Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love all the pumpkin decorations, pumpkin picking, pumpkin treats, and of course the pumpkin crafts. The kids and I love getting the craft supplies out and finding simple crafts to use as decorations. We had pumpkins on our minds so we made a fun balloon print pumpkin garland to hang up in the house. It was easy to make and fun for all of us as well.
Balloon Print Pumpkin Garland
Supplies/what I used:
To start we made our pumpkin craft. We took blown up balloons and dipped them in orange paint. The kids pressed the balloon down on the paper to make a “pumpkin”. The kids made several pumpkins with the balloon. We left them to dry overnight.
The next afternoon I grabbed the scissors, sharpies, yarn, and hole punch. I used the sharpies to draw a brown stem and green leaves. Now the prints started to look more like pumpkins.
The kids helped me cut out the pumpkins. We cut them to look like the pumpkin print was on an index sized card. Now for one of their favorite parts. Using the hole punch! This always gets my kids excited. They love to make holes with the hole punch. We put a hole in each corner on the “card”. We did this till we had them all finished.
Now take the orange yarn and cut a piece long enough to fit the size banner you want. We used 6 pumpkin cards to make our garland/banner. This was the perfect size to hang up on the cabinet. We threaded the yarn through the holes. Now we had a balloon print pumpkin garland to hang up. We used tape and taped each end down on top of the cabinet. The kids love telling anyone that comes over they made it.
I am always on the lookout for fun activities I can do with my kids to learn Spanish, and what is more fun this time of year than Halloween? Here are some of my favorite Spanish Halloween activities to help you and your kids have some learning fun getting ready for el día de las brujas!
Note: Most of the activities and printables included below are free. Those few that are paid are very inexpensive and well worth it!
Spanish Skeleton Song – Spanish Playground: My kids and I have already been having fun dancing to Los esqueletos thanks to this post! It is great for practicing numbers, time, action words – and of course, your best skeleton dance moves!
Of course, Halloween is not traditionally celebrated in Latin America, though it has become popular in some places in recent years. From what I’ve heard from my Costa Rican family, for example, it was something of a fad a few years ago! Just for fun, you can share with your kids how people have started celebrating Halloween in Spain! (Day of the Dead – or el día de los muertos – is not just a version of Halloween but an entirely different tradition, though it also stems in part from All Saints Day).
A trio of animals lives together in harmony, enjoying their daily meal of pumpkin soup, until one day the duck decides he doesn’t want to measure the salt, as he normally does. He wants to stir. In the ensuing battle, the friends discover the importance of valuing everyone’s contribution – and sometimes changing things up so that everyone has a good time! I should add that it was thanks to this book that Monkey tried pumpkin soup for the first time!
A witch dreams of pumpkin pie, but when her pumpkin proves too big to pick on her own, a cast of scary Halloween ghouls comes by to try their luck. Each fares no better than the witch, unless a bat has a clever plan, which requires that they all cooperate. Will their desire for pumpkin pie overcome their dread of working together? Spoiler alert: the book ends with a party!
Speaking of parties, this gentle story of Turtle and Snake preparing for a Halloween bash is perfect for beginning readers. The book follows as step by step the pair go through their to-do list (made of pictures plus simple words). Monkey loves reading along as they check items off their list, building anticipation until at last it’s party time!
This beloved book is now a favorite of ours as well. It is a tale of a generous witch who always has room on her broom for new friends. Her kindness is repaid when her companions team up to scare away a terrible dragon who threatens the witch. In the end, the witch makes a new truly magnificent broom perfect for all of her animal friends.
Halloween Activities that Encourage Working Together
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It’s October, so now we can officially go crazy for Halloween! Okay, okay, we’ve already been getting excited for the past month, I admit. But now I feel like I can really go to town!
One of our favorite Halloween picture books is one we discovered a couple years ago, The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis. This is a marvelously fun book to read. The text bounces along, just as the runaway pumpkin does as it thumps and bumps its way down the hill of the Baxter farm. As the enormous pumpkin crashes through the barn and splatters through the pig sty, the family members try to catch it, as they dream of pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup. Yet it is the father who comes up with a clever plan to stop the pumpkin’s rolling and move it into the kitchen so Granny can begin cooking.
The boys and I adore this book, and it’s hard to read without bouncing in your seat, at least a little. So I thought it only appropriate that we should do a pumpkin rolling experiment to explore the book further.
I wasn’t brave enough to let the boys have at it with a full sized pumpkin, so we used several mini pumpkins instead. Our quest was to find the “best” way to roll pumpkins using our couch cushions. Where did the pumpkins roll the straightest? The furthest? The fastest?
(This would be even more fun to do outside; unfortunately we were stuck indoors because of bad weather and colds).
The Monkeys tried rolling their pumpkins over the arm rests (not very successful) and along the surface of the cushions (better) before we pulled the cushions out at tried them at different angles. Needless to say, they enjoyed racing their pumpkins down the cushions and around the living room!
What We Learned:
Pumpkins roll straighter on a smooth surface.
Pumpkins roll more quickly the steeper the angle.
Pumpkins can roll far even if they aren’t going very quickly – as long as a little brother doesn’t stop them first.
Rolling pumpkins – and climbing on the couch – is fun!
This post is part of an AWESOME Halloween Read and Play Blog Hop. Make sure to check out the other book based activities from fantastic bloggers!
Yes, I am the mom in the neighborhood that passes out organic lollipops and toys instead of candy. Yes, I used to tell my son that the candy he got trick-or-treating was “yucky.” (He’s old enough not to believe me anymore!)
It’s not that I’m against sweets. Far from it! I’m just against all the artificial, chemical nastiness in most candy. So when we have sweet treats, I just try to make them natural, simple ingredients.
I have had a lot of success using natural dyes in baking, so this year for Halloween I decided to make some healthy (but still yummy!) cupcakes for Monkey and his friend. (You can find more Halloween ideas on my Fall Fun for Kids Pinterest board!)
I wanted to use this recipe for another reason – it uses grated, not cooked, sweet potatoes. I added some raisins and told Monkey and his friend the cupcakes had bugs and worms in them! I thought their eyes were about to pop out! I finally told them the truth because I wasn’t sure they would eat them otherwise 😉 A good carrot cake recipe would also serve the same purpose.
To make them into cupcakes, I created a variation of the cream cheese frosting I did for our fruit pizzas last spring. I made half a batch of frosting as usual to make the “ghost” cupcakes. (I did substitute agave for the honey, so Baby could try some, too).
The other half batch was my experiment. I really wanted to make orange frosting for “jack-o-lantern” cupcakes, and I read in several places that carrot juice could be used for this. I was concerned, though, that the juice would make the frosting too runny, so I experimented with using what’s left over after you juice a carrot. The color from this alone wasn’t bright enough, but it let me use less carrot juice and added an extra nutritional boost!
I was so happy with how the frosting turned out that I added a little dollop in the middle of each cupcake before baking – mmm!
Here’s how you can make these healthy Halloween cupcakes yourself:
Make Your Own Natural Orange Food Dye
I will continue to tinker with this formula, but I was pleased with how it turned out on my first go:
Juice enough carrots to make about 1/2 cup of juice (you won’t need this much, but while you’re at it you might as well make a little extra!)
Mix 3 T of the carrot juice with 1 – 1/2 t of flax seed meal. Set aside. (The flax seed meal will help the juice to thicken).
Take about 1/2 c of the carrot pulp and spread it in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees for about 30-40 minutes, until dry but not toasted.
Let cool then grind it. (I used my baby food grinder, though a spice grinder should also work). It won’t quite be a powder but it should be in very small, fine pieces.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
(for one dozen cupcakes)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
3 T carrot powder (see instructions above)
3T carrot juice
1 T coconut oil
3 T agave nectar or to taste
1 – 1/2 t flax seed meal
Note: If you want to avoid artificial dyes but don’t mind using sugar, skip the flax seed meal and agave and use powdered sugar instead. This traditional ingredient in frosting also works as a thickener.
Mix flax seed meal and carrot juice and set aside. Mix cream cheese, carrot powder, and coconut oil in a medium bowl on medium speed until well blended and fluffy. Add carrot juice mixture slowly, mixing well. Add agave to taste.
White Cream Cheese Frosting
(for one dozen cupcakes, thinly spread)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 T coconut oil
3 T agave nectar or to taste
Mix cream cheese and coconut oil in a medium bowl on medium speed until well blended and fluffy. Add agave to taste.
The white frosting I used for the ghosts, of course, and the orange for the jack-o-lanterns. I decorated some of the orange cupcakes with dots of white frosting, and other cupcakes with raisins and dried cranberries. The kids loved the “spooky” faces.
These Halloween cupcakes were a big hit at our house, so we will definitely be making them again!
Last fall Monkey was fascinated with scarecrows. This year? He loves skeletons! I guess my little boy is growing up! 😉
Luckily he’s not into the spooky stuff yet (not sure I’m ready for that!). He likes skeletons mainly because he thinks x-rays are so cool. The fact that they are also associated with Halloween just adds to the fun!
Teach your kids Spanish with this fun skeleton song from Spanish Playground! She also recommends the book Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marisa Montes. “It has Spanish Halloween words woven into the text and is just scary enough that certain kids love it. It is not strictly about skeletons, but there are plenty in the book.”
Halloween is almost here! Just because Baby Monkey hasn’t been born yet, why should he miss out on all the fun? After all, as much as he hops around in my belly, it is clear that he is ready to jump right into family life!
At a recent fall party with my local moms’ group, I wore my favorite orange T-shirt and joked that the baby was going to dress up as a pumpkin for Halloween. The more I joked, the more I thought, why not?
I tried in vain to find another orange T-shirt to use, since I love this one so much, but strangely, maternity shops (online or brick-and-mortar) don’t seem to have a lot in the way of Halloween gear. So in the end, I decided to sacrifice my favorite tee for the cause, since after all, even here in California it won’t be warm enough to wear it much longer!
Here’s how we did it:
To get started, we drew the basic outline on the shirt while I wore it, so that way the pumpkin would fit squarely (roundly?) on top of the belly.
Then I laid the shirt flat and went over the pencil drawing with a black fabric marker. Be sure to use a piece of cardboard in between the layers of the shirt, so the ink doesn’t bleed through. For an extra touch, I added the green stem and leaf on top.
I let it dry completely then turned it inside out and followed the instructions on the package of fabric markers to set the color. (This may vary by brand; for mine I had to iron it for four minutes).
That’s it! Simple but so fun!
Be sure to follow the instructions on the package about how to wash and dry the shirt once you finish. I was pleased that mine still looked great after the laundry.
Lately it seems wherever my little Monkey and I go there are Halloween decorations: pumpkins, witches, and ghosts galore greet us at every turn, making our walk through our neighborhood even more fun than usual.
But even though my son loves all of the decorations, his favorites by far are the scarecrows. Whenever we pass a house with a scarecrow decoration, he insists that we stop and look at them for … well, he would stay all afternoon if he could, commenting on the hats and clothes, what color eyes they have, and so on.
So I called on my blogger friends for some scarecrow craft and activity ideas I could do with my little Monkey, and I was so excited to see their incredible responses! I’m sure you and your little ones will enjoy these as much as I know we will! Happy fall, everyone!
Playing with Words 365 created some great language activities, including tips for how to read the book with your child and crafts like making a paper scarecrow (shown above).
Toddler Approved shows us how to make this fun book-themed puzzle that helps kids focus on the action words in the story. She also includes other suggestions for reading this book with your little ones. And be sure to read the comment section of this post as well, as there are even more ideas there.
In a guest post at B-Inspired Mama, the Educators’ Spin On It shares some wonderful crafts and games to accompany this book, all appropriate for a playdate with mixed ages. My favorite is racing around the yard like a crow!
Make Your Own Scarecrow
What better way to celebrate scarecrows than by making one with your kids to put in the yard? Here are two posts to help guide you:
And in a guest post on Hands on As We Grow, Sugarsnips shows us how to recycle old pajamas and nylons into cute kid-sized scarecrows.
And of course, ’tis the season for Halloween costumes, so why not dress your toddler (or yourself!) up as a scarecrow?
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to dress their little one up in this DIY Toddler Costume from Moms Crafty Space?
And I just couldn’t resist including this photo of the fabulous blogger from Growing a Jeweled Rose, dressed up as part of her family’s Wizard of Oz Halloween costumes from last year. After all, why let the kids have all the fun?
Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who graciously shared their posts here. I am sure you will enjoy their scarecrow craft and activity ideas as much as I have!
Due to the approaching arrival of Baby Monkey at the beginning of the year, this Halloween I took the easy way out and got a store-bought costume for my little Monkey. Last year, however, I was a tad more ambitious and decided to make his costume, though I made sure it was something easy that wouldn’t require any sewing!
My little Monkey has a sweet little round face, and last year, when he still had more of his baby fat, it was even rounder. So I thought it would be perfect to dress him up as that other round-faced favorite of mine, Charlie Brown!
I especially loved that Charlie Brown’s well-known outfit was so simple to recreate. Here’s all you will need:
Yellow cotton shirt (long-sleeved is best, depending on the weather)
Black fabric marker
Dark shoes (black is best, but if you are like me and don’t want to buy a new pair of shoes just for Halloween, a very dark blue is fine)
If the shirt is new, make sure to wash and thoroughly dry it first.
Use your ruler to sketch out a basic zig-zag design on the shirt. The zig-zag should be on the lower half of the shirt. The exact size and width is up to you, although I opted for one that was neither very narrow nor very wide.
Trace the zig-zag in marker, then fill it in. Be sure to really color it in darkly, since – depending on the brand of marker – lighter marks may fade in the wash.
Let the shirt air dry thoroughly, then wash and dry according to the fabric marker package directions. (Here are some instructions for how to use Crayola fabric markers. I must admit I don’t recall following all of these steps closely; we just went with what was on the package and it turned out just fine. The close-up photos I have included here are from after the outfit was worn and washed several times, and as you can see, I will still be able to use it for Baby Monkey in a few years!)
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This morning when my little Monkey woke up, one of his favorite books was waiting on the table, and a game was about to begin!
Although the weather is still incredibly hot here, I am determined to acknowledge the beginning of autumn, so I wanted to make some fun fall activities for my little Monkey. Since he loves the wonderful Duck & Goose series by Tad Hills, I decided to use their fall story Duck & Goose Find A Pumpkin to create some games for him.
This book is all about Duck and Goose’s search through the woods to find a pumpkin. They look in the leaf pile, the apple tree, the pond, and so on until a friend finally tells them about the pumpkin patch!
We are going to a pumpkin patch in a few days, so I thought my little Monkey would have fun recreating this search in our living room. I cut ten small pumpkins out of craft foam, using the same template I used for our Pumpkin Suncatcher, just scaled down to a smaller size.
I used various colors because, frankly, I didn’t have enough orange craft foam on hand, but let’s say it was to help him practice his color recognition ;). To add an extra educational element, I numbered the pumpkins 1-10.
Last night I hid them around our living room, making sure to have some hiding places that were rather obvious and some a little less so. Of course, you can vary the difficulty depending on the age and ability of your child. We had so much fun running around finding all of the pumpkins, and afterwards we lined them all up in a row from 1 to 10. He loves practicing his numbers, so he really enjoyed that aspect of the game as well.
I also made a matching game for the book. As Duck and Goose look in all of the various places for their pumpkin, it provides the opportunity to discuss what can be found in all of the locations they search. The pumpkin isn’t in the apple tree, but what is? Apples! And so on.