It’s Pumpkin Time!

Nooo not that kind of pumpkin, but she is really cute!

 

This week we talked all about pumpkins; growing pumpkins, foods we make from pumpkins, the origin of the jack o lantern, etc.  You may think that some of this goes way over his head, but when my husband comes home from work and asks Aedan about his day and Aedan tells him a jumbled story of Jack the tricky farmer or the steps of growing a pumpkin I know he got some of it.  I think having ‘natural’ conversations with kids also helps their own language skills and vocabulary; thoroughly explain things and check for comprehension, but don’t dumb it down.

Anyway… back to pumpkins.  We had a lot of fun projects this week, I turned his playroom into a pumpkin patch so we had lots of pretend play, I made an interactive jack o lantern on the fridge where Aedan could change the faces (our extension was to talk about emotions), pumpkin guts for sensory play, roasting pumpkin seeds, pumpkin art projects, pumpkin play-doh, and to end our pumpkin theme: tomorrow we are going to a pumpkin patch to pick our Halloween pumpkins.

JACK O LANTERN PAPER PLATE

Pumpkin Paper Plate art project. Aedan requested a ‘happy face pumpkin’

 

This first art project is pretty self explanatory: paint a paper plate orange, help mommy cut out shapes for the face, and glue.  It’s these simple projects that Aedan really likes.  Quick, messy and fun!  We talked about the different shapes we could use and the different emotions the jack o lantern could have. Aedan knew he wanted a happy face pumpkin with square eyes.  He helped me cut out the eyes and nose and then he practiced his cutting skills on scrap paper while I cut out the mouth. These projects are great for transitions : for instance, you finally get the playroom put back together and it’s not quite time for nap/lunch/dinner/little sister is sleeping etc.  Keeps him quite, contained, but engaged, learning, and having fun.

REFRIGERATOR JACK O LANTERN

Fridge Jack O Lantern with magnetized removable foam features.

 

  1. I used orange construction paper and cut out a pumpkin shape then secured it to the front of the fridge using contact paper (LakeShore Learning).
  2. I bought a sheet of 3mm black foam (JoAnn Fabrics) and cut out different shapes for the mouth, eyes, and nose.
  3. I bought a role of magnet tape that I used to magnetize the foam shapes.
  4. We talk about the different emotions the Jack O Lantern is showing.  I ask him to make me a sad/happy/mad pumpkin

A great book to use along with this is :

Mouse has 7 pumpkins and paints on a different face on each and describes the emotion.

PUMPKIN PATCH PLAYROOM!

Pumpkin Patch/ Apple Orchard Playroom

I turned the playroom into a Pumpkin Patch/Apple Orchard.  The pumpkins I purchased at Home Depot (15 mini pumpkins/bag/$8 – and totally worth it) and he loves them.  Farmer Aedan helps me pick pumpkins for everyone in our family.  (Not pictured: a cash register to collect money and an apron and straw hat).  He lines the pumpkins up on the ground and tells me he’s ready for me to come pick my pumpkin, so cute!  I plan on using some of the pumpkins later for Aedan to paint and give as Halloween gifts to his grandparents and one for daddy to bring to work 🙂

The apples are foam balls (6/$5.99 at JoAnn)I painted with red acrylic paint and then stuck a small stick in the top to look like the stem.  So far they are holding up great and much less expensive than those fake apples they sell.  He likes to pretend that he’s making apple donuts (the hit of our apple orchard goodies from last weekend) in his kitchen.

INTERPRETIVE PUMPKIN PAINTING

Sometimes it’s nice to just give the kid some paint and see what he comes up with.  This is Aedan’s interpretation of a Jack O Lantern.

TIP:  Always make sure to add a title and date to art work!  I have all of Aedan’s saved and at the end of the year I am going to get them all laminated and made into a book!

PUMPKIN PLAY-DOH

Play-doh ingredients. Flour, salt, water, food coloring, spices to scent.

Allowing Aedan to help keeps him engaged and excited to learn!

 

Pumpkin play-doh! It smells so yummy 🙂

Pumpkin Play-Doh!  I have made homemade play-doh a few times and there are different recipes you can use.   Some require cooking and some don’t.  This recipe is a quick, no-cook recipe which I find works best for us because I like to make our play-doh to go along with our theme (colored and scented) so I don’t need it to last more than a couple weeks at most, I ALWAYS have the needed ingredients,  and I don’t have to take the time to cook it.

You can google play-doh recipes or use this easy, no-cook recipe.

  1. 1/4 c salt
  2. 1 c flour
  3. 1/4 c water (you made need more, but only add 1T at a time)
  4. (for pumpkin play-doh) 1T cinnamon, 1/2 t allspice, 1/2 t nutmeg  (OR pumpkin pie seasoning)
  5. food coloring (12 drops yellow, 4 drops red = orange)

Mix ingredients together and then kneed until it forms a moist (but not sticky) ball.

TIPS:

  •  use a packet of unsweetened kool-aid to add color and scent
  • if you plan on using food coloring, add it to the water before you mix the ingredients together so you don’t have to kneed it into the dough

PUMPKIN CARVING

It’s so fun to see him discover new things!

We bought a pumpkin when we were at the apple orchard last weekend to use for this our pumpkin theme this past week.  I know it will probably have to be thrown out before Halloween is even here, but now he will be even more excited when we go to pick our Halloween pumpkins and talk about carving them.

So I did all the knife work (obviously) but he helped clean out the pumpkin, separate guts from seeds, wash seeds, roast seeds, and pick the jack 0 lantern face.  For him, it was the most exciting thing we did all week and he was practically screaming at daddy about it when Steve walked in the door from work.  Great great memories made.

For those of you who haven’t ever tried or think you don’t like roasted pumpkin seeds try adding cinnamon and sugar or Lowery’s seasoning salt!

Chili powder+Lowery’s and Cinnamon and Sugar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

At first he didn’t want to get ‘sticky’ but I encouraged him to dig in and that it was okay! Funny boy!

Yes, we are in the bathroom with the lights off looking at our Jack O Lantern … for like 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

BOOKS

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What’s for dinner? Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

It seems like during the fall and winter we eat soup and chili for dinner more than anything else… in fact, this week I am making 2 different kinds of soup and chili for football on Sunday.  I always make enough to freeze half  for another meal which saves money and time in the long run.  I may be weird, but there’s something about a stocked freezer full of meals that makes me feel happy.  It’s a small kind of accomplishment I suppose.

Last night I made Spicy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup.  Don’t let the ‘spicy’ or ‘Asian’ part scare you away; if you have any aversions, lessen the amount or add it slowly and taste as you go.  It is really good.  Really really good.  The base of the recipe I found in Better Home and Gardens Cook Book, but the rest, I am proud to say, I came up with and tweaked myself… Asian because of ginger and soy sauce, Cayenne makes it spicy 🙂

SPICY ASIAN CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

  1. 1 white onion, chopped
  2. 4 medium carrots/1 small bag of baby carrots, chopped
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2lb raw chicken, cubed
  5. 2T dry ginger
  6. 1t cayenne (or to taste)
  7. 2 -49oz cans chicken stock
  8. 1 -14.5 oz can tomato sauce
  9. 1/4-1/3 c soy sauce
  10. 3 c spinach, rough chopped
  11. Egg Noodles (or rice noodles, or rice)

Combine first 9 ingredients in slow cooker, cook 4-6 hrs OR on stove stop, allow to simmer 1 hr

Add spinach last 5 minutes of cooking

Cook egg noodles according to directions.

(I keep the egg noodles separate from the soup or they get  mushy. Just portion out to your soup bowls )

With a piece of homemade sourdough bread, this soup makes a comforting meal on a windy October night 🙂

APPLES APPLES APPLES!!!

I absolutely love fall.  It is my favorite time of the year.  Crisp air, beautiful colors, jeans and sweatshirts, chili and noodles (yes, noodles!), AND trips to the apple orchard.  So our theme for this past week was Apples.  I probably went a little overboard on the activities, but Aedan didn’t complain.  Not all weeks will be this full, but we both had a great time!

  • APPLES DISCUSSION: where do apples grow, colors of apples
  • APPLE TASTING:  I bought 3 different kinds of apples; Golden Delicious (yellow), Honey Crisp (red), and Granny Smith (green).  I cut the apples in half vertically and used just one half for this.  We talked about what they tasted like, Which color was sweet or sour, And what our favorite one was.

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  • APPLE PRINTS:  Using the uneaten half of the apples we made apple prints!  We dipped the apples in white paint (apple flesh is white, which is why I chose white paint) and made prints of the apple on corresponding colored paper.
  • CRITTER APPLE FEEDERS:  After we made our apple prints we washed the white (non-toxic) paint off and dried them.  I tied fishing line around the apple and stem and left about 2 feet to tie onto our tree outside.  Aedan helped me spread peanut butter on the fleshy part, we then pressed them onto a plate full of sunflowers seeds and then tied them onto one of our trees outside.  Something certainly liked them because the next morning they were completely gone!  I wish I had pictures to share, but I was in the middle of making dinner, doing this project and Audrey was awake — so you probably can guess how that went.
  • MAKING APPLE MUFFINS: Delicious!  Aedan helped measure, pour, and stir (and of course lick the spoon and taste our finished product when it was still a little too hot!)

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled granny smith apples
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup 2% low-fat milk
1/3 cup light ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
cooking spray
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in apple, and make a well in center of mixture.
Combine buttermilk and next 6 ingredients (buttermilk through egg); stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Spoon batter into 18 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over batter.
Bake at 400°F for 18 minutes or until done. Remove from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

  • STAINED GLASS APPLES

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I cut out the shape of a red and green apple and then cut out the inside.  I then put it onto a piece of clear contact paper (purchased at LakeShore Learning) sticky side face up.  Aedan helped rip up red and green tissue paper (this was fun for him and we got a little crazy), then he was given free reign to stick the paper onto the contact paper.  When he decided he was finished I put another piece of contact paper over the top sandwiching the paper in the middle, trim the outside and, ta-da, Stained Glass Apples!

  • APPLES SONG:

Apples, Apples

(to the tune of twinkle, twinkle little star)

Apples juicy, apples round;

On the tree or on the ground.

Apples yellow, apples red;

Apple pie and juice and bread!

Apples crunchy, apples sweet;

Apples are so good to eat!

  • APPLE HIDE AND SEEK

1. Aedan loves to play hide-and-seek.  2. I love Target’s Dollar section!  Target has seasonal items in the dollar section and I would urge everyone to check it out.  All these projects and activities can add up, but I can usually find something every week that we can incorporate into our current theme and save $$$.  So I found foam apples that came in a pack of 6, red and green.  I had Aedan sit at the kitchen table and told him no peaking (or course he peaked, but oh well) and then I hid the apples around the living room.  Then I told him to go on an apple hunt and find them all.  He had a blast.  He searched, he hid and I searched.  We did this for a good hour!

  • BOOKS!

Welcome!

Mom power

Many of my friends have begun to request resources and lesson plans so I decided to make life a little easier (or maybe not) and create a blog… SOooo Welcome to … “Anything for an m&m, the many adventures of a ‘play-at-home’ mom”!  So named because I can get my son to do just about anything for an m&m and, well, because blog names are hard to come up with when one is normally sleeping.  My tagline “the many adventures of a ‘play-at-home’ mom” refers to just that: adventures, mishaps, funny moments, trying moments, teaching tools/resources/ideas, maybe a few recipes thrown in for kicks.  

Thanks for following!  My bed is calling my name, but I will be back tomorrow!