Fall 2012 Bucket List

Fall 2012 Bucket List from Tinkerlab

Have you noticed the leaves turning in your part of the world? Do you make seasonal bucket lists? By nature I’m hopelessly disorganized, but having children has helped me make some progress, mainly because my kids demand it of me.

This bucket list was inspired the Fall 2011 Bucket List by Katie at Loves of Life. Thanks Katie — your list is fantastic!

Fall Bucket List

Why I Write Bucket Lists

I never wrote bucket lists before having kids (does anyone?) and I started this ritual  to help me navigate the sea of activities that go along with having children. I also enjoy the process of planning, wishing, and dreaming with my family. It’s fun to sit down with paper and a pen, and scribble out a long list of wishes. We come up with all sorts of fun ideas and this process builds excitement for transitioning from one season to the next.

It’s only August, but I noticed that our leaves are already turning. Does anyone else think this is just crazy? My husband baked a cherry pie with 4-year old Nutmeg this afternoon, and the house started to smell like Fall. And we tackled back-to-school shopping this weekend. Get ready, because Fall is coming!

Do you know what I’m dreaming about today? Pumpkin Pie flavored coffee and baking my mom’s pumpkin bread. Mmmm.

 

Links to Fun Fall Activities

Make popcorn straight from the cob in the Corncob Popcorn Experiment

Negative Leaf Impressions are a fun way to document the shapes of leaves, with leaves and a spray bottle full of colored water

Make a Sticky Autumn Collage with leaves and contact paper

Check out my growing FALL Pinterest Board for more inspiration

What’s on your Fall Bucket List?

What do you look forward to this season? Feel free to print this and share widely because it’s never too early to plan ahead.

 

Acrylic Painted Pumpkins

painting pumpkins with kids

I’ll keep this short since I’m gearing up for the holiday and I know most of you are busy yourselves, making travel plans (perhaps with small kids…no small feat!), shopping for basters (don’t wait too long — they will run out!), and making Thanksgiving crafts. Speaking of which, I just spotted these nifty pumpkin place cards, and have visions that a simpler cardboard version would be manageable for my 3 year old.

I had another vision, recently realized, of painting our Halloween pumpkins white and calling it a centerpiece. Our house feels mighty cluttered at the moment, and I know it’ll feel even more so once all our relatives come into town, so adding some soothing white seemed to be just the thing we needed. N thought the we should paint them all green, so we struck a compromise that she could paint as many as she wanted with green paint if we could first paint mine white. Don’t you love compromises?!

Once that was squared away, I covered the table with large sheets of paper, squeezed some off-white acrylic paint onto a paper plate, covered my 3-year old with an mama-sized t-shirt, and let her go to town. She’s not keen on getting acrylic on her hands, so I showed her how to twist the pumpkin by its stem, and then paint that part last.

Three pumpkins later, and this is what we’ve got! I’m still working on the whole table set-up, and may move these to a side table, but I think it’s a pretty good start.

Thank you!

I apologize up front if I’m not quick to reply to your comments or emails this week. I’ll be taking a little blog break until Monday so that I can enjoy some quality time with the family.

Thanks to each of you for your ongoing commitment to this site. If you’ve ever left a comment, thank you! Our conversations keep me going and fuel me with more ideas. And if you’ve never left a comment, I appreciate you too! I read so many blogs and myself, usually on the go, and rarely get a chance to say the “hello” that I’d love to say if I could just sit down and find a moment to type. By showing up here at TinkerLab, I’ve become closer to friends I already had, I’ve made some wonderful new friends, and continue to thank the universe for the opportunity to have and build a community of like-minded individuals who make my heart flutter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Halloween Tradition: Little Fabric Ghosts

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This little fabric ghost tradition began last year, and N has been begging me to revive it for weeks. We haven’t had any white fabric in the house, I didn’t have the energy to make a fabric run, and then low-and-behold I found a quarter yard of fabric in a closet sweep a few days ago! Yay for “free” fabric. It’s more craft than art, but you’ll see in a minute how this can be open-ended and exploratory for curious, creative little minds.

We started with approximately 15″ squares of thin cotton fabric, a little thinner than muslin. But really, almost any thin white fabric will work. We filled the middle with about six cotton balls. Actually, it started out at “five,” but when N took over she increased the number by one or two, until the last ghost had about nine cotton balls in the head. This is good for counting, too!

I cut cotton string into lengths of 12″ – 30″ and then tied them around the “heads.” We then glued on googly eyes with white glue.

Now for the fun part! N wanted to draw a mouth on one of the ghosts so we found a Sharpie marker. Drawing the mouth turned into drawing hair, ears, and decorating the entire body. So fun!

She even drew inside the ghost. There are no limits, are there? We made four ghosts altogether, and she named this one the “dad.” The others (mom, baby, and sister) were plain white…what does this mean, I wonder?

We hung them in the tree to scare our neighbors for Halloween. Monofilament might have eliminated the noose quality of the string, but you work with what you’ve got! Boo!

I love hearing from you. Please share your Halloween tradition/s!

This post is shared with Sunday Showcase. Craft Schooling Sunday

Organic Shape Monsters for Halloween

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When I saw this idea over at We Heart Art, I loved it for its open-ended qualities and simplicity. Joanna did this project with Kindergarteners, but it was adaptable to my 3-year old and could easily scale up for older children. Plus, the monster theme played out so nicely with Halloween right around the corner. Grrrrr….

And, are you ready to hear how easy this is? All you need are about 20″ of yarn, paper, and some markers or crayons. 

We talked about witches, ghosts, and jack-o’-lanterns all morning, so when I asked if N wanted to make a monster she was game. In general, she hasn’t drawn too many realistic drawings, so I was curious to see where this experiment would go. We each started out with a piece of yarn. I moved the yarn around my page to make an organic shape, connected the two ends to close it, and then traced an outline around the shape. N took note and did the same. So far, the process intrigued her.

We removed the yarn and I invited her to turn it into a monster. And this is what’s so cool about this project: There’s no expectation and the outcome is totally up to the child’s imagination. The red apostrophe shape she’s working on is a little baby monster. Awwww. At first glance I thought it was the mouth, which is a good reminder on why it’s best to never make assumptions and ask the child about their work without making interpretations!

Okay, now you can see the mouth. Ferocious!

She also added some arms, eye lashes, a forehead, a belly button, and fur. It’s kind of Jabba the Hutt, no? And despite it’s obvious scariness, I love it!

Have you ever heard that people learn as they teach? (In case you’re wondering, it can be credited to the Roman philosopher, Seneca — I had to look it up, and subsequently learned about it so I could share it with you!). Well, N’s friend came over the next day, and at one point in the afternoon the two of them sat down at the art table and she independently showed him how to make a monster! You can imagine my surprise and delight — I guess she really embraced the concept and thought it was worth sharing.

More Halloween Ideas

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

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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Halloween Ideas | No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating

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We enjoy simple Halloween ideas, and this one takes the cake with the toddler and preschool crowd.

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

More Halloween Ideas

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

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Halloween Tree

trimming the halloween tree

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?

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers | TinkerLab.com
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

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