Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy October!

When I was a kid, the Halloween countdown began the day after Halloween. I would immediately start planning my costume. It would drive my mom batty! What better way to celebrate Halloween by making it a month long affair? If you're not into Halloween you can tweak most any of the projects I'm going to share with you this month for fall or spring harvests!
Let's kick off Halloween month with a "use what you have" wreath! You may think a child would be uninterested in making a wreath for your door but hey, it involves paint, it involves glue and it can involve mess, or not, if your kidlet is not of the mess monster variety.

What you need:
*cardboard ( a cereal box will work)
*old phonebook or newspaper
*paint ( you can use whichever kind you have on hand)
*sponges or brushes or hands if you're brave
*scissors are optional but you will need them to cut out the wreath
*pipecleaner, soda tab, paperclip or wire to hang
*large bowl or plate
*wax paper (optional)
scrumdilly-do it!

Set up a mess friendly workspace. Use an old vinyl tablecloth as a splat mat or a sheet or put newspaper down on your work surface.

Breakdown the cereal box so that you have a large piece of cardboard. Have your child use a plate or turned over bowl as a stencil for the wreath. You can turn it into a hunt and/or a lesson in measuring and size concepts. "Which bowl will fit?" "How big do you want your wreath to be?" Turn the plate or bowl over and hold in place while your wee one traces a circle around it. You can of course ask your child to simply draw a large circle. Find a smaller bowl or round object to use for the center of the wreath. Trace. If your kidlet is able, have her or him cut out the first large circle. Cut out the center circle to complete the wreath shape. Set aside.Bring out the newspaper or phone book. Tear pages of the phone book out for easier workability. Set out your paint and challenge your wee ones to cover as much of the paper as they like. They can use any color they want but if you want to make the wreath more Halloween-like limit the color palette by first discussing what colors remind them of Halloween (or fall or spring). If you want to up the challenge set out only primary colors and let your kidlets mix the paint. You can turn it into a lesson of "what makes orange" (or green or purple). They can then paint using whichever means you've set out for them. Set the pages aside to dry. Phone book paper is pretty thin so set out a minimal amount of paint. The good thing is phone books are thick beasts. If the paper tears, just grab another sheet.Once dry, have your wee ones tear up the paper! Tear it up! They can cut it into strips if they like or you want them to practice with scissors but tearing is something most children don't get an opportunity to do. Tearing allows for fine motor skills, it encourages the pincher grip and allows an opportunity to experience cause and effect. "How long a strip can you tear?" "How small?".Once the strips are torn, liberate that glue and have your kidlet cover their cardboard wreath with it. Talk about how they are going to use the glue. They can paint it on, they can dab it on or they can pour a bug glob and use their hands to smear it all over the place! You can also begin by asking your wee one how they want to cover the wreath with their torn paper. Some may want to layer, others may want to crumble and glue. Do you remember making tissue paper pumpkins? You would wrap the small square of tissue paper around the end of a pencil, dab into the glue and press. There are a great many ways your wee one could do this, let them choose. Use a sheet of wax paper beneath the wreath shape to prevent sticking to the work surface. A plastic place mat or tablecloth will work as well.Your child can now cover that cardboard however they choose. They can add layer upon layer if they like. They can paint instead of glue. You can make this an ongoing process, take a few days if you like. Attention spans run short. Once dry, add your hanging attachment to the back, add embellishments such as a bow or candy, hang; and let the celebration begin!Since this is a "use what you have" project don't feel limited to newspaper and phone book pages. We have a stack of phone books that always seems to grow so I thought let's use this! You can use pasta, rice, fabric, colored paper, whatever you have on hand. This is a craft project that may appear to be project based but it is not. When you allow your child choices and freedom to create how they choose they develop important reasoning skills, autonomy and pride in their work. It is when you don't allow for creativity and wiggle room that keeps them from the process and from learning about the world around them. It doesn't matter if they finish the project it matters that they have fun while doing it. Happy October!


  1. I like your sponge tool, did you make that too??

  2. i got the spongie thing at the dollar store though you can make one from one sponge cut into strips and tied together. thanks!

  3. This is a brilliant idea!! I can't wait to get home to try this out with my kids!!

    Woot woot!!

  4. Love it! I thought they were candy wrappers at first---wouldn't that be neato as well?!

    You are brilliant as usual.

  5. that is cute you could do a seasonal one and i christmas one and easter spring wow i might have to have my girls start making them!

  6. what a terrific idea...I love the can do so much with this!