Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dear Sugar: Simple Fall Fun With Young Kids

Dear Sugar:

I don't know about you, but I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest.  I tend to binge-pin and then realize my life will NEVER look like anything I pinned, so I take a break for a few weeks. Vicious cycle.

Here are some non-Pinterest fall fun ideas you can do with your young kiddos.  These have all been created/tried/tested by me.   My goals are:  inexpensive, easy, fun.   If my kid can't do most of the activity by themselves, we're not doing it.

1:  Bedazzle pumpkins.

Remember the 80s when there was the Bedazzler?   Oh, yeah.  We bedazzle our pumpkins!   So carving pumpkins is only sort-of fun (they never look all that great, only last about a week before dying, involve putting candles---aka FIRE---around young kids, and parents end up doing most of the carving and de-gutting):  but bedazzling pumpkins?  It's everything!

All you need is craft glue, q-tips, embellishments, and pumpkins.   We got our embellishments this year (googly eyes and rhinestones) at the dollar store.   (We have also painted pumpkins in the past, but usually the kids just mix all the colors together, and we end up with brown-gray painted pumpkins.)

Put some glue on a throw-away surface (such as a paper plate).  Give each kid a few q-tips.  Have them pick up embellishments, one by one, and place glue on the back using the q-tip dipped in glue.  Stick the embellishment to the pumpkin.  Allow to dry.  A tip:  a lot of glue isn't good, as embellishments tend to slide down the pumpkin.

This is an excellent activity for practicing fine motor skills.  We usually put on our Disney playlist (just because) and decorate away!   This activity held the attention of my active 3.5 year old son for over a half hour!

2:   Fancy fall bath.

Fall commands vanilla, pumpkin spice, cinnamon:  warm, cozy flavors.  Using some sort of blending device (we have a Magic Bullet), place oats, vanilla extract, spice of choice, and some brown sugar.   Blend until the mixture is a fine consistency.    Start a warm bath for the kiddos, pour in the mixture, and if you're feeling extra fancy, light a candle.  (We had Merry Marshmallow from Yankee candle on hand---as it's one of the few scented candles I like).   Put on some calm music, and let the kids enjoy. This is perfect for before bedtime.   (As an added bonus, oat baths are good for those with eczema.)

3:  Pumpkin tic-tac-toe.

Gather five mini white pumpkins and five mini orange pumpkins.  Create a tic-tac-toe board using masking tape and a large piece of posterboard or cardboard.  Have fun!    If you want something more permanent, use a board and paint the lines on.   This portable game is great beside the bonfire or inside on a chilly day.

4:  Bake pumpkin muffins.

Easiest recipe ever.   Mix 1 can of pumpkin puree (we use organic) and some pumpkin spice with one vanilla cake mix (we get the vanilla cake mix from Trader Joe's since it's free from unhealthy ingredients and food dye).   Bake as package directs.   You get moist pumpkin "muffins."

5:  Leaf fishing.

My second child invented this game.  One day my oldest was getting her hair done, so I took my younger two kids to a local park while we waited.   My daughter found a stick with a pointy tip and occupied herself for a half-hour by "stabbing" fallen leaves and holding them up.  We deemed this game "Leaf Fishing."   The kids had fun "catching" big leaves, small leaves, and multiple leaves.

6:  Nature painting.

Go on a nature walk and gather things like acorns, small leaves, pinecones, and gumballs.   Cover your kitchen table or counter with white paper (that comes on the big rolls).  Give each kiddo a paper plate with different colors of washable paint (we like the basic colors, the neon colors, and the glitter colors from Crayola).   Dip the nature objects you found in the paint and decorate the paper.  Allow to dry and hang up.   It's fun to see which objects make what patterns.  

7:  Curl up with books and tea.

I have a crazy affinity for tea, especially Tazo's apple cinnamon (which is caffeine free---good before bedtime).   Make some caff-free tea for your kiddos, and curl up with some fall books.  These are our favorite fall, including Halloween, books featuring kids of color: click on the image to connect to the product page on Amazon.

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