Easy DIY Halloween Garland

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Elmer’s Glue sent us a big pack Early Learner’s materials, and I invited my five-year old to help me come up with a project that other children might enjoy making. My kids created all sorts of things with the pom-poms, buttons, popsicle sticks, fuzzy pipe cleaners, and paper that came with the kit, and then we finally settled on this simple garland that’s sure to brighten any home for Halloween.

It’s easy to prep, doesn’t require any hard-to-find materials, and your child will be encouraged to think creatively as she invents jack-o-lantern faces.

Let’s get started…



  • Construction Paper: Orange, Black, Green
  • Crayons: Black and White
  • Glue. Elmer’s sent us their new Early Learner Glue Stick and Glue Pen to try out.
  • Scissors
  • Long piece of string

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab


  1. Pre-cut circles from the black and orange paper. Approximately 4″ across.
  2. Pre-cut stems (rectangles) from the green paper. Approximately 3″ long and 3/4″ wide
  3. Recycle your paper scraps

Easy DIY Halloween Garland drawing


Invite your child to decorate the circular shapes with Jack o’ Lantern faces. Be sure to color both sides if you plan to hang your garland in the middle of the room.

My daughter asked me to join her, and gave me very specific instructions about how the faces should look. I’m a good student and listened carefully.

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

When the faces are done, fold your stems in half and glue them to the piece of string.

DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Be sure to leave about a foot on either end so that you can tie it off to a hook or nail. We decided to tape ours to the rafters because we’re glamorous like that.

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Creative Invitations

Creative Invitations like this are a great way to encourage independent thinking and problem solving. The idea is to set up a provocation with some basic materials, and then step back and see what your child comes up with. Our friends at The Art Pantry are hosting an Invitations to Create Challenge this month, and you can find out more about it here.

Halloween Inspiration

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 5.18.49 PM

For more Halloween inspiration, follow our Halloween board on Pinterest. You might also like to see one of our most popular Halloween posts: 50 Simple Halloween Activities for Kids. You can also follow Elmer’s on Pinterest for lots of gluey inspiration.

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Disclosure: Elmer’s sent us materials to create this project, but all opinions expressed in this post are our own.


Fingerprint Spiders for Halloween

Did you know that black widows are known for cannibalizing their mates?* Eek. Bet you didn’t plan to come to Tinkerlab today to get info like that.

Fingerprint Spiders for Halloween | Tinkerlab

Spider season has arrived, at least in the Halloween sense of the word, and while it may feel to early for some of us, kids can be wildly in tune with the changing of the seasons. And if it still feels too premature, you can pin this today and keep it up your sleeve for a spooky day down the road.

For us, Halloween catalogues have been arriving for a few weeks now, and decorations are popping up in all the local stores. So when my older daughter started drawing jack-o-lanterns I knew that this project would be a hit.

First let’s talk about supplies…

What You’ll Need

Fingerprint Spiders Supplies

Simple, right?

Step One

Make some fingerprints on your paper.

Have a damp rag handy in case your child is sensitive to having ink on his or her fingers. My kids are okay with this, and understood that that the ink won’t wash off completely until bath time. 

Fingerprint Spiders Halloween

Step Two

Draw on spider legs and faces. However you like. Add goggly eyes if you have any handy.

Fingerprint Spiders Making Prints

This is a great opportunity to talk about how many legs a spider has (8), and introduce other fun spider facts (unlike the one I shared at the beginning of this post). Try these:

Spider Facts

  • Spiders are not insects, but arachnids
  • Spiders have 8 legs. Insects have 6 legs.
  • Cobwebs are simply abandoned spider webs.
  • Spiders do not have antennae.
  • In the 1970’s spiders were sent into space to see if they could build a web with zero gravity. The conclusion? While scientists eventually concluded that the quality of the space webs were slightly different from gravity-based webs, webs were made in space!
  • The biggest spider in the world is the Goliath bird eater, a type of tarantula.

Be creative and open-minded.

Despite our conversation about how spiders have eight legs, my independent-minded five-year old gave all of hers eight legs…on both side of their bodies. She said that they look better that way. What do you think?

Fingerprint Spiders Drawing Legs

Step Three

Now that all the materials are out, experiment a little more and be open to new ideas.

We brought out a few more pens to test out the different thicknesses and textures. Then we poured some watercolors into a small bowl and made painted spiders.

Fingerprint Spiders Creative Table

From there, the painting and drawing experiments expanded to include abstract patterns and fully covered pieces of paper.

Fingerprint Spiders and Painting Experiments

See you next time for more tinkering fun!

*For more weird spider facts, Michael Miller, animal keeper at the Smithsonian, compiled a list of 8 strange but true spider facts that will fascinate you.

More Fingerprint Spiders

One of my readers and friend, Vlada, sent me these fingerprint spiders made by her daughters. I LOVE the addition of red for the legs. And the goggly eyes! What a fun touch.

Fingerprint Spiders | TinkerLab.com

More Halloween Ideas

If you enjoyed this post, you have to check out 50 Simple Halloween Ideas for Kids.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

50 Simple Halloween Ideas for Kids

If you’re scrambling to pull off some Halloween magic, these simple Halloween ideas will help you move gracefully through this spooky season.

Simple Halloween Ideas

Halloween Ideas: Science Experiments

Let’s start off with some gooey, oozy Halloween ideas that are fun to make and play with.

Dry Ice Experiment, Tinkerlab

5 Fun Science Experiements, Science Sparks

Elephant Toothpaste, Preschool Powel Packets

Erupting Pumpkin Experiment, Growing a Jeweled Rose

20 Best Halloween Science Ideas from Kid Bloggers, Steve Spangler Science

Glowing Mad Science Jars, Growing a Jeweled Rose

How to Make Slime, Tinkerlab, and watch our video tutorial…

Halloween Ideas: Sensory Activities for Toddlers

Little kids can enjoy this goulash season too with these fun sensory Halloween ideas that are perfect for little hands.

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough, Tinkerlab

Pumpkin Scented Cloud Dough, Growing a Jeweled Rose

Halloween Sensory Bin, Here Come the Girls

Pumpkin Oobleck, Train Up A Child

13 Halloween Sensory Ideas, Creative Playhouse

Pumpkin Guts (one of my favorite simple Halloween ideas, since you know you have to cut the pumpkin up anyway), Creative Connections for Kids

Touch and Feel Scarecrows, Teach Preschool

Halloween Ideas: Arts and Crafts

Bring out the paint and paper for these festive arts and crafts Halloween ideas…

Simple Halloween Ideas

Organic Shape Monsters (this simple Halloween idea is a year-round hit in my house), Tinkerlab

Spiderweb Printmaking, Tinkerlab

Printing with Pumpkins, Putti’s World

Coffee Filter Spiderwebs, The Artful Parent

Handprint Pumpkins, Putti’s World

Halloween Tree, Tinkerlab

Tie Dye Pumpkins, Mamas Like Me

Marble and Paint Spider Webs, Tinkerlab

Spin Art Pumpkins, Rainy Day Mum

Pumpkin Scented Painting, Growing a Jeweled Rose

Halloween Countdown Paper Chain, Tinkerlab

Rolling Pumpkin Painting, Putti’s World

Simple Halloween Ideas: Games and Activities

What’s Halloween without fun and somewhat creepy games?

Simple Halloween Ideas

Halloween Felt Board Game, Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Halloween Crafts and Ideas for Toddlers, Rainy Day Mum

31 Ideas for an Active October, Toddler Approved

Dress in Costume and Write a Story, Here Come the Girls

Witch Pitch (toss candy corn into cauldron game), Chica and Jo

Halloween Word Search, No Time for Flash Cards

Simple Halloween Ideas: Food

These tasty snacks will get you in the autumn mood.

Baked Pumpkin Seeds, Tinkerlab

 21 Recipes Inspired by Scary Movies, Babble

4 (not so scary) Food and Snack Ideas, Kids Activities Blog

Pumpkin Jack-o-lantern Pancakes, The Artful Parent

Easy Frankenstein Cookie Pops, Life at the Zoo

Simple Halloween Ideas: Jack-O-Lanterns

These easy jack-o-lanterns are great for toddlers and preschoolers, as well as time-constrained adults.

No-carve Halloween Pumpkins, Tinkerlab

Decorate Monster Pumpkins, Hands on as we Grow

Last-minute Pumpkin Carving and Decorating, The Artful Parent

Toddler-friendly Jack-O-Lanterns, Modern Parent Messy Kids

Puffy Paint Jack-o-lanterns, Train Up a Child

Button and Ribbon Pumpkins, Toddler Approved

Chalkboard Pumpkins, Small & Friendly

Simple Halloween Ideas: Decorations

Bring on the simple Halloween decor ideas with these outdoor decorations that take minutes to make.

Felt Bat Garland, The Artful Parent

Little Fabric Ghosts, Tinkerlab

10 Simple Halloween Decorations, Babble

How to Make a Halloween Bunting (Quick and Cheap), The Artful Parent

Make the Spookiest Scarecrow Ever + 10 more Outdoor Decorating Ideas, Babble

Simple Halloween Ideas: Costumes

If you’re short on time, these Halloween costumes can come together in minutes.

39 Last minute Costume Ideas for Kids, Family Fun

Last minute Halloween Costumes, Babble

Last-minute Pirate Costume, Red Ted Art (I also love the last-minute skeleton costume)

50 No-sew Costumes for Halloween, No Twiddle Twaddle


Is this your first time here?

Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fall Luminary: Make a Lantern

Today I’m joined by Arts Educator extraordinaire, Amanda Gross, who’s back to show us how to make a Fall Luminary from leaves and melted crayons. Not only are these beautiful, but the processes of collecting leaves, peeling crayons, and melting the wax with an iron are sure to capture a child’s attention.

Make a Lantern!

Luminaries are perfect for brightening a crisp autumn evening, and a crafty way to explore this season when leaves turn brilliant colors, the rosy twilight falls more quickly, and families the world over traditionally give thanks for the harvest.

You might start by reading a book that poetically investigates the unique things of autumn, such as Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man or Lauren Thompson’s Mouse’s First Fall.

Would your child like to make a colorful fall luminary, choosing materials from outside and around the house?

Step 1:
Wander around outside, and notice how the leaves have turned a multitude of colors and have gotten crunchy. Choose leaves that have fallen off of trees, but are not too dry and can still lay flat.  If leaves are very curly, you may consider pressing them in a heavy book for a few days, before using them.  Bring your collection inside and onto a table.

Step 2:
Find a clean mason jar that will serve as the structure for your luminary.  Measure the mason jar’s circumference with sting, and cut a wax paper strip that is long enough to fit around it.

Step 3:
Gather crayons of your favorite colors.   Lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival are often inspired by butterflies, so any hue goes!   Unwrap the paper covering the crayons, and shave them lengthwise over the wax paper, with a serrated knife or vegetable peeler.  If your child isn’t old enough to wield the knife, s/he could choose the crayon, the location, and how much pigment they’d like you to shave off.

Step 4:
Place leaves over the crayon shavings, and feel free to add more shavings on top.  Explain that the crayon wax will melt, and those little crumbs will become puddles of color.  Experiment with composition, and with layering the leaves and shavings.

Step 5:
Set up your ironing board and turn on the iron (If you are like me, and not the most experienced with this, here’s one of many online ironing tutorials).  On your ironing board, place a flat, thin cloth (the crayon wax will probably bleed through the wax paper a bit, so use scrap fabric and not “good” cloth), then carefully place your wax paper with the leaves and shavings.  Over this, put a blank sheet of wax paper, of around the same size.  Layer on another thin cloth, and smooth out the wrinkles with your fingers.  Spritz the top layer evenly with water from a spray bottle, and now you’re ready to iron.  Flatten out the wrinkles and iron both sides of the wax paper “sandwich.”

Step 6:
After waiting a few minutes for the wax paper to cool, peel away the cloth.  Measure your mason jar again, and cut the wax paper so that it fits around the jar, then tape or tie a ribbon around it to hold the paper in place.

Step 7:
When it gets dark outside, drop a candle into your mason jar, and ignite it with a long lighter.  The brilliant, glowing colors and winding lines of the leaves will surely be a cozy centerpiece for your family to gather around, and is an excellent reminder to be grateful for the season.


Picture Books About Fall on Goodreads

PreservingLeaves and a Leaf Lantern

Nature’sStained Glass

MeltedCrayon Luminaries

Amanda E. Gross_headshotAmanda designs curricula to guide and inspire children, teens, and adults to appreciate art and to create!  She earned a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from The Rhode Island School of Design and is an instructor at Academy of Art University.  Amanda is also an illustrator, painter, DIY crafter, and permaculture enthusiast. Find out more about Amanda here: Art Curricula WebsiteArt Portfolio WebsiteLinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Fall Crafts: Glycerin Leaves

Make Glycerin Leaves

We’re ga-ga for all the multi-colored maple leaves of the season, and my older daughter, N, is likely to burst into a chorus of “red and yellow leaves” as we drive down the road. I’ve been reading up on how to preserve the leaves so that they’ll last more than a couple days and it turns out that you have a few choices, some of them being : preserve them with a glycerin solution, seal them with hot wax, press them between sheets of contact paper, or melt them between sheets of wax paper.

We had a bottle of glycerin in the cabinet for bubble-making, so I thought we’d try our hands at making glycerin leaves. I have to tell you upfront: the process was fantastic and my kids really got into it. The results, on the other hand, meh. Not so spectacular. More on that soon.


  • 1/4 c. glycerin
  • 1/2 c. water
  •  Fall leaves
  • Two pans that can stack inside each other
  • Spoon for mixing

Mix the glycerin and water in your pan. Add leaves.

If you don’t have enough solution to cover the leaves, make another batch. My 4-year old loved taking charge of this step and we ooohed and ahhhed over the leaves as they went into the glycerin bath.

Find another pan that’s a bit small than the first, and place it on top so that all the leaves stay submerged.

Put this aside for three-ish days, or until the leaves are super-supple. At this point, the leaves should have absorbed enough of the glycerin solution to retain their color and texture.

Remove the leaves from the glycerin solution and pat dry on a towel. Your leaves are now ready to display.

For those of you who might be banking on this recipe as a way to preserve your leaves for years to come, I think this is worth the experiment but it may not be foolproof. About two weeks later, our leaves have not turned brown, but they definitely haven’t retained their original color. I decorated a corner of our mantle with them, and they look pretty good, but not spectacular. I found this recipe that added surfectant (found in garden supply stores), and it sounds like that may help the glycerin soak into the leaves.

This minor detail has not affected my kids, however, who have been incorporating the leaves into their projects.

Have you ever made glycerin leaves?

Any tips or thoughts on what may have gone wrong? Or was I expecting too much?


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