Fall Crafts: Leaf Edition!

I know it’s still technically summer and all, but doesn’t it feel like fall? Kids are in school, football season has begun, and the temperatures are slowly but surely dropping. A little. Ok, so it’s still going to get up to 84 degrees today.  What can I say? I like to plan ahead, and I’m sure I’m not alone! I’ve started thinking about which fall crafts I’d like to do.

With both of my charges in school (Miss 4 is home at lunch, Mr. 7 in the afternoon), there’s not a ton of time for crafts. But I will make time!  I know my kiddos like to pick up pretty fall leaves on the way to the bus stop, so this post will answer that age old question: What do I do with the autumn leaf collection???

1)  Doodle on them! These are decorated using metallic sharpies. Aren’t they cool? I like how some leaves have the natural veins highlighted, others are decorated with pretty designs… they’re all different and beautiful!

2.  Make rubbings!  This post talks about making rubbing plates by laminating different leaves, which is brilliant.  There’s nothing as sad as a beautiful leaf getting torn to pieces while you try to do a rubbing.  Who’s with me? If you don’t have a laminator, you can either use contact paper (which I LOVE), or bring some leaves to your local office printing type store and have them laminated there.

3.  Turn them into pretty wreaths! This tutorial makes it super easy by using a paper plate with the middle cut out.  I’m a little concerned about using school glue for this.  Leaves are pretty dimensional, so it could be tricky to get enough glue to stick.  If you’re comfortable, you might think about using a low heat glue gun (you do the glue gun, they stick the leaves). Bonus- no drying time! If your kiddos are collecting TONS of leaves, how about letting them each make a wreath to put on their bedroom door?

That’ll get you started, but there are tons of other things you can do with lovely autumn leaves!  What are your favorite leaf crafts?

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Why I LOVE Skylanders!

Preface: Kids and videogames. It’s a controversial topic.  Growing up, my parents didn’t allow us to have a video game systems. In some ways, that was good idea, in other ways, I felt like I missed out.  My personal philosophy when it comes to any type of technology (TV, computer, video games) is simple- limit, monitor, discuss.  The 7yo I work with is allowed to play computer or ipad for 30 minutes after school (unless there’s a behavioral problem that causes him to lose this time). I don’t watch his every move, but I keep track of the things he plays and I like to ask him questions and keep myself involved in what he’s doing and enjoying.  This allows me to make sure that he’s playing appropriate things and not accidentally stumbling into an inappropriate website.

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So Skylanders!  Mr. 7 is currently in love with these things.  He had to teach me about them.  His family doesn’t have a video game system, but he plays the game with his grandparents or at a friend’s house.

FYI, in case you don’t know about this game: Skylanders are fictional, fantasy characters that can be humanoid, animal-based, alien-ish… there’s a little of everything.  The characters live in Skyland, which consists of lots of islands and things that float in the sky.  Each character has a very different personality and different abilities.  What’s really different and fun is that you collect plastic toy character figurines, and these are necessary for playing the game.  When you want to use a character, you place it on the “portal of power” and that character appears in the game. There are several different games, and many, many characters to choose from.  The game is rated 8+, but you should screen it for yourself and decide whether or not the game is appropriate for your child.  There’s plenty of cartoon-y violence, as you smash bad guys left and right, but it’s not gratuitous, scary, bloody.  It’s obviously playful and happening in a fantasy setting.  Like Mario smashing the goombas.

Here’s what I like about the game:  it’s more than just smashing and bashing.  There’s a lot of problem solving, and the side quests include some interesting little puzzles and a strategy game called “skystones”.  The world is colorful and fun, and the game encourages you to decide for yourself which character will work the best in each different situation.

But it’s more than that.  The toys themselves are fun to play with, even when you’re not using them in the game.  They’re well constructed, and Mr. 7 loves to have “Skylander parties” with friends, where they all get their characters together to have a “party” with each other.”  There’s cards for each characters, which list all their statistics, encouraging kids to compare and contrast.  And there’s even Skylander chapter books!  There’s tons of ways that kids can play in the Skylanders world even when their time in the game is limited.

I came up with a fun discussion topic for Mr. 7 and I, after learning more about Skylanders.  I asked him, if your cat was a Skylander, what would her name be? Her abilities? Her catch phrase? You can do this with friends, family members and favorite stuff animals, too.  His cat, btw, would be named Miss Bitty Kitty.  She’d have a poisonous bite, laser beams that come out of her tail when she wags it, and a purr that causes an earthquake.  We’re still working on her catchphrase, but “My meow is WOW” is in the running. We’ve made a picture of her character, too. 🙂  It’s been quite a project, and so much fun!

And yes, I do play the game at home now.  Mr. 7 is quite impressed by my progress. 🙂

 

Fun in the Basement!

Now that I have several hours sans kids every morning, I’ve been picking up more and more projects around the house- mostly organizational type things.  I’ve been working on re-organizing the playroom and the finished basement, which serves as a large playroom/ hang out spot. The basement had lots of paper snowflakes up on the walls, from 4yo’s “Frozen” birthday party.  Which was in May.  And it’s September.  The snowflakes, which I cut out individually and were super fun to make, were getting beat up.  It’s definitely time for a change.  So I looked around the basement, and it hit me.  The ceiling is lower in some areas, higher in others, creating large overhang areas.  They need bunting!  You know, those banners made of different triangle penants?  Super fun!  

I found this easy tutorial for making bunting out of scrap book paper. I found a pack of 48 coordinating sheets with a cheerful “citrus” theme on sale for around $12 at Joann’s. I plan to laminate the triangles after I cut them out and paste the backs and fronts together, which can be done at Staples or most other stores with printing shops.  Then I’ll use a hole punch in each of the two corners.  Instead of stringing them all together on one big line, I think I’ll attach each triangle to the next side-by-side with a ribbon through one hole of one, one hole of the other, and tie them together with a cute little bow.  That way, they can’t start sliding down one side of the string or anything.  

I’m looking forward to seeing it all put together!  It’s going to be a fun little project, and I think it’ll really make the basement space look happy and bright!  And with winter coming up in a few months, we’ll need a sunny place to play!

Library Adventures

I planned to go to the library this morning to get books for Mr. 7 and Miss 4, so on my way to taking them to school, I asked them what kind of books they’d like.

Mr. 7 was easy. He said to just pick out whatever I think he’d like, because he always like what I choose.

Miss 7 was pretty simple as well: “Do you think they’ll have Dora? And Lego Friends? And oh! Look for Wallykazam books too!” I told her I’d check for all of those things. Anything else? She thought and thought about it, then said “I’d like a book about plants. And nature. With lots of pictures. And make sure it’s really big, not a little book!” I told her that I loved that request and would definitely be able to find a really big nature and plant picture book.

So I went to the library and looked around for a while, and found the perfect thing…  Chihuly Garden Installations, a 400 page book filled with large photographs of Chihuly glass work in garden settings, including a section featuring Franklin Park Conservatory, where we like to go!  And this book is HEAVY.  And BEAUTIFUL. And she LOVES it.  She took it to bed with her for her nap this afternoon.  I feel like Super Nanny.  🙂

chihuly

Fall Holiday Crafts- Jewish Edition!

It’s September already??? When did that happen?  Fall is just around the corner, which means that I need to start thinking about crafts!  The gears are going!  Perhaps I can provide you with some inspiration as well?

I currently work with a Jewish family, and there are a lot of Jewish holidays in the Fall season.  Rosh Hashanah is coming up first. It’s the Jewish New Year!  Dipping apples in honey is a major tradition for this holiday. It symbolizes the hope for a sweet new year to come!  So here are some great crafts for that, which can be used as general Fall crafts as well:

Apple Print Placemats

Thumb Print Bees

And perhaps a gift for your kiddos for Rosh Hashanah, or a present for their favorite teacher?

Apple Treat Cups 

My favorite Jewish holiday is Sukkot, which also happens in the fall. It’s a celebration of the harvest and nature, in which all meals are traditionally served outside in a decorated “sukkot”- an open hut of sorts. The possibilities are endless, since you can make all sorts of decorations with nature and fall themes. You can even have the kids make their own toy sukkot to decorate!

Autumn Leaf Lantern

Sukkot for Dolls

Lego Sukkot

Leaf Prints

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these, even if you’re not Jewish!  Fall is a really fun time to get outdoors and do some nature-themed crafts and activities. Soon it’ll be time for me to start thinking about Hannukah gifts the kids can make to give to friends and family…