Monster Bucket

Monday, October 31, 2011

For the past year couple years of trick or treating, my daughter has carried old Easter baskets for trick or treating.  Like the past years,  I never managed to get around to buying a trick or treating bucket.  Since Miss E and I have been bitten by the crafting bug, we made a trick or treat monster pail to coordinate with her monster costume .  Mama Peapod has some cute monsters made with boxes if you don't have a pail handy.

I gave her an assortment of left over supplies used to create her costume, scissors,  a jars filled with scraps, and home made glue.  We used one of our sand buckets for the pail.

She selected different materials, and glued them onto the pail.  I find home made glue works better to stick bigger objects onto non paper surfaces.  Hot glue would probably work better for longevity, but I wanted Miss E to have more opportunity to assemble her monster pail.

The pail is ready for trick or treating!  I am not sure if it will return home with all it's body parts in place when put through the rigors of running from house to house demanding candy, but I don't expect kid created crafts to last forever.

Update - Monster pail survived trick or treating only losing one leg and his horn.  The Little Miss was so busy running from house to house, all monster pail in action pictures came out blurry.  I think we may end up using it as a tree decoration, but I will drill holes in bottom to let rain drain through.  

Mrs. and Little Miss Monsters

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Miss E and I had a fabulous time at our playgroup's Halloween party decked out in our matching monster costumes.

Monster Costume Directions

  • Make monster t-shirts .
  • Use wired ribbon and attach googly eyes on ends with glue and tie into hair for tentacles, horns, or whatever else you want to call them.
  • Paint polka dots onto pants with fabric paint.  We cut out circle shapes with sponges to stamp the paint onto the pants.  
  • Paint fingernails with glittery green nail polish.
  • Make your most vicious face to complete the look.  
It was  a super simple costume to make, and that's the truth because I don't have the ability to sew.

Check out this pair of the cutest, scariest monsters ever!

Check out the Halloween Traditions Link Up at JDaniel4's Mom.

No Sew Monster Costume

Friday, October 28, 2011


Miss E had a lot of creative ideas and opinions regarding this year's Halloween costume, but she finally settled on being a sparkly monster.  Here is her drawing inspiring the costume.

I will be dressed as a monster alongside Miss E, and I created two monster t-shirts for the costumes.  There are few more additions to jazz up the costume, but the t-shirt is the main part of the costume.  I am so excited about how the t-shirts turned out that I wanted to give you a sneak peek before Halloween.

Here is Miss E modeling the monster t-shirts.  She hasn't decided on which one she will wear for Halloween which means I may end up wearing shirt much too small for me.

Materials for Monster T-Shirt
  • plain shirt
  • felt
  • no sew adhesive strips 
  • fabric paint

Steps to Make Monster Shirt

  1. Using felt or other fabric, cut out shapes you want to use for eyes, mouth, and teeth.  Anything goes because it's a monster!
  2. Arrange shapes out on t-shirt to figure out the design you would like.  Your child can help do this step.
  3. Cut out adhesive strips and iron the shapes onto the t-shirt.  The adhesive strips package should have specific directions.  If you sew, sew on shapes.
  4. Using fabric paint, create eyelashes for your monster.
Check out the Halloween Traditions Link Up at JDaniel4's Mom.  

Loose Parts in the Dollhouse

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

As Miss E grows older, her stash of junk multiplies. Whenever I am having the urge to have a clean and organized house, I feel inclined to just throw it all the way. After all it's stuff that was destined for the trash anyways, but I understand how important this junk is to her play. Loose parts is the term used in preschool education to describe the odds and ends, bits and bobs that children use in their creative play. Jenny at Let the Children Play is a proponent of loose parts play especially in the outdoors, and her site has a lot of wonderful ideas about how to incorporate loose parts into play.

Miss E utilizes loose parts, aka junk, when playing with her dollhouse.  She received a lovely, hand painted collection tray from our friends, Samantha and Naomi, and she uses it to organize the loose parts used in her dollhouse.  I find a pretty container helps make the junk more aesthetically pleasing to Mommy.

Except for the junk making the house messy, I find it invaluable to her play. It has enabled me to understand how my husband played as as child because he told me he didn't have toys as a child, but he played outside from sun up to sun down only taking breaks to eat. He turned out to be a very intelligent man even without access to commercial toys.

Loose parts have enabled Miss E to develop core cognitive skills that will strengthen her readiness for school.

She works on sequencing skills when describing the steps to prepare a meal with flowers found in our yard.

She develops abstract thinking and creativity by imagining objects are something else.

Acorn caps become bowls.

An eraser is a pillow.

A plastic lid is a bubbly pool.

She acquires problem solving skills when she creates a scenario of trapped kitties, and she needs to figure out a way to rescue them.

If you are still in doubt of the importance of junk in play, look at Miss E's face. That is the look of concentration and deep thought.

Whoever wants to understand much, must play much. - Gottfried Benn

Hammer and Nails Pumpkin

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Since it's still quite warm here in Texas, I think it's too early to carve a pumpkin unless you want to risk a truly scary pumpkin complete with moldy stench.  But I have had the itch to decorate a pumpkin, and the pumpkins at our grocery store only cost a few dollars, so we could afford to decorate few.

A hammer, nails, and a marker are the only materials needed to decorate our first pumpkin this Halloween.

Miss E drew the pumpkin's face with a Sharpie.

Since the little Miss is a novice at hammering, I hammered each of the nails along the outline of the pumpkin's face by lightly tapping the nail into the pumpkin just a bit. She hammered the nails all the way into the pumpkin. Older, more experienced children could start each of the nails on their own.

Miss E loves her Jack 'O Nails, and she has plans to paint the rest of it.

This activity is great for kids who don't enjoy the icky, gooey insides of the pumpkin. It works on the building a child's arm strength with hammering, and their fine motor skills by aiming the hammer onto the head of the nail.

Check out the Halloween Traditions Link Up at JDaniel4's Mom.

How to Make Natural Watercolors

Monday, October 24, 2011

Since we had a bouquet of dying flowers that needed to be composted, I wondered if we could use the flowers to dye water to be used as a natural water color.

Miss E helped me pick off the petals.

She ground them up with her mini mortar and pestle.

We added hot water.

She stirred it up.

We strained out the petals.

We were excited because we had a bowl each of yellow and pink water.

Miss E started painting, and right away I could see that our technique hadn't worked. There was only a slight tint of the colors barely noticeable. Ela's creation was a glistening sheet of paper.

I lamented to Miss E that we weren't able to make the watercolors and asked if she wanted me to get out her store bought set of water colors. She replied that she liked painting with these colors, and she was having fun. Rather than use up more paper for invisible paint, I suggested we paint the patio, and she heartily agreed. She enjoyed playing with the tinted water outside.  I found this interesting because she has never enjoyed painting outside with plain water.

While I felt disappointed, that I wasn't able to make a true water color paint, this activity was a success for our daughter.  She was able to see that sometimes when we experiment, the result isn't what we expected. This reminded me that the process of invention is just as important as the outcome with children because they take pleasure in the work along the way.   Once young children finish a project, they often don't pay attention to the product spending mere seconds to glance at it, but they were engaged throughout it's creation.

While we might experiment with this again, I took the liberty of including links to sites showing how to make watercolors at home.

All Natural Watercolors

Watercolor Paint with Food Coloring

Watercolor with Herbal Tea

Watercolor with Dirt

Nature Display in a Jar

Friday, October 21, 2011

Due to the suggestion of a helpful reader, I suggest this activity be done with close adult supervision, one on one.  Some berries are toxic if consumed, and this project may not be ideal in a classroom setting.

Miss E and I enjoy collecting things from nature, and today we found a bounty of what we thought were beautiful seed pods from under a tree.  We collected a few and brought them home, and since I didn't know if they were poisonous reminded the little Miss not to eat any.  I did a little internet sleuthing, and found out the seeds are actually mature fruit from the Chinaberry Tree.  Birds will eat this fruit until they reach a drunken state, but they are toxic to humans if consumed in large quantities.

Well, the little Miss had already figured out she was going to paint her "seeds" and display them.  I started worrying that collecting the berries wasn't one of my finer ideas, and I knew she wouldn't just forget about her natural treasure.  I realized that this was a prime opportunity to discuss poisonous plants, and allow her to carry out her artistic plans under supervision.  I schemed up a plan to allow her to display her artistic creation but keep it out of reach from little hands and mouths.

Miss E stuck the berries in styrofoam to make it easier to paint them.  She chose the colors, and we painted each of the berries.

Thanks to our friend, Nawal, we have a stash of glass jars to use for our crafting, and we chose a glass jar to display our painted berries. Miss E added play dough to the bottom of the lid, and stuck the berries in the dough. I needed to build up the dough around the stems to keep the berries standing vertically.

I put the jar on top of the lid and sealed it shut with hot glue. Yes, I am still concerned about the poisonous, but beautiful berries.

Still cautious about the berries, we displayed them on Miss E's decorative shelves which are high out of the reach of curious tykes.

Nature displays in jar could be used with any natural treasure. You could paint the objects or not as colors in the outdoors are beautiful without any adornment, as well. With very little ones, I wouldn't try it using chinaberries, and use more caution with the unfamiliar berries, flowers, and leaves. My daughter is past the age where I need to worry as much about her exploring interesting things with her sense of taste.

Happy Collecting!

This post is featured in this week's "It's Playtime". Hop on over to the Playtime Linky Party to see other wonderful play ideas.

Playing with Our Cat

Thursday, October 20, 2011

There's a bit of sibling jealousy going on between Miss E and our newest addition to the household, a cat named Neville. She screeches hysterically when he pounces on her toys. He brings her to tears when he chases after her when she is wearing her poofy princess dresses. She is indignant when he plops himself on top of one of her drawing masterpieces. And Miss E doesn't want him getting in the middle of one her favorite games which we call swings. We create swings out of things like scarves, rope, and hats, and swing her stuffed animals. The swinging can amuse her for over an hour. Here is Miss E playing swings with her Papa.

Naturally, since this game involves string and small stuffed animals, it's a perfect fit for a playful cat, but Miss E would be horrified when Neville would ferociously leap into the air and attack her beloved stuffed animals. Since I think a game that keeps both child and cat amused is a win-win, I needed to figure out a way to ease Miss E's worries and jealousy about Neville playing swings with us.

Like most families, we have an enormous stash of stuffed animals most of which never get played with at all. I asked Miss to choose a few of her least favorite stuffed animals that would be okay for Neville to attack when playing swings. Once we started playing swings with the undesirable animals, her screams turned into giggles.

Neville Ready to Pounce


His Inner Lion Comes Out

Pets and children both have a need to play and encouraging play between them fulfills both of their needs.

It doesn't take a lot to keep a child and pet entertained and happy.

Bedazzled Bananas

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cute Food for Kids shows how to make secret messages and drawings on bananas, and it's hitting it big all over the blogoshere and sites like Pinterest . My friend, Dena, had another arty banana idea to decorate bananas for the letter "B" week at her daughter's school.  Miss E and I were lucky to be able to share in a crafty banana day with our friends.

Dena set out an array of craft supplies including tissue paper, stickers, paint, glue, pipe cleaners, scrunchies, and construction paper.  We spent close to an hour creating different looks on each banana.

We had a blast decorating our bananas.  Here are some of our creations, and I heard they were a big hit with the kids at school.

The moms had just as much fun as the kids.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Mandala and rangoli are patterned designs that are traditionally used during the celebration of Diwali, a Hindu holiday. They can be created outside a home or temple drawn with chalk and made using natural elements or sand.

The Crayola Website has rangoli and mandala coloring pages. My daughter has enjoyed coloring them. I have enjoyed the beauty of mandalas made with colorful natural elements such as flower petals, and I wanted to try creating one with my daughter. First, I tried to make one with clear contact paper, but my drawing skills are lacking, and most of the objects wouldn't adhere to the contact paper.

I decided to use the mandala on the Crayola website as a base. I suggest copying the designs onto card stock or other thick paper.  Miss E and I chose colorful food from her Indian grandmother's pantry - lentils and fennel. Lentils and grains come in various colors and create a beautiful effect when used in artwork. In addition, we gathered pink flower petals.

We found some of the shapes too small to work with, so I created bigger shapes with glue using the same basic design of the coloring page.  We covered one area at a time with different items and mirrored colors on each side of the design to create a pattern.

Miss E enjoyed creating her first mandala and wanted to continue working.  Here are her finished mandalas.

Creating mandalas is a wonderful way to teach your children about another culture using art.  This activity supports fine motor skills and math concepts such as patterns and shapes.  Miss E enjoyed the sensory experience by touching, mixing, and smelling the materials.