Category Archives: Autumn

Homemade Race Car Costume

Last year J was set on being a race car driver for Halloween.  Give me a quick and easy store-bought costume anyday.  So I happened on a great race car driver costume at the Disney Store (the link shows the 2011 version) and called Halloween-prep completed. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking he needed a race car to go with his outfit.  Fast-forward to October 30th about 8 pm.  My parents were visiting and my mom agreed.  He needed a race car.

That night we ended up crafting a Lightning McQueen race car out of a diaper box, wrapping paper and a few craft supplies I had around the house.  Our finished product turned out so cute!  J loved it.  In my non-biased opinion, he was the cutest trick-or-treater around!

How to:  It was so quickly crafted (and so long ago), I don’t remember details.  Lots of folding and refolding cardboard (the hard part), taping and retaping! We wrapped a diaper box in metallic red wrapping paper (it was actually Christmas paper but you can’t tell), added some foam tires, construction paper eyes and decals (the letters are foam stickers).  A little a lot of tape and glue and you have the perfect race car for a Lightning McQueen fan.  Using duct tape, we attached Christmas ribbon to act as suspenders so that J could wear his car for trick-or-treating.

This year…. J’s again adamant that he is a race car driver and wants the SAME EXACT costume.  Part of me says, “That’s not much fun!” and the other part sighs with relief.  No work needed this year!

Great Library Finds for Fall

Sometimes our library visits are well organized, I’ve searched for books ahead of time, placed some holds, and researched authors.  Other times, it’s a random treasure hunt.  I love when you just happen to find great reads roaming the shelves! I have a feeling both of these authors will be place on our favorites list.

Fletcher and the Falling LeavesFletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson is wonderful.  Fletcher, an adorable little fox is concerned for his good friend when it begins shedding…. leaves.  He tries to come to his friend’s rescue to no avail.  Then he discovers that his friend still has beauty to share.  Fletcher is simply adorable.  The artwork by Tiphanie Beeke captures the story perfectly.  I love it!

South by Patrick McDonnell: Book CoverSouth by Patrick McDonnell is a picture book, perfect for a toddler or preschooler “reading” on their own or for mom and dad to join in.  A tiny bird sleeps through the last moment of fall, and finds alone when all his bird-family have flown south.  A friendly cat saves the day as they make the trip towards southern warmth together and the tiny bird reunites with his family. No words, just pictures.  A story beautifully told.

Enjoy storytime and then go outside and play in the falling leaves!

Pilgrim Cookies a Toddler Can Make!

I saw these pilgrim hat cookies and thought they were adorable and something even a toddler could accomplish.  I did make a few quick changes from the original I saw here.  Their cookies were more accurate and cuter, but a few changes meant J could be that much more involved (and truth be told, I don’t think I could’ve iced a buckle so small). 

We used yellow Reeces Pieces for the buckle instead of the yellow icing and I went with a chocolate covered cookie instead of the ginger snaps (because I don’t like ginger snaps so much!).  I did try cutting a marshmallow for the white band around the middle, thinking J could create every part.  I couldn’t get the marshmallow to look right, so I scrapped that.  Maybe someone else has good luck with it though.

TO MAKE:

You need: 

  • small brown cookies (I used Archer Farms “Dark Chocolate & Caramel indulgent cookies from Target, just 8 in the box, so good for a small group)
  • Small Reeces Peanut Butter Cups
  • Yellow Reeces Pieces (or M&Ms)
  • White icing

What you do:

  • Squeeze a drop of icing onto the center of the cookie.  Stack the Reeces Peanut Butter Cup on top (upside down).  Line the base of the RPC with white icing.  Use the icing to “glue” the yellow Reeces Pieces on as a buckle. 

These cookies were really good and REALLY rich (dark chocolate caramel cookie with Reeces Pieces AND Reeces peanut butter cup…. not really part of any diet).  I had some friends try them and they loved them too.  I’m thinking I’ll get the kids working on these the morning of Thanksgiving so they can have a part in preparing the meal (the best part of the meal… dessert!). 

They have the side benefit of providing the opportunity talk about the origin of Thanksgiving.  I used it as a review of who the pilgrims were. 

Age attempted: 31 months

Apple Picking Practice

I think everyone should go apple picking in the autumn.  It’s a perfect activity for little ones.  Our trip kept getting pushed back for one reason or another throughout the whole month of October.  In that interim, I made this pretend apple picking sheet for J to work on. He uses his magnetic pompom balls (on a cookie sheet) to complete his apple picking.  I just set out a basket of “apples” for him to choose from, but I think it would be fun to add a hunt around the house for them too.  I originally saw the idea here and just adapted it a little.  After he was finished we counted the number or red, green and yellow “apples” and discussed which color had the most/least apples. 

I'm blaming the blur on my iphone!

I know apple season is over but if you want to try this activity yourself, you can print this pdf form for yourself.  It also has some apple counting and apple pattern worksheets along with it.  Apple picking and patterns

**I’m just noticing that I never posted about the magnetic pompoms, I’ll get back to you on that soon**

Age attempted: 29 months

We did finally make it to the real apple orchard.  Lots of fun!

I wish I could blame the blur on my iphone!

Countdown to Thanksgiving

I saw this  cute Thanksgiving countdown and had to try it.  I adapted it a little so that I could reuse it every year (or at least for a few years). I used foam and cardboard instead of construction paper and cardstock.  I also made it magnetic and keep it on our fridge.  

 Our turkey actualy isn’t this full yet, I just took a picture of what he would look like in all his glory.  J adds one feather to Mr. Turkey each day.  You could do the reverse and pluck a feather each day, pretending to ready him for Thanksgiving dinner.  I think older kids would find that really funny actually.   

First check out the original site if you like to change things up each year and are ok with a temporary version.  I liked how she made the head 3D.  Since J is so young I know that this will still be exciting for him next year.    

My materials:  colorful foam, cardboard, googly eyes, adhesive magnets and glue.  It took about 30 minutes to make, but could be done much faster since I had to redo things a few times or find new materials to work with. This is also something your little one could help make.  I just did it during naptime since our week is so busy and wanted it done in time for a decent countdown.

How I made it:

1. Cut the feather strips out of colorful foam. (You want thin strips so they fit behind Mr. Turkey, especially if you plan for a full month’s countdown.)

2.  Attach an adhesive magnet to the top of each strip.  This will allow you to have that fanned look to the feathers.  If you place the magnets closer to the bottom, they will simply create a single file line across the turkey’s back. (This was my first mistake!)

3.  Cut two circles out of brown cardboard, a large one for the body and small one for the head.  **I suggest having a very large body so you have plenty of room for your feathers to fan out, especially if you plan to start on Nov. 1st.  The cardboard circles that come with frozen pizzas work great.

4. Glue the smaller circle onto the larger one.

5. Cut out a strip of cardboard and glue on the back of the large circle.  **Place it on the base of the body since the feather strips will be stuffed along the top. (This was my second mistake!) When dry, place 1-2 magnetic strips on the back of the turkey’s body.  The cardboard backing allows Mr. Turkey to be lifted slightly when attached to the regrigerator.  This allows the feathers to slide behind him easily.

6.  Cut out the feet, beak, and snood and glue them onto the turkey, along with the googly eyes.

7. Test it out before getting your little one’s excited about it.  I’m glad I tested it first since I needed to rearrange the magnets on my pieces.   Now we have a cute turkey that J can easily slip a feather behind on his own each day.

Age attempted: 30 months

Autumn Tree

This is a simple activity to do in the fall. I brought this along on a trip to complete in our downtime at the hotel. 

I found a bag of glittery leaf stickers for $1 (either at Target or Rite Aid?).  I drew the tree trunk prior to the activity, but this certainly doesn’t need to be done beforehand.  Since they were foam stickers, J had no problem filling his tree completely on his own.  And I thought the end result looked really good!

This would be a good travel activity.  It involves little to pack and will keep them occupied for awhile!

Age attempted: 30 months

(We did a similar activity with dot markers last year.)

My Little Chef: Baked Apples with Cranberries

I found this recipe in the mail from my grocery store and knew it was something J could do with me.  I had all the ingredients, so we could do it right away!

Baked Apples with Cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375*F.  Core the apples, leaving the bottom closed (creating a small bowl in the apple).  Peel the top half of the apple. 

2.  Fill the apple with dried cranberries (I used frozen and it was fine). 

3.  Top with a spoon of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of butter and sprinkle with cinammon. 

4.  Bake for 35-45 minutes (until the apples are soft). 

J helped with steps 2 and 3 and then of course helped with eating. This was a simple cooking project for him. You can make just one or a dozen.   I really decided to do this last minute because I had all the ingredients, no planning required. 

 stuffed-apple I forgot to take end result pictures of my own, this is from Nicola’s Blog ( http://nicolakeegan.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/apples-apples-more-apples/ )

This would be a good recipe for any age toddler, even the youngest could manage this.  Preschoolers could accomplish it mostly on their own.  You could create a picture list for them to follow on their own.  All ingredients are safe for taste sampling if they get distracted while “cooking” and if they were to add more than the actual recipe called for, no harm done! Use a spoon or tongs for adding the cranberries and you’ve included some fine motor skill practice!

It’s also a great activity for autumn after picking your own apples!

Age Attempted: 30 months

Autumn Collage

 Curious George Seasons (CGTV Spin-the-Wheel Board Book)J made this collage by combining autumn stamps, stickers, and cut-outs from magazines/junk mail (I just saved so over the past few weeks).  We did this activity after reading Curious George Seasons

 I started all our fall activities with this collage.  You could end the season with this activity and have them pick out the stickers and pictures that would apply as a good review instead or add a few new items to the collage as you learn about them (acorns, leaves, turkeys, squash, pumpkins,…).

I’ve already started saving clippings from junk mail for our winter collage.  Might as well put that junk mail to good use!

Candy Corn Puzzles

I thought this would be a good activity to work on sizes.  I prepped the activity by precutting the pieces, creating small, medium and large pieces similar to candy corn. If you can tell in the picture, I also drew the outline of the candy corn on the black paper.  This step probably wasn’t needed though.  J glued the pieces in order (small, medium, large) to create the candy corn.  I did have examples of candy corn out (since he’d never seen them before!).  This was simple to prep and good practice for J.

We also used this same concept to create door knob hangars for J’s cousins.  I precut the black paper, including the circle for the door knob and J decorated it with a smaller version of the candy corn puzzles and adding their name.  Later I covered them with clear contact paper for durability.  You could also use foam or cardstock if you didn’t want to “laminate” them. 

Age Attempted: 30 minutes

Matching Craft with Jack-O-Lanterns

These pumpkins were fun to make and they incorporated a few new shapes and lots of matching practice for J. 

Prior to this activity, you need to have a selection of eyes (each pair a different shape), nose (shapes to match the eyes) and mouths cut out.

**There aren’t noses on this example b/c I wasn’t intending to include noses at first.

I first had J paint a bunch of plates orange with a small green stem at the top of each one.  We made eight different plates so I did help paint some of them.  I think he focused on 3 while I did the rest.  You could  just print off some pumpkin clip art online instead of painting (but then you’d miss some of the fun!).

The next day when the plates were dry, I set out the collection of mouths to choose from and J glued one mouth on each plate.  We focused on location, the mouth is at the bottom of the face and he tried to glue in in the appropriate spot on each plate.  I then set out the eye choices, mixing up all the different shapes and he had to match the shapes to create each pair of eyes.  I was intending to stop here, thinking the activity was long enough already, but J insisted they needed noses.  So I quickly prepped some noses and he matched them to the correct plate. 

We strung the string through each plate and hung them on our door.  J was quite proud!

Age attempted: 30 months