Five Little Pumpkins:Make Pumpkin Puppets

Finger plays are an important part of the early childhood classroom. The flow and rhyme of the words help develop important language skills such as reading and writing. They are useful for introducing certain concepts like counting and ordinal numbers to children.

Five Little Pumpkins has been a favorite October finger play for generations. Delight preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders with teacher-made pumpkin puppets to use with Five Little Pumpkins.

They are easily made from real miniature pumpkins. Slits cut in the bottom for inserting a craft stick is the trick to turning these mini pumpkins into puppets!

Using Pumpkin Puppets

Use the pumpkin puppets at circle time as a reward for five children to hold as the group recites the rhyme. Pumpkin puppets are a great addition to the creative dramatics center during the month of October.  They also make a cute table decoration at home!

Materials Needed For Pumpkin Puppets

  • 5 miniature pumpkins
  • 3 green chenille stems
  • 5 craft sticks
  • 2 sheets of 11/2 x 9 green construction paper
  • green glitter
Directions For Making Pumpkin Puppets
  1. Draw a jack-o-lantern face on each mini pumpkin with a black permanent marker
  2. Cut a slit in the bottom large enough to insert a craft stick. (Use the wide craft sticks.)
  3. Draw and cut out 5 leaves and stems.
  4. Cut a one-inch wide strip from a sheet of the green construction paper. Cut this in half to use for the pumpkin stem.
  5. Score one side of the strip to form tabs. Roll into a tube and glue ends together. (see picture below)
  6. Add a little green glitter to the edges of the leaves for a frosty look.
  7. Attach stems, leaves and vines with a hot glue gun and glue sticks.
  8. Coil half of a chenille stem around your finger to form a vine.

 

A slit in the bottom for inserting a craft stick is the trick for making pumpkin puppets.

Now place these near a chart size copy of  Five Little Pumpkins for lots of learning fun!

Cute Follow Up Project!

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Fall Leaf Art: Make Fall Leaf Fairies

On cool autumn nights the Fall Leaf Fairies come out to play. With their magic paint brushes they turn the leaves on the trees to shades of red, orange, gold and brown.

The Fall Leaf Fairies also make a clever and attractive bulletin board display.  They make a great project for learning about fall and trees. Use this as a teacher-made bulletin board too.

Take the kids outside to find leaves with shapes that remind them of dancing fairies. The curves on some oak leaves will work well. Help them trace and cut out leaves from the spirit-shaped leaves. A pink oval makes the fairies’ faces. Their caps are real acorns glittered gold and the paint brush handles are real stems.

Do you see the leaves that look like spirits?

Fall Thematic Unit Ideas

Trees, leaves and the changing of seasons provide many opportunities for learning. Create a thematic unit for fall by first reading  Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.

Learning Activities for Math

Students can sort and graph leaves as a math activity. They can learn to identify and classify the different kinds of trees in their neighborhood. Lessons on ecology are easily incorporated in fall thematic  units. An essential question is: What happens if trees that are harvested for energy are not replaced?

Science Lesson

Teach students how to identify and classify  different kinds of trees in their own neighborhoods. Have lessons on why leaves change colors.

Language Arts

Students can write or dictate stories about their Fall Leaf Fairies.  Fall leaves provide a great prompt for descriptive writing. Color and texture words are abundant for fall language arts activities!

Have fun with Fall Leaf Fairies!

Dirt Pudding Cups: Dirty, Sandy And Yummy!

There are dozens of cute ways to use Oreo dirt cups and Nilla sand cups for kid’s parties and events.  Likewise, there are several variations of the recipe for them. Dirt cups are basically chocolate pudding and crushed Oreo cookies, while sand cups are made of vanilla pudding and crushed vanilla wafers.

I found that the simplest recipe with the fewest ingredients for dirt and sand pudding is a combination of pudding, crushed cookies, and Cool Whip.  The trick is in how much of each to use.  Dirt pudding turns out quite well by using the following recipe.

Dirt Pudding

1 large box choc. instant pudding

20 Oreo cookies, crushed

8 ounces Cool Whip

For sand pudding, use vanilla pudding and vanilla wafers.

Ways  to use Dirt  Cups

Dirt and sand cups make fun snacks for learning activities as well as children’s’ parties. Make dirt cups when studying earth science. Young children will relate the dirt cups to soil, earthworms, and plant life.

Dirt pudding can even be served out of a Terra Cotta planter! This would be a great idea for everything from the classroom to gardening club events.

Gummy worms are a must for dirt pudding!  Kids love gummy worms; some adults do too. Have a discussion about how worms help aerate the soil.  This is important to plant life and the food chain. Kids need to know these basic science concepts. Cute ideas like these make those concepts stick.

Halloween

Add spooky props on Halloween for graveyard pudding cups. I found candy bones, skulls, and gummy worms for mine, and I used a Vienna finger for a tombstone.

Fresh Picked Sunflowers

In the early fall, when the Halloween candy

corn is in the stores, sunflower cookies served with dirt cups are good for lessons on plants for young children at school. They would also be great for a child’s September or October birthday party. Use the basic dirt pudding recipe.

Bake sugar cookies and ice them with lemon icing. A few drops of yellow food coloring will give the icing a deeper color. Tint a little royal icing yellow to attach the candy corn around the cookie. Chocolate sprinkles make “seeds” in the middle.

Using more royal icing, attach halves of green apple Twizzlers to the cookies. The dirt pudding in these dirt cups is topped with lime jello. Green tinted flaky coconut makes the grass!

This is a surprisingly tasty treat. Lime, lemon and green apple flavors are tamed with the candy corn and cookies for a sweet and sour taste experience

Ways to Use Sand Cups

Sand cups can be dressed up with props to create really cute pool party treats.  Add a few tanned Teddy Grahams, a peppermint striped ball and perhaps a cocktail umbrella for an adorable creation.

Plain, undecorated sand cups could culminate a unit on erosion and how rocks are broken down into sand. Leave some of the crushed wafers as larger pieces to represent the rocks.

Cute Sand Cup Desserts for Kid Pool Parties

Get creative and see what you can do with dirt and sand cups. No matter how you serve them up, these cute treats are sure to please!

Spooky Trees: How To Make A Halloween Tree

Have you ever noticed how spooky a dead tree looks? A walk through the woods or a country neighborhood will likely let you find at least one dead tree.  For some reason, probably disease or insects, these poor trees kicked the bucket. Maybe, like humans, trees grow old and die. Old dead apple and pear trees are common, their gnarled branches knotted up like an old witch’s extremities.

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These spooky looking limbs are the arms of a dead pear tree.

With some imagination, these spooky looking branches could turn into some really cool Halloween decor. Spray paint the branch with black spray paint.Tuck them into vases or incorporate them in Halloween-themed floral arrangements. The twists and curves of the gnarled branches would add interest and dimension to so many different arrangements.

This old dead branch is anchored in a plastic jack-o-lantern with rocks. This is the least expensive and most sustainable way to do this. Covering the opening with floral moss, Spanish moss or even dried leaves will hide the rocks.

Simply twist strands of purple and orange mini-lights among the branches of the old dead tree. The kids can decorate this Halloween tree further with paper cut-outs of bats and ghosts.

Use your imagination and create variations on the Halloween tree!

Goldenrod: My Favorite Wildflower Gets Tamed In Arrangements

 

My favorite fall wildflower is the goldenrod. Blooming from about late August to mid-October, it is a familiar sight in most of North America and Canada.  Although goldenrod is related to asters, most people consider it a weed. It is sometimes confused with ragweed.  However, goldenrod does not make people sneeze.

Goldenrod can be used in fall floral arrangements in interesting ways with a little imagination. Scrounge around for different containers and see what would look good with it.  With the right container, a bunch a goldenrod can look good all by itself.

goldenrod pitcher
I found a striped tea pitcher that made a great container for goldenrod.

 

Oak-leaf Hydrangea and Goldenrod

 

Along about the time the goldenrod makes it’s autumn debut, the hydrangeas are fading away day by day. In the next arrangement, once-white oak leaf hydrangea blossoms provide a focal point with a fountain of goldenrod spilling out around it. I added dried Queen Anne’s lace to give it a rustic look. It’s the perfect late summer or early fall centerpiece.

goldenrod & Hydrangea

Mums and Goldenrod

The next arrangement, a rather rustic vase holds some “store bought”mixed chrysanthemums alongside the goldenrod. It’s tame and wild together in one lovely bunch.

 

 

Zinnias and Goldenrod

This cute arrangement in a little old watering can goes great on  a small table. A few fading zinnias from the garden are paired with goldenrod. It seems to say goodbye to summer and hello to vibrant autumn color.

 

I hope these arrangements inspire you to use goldenrod in fall centerpieces this season. Happy fall!

 

 

 

How To Make A Sustainable Fall Wreath

autumn wreath

Sustainable Fall Wreath

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Fall is a colorful time of the year. Chrysanthemums, asters, pumpkins and gourds all reflect the beauty of harvest time.

Recently, I was in one of those stores where virtually everything costs a dollar. I was behind two ladies at the cash register who purchased almost $70 worth of plastic and faux silk fall decorating items. Keeping in mind that everything in the store is a dollar, that is quite a lot of stuff!

I couldn’t help but think what a shame it was these ladies hadn’t thought about using all  natural items for their fall decorating. Nature provides a bounty of interesting colors and textures this time of the year. Just take a walk and look around!

Wildflowers and dried grasses or reeds can be used to make really pretty arrangements. Fresh flower markets have a good supply of popular fall flowers. Some green-thumbed folks are blessed with growing these in their gardens up until frost!

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Don’t overlook other sustainable items like acorns, pine cones and seed pods. Although they aren’t very colorful, they add lots of texture to give decorations that fall rustic feel.

For this sustainable fall door wreath, I used a traditional grapevine wreath from Michael’s as the base. These can be purchased at a crafts store or made at home. They seem fairly easy to make; however, it does look rather time consuming.

I would love to hear from anyone who has made a grapevine wreath. I do have grape vines to use, and that would be a real money saving idea.

With all the harder work of making the wreath base done for me, the rest was so easy! Larger items like pine cones and the big seed pod can be attached with picks and florist wire. Simply hot glue the acorns and smaller items to fill in. I used acorns, chestnuts, chestnut pods and a few other unidentified seeds and nuts. At the top, I used a magnolia pod. I love the red seeds that pop out of them.

Flowers from the garden or fresh flower market can be put in floral water tubes. Wrap the tubes with florist tape.  It’s OK to use faux silk flowers instead of fresh ones if preferred. They won’t require frequent changing.

But you won’t need $70 worth!

Using Hydrangeas In Flower Arrangements

I love using hydrangeas in cut flower arrangements… from the first pale blooms of spring until fall and beyond.

Hydrangeas in Early Spring

 

These pale blue hydrangeas were picked for a Mother’s Day brunch. Notice how the white blooms are beginning to turn blue. 

For this arrangement, a few springs of budding berries add interest. Consider adding pink or blue carnations and baby’s breath to fit the occasion.

Hydrangeas in Early Summer

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The blues get deeper and pretty purples appear. These hydrangeas all came from the same bush! A galvanized vase gives them a summery look.

Hydrangeas in Late Summer

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These hydrangea blooms all came from the same bush in late summer.

Hydrangea “deadheads” are amazingly colorful as the season progresses. These deadheads are all from the same bush. Notice the variety of colors and textures in the close-up photo.  This arrangement has soft blue and green, and crispy beige and brown.

Deadheading hydrangeas is just another way of pruning them.  Some people just toss the deadheads on the compost pile. While that is a good thing to do, I really like to display mine. I put them in a variety of containers to enjoy on the patio and in the house.

It is not unusual in late summer and early fall to find a variety of colors and textures on the same bush!

 

Late summer hydrangea arrangement great for outdoor entertaining.

I wanted to use a lot of these mop-head hydrangea blooms, so I chose a large Wedgwood urn as a vase. I had one still-blue blossom. The blue Wedgwood design would help it stand out.

I found some grasses or reeds by the road-side that have turned brown for the end of the season. They added a rustic look of autumn to my arrangement.

Use this arrangement outdoors or indoors to give a feeling of fall to a late summer day.

And Beyond…

dried hydrangeaFrosty mornings and cool nights hasten the turning of the dead heads to deep purple and then brown.  Hydrangeas can be easily preserved for dried arrangements with silica gel, flower drying kits or even by dipping them in a mixture of cornmeal and borax.

For a  dried brown arrangement,  it is best (and easiest)  to let them dry on the bush.  Notice the tinge of purple around the edges of the blooms. It looks nice for now, and will eventually turn brown. Then the dried, brown blooms can be sprayed with clear Krylon or even hairspray.

An arrangement can be dressed up with floral picks of things like greenery and butterflies.  A special container or vase helps as well.

This pretty arrangement will last the rest of the year- until  spring returns again with fresh blue, pink or white blossoms