Two St. Patty’s Day crafts

With Saint Patrick’s Day …. tomorrow! .… I have visions of corned beef and cabbage teasing me and Guinness Chocolate Cake. Oh, and I wanted to share some craft ideas.

Les crackers de tête à modeler – St. Patty’s Day style

We made these easy, fun crackers for Mardi Gras, and had so much fun, I thought we’d do them again for St. Patrick’s Day.  Mon Cœur (MC) jumped right in, filling them.

Materials:

  • Toilet paper tube (empty, obvi)
  • Tissue paper
  • Tape
  • Yarn/string
  • Filler

Directions:

I’ve labeled the steps with Maman (for what I did) and moi (for what MC did)

  • (Maman) Line three toilet paper tubes on a sheet of tissue paper.  The top and bottom tubes are just “place holders.”  
  • (moi)Tape the tissue paper to the middle one.  
  • (Maman et moi) Roll the tube and tape the other edge of tissue paper.  (Note: after trying to “pop” them previously, I wouldn’t advise rolling the tube more than twice with the tissue paper.)  
  • (Maman) Take a piece of yarn and tie the tissue paper around between the middle and bottom tubes.  Remove the bottom tube.  
  • (moi) Stuff the tube from the top with the filler.  
  • (Maman) Tie the second piece of yarn between the top and middle tube and remove the top tube.  Voilà!

We filled our tubes with gold coins, pompoms in the colors of the rainbow, homemade confetti, some candy, and a bunny.  

We made these on Sunday, and MC could not wait for tomorrow to start popping these…Although we’ve been able to save one for tomorrow!


The next craft we’ve done three different ways, so take your pick and make it!

Sun catcher with green and gold crayon shavings 

I liked this version, although the way that it’s made, it’s easy for tissue paper to fall out along the edges.

Materials:

  • crayon shavings
  • tissue paper (optional)
  • wax paper
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • tape/glue
  • iron and towels

Directions:

  • Make and cut out a shamrock outline
  • Prepare crayon shavings and tissue paper (if using)
  • Cut two square pieces of wax paper that will cover the shamrock outline
  • Place crayon shavings on one piece of wax paper, then cover with the other.
  • Cover wax paper with a thin cloth or towel
  • Place iron over top and melt crayon pieces
  • Let cool
  • Glue the shamrock outline on the decorated wax paper, then cut the excess wax paper along outside.

Sun catcher with tissue paper

This version holds together better than the previous.

Materials:

  • tissue paper
  • wax paper
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • paintbrush

Directions:

  • Make and cut out a shamrock outline
  • Prepare tissue paper (cut into small pieces)
  • Cut two square pieces of wax paper that will cover the shamrock outline
  • With the paintbrush, glue tissue paper onto one piece of wax paper, then cover with the other.
  • Glue the shamrock outline on the decorated wax paper, then cut the excess wax paper along outside.

Sun catcher card with crayon shavings

This version worked out the best, as I was able to enclose the wax paper in the card, and nothing fell out.

Materials:

  • crayon shavings
  • wax paper
  • construction paper
  • scissors/exacto knife
  • tape/glue
  • iron and towels (if making with crayon shavings)

Directions:

  • Take an 8×10 card stock paper and fold in half, horizontally (or hamburger, if you will).
  • Draw a shamrock on the paper and cut out the shape using an exacto knife.
  • Prepare crayon shavings and tissue paper (if using)
  • Cut two square pieces of wax paper that will cover the shamrock outline
  • Place crayon shavings on one piece of wax paper, then cover with the other.
  • Cover wax paper with a thin cloth or towel
  • Place iron over top and melt crayon pieces
  • Let cool
  • Place decorated wax paper inside the card, and glue down on front and back.
  • Write desired greeting on the front of card.

MC enjoyed learning to iron, and liked sprinkling the crayon shavings on the wax paper.


What will you craft for St. Patrick’s Day?

Falling for all things Fall: Apples, Leaves, and Pumpkins!

I really feel this year (especially) that fall is a new beginning for us.  I am super grateful for the cooler weather and the extra time spent outdoors.   

Last week we went apple picking at our local orchard, Carter’s Mountain.  While it was a different experience with “the Virus” this year: “Mommy, where’s the tractor for the [hay] ride?”  “Sorry Love, because of the Virus, they won’t be doing hay rides.” – it was still a fun and enriching experience for the whole family.

We picked three different types of apple: Jonagold, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious.  The Jonagold we learned should be more red than green and are good as is (so don’t bake with them!). The other two are great for cooking and our family loves a good crisp.  In fact, I believe a good crisp is a suitable meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and snack time in between.  But…that’s just me.

Apple books we read and enjoyed:

Curious George: Apple Harvest

Mon Cœur (MC) loves Curious George, so naturally, we read Curious George: Apple Harvest adapted by Lynne Polvino.  We’ve read other Curious George books and I really enjoy the playful, childlike aspect George brings to a theme and how he discovers different ways that the world works.  

In this particular book, he helps to harvest and sort the apples, and also discovers how a cider machine works.  I appreciate how there’s more than just a main picture to explain information.  For example, with the cider machine, there are three different mini-pictures that sequentially explain the process of making cider. It makes for vocabulary building with sequence words as well as conversation and curious questioning throughout the book.

Applesauce Season

Applesauce Season written by Eden Ross Lipson and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein is a wonderful book exploring different apple varieties and recounting the story of three generations of a family who come together each year to make applesauce.  It is beautifully illustrated, and reads like an interactive, family souvenir recipe narrated by the grandson.  

At the end is a sweet surprise of a recipe for the applesauce made in the book.  I love how this book shows where applesauce comes from (not just a can in the store), and the different variations of taste that applesauce can have (depending on the varieties in season and used).  

After reading this book, it’s easy to see what “eating in season” is all about, and I love how the book begins:

“My grandmother says there’s no reason to start eating apples when peaches are perfect.  So we don’t eat the ones ready in August.”

Applesauce Season

The family lives in the city, so although the book doesn’t include a trip to the apple orchard, MC saw illustrations of a farmer’s market, and added that concept to her concept bank.

Seed by Seed 

What apple themed reading selection would be complete without a book about Johnny Appleseed?  Seed by Seed, written by Esmé Raji Codell and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins takes the reader back in time, away from the hustle bustle of the city to simpler, slower times.  

Although much of what we may have heard about Johnny Appleseed is legend, Codell focuses on five lessons we could learn from him:

  1. Use what you have.
  2. Share what you have.
  3. Respect nature.
  4. Try to make peace where there is war.
  5. You can reach your destination by taking small steps.

This was a fabulous non-fiction read to introduce MC to Appleseed and how he led by example. I love that these five lessons are simply taught for little readers and serve as a reminder for adults, too.

Apple Activities:

As we read these books, we completed various activities involving apples, including:

  • A visit to an apple orchard.  We try to visit the orchard each year, and especially this year, we wanted to get out and enjoy the fresh air and get some apples.  I was impressed that MC remembered the orchard – when we arrived she asked, “Is this the orchard we visit last year with O?” and “Where is the tractor? I want to ride!”

It was a great experience to get out as a family, pick apples, and see how they grow.  

  •  Apple washing:  Yes.  This sounds silly, but those apples needed to get washed before they were eaten or cooked.  I could have done it by myself, but that would have taken less time, made less mess, and been less fun and educational! So I cleaned the sink and MC pulled up a chair to stand on. For the next fifteen minutes, she enjoyed splashing around and using a rag to wash the apples.
  • Apple sorting:  We bought three different kinds (all fairly easy to distinguish – red, green and golden varieties), so I decided MC could complete a breakfast invitation where she sorted the apples by kind and counted.  I counted to see what was the largest quantity of apple we had, then I created a graph that went as high as that quantity.  In the morning, MC took each apple out of the bag and began sorting it into the graph.  Afterwards we counted each kind to practice one to one counting.
  • Apple cake and apple crisp:  MC loves to bake, so naturally we had to make some fall treats to eat. A friend shared her family’s apple cake recipe (delicious!) and an apple crisp is a Fall tradition in our house- one sweet treat that all of us enjoy!

RELATED:  Apple craft: Last year, we ended up with some apples that weren’t quite ready….what to do? We cut them up and did some apple stamping.

RELATED: What’s a breakfast invitation?  Read this related post about our new morning activities we do that are either created or inspired by Days with Grey.

Fall books we read and enjoyed:

Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall

Written by Anne Sibley O’Brien and illustrated by Susan Gal, this was a fun little book to get in the mood for Fall.  MC loved the “magic words” Alakazam, Abracadabra, Shazam, among others, as well as the fold out pages.  We loved reading and relating to all the fall fun festivities – back to school, milkweed seeds floating away, changing and falling leaves, apple picking, and pumpkin patches.  The rhyming and spellbinding words kept MC tapping her hand and smiling as I read. it was a great book to remind us of all the enchanting changes happening as one season ends and another makes its dramatic entrance.

My Leaf Book

This was the perfect book for providing general leaf and tree identification information.  Written and illustrated by Monica Wellington, it provides just enough information about trees to spark a kid’s curiosity and interest in identification. The simple shapes and illustrations together with a “think aloud” show readers how easy it is to identify trees.  Many of the various trees mentioned in the book- sweet gum, honey locust, oak, cherry, sassafras- are trees that we have at our house, so it gave us a springboard for scavenger hunting.

Scattered on each page is a quick, fun fact about each different tree, and at the back there are many different suggestions for leaf projects involving leaf rubbings and prints.

J is for Jack-O’-Lantern, A Halloween Alphabet written by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Illustrated by Donald Wu

This was a great book for us to continue talking about letters and the alphabet in general.  It touches on many different Halloween topics – jack-o’-lanterns, witches, pumpkin patches, skeletons, and scarecrows.  

Although what I read to MC was just a four-line poem for each letter, in the margin of each page, the book included background information or an idea for a craft or a recipe for each Halloween word. Bobbing for donuts, ideas for unusual costumes, deviled egg eyeballs, popular symbols for Halloween were just a few of the margin notes that I found interesting.

Pumpkins

This summer we had good luck with our citrouille (pumpkin) harvest, a French heirloom variety Rouge Vif d’Etamps, also commonly referred to as Cinderella’s pumpkin.

We planted them a little later, around the Fourth of July, and that ended up being perfect timing for harvesting early October.  We have enjoyed watching the vines sprawl across the yard, claiming ten, 15, 20 feet of land.  We’ve watched the blooms open, the fruit begin growing, and then change to a vibrant red-orange color.

Mon Cœur (MC) loves the pumpkin patch, and anything pumpkin…except jack-o-lanterns…There is something about a face on a pumpkin that she does not like…No, it’s not natural, but it’s classic Halloween…So we chose a couple of pumpkins to save and carve, hoping that will take any mystery out of jack-o-lanterns and making them a little less intimidating. The others we processed into a purée and canned for bread, pie, and soup.

Pumpkin books we read and enjoyed:

How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? 

Pumpkins as boats? Giant pumpkin balloons?  Seriously?  Yes!  Author Wendell Minor wrote the book, How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? around the theme of giant pumpkins and monumental American sites.  We learned that in Vermont, people actually carve out giant pumpkins to make boats for Regattas and festivals.  In Wisconsin, they hold giant pumpkin contests each year, where pumpkins weigh in around one ton each!  In New Mexico they host a hot air balloon festival where there are many amusing and non-traditional balloons in shapes of animals or insects, in Fall shaped themes, and even a Jack-O-Lantern balloon.

This was a fun, silly book to introduce the idea of giant pumpkins and to show them superimposed with scenic views across the United States, such as Mount Rushmore, Kennedy Space Center, the US Capitol, a Paul Bunyan statue, and the Grand Canyon.

I like how in the very back of the book, each place is labeled with the location (State) and a little history.  I really didn’t believe people made boats out of pumpkins until I saw the back of the book.  It was fun to discover these places, events, and facts with MC.

Pumpkins 

From a gardener’s perspective, I really enjoyed Pumpkins, written by Ken Robbins.  Beautiful photography accompanies the story of a pumpkin’s lifecycle from seed to farm stand or pumpkin patch.

Even though we had our own pumpkin patch to observe, it was nice to have a book that illustrated and narrated the growing cycle of the pumpkin.  

And at the end of the book, there is a quick jack-o-lantern how to. The different carvings allowed us to talk about the faces we liked the most and the faces we liked the least and why.

Pumpkin activities:

As we read these books, we completed various activities involving pumpkins, including:

  • Pumpkin faces:  We have been bouncing back and forth between fall and all about me themed activities.  One morning for her breakfast invitation, I cut out simple orange circles and some eyes and a mouth.  Before I could even get out of bed, she already had the top off of the glue stick and was making faces. Love!

RELATED: What’s a breakfast invitation?  Read this related post about our new morning activities we do that are either created or inspired by Days with Grey.

  • Pumpkin-themed oobleck:  Susie at Busy Toddler frequently posts pictures of oobleck on her Instagram.  I really loved her Halloween-themed oobleck, although our stash of holiday themed knick knacks was lacking…we used what we had on hand: pumpkin seeds, ping pong balls, orange dice, and googly eyes.

Oobleck is a “non-Newtonian” substance, meaning it’s neither solid nor liquid, and yet exhibits properties of both.  It is made by mixing two parts cornstarch to one part water.  You can use food coloring to dye the water and make your oobleck any color you want.  We made ours orange!

It took some getting used to at first- MC didn’t like the texture or the mess. I sat there scratching my fingers through it, picking it up, letting it ooze and drip from between my fingers…I was astounded…It eventually grew on MC, and we were able to save and reuse the oobleck for a few days before having to trash it. She experimented moving it around with a scoop, a ladle, and a funnel. It was so fascinating to see how differently the oobleck reacted to a scoop (it was more solid, and crumbled) versus moving through a funnel (it acted more like a liquid, dribbling out of the funnel).

  • Pumpkin baking:

It was a family effort to process two pumpkins, and we were able to purée and can 12 fifteen-ounce jars of pumpkin. That’s a pretty impressive quantity for us, and we’ve been sharing with friends and trying new recipes. We’ve tried a pumpkin bread and muffin recipe so far, and have pie and soup on the list to try next. The pumpkin muffin recipe came from Smitten Kitchen, and made me completely forget about the pumpkin bread we made the week before. It was perfect for a tray of 6 large muffins, and made a great breakfast treat for us…I found them to be so amazing that I ended up eating two this morning! The cinnamon sugar is a perfect topping for the muffins and gives it a satisfying crunch. I love that these can be frozen – I am going to try to make some and stash them for later, when I won’t have time to make them.


What is your favorite fall read or activity?

Emotions

Continuing with the theme of “All about me,” we’ve been reading and expressing the emotions we see and feel.  Mon Cœur (MC) and I experience a range of feelings and moods throughout the day together, and I have always tried to express myself:

  • “I am so happy to see you cleaned your room like I asked.”
  • “I am so sad you did not take your nap.”
  • “I am frustrated you are not listening.”
  • “I am so excited to see you reading a book by yourself!”

And MC is practicing explaining her feelings too, when she is upset. Mostly I hear, “You hurt my feelings!” and I have to ask for a reason why.  I made her do something, I said something in a stern voice, I delivered a consequence that was promised if she did not change her behavior. “If you don’t stop drinking the bath water, then I will drain the tub for the evening…Okay, I’m draining the tub.”

Way Past Mad

Right before I snapped this photo, MC declared, “Nate messed up my room,” and gave her best sad face.

A recent library find, Way Past Mad, written by Hallee Adelman and illustrated by Sandra de la Prada allowed us to explore emotions some more, as well as have some meaningful conversations about emotions and how to handle them.  

RELATED:  I mentioned one conversation we had which stemmed indirectly from the book in this previous post.

The story is about an older sister who is upset by all of the things that her little brother messes up.  She finds herself way past mad.  So mad, that she lets it out and it rubs off on her friend who tries to help her.  

I love how Hallee describes the emotions as being contagious in a way – the mad is like a rash that spreads and swells.  Later when she is able to process her feelings and talk it out with the friend, she turns her emotions to happy, which is like a smile that spreads and swells.

It talks about our mad making us say things we don’t mean, how emotions can be contagious, and how we can turn around our mindset and our moods.

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck

Another emotions book we read is a fun little book by Sandra Boynton, which touches on a whole spectrum of moods, Happy Hippo, Angry Duck.  It gave us an opportunity to talk about synonyms (angry and mad), look at facial expressions to determine feelings, and talk about how feelings can change over time and day to day.

Feelings Activities:

Facial expression photos:  As a fun activity afterwards, we took pictures of our facial expressions for different moods.  At first, it was hard for her to show anger, although after a few moods, she got into making faces!  We could have made faces in the mirror, and she would have enjoyed it just as much.

Big feelings discussions:  I always try to take opportunities as they come, so whenever MC is having a moment and stuck in a (negative) feeling, we talk about it.  Likewise, if I am not happy, I like to express my feelings in the simplest way possible for her, so she understands.

Bedtime daily wrap up:  At the end of the day, I always like to ask MC, “What was the best part of your day?”  We are still working on the time parameters of a day, so sometimes she will tell me it was visiting or playing with family or friends that we saw weeks ago…So then I will tell her what my favorite part of the day was…If I ever forget to ask her, she will say to me, “What was the best part of your day, Mommy?”  which always makes my heart melt because a. she remembered; and b. this is important to her, too.

I stole this idea from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, where they would go around the dinner table and ask what was the best and worst part of your day.  Since we spend our days together, we try to sort out the worst parts and talk through them as they come, and then accentuate the positives of the day right before bed.

Pumpkin faces:  We have been bouncing back and forth between fall and all about me themed activities.  One morning for her breakfast invitation, I cut out simple orange circles and some eyes and a mouth.  Before I could even get out of bed, she already had the top off of the glue stick and was making faces. Love!

What’s your favorite book for exploring emotions?

RELATED: What’s a breakfast invitation?  Read this related post about our new morning activities we do that are either created or inspired by Days with Grey.

Read our other book reviews and activities for the theme “All About Me” below:

Hands

Continuing with our theme “all about me,” Mon Cœur (MC) and I have read quite a few books around the hand.  I had found a really cute craft where kids painted and “stamped” one hand and then their other hand was traced in sharpie and then filled in with pastel.  I loved the trio of hand themed books that we had picked out, because even though they all talked about hands, they were all so different! Below are snapshots of each book.

Hands and Hearts by Donna Jo Napoli 

With beautiful illustrations by Amy Bates, this book tells the story about a day at the beach with a mom and daughter.  Simple prose with a corresponding illustration of sign language is on each page. 

As we read the first time, I made the signs as I read the word.  The next time we read, I encouraged MC to try the signs with me.  The following time we read, I explained that some people can’t hear or speak (or both) and so instead of talking with their voices like we do, they use their hands.

Simple signs such as “hands,” “run,” “dance,” “sun,” and “sunset” are taught with illustrations.  It’s easy enough to try on the fly as you read the book, and even simpler to demonstrate to little listeners after a little practice, or after the third time reading!

Hands to Heart by Alex Bauermeister

This was another excellent book to read over and over again, and explore in many different ways.  It has amusing animal illustrations by Flora Waycott to accompany the text.  Turns out, this book is more yoga based, and the title comes from the yoga pose where you bring your hands to your heart. 

The words in the book are simple and explain various yoga poses that are good for relaxing and boosting one’s mood – the cow, cat and downward dog among others.  I love how it shows and tells you to do the poses, yet the author isn’t preoccupied with teaching the name of the pose.

We both take the time to explore the words, the pictures, and try the poses as we read along.  MC’s favorite?  The cobra snake!

Stretch your legs long behind you like a cobra snake!  Lift and lower your chest.  Cobra is sleeping – then awake.

from Hands to Heart

My Hand by Satoshi Kitamura

It’s a quick read, with funny pictures and a little cat.  Hands can push, pull, tickle, walk, wave, point…and sometimes…when it’s bored…Mon Cœur’s favorite…pick your nose!  We’ve been laughing through this dirty little habit for the past few months (just so I don’t yell!).   At first, my initial reaction was, “No!” and then I started asking, “Do you need a tissue?”  The answer was always, “No!” So now I just hand her a tissue when I see her reaching for her nose, and say, “Tissue!”

Do you have a favorite book on the subject of hands?

Four Easter Crafts

Recently, Mon Cœur (MC) has been on a creating streak. She loves to make art, and it’s so great to see not only the end product, but the approach she takes to making her art. We’ve been inspired by many different bloggers and craft books, and have had fun experimenting with different ways to make art…below are four of our favorites.

Water marker art

This was a fantastic idea I found from a crafting book, Preschool Art by Mary Ann Kohl. We took some watercolor paper and some markers and started drawing. After we made our designs, MC wanted un escargot (a snail), she grabbed the spray bottle and sprayed the paper. The colors ran a bit, blended some, and the end product was reminiscent of a watercolor.

She loves this craft, I think mostly because she is able to use a spray bottle. I love it because we are free to make any sort of design or picture, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. When we spray the art, it’s interesting to see the art changing. 

Cotton ball painting

This awesome idea came from a friend who knows how much MC loves art. I am so glad she found this idea, because I never in a million years would have dreamed up this way to make art. The idea came from The Cinnamon Mom, and she has so many different fun variations on this craft. 

We tried painting with the cotton balls and clothespins along with the leftover shapes from our stained glass craft (below). MC had a much easier time manipulating the cotton ball “paintbrushes” due to their shorter length.

I love that the clean up is much quicker and easier than when we use paintbrushes – I toss the cotton balls and let the clothespins dry, and this is a great way to recycle all of our egg cartons as paint palettes

Stained glass tissue paper art

These stained glass crafts remind me of childhood – they were a tried and true activity and it was always rewarding to hang it on the window and see the sun shine through it. For these Easter themed stained glass, I free handed sketches based off of templates from the blog Everyday Dishes. She had cute templates for an egg, a chick, and a bunny. 

We didn’t have contact paper, so we just used wax paper and a glue stick. I also didn’t have a “supply” of tissue paper, but I did have a collection of gift bags and tissue paper from baby and wedding showers past, so I dug into those.

MC’s favorite part? Using the glue stick and choosing the color paper to use. She often applied the glue and directed me to add a certain color tissue paper to a certain part of her egg. 

Chick and bunny finger print art

I found the cutest idea for Easter cards over at Sarahndipitie’s blog. I’ve always been big on sending cards – more so now with MC. I’m especially aware of how much a simple card or letter can really make you smile when you see it in the mailbox. So we try to pay it forward. We did this just a few weeks ago with quirky little April Fool’s Cards

For Easter, I sent about the same amount of cards as I would for Christmas – I think everyone could use a little cheer right now. Since I didn’t have enough stamps, I took a picture of the front and back of one card and I took a picture to text to friends.

MC had a lot of fun making the finger prints. I told her they would be chicks and bunnies, but she didn’t really see it and understand until she woke up from her nap and saw the sharpie additions I had made. My favorite chick was the one where she was trying to finger paint – we turned it into a flying chick.

I cheated because we ended up sending 30 plus cards in the mail – I made one sheet of four cards on card stock and one sheet of four greetings on card stock and then copied them. It was a time saver and also provided about 20 minutes of entertainment as MC watched the copies come out of the printer.


We are looking forward to a gorgeous day today, some egg dyeing, egg hunting, and family time. I hope that you have an amazing day. I’ll leave you with the quote I shared in our Easter card:

Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on but you keep going anyway.

Karen Salmansohn

Stay strong and happy Easter.