Posting about pumpkin carving with pre-schoolers led me down a crunchy leaves lane of nostalgia. Decorating our house and preparing costumes weren’t our only Autumn traditions. Cherished were our drives to Ort Farms in Long Valley, NJ where we’d take a hay ride to the pumpkin patch, pick as many pumpkins as we could carry, and load up on apple cider, doughnuts, and honey sticks. After saying hi to the farm animals, we’d head home. Every year, Hubby got increasingly skilled at carving pumpkins. (Check out his haunted house below.)
It may seem obvious to say pumpkin carving is an easy and fun kids activity, but if you teach preschool (ahem, my wonderful new job), you might think pumpkins, knives, and carving don’t mix with ten super wiggly, touch-everything, curious two year-olds! What does work? Carving open a pumpkin and letting them feel and scoop out what’s inside.
Eight children reached right in, touching and exploring. (“Mushy, gushy!”) The textures were new to them–which showed on their faces–but they dug out the wet, stringy pulp and seeds anyway. Fun!
Two kids wanted nothing to do with this strange mess and backed away from the pumpkin. Funny!
Later in the week, my co-teacher managed to make use of time when the kids were sitting still. She carved shapes into a face. What a great way to learn!
At home, we carved pumpkins, also. It was a first for my daughter’s boyfriend from California. Hands on all around!
“Simchat Torah (Rejoicing with the Torah) marks the end of the annual cycle of weekly Torah readings and the beginning of the new cycle. It is a joyous holiday that celebrates the Jewish love of Torah and study. Simchat Torah is celebrated by taking all the Torah scrolls out of the ark in synagogue and spending the evening dancing, singing, and rejoicing.” (https://toriavey.com/what-is-simchat-torah/)
The 2 year-olds in my preschool class made their own mini Torahs and flags. For the flags, they decorated paper with stickers and then glued the paper onto popsicle sticks. For the Torahs, they finger-painted thin strips of paper. After the paint dried, I hot-glued each end to wrapping paper rolls cut into small tubes. The ends were rolled up and their Torahs were closed with pipe cleaners. They loved waving their flags and showing off their Torahs to the cantor, rabbi and other classes. Fun!
That’s what one of my daughters (shout out to Hannah) and I are doing during quarantine. Need a break from work? Bake! Stressed out? Bake! Family of 5 wants dessert? Bake! (Hon, guess who’s going to need to go on a post-quarantine diet? Me!)
In preparation for the unofficial start to summer, here are the Top Ten Patriotic Desserts. Click on dessert names under the photos for links to each recipe.
Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees and declared Memorial Day a federal holiday. The change went into effect in 1971.
Cities and towns across the United States host Memorial Day parades each year, often incorporating military personnel and members of veterans’ organizations. Some of the largest parades take place in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. Americans also observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries and memorials. On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the holiday.
When I was an assistant pre-school teacher for the Transitional Two’s at HGEEC, the kids made lots of paper plate creations. I Heart Craft Things’ “Paper Plate Fluttering Butterfly Craft,” pictured above, would have gone great with the two, three and four year-old’s butterfly units. Butterfly habitats were ordered, and the children watched caterpillars eat, form chrysalises, and transform into butterflies. Then they set them free.
Best kid quote: Upon seeing a butterfly open and close its wings, a two-year old girl said, “The butterfly is clapping!” How cute is that?!
Want8 more imaginative paper plate crafts for kids?
If you’ve only used paper plates to simplify the clean-up process after a barbecue, prepare to discover a whole new world. Because they’re plentiful and inexpensive, paper plates make for a fantastic children’s craft supply. When it comes to paper plate crafts, the themes available are nearly endless, from animals and masks to flowers and holiday décor. We’ve rounded up eight creative paper plate craft ideas for kids (although you might find that the whole family wants to get in on the fun).
Note: In addition to scissors and paint or markers, many of the crafts require a few additional supplies. Always supervise little ones as needed.
Click here to find out how to create a paper plate Jellyfish, Fox, Puppy, Hedgehog, Pumpkin, Christmas Trees, Wings and Shaker.
K-2 students made these cute, Spring-themed, animals bookmarks using the same steps as the Easy Winter Kids Crafts, Felt Mitten Bookmarks. Pick an animal and get creative with whatever decorative supplies you have on hand. Possible animals and insects besides puppies and birds? Cats, horses, unicorns, lions, butterflies, caterpillars, etc.
Happy crafting, hon!
Create paper patterns.
Cut out shapes. Sandwich ribbon between felt. Decorate.
Spring Felt Bookmarks
felt (or a thick fabric), small pieces will do
grosgrain ribbon (or satin ribbon), about 14 inches per bookmark
small googly eyes
any other things to use for decorating such as glitter glue, thin ribbon, foam shapes, sparkly stars
craft stick (or cotton swabs)
newspaper, wax paper, tin foil, or cloth (whatever you don’t mind getting glue-y)
Measure ribbon. What size book is the bookmark being made for? A picture book? A chapter book? Measure the book, then add 6 inches to that measurement, which will allow ribbon to stick out of the top and bottom of the book and to be sandwiched between the felt. For example, if a book measures 8 inches, add 6 inches and cut a 14 inch piece of ribbon
Create a paper pattern by drawing animals. We drew a profile of a puppy head and a whole bird. Also draw a coordinating pattern for the bottom of the bookmark. We drew a bone to go with the puppies and eggs and nests to go with the birds.
Cut out paper patterns.
Trace shapes on felt: two side of the animal and two sides of the coordinating object. Make sure the two sides are the same so that they line up when glued together.
Match up animals and objects, figuring out which will be the fronts and which will be backs. Using craft sticks (or cotton swabs), spread fabric glue on the insides of the cut-outs. Sandwich 1 inch of the ribbon between the fronts and backs. Press to help glue adhere.
Decorate bookmarks, either one side of each animals or both, there’s no right or wrong.Let dry.
Tips: Trim excess felt. Check seams for gaps and, using craft stick (or cotton swab), add extra fabric glue where needed.
Zoom will be getting a workout tonight as families all over the world connect over the internet to celebrate the first night of Passover. Shout out to my niece Gavi who asked if I could mail charosets from New Jersey to California (lol!), but made her own and FaceTimed to show me the results. This is a favorite dish at our seders and for the remainder of the holiday.
Each Pesach, we embark on a journey through Egypt with stories, songs and food. Charoset is the part of the Seder plate that represents the mortar used by the slaves in Egypt when building under the Pharaoh’s rule. We enjoy this sweet fruit and nut mixture, along with the intense flavor of the horseradish, in a sandwich of matzah, which symbolizes the end of the Passover ceremony and the start of the much-anticipated feast.
Our sweet, crunchy mixture of fruit, nuts, wine, and spices…is so good, you’ll eat it by the spoonful. YUM.
2 cups walnut pieces
3 large apples
4 Tablespoons sweet red wine or to taste
4 Tablespoons honey, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ginger or to taste
4 teaspoons cinnamon or to taste
In a food processor, process walnuts until they are finely ground. Pour into a mixing bowl.
Peel and core apples. Cut into quarters. Process until finely chopped. Add apples to ground walnuts.
Combine remaining ingredients and mix well, adjusting spices to taste.
Yield: If allowing for 2 Tablespoons per person, about 20 servings. If eating by the spoonful, less.
[LSOH], staged in a 270-seat theater, restores the show to its original scale and sensibility, reminding us of the special potency of grisly things that come in small, impeccably wrapped packages.
Working with an ace design team, Mayer heightens the show’s classic pulp elements, its aura of low-rent noir splashed with flecks of blood-red.
The Corman film of “Shop” was, like many horror and sci-fi flicks of the Eisenhower years, a fable of the atomic age, playing to a nation’s fears of science run amok. This triumphantly revitalized musical has its own sly message for an era in which celebrity is regarded as a constitutional right:
Embrace fame at your peril. It’s a killer.
My youngest daughter was an Urchinette in her middle school’s production of the show. In keeping with the plant-out-for-blood theme, another mom and I baked and decorated 100 Audrey II cupcakes for the cast party. Fun!
Step 2. Prepare fondant decorations. After the Fondarific was warmed and softened, rubber gloves were donned, and food coloring was mixed in by hand. Small balls of fondant were pressed onto spoons. Then romaine leaves rubbed onto fondant created leaf impressions. After carefully lifting fondant leaves off of spoons, they were layered with wax paper and left to set. (I put them in a container covered with foil, not refrigerated, overnight.) The leaves needed to be stiff enough to stand up, but pliable enough to form LSOH’s man-eating plant.
Step 3. Bake cupcakes according to package directions.Food coloring was also mixed with vanilla canned icing then spread on cooled cupcakes. Icing the cupcakes kept them fresh while the fondant leaves set overnight and formed a base to work on.
Step 4. Assemble Audrey II’s (or whatever decoration goes with your theme). Lynn said that, though the canned icing was good for a base, the stiffer Wilton icing made better leaves surrounding the “plants” and fangs on the Audrey II’s. She used Wilton Tip #103 to form surrounding leaves and Tip #4 for the fangs. Mini Swedish Fish candies became tongues. Eww and yum!
At our chic hotel Maison Astor Paris, a tabletop arrangement of terrariums inspired me to make my own. I bought large and medium-sized glass globes and succulents to add to the vessels and plants I already had at home. I also picked up small, white rocks, soil and moss. On a walk, I found fallen pine boughs and plan to scatter tiny pine cones around the succulents. Guess what’s doubling as Thanksgiving centerpieces?
I inherited a checkerboard cake pan set from my mother-in-law after commenting how great her checkerboard cakes were. Truth be told, I used the set once and then put it away, only re-discovering it recently. I decided to bake a red, white and blue cake and, though it was yummy, it wasn’t the prettiest! I guess that means I’ll have to try it again.
If you want to try to bake a checkerboard cake, click here to find sets online.
Happy baking, hon!
Grease the cake pan set.
Make the cake batter. I used boxed vanilla cake mix and added food coloring until I got the desired color.
Follow instructions on how to alternate pouring different colored batter in different sections of the pans.