Painted Pumpkins

Easy Painted Pumpkin Craft for All Ages

Yay, it’s Halloween! One of my favorite holidays where we go all-out and really get our creativity on!

A few years ago, desperate to see my boys put down their blocks and pick up a pen or paintbrush, I decided it might be fun to paint pumpkins. My boys had been honing their art skills on pieces of scrap wood for years, so I guessed that anything OTHER than a piece of paper would be equally attractive.

Painted Pumpkin with stickers and bow

I was right.

I grabbed a variety pie pumpkins at the grocery store, rolled out the craft paper on the dining room table and we painted pumpkins!

I always keep a acrylic paints on hand because they apply to non-paper surfaces much better. Be forewarned that acrylic paint sticks to ALL surfaces, so better do your painting in old clothes (or no clothes). Which is why I also keep a roll of brown craft paper for just these occasions.

Younger children can simply use stickers, if paint seems too laborious. Here is a pumpkin Eli made when he was three.

FRANKENSTEIN is super-fun and easy to make. We mixed up some light green paint and the kids slathered it all over. I helped them smooth it out so no orange bits were showing and then we applied felt hair with straight pins.

The nose is a painted wooden knob I found in the junk drawer. So glad that drawer actually has a purpose every now and then.

The boys LOVED screwing in Frank’s bolts and I applied the mouth and stitches with a permanent marker.

My favorite is the bat. Mostly because I am impressed with my sparkly foam wing cut outs. I found the foam at Dollar General and the thickness is perfect for this craft. I traced a pattern on the back of each piece so the boys could cut them out. We then hot glued wooden skewers to the back and the boys jammed the wings into the pumpkins along with matching ears. We glued the foam eyes on.

Painted Pumpkins Bat & Frankenstein

Older kids or teens may prefer something more artistic. I like the Day of the Dead Painted Pumpkin in the header photo, which I may try myself this year. You could add sparkle glitter or more colors to really make it elaborate! And why not paint a ceramic pot while your at it? This FANTASTIC idea I found on CraftGossip.comIt looks to be a full-size pumpkin and may keep you busy for awhile!

painted-gumball-pumpkin

If you decide to paint your pumpkins this year, upload a pic and share!

Happy Halloween!

Kate

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Make Your Own Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie

Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio

Do you ever get a cool educational toy or game and it sits in the box for a really long time because, well, you’d have to read the instructions and you simply cannot imagine putting one more thing into your overloaded homeschool parent brain?

Uh-huh.

Well, that happens to our family A LOT.

So I felt pretty accomplished last Sunday when I pulled one of Jack’s birthday gifts off the shelf. It was this uber cool Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio ($24 on Amazon.com ). 

Minecraft Stop Motion Movie Maker Screen

The boys and I were spending a Sunday alone together while Daddy was away teaching. The kids get pretty excited about “mommy days” because I am a bit more lenient toward electronics play. Let me tell you we played with the Minecraft Stop-Motion Animation Studio for the better part of three hours and electronics were completely tossed aside.

Hello?!

The boys set up the movie scene while I read the instructions. This is so easy it’s shameful I didn’t take it out of the box before!

Image result for minecraft stop motion movie creatorAll you do is download the Minecraft Stop-Motion Movie Creator App to your phone or iPad. It’s FREE, btw. I chose my phone because it’s easier to balance on the frame provided in the kit. You can use your iPad, however.

The first couple of films were crazy-fast until we learned to slow down the frame-rate in the edit feature.  We also had to learn to make small movements for each shot. Otherwise, the film looks too jerky. You can also choose music, sound effects, and backgrounds for your title cards. Too cute. The boys quickly got the hang of it and made a batch of films. Here is one Eli made for you to see:

 

I love finding offline adventures that support the boys’ online passions. Now I am off to figure out how to make  three headed Wither Boss and massive Enderdragon Halloween costume. Sheesh!

Hope you enjoy making movies. Happy Homeschooling!

Kate

PS: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you I earn a small commission on those links where you click and purchase. Thank you for your support in this small way!

DIY Gratitude Jar

A DIY Gratitude Jar is A Fun, Colorful Way to Say Thanks

When my husband and I were dating, I used to leave tiny, little love notes in his truck. I would drive by his place of work early in the morning and place a note under the windshield wiper or sneak one on the dashboard after a day of diving at the local quarry. I made so many notes that we now have an entire box of them, tucked away in the closet.

Those notes always made him smile.

Remembering how much fun it was to write those notes, I started the same tradition with the boys a few years ago around Valentines Day. Since the boys don’t go to school, I became their number one valentine and left the kids a note in their hand-made valentine box each morning.

The notes were simple, yet full of love and acknowledgement.

“Jack, I notice  you worked really hard building a tower yesterday. You’ve got incredible focus.” “Eli, I see that you like to play make-believe chef. Your creativity is endless.”

The boys would race to the table each morning to peek in their valentines box and see what I had written. The look of glee was priceless!

Notice there is no toy attached! Only a simple word of encouragement, love or acknowledgement.

Today, that tradition continues year-round with our DIY gratitude jar. Our jar just graduated from a craft-papered milk jug to this pretty glass vase. My inner Martha Stewart is really stirred up right now, lol!

I keep pretty pieces of scrap paper and a pen sitting nearby and leave the jar on top of the kitchen bar where the kids can get to it and I am reminded to write a daily note. You can assign a different color to each family member for easy sorting and reading.

This could also make a beautiful gift or uplifting pick-me-up for a friend in need. Hope it’s a fun idea for your homeschool household.

Happy homeschooling!

Kate

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Homeschool Human Body

Let’s Have Some Anatomy Fun!

My kids are fascinated with the human body and for good reason – our bodies are amazing and there is so much to learn. Why do we blink? What’s an epiglottis? How does our brain talk to our body? Whew!

We’ve done loads of crafts to help cement our learning, so this time around I wanted to find some unique methods to weave into our human body homeschooling.

As I searched I came across Dr. Dreadful Scabs and Guts Board Game. Our family played it last weekend and we loved it! Loads of laughter-filled learning – what’s not to love?

Homeschool boy plays Dr. Dreadful board gameSome of the questions will stump an adult. Like “How much hair is pulled out of the London sewage each year?” Huh? Yet, most questions are answerable if you pay attention to the multiple-choice options. Our four year old played well although this is by no means a younger-child’s game.

Get ready for silly questions about diarrhea, pee and tushies – which are not only important functions, but also quite hilarious for most children.

Don’t get put off by the toilet humor, however because there is plenty of brain-bending queries such as “Where would you find the hippocampus?” “How many bones does an adult have?” and “What is borborygmus?”

We loved Doctor Dreadful so much, we took the game to our homeschool co-op so everyone could join in the fun.

Last spring, we tried another angle to learn about the body using My Book About Me from Dr. Seuss. I thought we would do a page or two each week, but I was WRONG. My oldest son finished his book in two weeks! Every day he would ask for his “me” book and work to complete several pages.

Structured like a workbook, My Book About Me asks kids to color in their eyes and hair (great way to discuss DNA), circle which job they would like to have when they grow up, and calculate how many steps it is from the front door to the mailbox/grocery store/library, etc.

However, our all-time favorite activity was getting signatures requested on pages 36-37, titled “My Very Special Autograph Collection.” We ran around town for two weeks All About Me Dr Seuss Bookwith our books collecting the mailman, fireman, grocery store man, a man with a beard and a man more than 6 feet 3 inches tall signatures. What a hoot! Is this strictly about anatomy? Nah, but this book is a great introduction to recognizing one’s individuality and will make an awesome keepsake in years to come.

Can you imagine handing  My Book About Me  over to your child and their spouse on their wedding day? Such a gift.

schoolhouse rocks bodyWhen studying the body, don’t forget about Schoolhouse Rock videos. There is “Rock the Body Machine,” “The Nervous System,” “Them Not So Dry BonesandDo the Circulation.” They are super catchy songs that get my kids’ toes tapping and another fun way to cement learning.

So what anatomy activities do you enjoy? Share your ideas and suggestions in the comments section below!

Have a great week,

Kate

PS: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you I earn a small commission on those links where you click and purchase. Thank you for your support in this small way!

Mondays in Outer Space

Mondays are field trip days for our unschooling household; and one of our all-time favorite field trips is to our local planetarium, Kika Silva Pla Planetarium.

Our homeschool group organizes a private showing once a month during the spring and fall where planetarium director and co-host of the PBS Television series “Star Gazers,” James C. Albury, welcomes the Gainesville Homeschool Cooperative families to a cool planetarium experience.

The cost is only $4.00 per child and one adult per family is free (otherwise the second adult is $4.00). Our family began attending when my boys were ages 4 and 2 and they love it!

Because our homeschool group has a wide mix of ages, we typically choose one of the shorter, 20-minute shows that give kids just enough information to get excited about space, but don’t overload with too much information -nor require them to sit on their bottoms very long.

We recently viewed “Passport to the Universe” (narrated by Tom Hanks), which launches visitors on a thrilling trip through space and time. James suggested that kids might also enjoy the new Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Netflix series starring Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Cosmos is a docuseries that takes viewers across the universe where scientific concepts are presented clearly, with both skepticism and wonder, to impart their full impact. It’s a follow up to the original Cosmos series, created by Carl Sagan in the 1970s.

If your kids are remotely interested in astronomy, I highly recommend the series. My six year old son chose to watch the first episode when we returned home from the planetarium and he was so enraptured that we both watched the first three episodes back to back!

Another fun activity that my boys really became engaged with is making “Push Light Planets”. We used the Dorling Kindersley book Space: A Visual Encyclopedia as inspiration and each of the boys chose a planet to paint on top of a push light.

I purchased my push lights at Walmart or you can click through to Amazon Push Lights and order them online. We used acrylic paint, which adheres better than water-based paint. After you’re done, you can stick them on the wall and have your very own glowing universe.

Inspiration for this idea came from the amazing mamas over at The Play At Home Mom blog.

Jack paints a push light to look like a planet

Focusing on getting the paint just right

Jack paints push light planets

My six year old especially loved this project

Eli's Finished Push Light Planet Earth

The Earth push light turned out really cool.

Eli paints his push light planet earth

Looking at the book Space by DK for guidance

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in attending the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium, check out their stargazing shows every Friday night and cool programs Saturday afternoon and evening. If you’d like to set up an exclusive show for your homeschool group, I encourage you to get in touch with James Albury.

So what activities do your kids love related to space? Tell us in the comments section below!

Kate

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