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This year for Halloween, I wasn’t quite ready to let the kids go at their pumpkins with knives, even those kid-safe tiny pumpkin carving ones. And besides, if you keep your pumpkins whole, they won’t begin to rot like they do when you cut them, so you can enjoy them for a longer time!
The kids absolutely loved decorating their little no-carve Halloween pumpkins.
Joseph glued googly eyes all over his. That ended up being my favorite one! It reminds me of those bumpy winter squashes… except… it’s watching us.
Anneliese’s is covered with pretend gems. She thinks it is VERY fancy.
I painted mine with two coats of chalkboard paint. My plan was to have the kids take turns drawing faces on it with chalk. But regular chalk scratched off the paint more than it drew on it. So sad! So I used chalkboard markers to make a face, but the round shape of the pumpkin made the chalk paint drip and it wasn’t as precise as I wanted it to be… I had something cuter in mind. Still, the kids think it’s adorable, and they want it “looking at them” during dinner time.
We might still do a big jack-o-lantern closer to the Big Day, but I’m so glad we did this little project too.
Benefits of doing the little no-carve Halloween pumpkins this way:
- As I mentioned before, NOT cutting our pumpkins will keep them from rotting so quickly, and we’ll be able to enjoy them for a long time.
- The pumpkins are very small, so we can display all 3 of them as a centerpiece even on our small dining table.
- The kids can carry their pumpkins around the house with them and play with them.
- The kids definitely feel pride in the work they did to decorate their no-carve pumpkins. They each worked on their pumpkin in several sessions of carefully selecting, placing, and gluing their decorations.
- No one was injured by a serrated pumpkin-carving blade. Seriously.
Another benefit to decorating with these is that we won’t have to store them all year waiting for next Halloween. When we move at Christmas, we won’t have to pack them and take them with us across the country.
I’m all for decorating and having fun, but I also like keeping the clutter out of our house.
If you feel the same way, you’ll also enjoy my ideas for having a clutter-free Halloween over at So Damn Domestic.
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But sometimes, she comes to me asking sweetly, “Mama, may I have an activity?”
And of course, I’m more than happy to set her up with something fun that’s a bit outside of her usual projects.
Lately, the kids have both been totally enthralled with the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
Have you read it? It’s about a town called Chewandswallow, where it doesn’t rain, snow, or hail quite the way we’re used to. Instead, food comes from the sky! In the story, hamburgers, pancakes, soup, and more fall from the clouds to feed the townspeople.
When the food drizzles turn to storms, the school is buried under a giant pancake, and everyone has to stay inside to stay safe. Eventually, there’s a mass exodus from Chewandswallow, and it only lives on in the tales grandparents tell their children.
The illustrations are fantastic, and the kids pore over the book on their own when I’m not reading it for the 27th time today, discussing the different types of food they wish would fall from the sky.
This simple craft is an imaginative extension of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
You’ll need just a few things:
- 2 pieces of cardstock for each cloud
- Adult scissors
- liquid white glue
- cotton balls
- pom poms
- Optional – hot glue + hot glue gun
- A length of yarn or ribbon
To do the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs craft:
- Read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs together.
- Parent: Cut out 2 matching cloud shapes out of the cardstock. You could have your child cut these, but I feel like cardstock is a bit trickier than regular paper, so I prefer to do it for this activity.
- Lay the cloud shapes so that they are mirror images of each other on the table. Otherwise, they won’t sandwich together when you’re finished, unless they’re perfectly symmetrical.
- Give your child the pom poms, cotton balls, and glue, and have her make glue the balls all over the cardstock to make clouds full of food.
- Discussion: Ask her about the pom poms as she glues them, “What kind of food is that pink one? What do you think would come out of this cloud if it rained over Chewandswallow?”
- Now that you’ve got her started, let her work alone, imagining on her own and focusing on the task. Don’t hover.
- When she tells you she’s finished with the clouds, put them somewhere safe to dry overnight.
- Once the glue is dry, sandwich the clouds together with the ribbon or yarn between them, and glue. I prefer to use hot glue for this since it’s strong and dries very quickly, but white glue will work if you’re patient enough to wait for it to dry.
- Hang the cloud somewhere your child will see it, to spark her imagination throughout each day.
What’s your child’s favorite book these days?
Have you thought about making a craft, activity, or outing to accompany and extend the story? Even if you don’t do the exact craft in this post, I hope reading this sparked an idea for you!
Let me know in the comments if you plan to do this Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs activity, or if it helped you think of something else to do with your preschooler.
In our house, the playroom is for imagination, for open-ended toys, for free exploration. We have dress up clothes (mainly play silks and scarves), building materials (wooden blocks or legos), musical instruments, and other pretending toys.
In the rest of the house, the kids tend to gravitate toward helping with real-life chores, like cleaning surfaces or windows (check out my nontoxic homemade cleaner recipes), helping with the laundry, and assisting with a bit of food preparation. They can get themselves snacks and water, and do more physical activities that require more space, like dancing or riding their rocking horse all over the place (they rock it so much that it scoots forward on the carpet).
I don’t always have Montessori lessons out for the kids, but if they express that they’d like to do something a little different, or they seem to need a bit more focus, I’ll quickly set one or two up for them. It doesn’t take much. A simple skill to practice, and the materials required, all on a tray or in a basket to show that the items belong together is at the root of most works/lessons.
Paper-punching is a great type of work for toddlers to do to practice fine-motor skills and to improve hand-strength. It’s effectively a pre-writing practice, believe it or not!
This work is one of the simplest to set up. Only a few things are required.
Toddler Paper-Punching Montessori Work Materials:
- A tray or flat basket to hold everything
- A paper puncher (I included two in case my children wanted to do this at the same time.)
- A small dish, bowl, or box to hold the punched pieces
- A few strips of construction paper. Over the years, I’ve found that shorter strips are easier for my children to use for punching work.
To introduce the paper-punching lesson:
Disclaimer: I’m not Montessori-certified or anything like that. I just love the Montessori method, have read a lot about Montessori, and have incorporated Montessori mindset into my household ever since my first baby was born. (Montessori Toddler Room Tour, How Toddler-Accessible is Your Home?, Designing Your Home With Montessori in Mind) This is how I do things, but you may choose to do them differently.
- Hold the tray in two hands, and carry it to your work table.
- Ask your toddler, “May I show you a lesson?”
- If your toddler is interested, have him sit beside or across from you.
- Say, “Okay, my turn first. Then it will be your turn.”
- Choose a paper punch, and a strip of paper slowly. Silently double-check that you only got one strip of paper. You can grab two at first on purpose, and carefully replace one in the tray.
- Find the slit where the paper goes, and slide the paper into it.
- Depending on what type of punch you have, demonstrate the force and method necessary to punch all the way through the paper. For this type of large button punch, I put one palm on the button, my other hand on top of that hand, and pushed down with apparently mighty force.
- Remove the paper strip from the punch, and lift the punch to find the punched-out shape.
- Place the punched shape into the little bowl, dish, or box. (PS Save these for a gluing work later.)
- Invite your toddler to try, saying, “Now it’s your turn.”
- Let your toddler give it a go, without interference or “help” from you. If he seems to get stuck, stay silent for a while and let him work it out. If he asks for help, you can help him a little with the bit he’s stuck with or offer to demonstrate an entire turn again.
- Watch him learn. Watch him practice. Be amazed that your child is his own best teacher. And if you take a picture, for goodness sake, do not say “Look at Mommy!” Never interrupt a busy child, if you can avoid it.