Make Fall Characters with Pinecones

One Cute Pinecone Character Possibility!

One Cute Pinecone Character Possibility!

 

Materials and supplies:

Pinecones

Pieces of colored felt, foam craft sheets or colored construction paper

Pipe cleaners

Jiggle eyes or buttons

Feathers

Glue

Scissors

 

Directions:

Begin with a pinecone, then let a child get creative. (If the pinecone is pokey like many are, it might help to give a child gloves to wear while working with it. As always adjust materials to the age and ability of a child to use them safely and monitor activity.)

The pinecone can be turned in any direction. Two can be glued together as a head and body. Glue eyes, mouth and other features in place. Pipe cleaners can be bent to make legs, feet, or other things. When the characters are done, they can sit on a shelf, be attached to a fall wreath, hung with a string in the window, or placed on a table for a holiday decoration. Take photos to remember the fun!

 

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Halloween Stick Puppets–for the FUN of it!

fall,retreat,scouts 009 Devfallpuppets

Materials and Supplies:

Halloween wooden puppet blanks from a craft store or kid-designed Halloween poster-board shapes, cut and stapled to wide wooden craft sticks

Paint (acrylic paints work well)

Paint brushes

Additional decorations, glue to attach them

Purchase wooden shapes or let a child draw a shape on poster board. Cut around the poster board shape and staple it to a wide wooden craft stick to make a handle.

Instructions:

Cover a table with newspaper or a disposable plastic table cloth and let the child paint his or her wooden or poster board shape. Add additional decorations if desired. Let it dry.

Play with the puppet or puppets. It’s simple and creative fun. Kids can make up their own stories.

Always be attentive for safety of children who are playing and crafting.

 

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Celebrate Fall Fun with Apple Stamping!

ApplePotholder

Tools and Materials:

Fabric or paper or other material for your stamping surface

Acrylic paints (choose your colors)

Art gum eraser

Pencil with an eraser 

Pen or marker

paint brush or cotton swab

Craft knife (for adult use)

Flat plates for each color of paint (paper or ceramic)

Brayer or roller to smooth the paint

    (optional, the bottom bowl of a spoon can also be used)

Needle and thread (optional)

Embroidery hoop (optional)

Directions:

1) Prepare your “stamps”. Cut an apple in half. It can be in either direction. It makes a great stamp when cut vertically as shown above. When cut horizontally, you get the effect of a star in the center when you stamp. Take an art gum eraser and use a pen or marker to draw a simple leaf shape on one side of the eraser. Use a craft knife to cut around the leaf shape and allow the leaf to be raised while cutting away all of the area around it. Carve in some veins if you like. Use the craft knife to slightly carve the shape of a pencil eraser so that it looks like an apple seed. You can also use a cotton swab or paintbrush to paint the seeds.

2)  Set up paper or fabric to be stamped. Cover the table or counter top with newspaper, plastic trash bags or a disposable plastic tablecloth to protect the surface from paint.

3)  Spread one color of paint on a plate and roll it out so that the painted area is large enough to get paint on the apple half. You can spread it out with a roller, brayer or the bottom part of a spoon. Press the cut side of the apple in the paint and then press it onto the fabric, paper or other surface to be decorated.  Repeat with another color (on a different plate) for apples of a different colors or the leaf shape. Put a bit of paint on a pencil eraser, a paintbrush or a cotton swab. Dab it in place to make seeds. Create your own design with placement, colors and use of different apple pieces, leaves, etc. Allow one color to dry before printing a second color on top of it unless you want the colors to mix.

4)  You can go back with a brush and add stems, seeds, or other decorative items, details in the leaves or you can even press actual fall leaves into the paint and make leaf prints along with your apple prints. There is no limit to the imagination on this project.

5) Depending on what item you have printed, you might want to hem the edges of the fabric, bind them with seam binding, or use pinking shears to trim the fabric. If it is on paper, you can add a frame. For the example shown above, we put a layer of quilt batting under our print with a piece of plain fabric under that and held it securely in an embroidery or quilting hoop. Then we used a needle and thread and quilted around our apple shapes. Finally, we sewed binding around the edges and made a potholder.

Use:

If you use fabric, you can make placemats, pot holders, or decorate napkins a table runner or a piece of felt to hang as a fall banner. Stamping on paper can make placemats, note cards, stationery, place cards for a special dinner, or simply prints to hang on the wall, bulletin board or refrigerator door as fall decorations.

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Build Skills and Confidence One Step at a Time

Our oldest son began playing with blocks and building things when he was very young. Over the years, he spent time working with dad in the garage and learning to use tools. The second photo shows him as a high school student, building playground equipment for children. It was a progression of successes. That’s how children learn best. They master one skill, the use of one tool, the ability to create one idea from their imagination–and eventually all of those experiences come together to make them capable of doing a variety of things as a teen or adult. Watch them grow! It’s a marvelous experience!

 

Begin with something simple like building blocks.

Begin with something simple like building blocks.

Acquiring skills along the way can turn childhood fun into useful abilities.

Acquiring skills along the way can turn childhood fun into useful abilities.

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Simple Activities with Ordinary Materials Develop Creativity and Imagination

What can you do with a box?

What can you do with a box?

Have you ever watched a child open a gift and then ignore the gift to play with the box? It happens. Perhaps the reason is that some toys take the fun out of playing. There is no imagination required for many of them. When a child has a box, of any size, it can become something that only the child imagines. That is the best kind of fun! Give a child an empty box and ask, “What can you do with this?” Check in a little later to see what is developing. Imagination is often more fun than toys.

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Combine Family Fun with the Science of “Glop!”

This Sneaky Mom has had a great deal of fun with this activity over the years! We’ve done it with our own kids, neighborhood friends, Scouts, and others. Ingredients are simple. All you need is a box of cornstarch, a bowl, and some water. The sneaky part is that children are not only having fun;  they learning about science, specifically, about the science of suspensions.

Pour cornstarch into a bowl. Let the kids feel it and run their fingers through it. It even feels weird! (Cornstarch is made up of very tiny grains that don’t feel at all like flour or other powders.) If you have one cup of cornstarch, add about a half cup of water–very, very, slowly. Let a child mix the water and cornstarch with their hands. Mix it well. Do you have enough water? Test to see by putting some between your hands and rolling it together. It’s “done” if the ball melts through your fingers when the rolling stops. PLAY with it. Slap it! Squeeze it. Let it drip off your fingers so you feel all gooey. Roll it into a ball. Put the ball on a table and watch what it does.  We’ve had this “glop” entertain kids, from toddlers through older teens, for extended periods of time. I’m pretty sure all those who got to play remember doing it too! (Honestly, even the adults always had a good time with this stuff! It’s mesmerizing!)

To clean up, use warm water for hands, and wipe off the countertop or table with a rag and warm water. When glop dries on clothes, just brush it off easily. Because of the nature of this liquid-to-solid material, dispose of it in the trash so it doesn’t clog the drain.

Ah yes! The science part! Cornstarch and water work this way because the cornstarch does not dissolve in the water, instead the grains simply spread out and float in the water. If you set the bowl aside, the grains will eventually fall and collect on the bottom. What the Sneaky Mom likes about this, is that this is a suspension, not a solution. It breaks the rules of science for solutions because it really isn’t one.  Cornstarch floats in water, unlike other powders which dissolve. As a result, sometimes the material is solid and sometimes it’s liquid, It feels strange, which is something most kids love! When pressure is applied this stuff, it will hold it’s shape, when pressure is released the glop runs all over the place. Pressure is key to the way it reacts. Let older kids research a little more, after all, this is fascinating!

 

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Let Kids Made Baking Soda “Glop!”

COMBINE FAMILY FUN WITH SCIENCE!

This Sneaky Mom has had a great deal of fun with this activity over the years! We’ve done it with our own kids, neighborhood friends, Scouts, and others. Ingredients are simple. All you need is a box of cornstarch, a bowl, and some water. The sneaky part is that children are not only having fun;  they learning about science, specifically, about the science of suspensions.

Pour cornstarch into a bowl. Let the kids feel it and run their fingers through it. It even feels weird! (Cornstarch is made up of very tiny grains that don’t feel at all like flour or other powders.) If you have one cup of cornstarch, add about a half cup of water–very, very, slowly. Let a child mix the water and cornstarch with their hands. Mix it well. Do you have enough water? Test to see by putting some between your hands and rolling it together. It’s “done” if the ball melts through your fingers when the rolling stops. PLAY with it. Slap it! Squeeze it. Let it drip off your fingers so you feel all gooey. Roll it into a ball. Put the ball on a table and watch what it does.  We’ve had this “glop” entertain kids, from toddlers through older teens, for extended periods of time. I’m pretty sure all those who got to play remember doing it too! (Honestly, even the adults always had a good time with this stuff! It’s mesmerizing!)

To clean up, use warm water for hands, and wipe off the countertop or table with a rag and warm water. When glop dries on clothes, just brush it off easily. Because of the nature of this liquid-to-solid material, dispose of it in the trash so it doesn’t clog the drain.

Ah yes! The science part! Cornstarch and water work this way because the cornstarch does not dissolve in the water, instead the grains simply spread out and float in the water. If you set the bowl aside, the grains will eventually fall and collect on the bottom. What the Sneaky Mom likes about this, is that this is a suspension, not a solution. It breaks the rules of science for solutions because it really isn’t one.  Cornstarch floats in water, unlike other powders which dissolve. As a result, sometimes the material is solid and sometimes it’s liquid, It feels strange, which is something most kids love! When pressure is applied this stuff, it will hold it’s shape, when pressure is released the glop runs all over the place. Pressure is key to the way it reacts. Let older kids research a little more, after all, this is fascinating!

 

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Grandma’s Goodie Bag

Make your own version of a Goodie Bag for Grandma's House.

Make your own version of a Goodie Bag for Grandma’s House.

When our youngest son was born, there was such an age difference between children, that one set of grandparents was completely “out” of kid-safe things. So we put together a duffle bag filled with plastic drinking cups, plates, and spoons; age appropriate toys and books, and other necessary items. Over the years, the bag held everything from diapers, bibs, and building blocks to a variety of favorite snacks and things he liked. It made it easy on grandma who didn’t have to worry about giving our little one a glass container or a china plate. Our son was happy and comfortable having toys, books, and things that he loved, available at grandma’s house too.

As our little one grew, we changed the items in the bag to fit his current likes and needs. Grandma was happy and so was he. It kept us from needing to bring a lot of things back and forth when we visited and our kid felt special getting to play with things he didn’t have available all the time. It made grandma’s house an extra special place to be.

You can fill a purchased tote bag of any sort or make one of your own if you enjoy doing that sort of sewing and crafting. Either way, you can add necessities and a few surprises on occasion too.

Give a grandma in your family a bag of goodies for her grandchild or grandchildren too. (You might even sneak in something special, just for grandma, like some recent photos of her grandchild.)

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Make a Toy Repair Kit for Grandpa or Dad

Grandpa's Toy Repair Kit! Make a useful collection of "Fix-it" stuff for him.

Grandpa’s Toy Repair Kit! Make a useful collection of “Fix-it” stuff for him to use for toys and other repairs too.

If you are fortunate enough to have a grandfather who can spend time with your child or children, here is an idea we have used in our family. Grandpa was delighted and we made sure he had plenty of opportunities to use his gift. Of course, a dad can have a good time with it too and it is certainly not limited to repairing children’s toys.

Find a container like a small tool box, craft supply box or even a cardboard box. Label it: Grandpa’s Toy Repair Kit and fill it with a handy selection of small tools and repair items. Include a hammer, blade and Phillips screwdrivers, a craft knife, magnifying glass and some pliers. Add a small package of miscellaneous screws, nails, tacks, and connectors. A good tube of glue or epoxy will come in handy and be sure to give grandpa or dad a selection of different batteries to fix all those electronic toys. The grandpa in our family is frequently relied upon to fix broken toys and his handy kit also gets plenty of use repairing things around the house that aren’t toys at all. Just having these simple items all together in one place makes it a nice gift for a special grandpa. It was Grandparents Day last weekend, so you might even call it a belated gift for that special holiday.

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Want MORE Fall Fun for Families?

"Fall Fun for Families" by Kas Winters, has 80 pages of fall crafts and activities for children and families.

“Fall Fun for Families” by Kas Winters, has 80 pages of fall crafts and activities for children and families.

If you have a child or children and want to have simple fall fun together, this book will keep kids busy, help them learn, and provide easy activities that don’t require a lot of parent time. Fall fun ideas are all free or inexpensive and will make delightful memories of time spent together. Author, Kas Winters, has actually done ALL of the crafts and activities with her own children and many other kids in classes, Scouts, and other groups. We all had a pretty good time being creative and learning. For more information, go to http://www.everythingfamily.net/fallfun.htm

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