Looking for a simple preschool Valentine’s project that isn’t too frou-frou? We decided to make some simple traceable Valentine’s conversation hearts the other day! These can be used at home for schooling or to give away to friends as reusable Valentines. It’s easy to do, and gives your little ones lots of opportunities to practice different fine motor skills.
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First, I made a heart template, and J and I took turns tracing and cutting them out of construction paper. (Try stacking and cutting several sheets at once to expedite this process.)
It’s getting close to Turkey-Day! That means that the internet is rife with Thanksgiving and thankfulness projects for kids- and here I am to make my contribution. Last year, we decided to make a “thankfulness wreath” to help introduce the idea of gratitude to my son. Here’s how we did it.
First, I cut a ring out of a big cardboard box to the size I wanted it. Simple enough.
Next, we went outside and collected leaves of various sizes and shapes. We traced their shapes onto fall-colored construction paper, and cut out many leaves.
Next, we started thinking of what we were thankful for. It ranged from our garden to food to my midwife to our family to toys and stuffed animals. We wrote one thing we are thankful for on each leaf. I let J draw on the leaves too. This year, if we do something similar, I will have him trace the words. If you have a beginning writer/speller, this would be a good opportunity to let them practice writing their own leaves. (If you have an older child, they could write sentences, poems, or short essays to complement their thankful leaves.)
Finally, we arranged and glued the leaves one by one onto our cardboard ring.
Ta-da! So, maybe it isn’t Pinterest-worthy, but it’s proud mama-worthy. We hung it up to display to help us remember the things we are grateful for each day!
The nice part about this project is that you could make it very simple for the youngest of children (like J last year), or you could try to make it very artful for older children. Try using autumnal scrapbook paper for the leaves, or using metallic or calligraphy pens. You could try sketching or painting pictures of the things you are thankful for if you have an artistically-inclined child. The most important thing is to allow the children to come up with the things they want to put on the leaves. It will foster more appreciation in them if it’s their own idea!
How do you practice thankfulness this season (and everyday)?
(Or, what to do with your leftover pumpkins now that it’s November!)
Even though the calender has turned past the month of pumpkins, I find that the beginning of November is really when we have to deal with the leftover pumpkins sitting around the house. After all, everyone wants to keep them out for decoration all of October, so now is the time to use them up! Don’t let them go to waste. Here’s a pumpkin watercolor project & accompanying activities to keep you and your kids loving your squash.
In the middle of October, we did a still life of a pie pumpkin that we had not yet cooked up. I was rather pleased with J’s artistic interpretation on this one!
We set up the pumpkin and made observations about it first (texture, shape, color, irregularities, etc.). I had J draw it in pencil first on watercolor paper, then go over his pencil with a sharpie marker. Next, he used watercolors to paint his drawing. I was happy to see that he noticed all the different shades of coloring in the actual pumpkin and tried to represent that in his painting. Not bad for a four year old.
Then came his vine. At first I protested, thinking he was just swiping green all over his paper to be silly, but when he explained what he was painting I had to concede. Pumpkins do, after all, grow on vines. Who can fault him that?
Here’s his finished masterpiece, sitting next to its model. I think a pumpkin still life could be done by a younger child (with mom/dad helping to draw the shapes as needed before painting), and it could certainly be done by an older child too.
Usually, whenever I do any project that revolves around a food item, I also have to eat it. I can’t help it! Here is my absolute favorite pumpkin pie recipe from Mum in Bloom, made without evaporated milk! The texture is super fluffy and light, and I’ve found that I prefer it to the traditional pie recipe. (The only change I made to the recipe is that I cut the sugar in half.)
If you can wait overnight for your pumpkin nosh, try these awesome soaked pumpkin muffins from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship. I usually have bad luck with soaked grain recipes, but these came out perfectly moist and delicious. For this one, I replaced the sugar/sucanat with maple syrup and did only 3/4 cup of it instead of a full cup. I also just used whole wheat flour because that’s what I had. These were great, and the kids liked eating them too.
While waiting for your pumpkin goodies, why not enjoy some pumpkin literature together? We loved The Great Pumpkin Switch last year. Grandfather sits down with his two children, and takes them back in time to his own childhood to tell the tale of when he accidentally send his sister’s contest pumpkin rolling down a large flight of steps… until, SPLAT! He is left scrambling to right his wrong and replace his sister’s pumpkin without her noticing. Beautiful illustrations, a nostalgic narrative, and loving family ties that cross generations all make this book special.
We also enjoyed Too Many Pumpkins, a tale in which Rebecca Estelle (who absolutely abhors pumpkins) is stuck with an overabundance of them due to a fallen pumpkin’s seeds splattered in her yard. An entire day of an exaggerated amount of baking and carving turns Rebecca’s disdain to gratitude and brings a community together in friendship. Well worth the second read.
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What’s autumn without a little scarecrow fun for little people? J has been really excited to see all the small store bought scarecrows in people’s yards recently, so we decided to make our own paper scarecrow to decorate the play/school room.
My main goal with this project was to give him a little independence while still practicing the preschool skills we’ve been working on. I let him do the cutting, the drawing, and the placement of the “hair” (as you may have guessed by the photo), but I made the main scarecrow body so it would still look semi-scarecrow-ish by the time we were finished. Depending on your child’s age, you could pick and choose which aspects you felt most important to give your child the freedom to do.
1) Get everything ready. My prep work involved making the body. This was fairly simple. I used 2 pieces of blue construction paper, one left whole, and one cut in half to make two legs. Then I cut a piece of brown construction paper in half to make two shirt sleeves. Finally, I cut a circle of paper for the head.
2) Have your child draw the scarecrow’s face:
2) Have your child cut strips of “straw” and glue them onto the head (for hair), sleeves, and pants (for hands and feet) as desired.
3) Next, we made a “patchwork” letter S on our scarecrow’s overalls. I wrote the letter S in school glue and had J place paper scraps along the glue to form the letter.
(Note also that our scarecrow’s hairstyle got a little emo-style, side-swept bang drama since the last picture…)
4) I let J decorate the scarecrow’s overalls by practicing writing “S” freehand where ever he liked. You can see the one I helped him with vs. the ones I let him do himself- most of them ended up backwards, but it was good practice nonetheless. Here’s our overall front:
Overall, a fun, simple project to do that offered a lot of fine motor skills, writing practice, and independence for J. Hope you have fun making yours! What’s your favorite scarecrow project for fall?