Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Drip Pumpkin Painting

If you're still looking for a quick, easy, and fun way to decorate pumpkins for tomorrow night, drip painting might be for you. I first read about drip painting pumpkins on The Imagination Tree blog. It was so simple, and their pumpkins turned out so cute that I thought it would be fun to try with Baby Bear this year. Papa Bear and I chose a white pumpkin to try this on, figuring that the colors would look a little more vibrant. Not that we had an orange pumpkin to compare the results to, but I think we were right. The smallest white pumpkin we could find was still bigger than I had planned on using, so this project took a lot of paint. Baby Bear had fun, so I think it was still worthwhile. If we do this again next year, we will use a smaller pumpkin, though.

I helped Baby Bear squeeze large amounts of paint out onto the pumpkin so that it would drip down the sides.
This is what it looked like as the paint was dripping. Pretty cool, right?

Baby Bear also sprinkled some glitter on top so that it would drip down with the paint. It worked okay, but I think using paint that has glitter already mixed in or mixing the glitter into the paint first would work better.

We almost made it to the end of our paint time when Baby Bear decided to run his fingers all over one side of the pumpkin to mix the colors. I added a little more paint to the top so the drip effect we were going for would be more obvious, but I was careful to leave a good amount of his artistic touch visible. The overall product is nice, but the process is what it's all about.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sparkly Spider Web

One of the books Baby Bear and I have read as a part of our Halloween collection is Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider. Baby Bear likes running his fingers over the web of this tactile board book, so I thought it would be fun to make our own tactile spider web as a craft to go with the book. I started by painting a spider web with glue on a piece of black construction paper. Then, I handed Baby Bear a container of silver glitter. He did an excellent job of making sure every last bit of the glue was covered in glitter! Once the web was all glittery, Baby Bear helped me pick out the pieces for the spider. Originally, I was just going to grab a black pom-pom and black chenille stems. At the last second, though, I decided to let Baby Bear pick his own pieces. He was adamant that he wanted a red spider with blue eyes. So, I cut three red chenille stems in half, bent them just a little in the middle so the legs would stick out at the right angles, and glued them to the web. I put a little glue on the bottom of a red pom-pom and let Baby Bear stick it on top of the legs. Finally, we added the glue wiggle eyes and let the picture dry. I am so glad I let him pick his own pieces because now he points to the pictures and proudly shows off his red spider. He also loves running his fingers over the sparkly web, just like he does with his book.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Toilet Paper Ghosts

The only craft I remember doing as a kid (besides carving pumpkins) is making toilet paper ghosts. My sisters and I could spend hours making dozens and dozens of these simple little ghosts, and then we'd hang them up all over the house. I thought I'd try them out with Baby Bear to see how he liked them. Turned out, he loved them! For the past few days, we've been making little toilet paper ghosts, and tonight we hung them from the trees outside for a small Halloween party we hosted. He is so proud of these little ghosts we made!

Baby Bear balled up one sheet of toilet paper (we use the soft, good stuff, not that thin papery stuff, so it only took one sheet). Then, I placed the ball in the middle of a three-sheet-long piece and folded the three sheets over the ball, thus creating the ghost head. I tied off the head with a piece of yarn. Finally, Baby Bear helped me add eyes and a mouth with a black marker.

We had to wait to hang out decorations because Baby Bear had so much fun playing with them! He would carry them by the strings around the house calling out, "Oooooo!" and, "Boo!" He thinks these ghosts and his Bert, Ernie, and Woody pumpkins are the best parts of Halloween. Forget the candy, bring on the ghosts and pumpkins!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Paper Pieces Pumpkin

For one of our fall activities, Baby Bear and I made a fall mosaic tree. He had fun and did a great job, so I thought we'd use the same technique to make a pumpkin. This activity is nothing new... in fact, I'm pretty sure my youngest sister did this when she was in school. It's an oldy, but a goody.

I started by printing out a pumpkin coloring page I found online. Then, Baby Bear helped me tear up pieces of orange, green, and black paper. I spread some glue on the pumpkin picture, and Baby Bear added the orange pieces of paper.

Although he started out placing them one piece at a time, that didn't last long. Pretty soon, I was helping spread out the handfuls he threw on.

We added a couple of green pieces for the stem, and then Baby Bear helped pick out and place pieces for the face of a jack-o-lantern. This turned out to be good shape naming practice because he said he wanted triangle eyes, a rectangle nose, and square pieces for the mouth. This was an easy but cute craft.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Handprint Spider/Bat

Last weekend I spent some time on Pinterest searching for a spider craft to do with my son, and I came across this handprint spider from Preschool Crafts for Kids. Since Baby Bear LOVES having his hands traced and making handprints right now, this was perfect for him. I painted both of his hands black (one would have done, but he wanted both) and had him make prints that overlapped at the palm. I tried to paint only his fingers, but he kept moving his hands so that I couldn't help but paint his thumbs. That is why I titled this post Handprint Spider/Bat. It has eight legs like a spider but ears like a bat. So, if you're looking to make a handprint spider, paint four fingers but no thumb, and spread the fingers out for the legs. If you're looking to make a handprint bat, paint the whole hand, including the thumb, and put the fingers close together for the wings. Or, you can do like Baby Bear and I did and make your own halfbreed creature. :)

He loves his spider, ears and all.

Just add some wiggle eyes and a glitter glue nose and mouth, and you too can have your own spider/bat.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spider Snacks

I don't like spiders. Ever since I opened a closet door and had a large one jump off the door onto my face, I haven't been able to stand them. Baby Bear, on the other hand, loves spiders... mostly because he knows I don't like them, and he can tease me with the rubber spiders from his sensory box. The fake ones all over the place at Halloween don't really bother me, but Baby Bear thinks it's hilarious when I pretend they do. So, we've been including some spider books and crafts in our Halloween activities this week, one of which was a spider snack. It was very simple and quick to make, and Baby Bear thought it was yummy. I spread some peanut butter over some Ritz crackers, added pretzel sticks for legs, and added raisins for eyes. This snack could easily be adapted for kids with different tastes or peanut allergies. You could use cream cheese or jelly instead of peanut butter. You could also use carrot sticks or chow mein noodles for the legs.The eyes could be pieces of candy or chocolate chips as well. It really is a quick, easy, adaptable snack.

Monday, October 22, 2012

TP Roll Monsters

Empty toilet paper rolls are one of the hardest items for me to throw away because I know there are so many craft possibilities I can use them for. Halloween is an especially great holiday for making TP roll crafts. Ghosts, bats, witches, Frankenstein, mummies... TP rolls are the perfect craft item for these Halloween favorites. Since Baby Bear is just starting to learn about all these silly creatures, and because Monster's Inc. is currently one of his favorite movies, I opted for letting him create his own TP roll monsters this year. All they took were some empty TP rolls, paint, craft foam, glue, and wiggle eyes, and they turned out so cute.

Baby Bear opted for painting his monsters with his hands rather than with the paint brush.

I added some spots while Baby Bear added some wiggle eyes all over.

I helped Baby Bear make two monsters, and then he helped me finish mine. They're silly looking, but that's the point. They've got Baby Bear's artistic touch for sure, which makes me love them all the more.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Sensory Box

There are soooo many choices for items to add to a Halloween sensory box out there!!! I could have made five different sensory boxes out of all the items I thought about using. But, Baby Bear didn't need five sensory boxes, so I narrowed it all down to a water beads sensory box. I went with water beads because of their somewhat slimy feel, comparable to eyeballs (though I didn't tell Baby Bear that). I then added a few items we had around the house, some extras from our Halloween goody bags, and a couple of dollar store finds. Baby Bear has been having fun with it, so I'd say this box was a success.

Baby Bear's favorite part of this sensory box was probably getting to help make it. He helped measure the water beads, add them to the bags, and poured in all the water. I had planned on only using black and orange, but Baby Bear wanted yellow, too. It was his box, and still looked Halloweeny, so that's what we did.

The contents: a jack-o-lantern cup, a styrofoam pumpkin, plastic glow-in-the-dark skeletons, Halloween-colored jelly bracelets, rubber spiders, a pumpkin cookie cutter, plastic bat rings, wiggle eyes, glow sticks, and a McDonald's crawling hand toy.
Whatever you add for your Halloween sensory box, a cup is a must! Scooping and pouring the water beads has been Baby Bear's favorite part of playing with this sensory box so far. (It is usually his favorite part with all sensory boxes.) Sometimes he counts the beads, spiders, or bats into the cup, which provides some great basic math practice. In fact, he probably would have been happy with just the water beads and the cup... and the rubber spiders he likes to scare me with.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Candy Sorting

When you think of Halloween, what are the first three things you think of? I'll bet one of your answers was candy (with the other two likely being costumes and pumpkins). Papa Bear's favorite candy is peanut butter M&M's, and Baby Bear is following in his footsteps as this is his favorite reward for potty training. That is why Baby Bear, Papa Bear, and I decided to use a bag of fall-colored peanut butter M&Ms for a sorting game. We poured out a couple dozen M&Ms and took turns placing them into different cups of a muffin tin. Papa Bear and I gave Baby Bear more turns since this was mostly sorting practice for him, which Baby Bear didn't mind. At the end, when all the M&Ms were sorted, we each got to eat a few. It was a short, simple, yummy game that promoted a basic math skill. So, if you find yourself looking for something constructive for the kids to do with all that Halloween candy before getting to eat it, try a simple sorting game.

Baby Bear sorting some candy

After the game was over, Baby Bear wanted to use the muffin tin to balance his little figures. I didn't object... it was great for his hand-eye coordination!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Fall Fun

Here are a few more fun fall activities for you to enjoy:

We 3 bears cut up 3 apples of different colors, and we each tasted the different kinds of apples. Papa Bear and I preferred the red apples, and Baby Bear's favorite was the yellow one.
We also tried different apple drinks like hot spiced cider (Baby Bear's was warm) and cold apple cider.
Going along with our apple-themed days, we read the book Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss and tried to balance apples on our own heads when the story was over.
We also tried new pumpkin recipes like pumpkin chili...
And pumpkin crunch cake.
We also made a leaf puppet by coloring a picture of a leaf, cutting it out, and gluing on wiggle eyes and a stick.
And what would fall be without a little football?! Baby Bear enjoyed learning how to throw and catch a ball, and he thought tackling was hilarious!
Finally, the perfect transition from fall activities to Halloween activities is to make a family trip to a farm that offers a hayride, corn maze, and...

a pumpkin patch!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Examining a Squash

Until last week, my son refused to eat squash. On the day we examined a squash as one of our fall activities, he ate a big bowl full and loved it... but only on that one day. He's back to not eating it again. What was different about that day you ask? He got to be a part of the entire process of making squash. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Baby Bear, this is a squash the way it looks when it is picked from a garden, before it's cooked.

This is the inside of the squash. Do you see all the seeds?

How does the squash smell?

How does the inside of the squash feel?

Now let's place the squash in the dish so it can be cooked.

(Nearly 1 1/2 hours later) Look, Baby Bear! Our squash is cooked! Let's stir in a little butter, sugar, and cinnamon.

Mmm, yummy squash!
And that is how I got my Baby Bear to eat squash, at least for one day. I may need to get him to help me cook veggies more often!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Acoustic Autumn Painting

Have you ever heard The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi? It's beautiful. I remember playing a couple of excerpts in high school when I played in the symphonic band. When I was planning our music times for our fall unit, I knew I wanted Vivaldi's "Autumn" to be a part of that time. Also, seeing as how Baby Bear and I were going to spend a lot of time talking about the colors of the changing leaves, I figured painting with fall colors during one of our art activities made sense. I decided to combine these music and art ideas into one activity. Baby Bear painted hues of red, yellow, green, orange, and gold as one of the more famous pieces of music from the Baroque era filled the air around us. Beautiful music met beautiful hues for one simple, fall-time activity.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fall Mosaic Tree

I really don't understand the rush for parents and teachers to talk about fall and do fall activities with young if the evidence of fall's arrival is not around them. If I'm going to talk about fall with my 2-year-old, I want to make sure he can actually see what I'm referring to. That's why I waited until a couple weeks after the official first day of fall to start fall activities with my son.

The first fall activity we did was a fall mosaic tree. It was VERY simple yet fun, and it turned out pretty cute. All I did was print a picture of a tree without leaves, have Baby Bear help tear fall-colored construction paper into little pieces, and let him glue the pieces to the tree. Aside from getting a cute fall tree picture to hang on the refrigerator, this was great for Baby Bear's fine motor skills, too, as he placed the construction paper pieces (leaves) onto the tree a little at a time. We'll definitely be using this technique to do a Halloween craft this week!

This is what the tree looked like before we glued on all the leaves.

Baby Bear using his glue stick to add some leaves

The finished product. The glue stick didn't actually work so well as many of the leaves fell from the tree when I lifted the paper after Baby Bear finished (great for discussion, though!). So, we went back with some gold glitter glue and restuck the leaves later that day. I think the gold ended up making the picture look even more fall-like, though.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weather Unit Books and Songs

Here is a list of some of the books and songs Baby Bear and I used during our weather unit as well as a few more activities we did.

  • Budgie and the Blizzard by H.R.H. The Duchess of York
  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  •  It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
  • Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
  • Little Cloud by Eric Carle
  • Snowbots by Aaron Reynolds and David Barneda
  • Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra jack Keats
  • "Itsy Bitsy Spider"
  • "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (Judy Garland clip from Wizard of Oz)
  •  "Colors of the Wind" by Vanessa Williams
  • "It's Raining, It's Pouring"
  • "You Are My Sunshine" by Johnny Cash
  • "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & the Waves

Every day, we went outside with our weather wheel and made the spinner point to the type of weather we observed.

We created a rainy weather landscape using construction paper, a sunshine stamp, cottonballs, glitter glue, and silk flowers.

We also made a windsock out of construction paper. Baby Bear colored on one piece of paper, and I stapled it into a cylinder. Then, Baby Bear handed me the pieces of second piece of construction paper cut into strips, and I stapled them to the bottom of the cylinder. Finally, I hole-punched once on each side at the top and threaded some yarn through for a handle. This was Baby Bear's favorite activity, and he was positively radiant when Papa Bear lifted him to hang the windsock out on the porch.

Lastly, we played with some homemade snow (on the hottest day of the week!). Ice+blender=snow!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rainbow Volcano

While talking about rainbows during our weather unit, Baby Bear and I had a little science fun. We did the traditional baking soda and vinegar experiment but with a little twist. I poured the vinegar into four different containers and added a drop of food coloring to each container. Then, I set out the colorful vinegars, a tray of baking soda, and an eye dropper in front of Baby Bear. I showed him how to use the dropper to transfer the vinegar to the baking soda tray so we could watch it bubble up in different colors. As he poured the vinegar little by little into the tray, the colors began to mix and make new colors. This gave us a chance to talk about how colors mix to make new colors (he was already somewhat familiar to this concept thanks to his Blues Clues DVD, so it wasn't over his head). He then took this idea and used it to start mixing the vinegar colors in their containers. He thought it was cool that he could make brown by adding red and green to the yellow container.

One thing that surprised me during this activity was how Baby Bear actually used the dropper the whole time to transfer the vinegar to the tray. He's definitely a pour-and-get-it-done-all-at-once efficient guy most of the time. This activity held his attention well enough that he actually enjoyed the slower pace and following a series of steps to accomplish a task. At the very end, I did let him pour the remains of the vinegar containers into the baking soda tray so we could watch one big reaction, though. We had to end with a bang!