Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pumpkin Season

The folks around here LOVE pumpkins. 
First I was the lone pumpkin lover in the house.  Then we had kids and they joined in my affection for the most beautiful and tasty aspect of fall.  This year I think we even managed to convert hubby over to our side!
For the past three weeks we have been crafting, carving, and eating pumpkins as much as humanly possible.  I highly recommend these recipes for pumpkin dinner rolls, pumpkin muffins (just cut the sugar back to 1/2 cup), and pumpkin scones
I am very sad to report that we were unable to visit a pumpkin patch this year.  The patches here are only open on weekends and this year our October weekends were taken up with sick days, company, and travel.  At least we have a few volunteer mini-pumpkins grow in our garden before we moved - which we harvested before leaving.  In a way we did grow and pick pumpkins, we just did it back in July.  And the four that are still good are in a bowl on our nature table to remind us!

So many beautiful fall gifts from nature - acorns (which we glued onto a foam tree to make an "acorn tree"), massive maple leaves, walnuts, pumpkins, and a few other treasures the kids have picked up on our walks.
Our verse for the past few weeks came out of a Highlights magazine the kids get.  They loved it, but I didn't write it out on our chalkboard this time because it's a little too long to fit on the small board we use.
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late!".
The second one said, "There's a chill in the air".
The third one said, "I don't care."
The fourth one said, "Let's run and run and run!".
The fifth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!".
Ohh, ohh, went the wind, out went the lights,
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
I wish I had much better pictures to share with you of some of the crafts we did, but my camera really, truly is on its last leg now.  Sometimes the buttons won't work, other times I can't get the flash to I did what I could to get a few basic shots of the kids artwork.  We were so excited about each craft, which makes it even more fun to share!
I picked this wood cutouts up at Michael's on clearance last year.  The kids used watercolors to paint them orange.  Mannchen also insisted on a green stem for his.

Another day we went on a nature walk and collected some small feathers, leaves, and assorted sticks.  I added some lentils and small shell pasta to the mix and let the kids make a jack-o-lantern with their findings.  Mannchen's is on the left - the eyes are a small shell pasta, the leaf is the nose, and the feather is the mouth...then he elaborately decorated the cheeks to "make it pretty for mama".  That little boy sure is a sweetheart.  Töchterchen had a grand time just gluing whatever, wherever.  She was so proud and carried it all over the house for a few days. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of it right away and many of her decorations fell off when she was toting it around.  Let's just say she is "a little" upset about how it looks now.

Another day we did wet-on-wet watercolor painting - first they painted the paper red, then we added the yellow to create orange.  Both kids loved seeing how the colors combine to make another color.  After everything was dry, I cut out pumpkin shapes and we drew jack-o-lantern faces on them.  Töchterchen really enjoyed coloring the faces.  With two of the larger pumpkin shapes, I punched holes around the outside so the kids could use them as a sewing card.  Mannchen wasn't as interested this time, but Töchterchen was very focused.  She let me help her, so she could practice doing a straight stitch, instead of looping it around the sides and going all over the place.  She really enjoys anything that involves sewing - I can't wait to teach her more as she gets older!

Since the first watercolor, color blending activity went so well, I decided to try a more complex painting activity with the kids.  I found this pumpkin painting story online.  As I told the story to the kids, there were times for them to paint with certain colors.  It was really neat to combine the painting, color blending, and story telling together for the first time.  I was nervous about how it would go, especially with Töchterchen (she's still a few days shy of turning three, so she is young).  But they gave me their full attention and it turned out great!  It's the orange pumpkin, surrounded by blue sky, and a green vine around the pumpkin or on the ground (the green didn't show up well in the pictures, damn you camera!).  I do recommend only giving them one color of paint at a time and only letting them have access to it when it's time for them to paint.  If I had left all the colors open in front of them the entire time, I'm sure it would have been a free for all with much less focus. 

The kids also made jack-o-lantern faces at MOPS one week!
Two precious, happy kids with our fall/pumpkin books.  The Very Best Pumpkin and Pumpkins are ones we got at our library last year and enjoyed enough that I bought copies for our house.

The kids and hubby also went to our new library and found some new Halloween books.  The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is a new favorite.  I think we will have to add it to our collection.  It's about a little old lady who meets all the different parts of a scarecrow (boots, pants, shirt, gloves, hat, pumpkin head) while walking in the woods at night.  Each part makes a different noise - so the story involves a lot of repetition involving those noises.  Töchterchen loved helping tell that part of the story.
We spent a few mornings cutting out other Halloween shapes - bats, ghosts, and more pumpkins - which the kids enjoyed taping up all over the apartment.  Mannchen is getting really good with scissors.  I traced these bats for him and he cut them out!  I'm constantly amazed at what a four year old is capable of!  It's definitely a constant lesson in how capable he is now and learning how to let go so he can grow and flourish - a whole other topic I hope to blog about soon, but I'm still in the process of gathering my thoughts and attempting to make them sound coherent to others. 
What have you been up to lately?  How did you prepare for Halloween and the fall season?  I'd love to hear about your favorite pumpkin activities!

Linking up this week with Crafty Moms Share.