Tag Archives: halloween

Shrunken Apple Heads!

Here’s a fun little science and nature craft just in time for Halloween.  The kids and I made shrunken apple heads this month and it’s been great fun watching them change over time.

shrunken apple heads

All you need are some apples (we used imperfect ones off a generous neighbor’s tree), salt and lemon juice.

First peel your apples.  You can leave a little on the top and bottom like a little hat and scarf.

Then give your child some carving tools (a chopstick, grapefruit spoon or pen knife all work well, depending on your child’s age and skill level with tools).  You can trace your design first with a pen or pencil, if you like.

Carve out a face, making sure to make each feature large since they will shrink up and collapse somewhat.

shrunken apple head

Then mix up some salt and lemon juice and apply it all over, especially in the parts you’ve carved out.  This will prevent mold and also protect them from getting too brown.  If you like, you can talk to the kids about how salt has been used for thousands of years to preserve foods and other things, and how acids like lemon juice slow oxidation (browning caused by a chemical reaction when substances react with oxygen).

preserving shrunken apple head

Now just put your apple heads somewhere to dry.  Choose a location where you can watch them and keep up with how they change.

Have fun!




1 Comment

Filed under activities, crafts

Oodles of Ways to Have Fun With Pumpkins!

Want to have a little pumpkin fun besides the usual jack-o-lanterns? 

Here’s a whole slew of fun ways to decorate and play with these fantastic orange veggies...

Lowe’s suggests using hardware to make all sorts of whimsical, wonderful little pumpkin creations.

Oasis Accents tells how to make glittered pumpkins.

The Magic Onions posted the delightful idea of letting kids pound nails in and then string yarn on their creations.

The Preschool Toolbox made sweet little pumpkin boats.

The Swede Records featured some gorgeous melted crayon pumpkins.

Sweet Paul made this lovely little pumpkin diorama.

Country Living has a whole slideshow of fun ideas, including using stencils, decals, paint with painter’s tape, and more.

And for a few more ideas, check out my round-up of 35 Ways to use pumpkins for crafts, entertaining, education and more.

What’s your favorite way to use pumpkins? 

…Besides in pie, of course!  🙂


1 Comment

Filed under crafts

10 Ways to Make Today Magical

Happy Friday!

Long time, no see, huh?  Life has been busy here, but in mostly wonderful ways.

Among our biggest new developments…

  • Our family took a trip to Ohio to see my long-lost father’s family and my grandmother.  My late mother hid me from my father until after his death and I grew up not knowing that side of my family.  I found them in 2001 and got to go home and meet them all when the girls were itty-bitty, and this trip I got to return so my kids and husband could meet them too.  I am so happy to have them in my life.  They have told me and my kids so many wonderful stories of my dad and they are such loving, fun, fabulous people.  It was just a profoundly wonderful trip back!
  • Little miss Fiona is getting ready to turn one year old next month!  How did that happen so fast?
  • Best of all… Victoria had her three month PET-CT scan and the doctors found no traces of cancer!  She needs to wait five years before she can be officially declared cancer free, but this is such wonderful news!  🙂

Now, how about we get back into the swing of things with a few ways to make a little magic this week?

1.  Go on a natural toy hunt.  Head out with your favorite small people and tromp through the woods, park or neighborhood looking for all sorts of wonderful autumn items to take home and play with, craft with and imagine with.  Acorns, seed pods, gorgeous leaves and chestnuts are just a few of the wonderful goodies you can collect this time of year.

2.  Have a cleaning party with the kids.  Dress up in fabulous play dress-up clothes (party hats and/or tiaras are a must!), blast some happy music, grab some fun treats and clean like crazy together.  Set a timer for every 15 minutes to take a break and enjoy some treats together, and concentrate on being as wild and wacky as possible as you clean.  Who says cleaning has to be dull?!

3.  Make up some masking tape inside games The kids can do target practice, tic tac toe and lots more. 

4.  Or just give the kids a roll of painter’s tape.  Let them make roads, targets, towns, mosaics, paths, words or whatever their hearts desire.

5.  Carve and dye some mini pumpkins!  Isn’t this a darling idea?

6.  Make leaf mazes.  If you have a large yard full of leaves, rake a maze pattern in it and have the kids run, walk or bike it.  Challenge them to make lots of leaf mazes and then rake the leaves into piles for jumping.  (When you’re done, put the leaves on your gardens or in your compost pile or offer them to gardeners to keep the bags out of landfills.)

7.  Make pumpkin pie playdough.  We made this every fall for years and I need to make it up again with some gluten free experimentation for my little guy.  It smells heavenly and is so much fun to play with!  Note that this makes a lot, so feel free to use some math with the kids and make smaller batches!

Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe

  • 5-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups salt
  • 8 teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • 1 container (1-1/2 oz) of pumpkin pie spice  ( If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, just substitute cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, or whatever combination of them you have on hand!)
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • orange food coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
  • 4 cups water

Mix all ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth. Store in a plastic bag.

8.  Make crab apple cider If you’re lucky enough to have access to crab apple trees, you have to try making crab apple cider with the kids!  It’s easy (no apple press required) and the cider is beautiful ruby red and delicious.  We have friends who go to a park near their home every fall to harvest unsprayed crab apples for this stuff since we introduced them to it.  It’s a fun, tasty tradition!

9.  Make a spooky family message for the answering machine.

10. Go find a big pumpkin and plop your favorite tiny person inside it.  🙂  I still smile when I see pictures of when we did this with baby Jack all those years ago.

And with that, chickadees, I’m off to clean some messes and make some new ones!  Have a wonderful weekend!









Filed under Ways to make today magical

Knock, Knock….

Knock, Knock…

Who’s there?

Wanda Witch

Wanda Witch who?


Wanda Witch you a Happy Halloween!

(Happy pumpkin by Victoria)

1 Comment

Filed under the little stuff

More Halloween Fun

Are you getting into the Halloween spirit with your kiddos?

Here’s a few more Halloween activities…..

  • Make a large paper jack-o-lantern and play pin the nose on the pumpkin.
  • Tie a white tissue over a round sucker to make mini-ghosts.  Use markers to add a face.
  • Go pumpkin bowling, using empty plastic bottles for pins and a small pumpkin for the ball.  If you like, make ghosts out of the pins with scraps of white cloth and a tie (like the suckers).
  • Make paper plate spider webs:  Have kids cut notches all around a paper plate.  Cut a length of black yarn and have them thread the yarn back and forth between random notches until the plate is covered with a web.  If you want to make it permanent, let the kids paint over the yarn with glue.  Once dry, the web will be hard and can be removed from the plate.  Cut a spider out of black construction paper to finish it off.
  • For very little kids, cut out shapes from black paper (triangles, squares, circles & mouth shapes) and cut a large circle from orange paper to make a pumpkin.  Let them choose the shapes to use for eyes and a nose and glue them to make a pumpkin face.
  • Mix some washable black tempera paint with some dish soap and let the kids use their  hands to stamp bats on the windows.  For each bat, use a round sponge to stamp a body and then use one hand print for each wing (fingers going out).  Prepare for a mess.  The dish soap helps this clean up easily with a wet sponge after Halloween is over.  To make it easier clean-up, take the kids outside and stamp the outside of the windows.
  • Give the kids a couple of rolls of white toilet paper and let them make mummies of themselves.

Simple Kids also reminded me of this fabulously fun cutting paper story that reveals a fun surprise at the end with the Halloween house.

And there’s always the favorite here at our house — putting the baby in the pumpkin.  🙂

What Halloween fun are you stirring up at your house?


Filed under activities, crafts

On the First Day of Halloween…

Here’s a great Halloween carol to sing to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”  (author unknown)

On the First Day of Halloween, my Swamp Thing gave to me:

A hoot owl in a dead tree.
Two trick or treaters,
Three black cats,
Four skeletons,
Five Snicker bars,
Six goblins gobbling,
Seven pumpkins glowing,
Eight monsters shrieking,
Nine ghosts a-booing,
Ten ghouls a-groaning,
Eleven masks a-leering,
Twelve bats a-flying…


Filed under This and that

Candy Experiments!

Kids got any leftover Halloween candy yet?
Want to use Pixy Stix to test for acids?
Do M&M and Skittles chromatography?
Make sparks with wintergreen Lifesavers?
Head over to this wonderful site for lots of fun experiments!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Another Halloween Down

I hope you and your goblins had a happy Halloween!

Mine had a mostly grand time.

Towards the end, not so much for Alex.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a Halloween in 11 years of motherhood
that didn’t involve at least one child in this state.

Note the two pumpkins.
One is his big brother’s.
He wanted ALL the pumpkins
so Jack was a sweetie and let him carry his.

And he still looked like this.

I am not really much of a fan of Halloween.
I try to hide it but I do it badly.
The children have given me chocolate to make up for it.
I’m a big fan of chocolate
so I suppose Halloween is okay.  😉


Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
I hope you have a magical day
with your goblins or princesses or superheroes.

I personally have
a vampire,
a corpse bride,
a superhero
and a really adorable bug.

Don’t drink too much ghoul-ade!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

10 Random Links!

Do you end up with a billion windows up
for things you want to read, do and get back to
when you surf the web?

Here’s 10 links that have slowed down my browsing lately.  🙂

1.  Books for Treats encourages folks to hand out books instead of candy.
My mother did that when I was a kid.
I was so embarrassed.
The kids were always thrilled.
Even the big kids.

2.  I just wrote an article about MilkShare
and think it is one of the niftiest organizations ever.
They match up moms with extra breast milk
with moms whose babies need it.
You can look for moms in your town or ship it
(recipients pay the costs).
What a fantastic way to use extra milk
and help a baby thrive.  🙂

3.  I love the idea of using some of our new pumpkin puree
to make these pumpkin pancakes.  Yum!

4.  I want to make this monster flesh with the kids tomorrow.
It looks super fun
(especially when you pour vinegar on it!)
and there’s no Borax in it.
Most of you know how I feel about having children play with Borax.
Be sure to read the "why it works" page!

5.  Necco Wafers are going all natural.
I’m all for any candies that don’t have artificial dyes and flavors!
They’re fun for making gingerbread houses too.

6.  Speaking of candy, I wrote up
10 things to do with extra Halloween candy.
I’ve been told that there’s no such thing
as extra Halloween candy
but I’m all for at least finding another use for the stuff nobody really likes.  🙂

7.  These sweet felt tissue cases from Martha Stewart
look like such a great holiday gift for the kids to make!
Victoria wants to make some ASAP.

8.  Okay, another pumpkin recipe,
this time for pumpkin spice cookies.
What is it about fall that makes me pumpkin crazy?
It’s written for vegans and non, too.

9.  I’m dyeing to do this fun craft with the kids soon.  😉

10. Look at these gorgeous leaves!
We have to do this craft too.
Wouldn’t they look lovely in a window?


And with that, chickadees, I’m off to bring two bowls of ice cream
to bed with my sweetie.

Any sites clogging up all your browser windows lately?
Please share!

Happy Friday!


Filed under Uncategorized