Spirit? At the first site of Halloween costumes (um, I think it may have been in August), my older daughter was overwhelmed with excitement to pull our decorations out of storage. I made her wait until September, which also seemed ridiculously early but at least it wasn’t August! We’ve already tackled at least five Halloween-related projects, so I have plenty to share with you in the next few weeks. If you’re looking for process-based Halloween projects, definitely check back soon!

One of the things I dug out is a glittery, black Halloween tree. We had orange, black, and green paper on the table from a collage project, and N decided it would be fun to make ornaments for the tree. Ha! I never would have thought of this, and adore how inventive children can be. Two of my favorite things about this project: it’s low-cost (assuming you already have the tree) and it’s a great way for little ones to work on cutting, stapling, and decision-making.

Materials

N had a plan to cut shapes out of the paper, staple small pieces on top of them, and color some of them with markers. I loved it! When her ornaments were ready, she told me where to poke the holes and then I strung them with partially opened paper clips. Do you know this trick? Someone recently told me how you can use paperclips as ornament hangers in a pinch, and I had no idea that this random bit of knowledge would come in handy so soon!

And there it is, our Halloween Tree. What do you think?

Spooky Marble Spider Webs

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We spent Saturday afternoon carving pumpkins at a local art studio and almost missed the craft table on our way out the door. And it would have been a BIG miss, because it was such a captivating activity that my daughter wanted to recreate it at home immediately and has asked for marbles and paint multiple times over the past two days. I noticed big kids messing around with this too, so if you have older kids this may be worth a try. We did a similar project back in July, but this here marble painting project was a much bigger hit.

At the art studio. Materials include: white tempera paint, a few marbles, a pie tin, and a piece of black construction paper cut to fit the tin.

This time with thick paint.

It’s a “spider web!” Kind of a stretch to call it a spider web, but if you’re in the Halloween spirit, why not?

After a shopping trip for pie tins and marbles, we got home and set up shop.

And rolled our little hearts out. Each piece took mere seconds to create, and I found myself cutting paper like mad.

Once the novelty wears off, interest usually fades, but not just yet for this gem of an activity. To keep the interest high, we traded black paper for white and messed around with purple paint.

One of these days we’ll get some friends together and make a super-sized marble painting like this!

Have you been painting with marbles too? What do your kids think of this activity?

Happy Halloween!

Sticky Autumn Collage

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California has been hit by a heat wave, so staying inside our hot cave of a house is barely an option. Yesterday was full of swimming, a sprinkler run, a trip to the neighbor’s lemonade stand, and hitting a pinata at another neighbor’s house. So cute! Despite the heat, there’s a lot of fall madness in the air — you can’t miss the mountain of gourds and pumpkins piled up at the markets, leaves are turning colors, and my favorite…spiced pumpkin lattes in the coffee shops. Mmmmm…

So, somewhere between the pumpkins and the lemonade stand, we landed on this fall project that involves spending time outside.

We began by pulling out some clear contact paper. I encouraged my daughter to feel its tackiness, and then we discussed the process of collecting leaves and sticking them to the paper. We found an Easter basket and then took a walk around the neighborhood in search of leaves and other flat-ish treasures. This, by the way, is how we landed on the lemonade stand. It pays to get out of the house!

After collecting (and naming!) the leaves, N stuck them on half a sheet of contact paper.

Hey goofball, where did that come from?

She filled in most of the spaces…good for understanding spatial relationships!

And then we smooshed the other half of the contact paper on top of the leaves. This was followed by two more walks around the neighborhood and two more collages. In our books, this activity was a hit.

When we finally came inside, contact collaging continued with magazine cut-outs, post-its, and googley eyes.

Resources

Identification guide for  kids: New England leaves

Nature Detective Leaf Identification Sheet: UK

Leaf Identification Activities

Why do leaves change color?