Over the next month I will be sharing variety of resources, tips, and tricks to help make Halloween 2020 safer for you and your children, while still being tons of fun. This will include Teal Pumpkin Project resources, as well as information about making a socially distant Halloween happen, whether you choose to trick or treat or seek alternatives.
The links below will get you started, and stay tuned to the blog and mysocial media feeds for more! I've also included a list with a few more ideas at the bottom of the page.
Resources to Get You Started
More Halloween Ideas
Is your family skipping trick or treating? Aside from the ideas listed in my Westchester County Mom article, here are some other options to celebrate Halloween at home. You can do these with your family, or include your social/learning pod with precautions!
And be sure to check out my Pinterest account for Halloween themed boards, and ideas from tons of other amazing bloggers!
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Who doesn't love a seasonally decorated mantle? I'm making it easy to replicate the look I put together in my home with low cost products you can order online!
While many of the products I'm recommending in this post are look alike for the ones we have in our home, these are the bats that we've been using the last couple of years. They are sturdy and make for a bold accent. We've used them on our fireplace and our walls, and have received tons of compliments the last couple of years. Once Halloween is over, we take down the bats and leave up the rest of the decorations until it is time to decorate for Christmas!
We love our farmhouse style clock; it is one of our favorite pieces! For your home (since we got our clock from a friend's small, local business), I've found a great look alike that has similar roman numerals and a weathered wooden base.
So many look-a-likes, so little space! Here are just some of the great fabric pumpkin options I was able to track down. These will keep your home looking seasonal and stylish from September to Thanksgiving!
We've had our 'Fall' sign for about 7 years now, but lucky for you, there is no shortage of look-a-likes! This one is the closest I was able to find, though you'll have no problem finding a different one should you not love this recommendation.
Who doesn't love candles? We have made them a staple of our decor for years. Check out these orange taper candles as one option. You can display them in whatever candle sticks you have, or get ones that look like ours (which were originally purchased at a small shop in the Berkshires for our wedding). The look-a-likes are shorter than ours, but will still work (and are much less expensive!). We rotate the candles we place in them based on the season; fall is red, orange, purple, or black, winter is red, green, or white, and so on.
We love our battery operated orange string lights. With no plug to worry about, they are portable, and perfect for the mantle because they don't have a wire running to the nearest outlet. These look-a-likes come in a pack of two, and cost a good bit less per piece than the ones we found in a local store!
What does your autumn mantle look like this year? Comment below to share some of your tips and tricks!
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Pumpkins might be one of my favorite parts of fall. So I've had a lot of fun designing pumpkin activities for my little one!
Since I've been doing an alphabet themed month this September, I fit the pumpkin activities shared here in with the letters C (counting), F (fall), J (jack o lantern), P (pumpkin), O (orange), S (shapes) and T (teal.... we are a food allergy family, after all!).
10 Little Pumpkins
Counting/One to One Correspondence Activity
For our 10 Little Pumpkins activity we read 10 Little Pumpkins, and each time a new pumpkin was discussed in the story, added a pumpkin to our velcro board. At the end, when the "10 little pumpkins [roll] out of sight" we removed them all. You can find the printable for the velcro activity in the Resource Library, and the book (plus supplies to make the velcro activity) using the links below.
Older children can also use the velcro activity for counting; just ask them to place a specific number of pumpkins on the velcro board.
Jack O Lantern Faces
Shape Activity and Craft
What you need:
Before doing this activity, we watched a great musical video from Sesame Street about all the shapes you can use to make a jack o lantern face. You can find that here.
Start the craft by painting the paper plate orange. Once dry, your child can glue shapes of their choice onto their 'pumpkin'. To make this a shape recognition activity, you can do the following:
Letter P for Pumpkin
Letter Recognition Activity and Coloring Pages
You can find these activities in the Resource Library! To create the velcro activities seen above, be sure to check out the supplies recommended for the 10 Little Pumpkins activity above.
Teal Pumpkin Paper Plate Project
What you need:
Cut out a stem from one paper plate. Paint brown. Paint the remaining two plates teal. Allow all pieces to dry. Then staple or glue two paper plates together, and then add the stem to the top.
Add a Teal Pumpkin Project message if desired (you can even have your children write why the Teal Pumpkin Project matters to them and glue it to the center).
Baking Pumpkin Muffins
What toddler doesn't love helping with baking! To celebrate the first day of fall, we baked pumpkin muffins using one of my favorite recipes (you can find that here). Baking helps children develop motor skills (pouring, mixing), teach about measuring and following directions, and helps teach cause and effect.
We also used it as a sensory activity by taste testing some of the ingredients (specifically the pumpkin puree, a tiny bit of sugar, and the orange juice, since my child doesn't drink juice yet).
Pumpkin Activities We Have Planned For Later This Fall:
Pumpkin season has just barely begun! We have tons more pumpkin activities planned for this fall. Here are a few:
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And be sure to check out other great activities here!
What you will need:
Pour water into ice cube trays. Add food dye of your choice and mix. Freeze until solid. Remove the colors you want from the trays, place on paper or other painting surface, and let the fun begin!
Looking to make the activity educational, too?
Have your child use the color mixing log and/or guide (see resource library) to predict what colors mixing will result in, add up how many drops of each color it takes to make a new color (and how many drops each cube has total), and ask them to label (and, if capable, write) the color words they are discussing. You can also have your child describe (verbally or in writing) the sensory experience of painting with the ice cubes.
Want access to the color mixing guide and log? Be sure to subscribe to my free resource library to get this, and many other great printables for you and your children.
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. If you want to learn more about my participation in this program, click here.
As I noted inmy post about our first week homeschooling, sometimes everything doesn't get done when we want, or how we want. And that is perfectly okay! But because I didn't want us to fall behind with what letters I was planning to review each week, I made the choice cover a few letters at a time throughout the rest of September, and into October. Since I know I'll be covering the alphabet repeatedly, this felt like a good modification to make sure I could get through content I wanted to review while also being able to do other activities in October
Here is a breakdown of each of the activities we did for the remainder of the alphabet!
You can find our letter A and B activities here.
Calendar and Story Time - Daily (Mostly!)
Our calendar and story time routine doesn't vary much! Therefore, it has looked pretty much like what we did the week before. Be sure to check that out here. You'll also find a link to our daily circle time book, Shadow Boxes. We read the page related to the letter(s) of the day!
Why does the header say "mostly", by the way? Because we didn't do the calendar daily. Between early intervention therapies, doctors appointments, general life, and refusing to enforce calendar time rigidly (my kid is a toddler, remember?), it didn't happen every day. And that is okay! While I always try to do fun homeschool activities with my child daily, I never want to give the impression that I have it all together, and things run seamlessly. That isn't fair to you, the reader. That isn't real life. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise!
Book: 10 Little Pumpkins
Activities: 10 little pumpkins velcro activity, Fall Numbers Binder Book Activity (from the subscriber's library)
You can learn more about the 10 little pumpkins activity here.
Letters D, E, and F
Nat Geo Dinosaurs 101 Video
Many kids love dinosaurs, but given they are something no human being has or can experience in person, they are also a highly conceptual topic to cover. As such, I wanted to find ways to make the content more accessible to my toddler.
The video I'm sharing with you is geared towards slightly older children and contains larger vocabulary, but my toddler loved it! It is never too early to start exposing your child to more advanced academic content, so long as it is in a developmentally appropriate way. In this case, the video was just over 3 minutes (so, short), contained exciting imagery, and was presented in a way that made my child more interested (I played the video on my phone after reading a book about dinosaurs, and he normally doesn't have access to my content via my phone). From the time I was a small child, I loved National Geographic and PBS documentaries. I hope to instill the same sense of academic curiosity in my child!
While I try not to use screen time as a way to teach, in this case, it made a lot of sense to provide video content.
Dinosaur coloring pages:
These coloring pages can be found on the Subscribers' Library!
Dinosaur Spikes and Spots Shape Activity
We added spikes and spots to the dinosaur template from my subscriber's library (or any dinosaur coloring page). While doing so, we discussed shape and color.
This activity is easy. All you need is a dinosaur shape, a glue stick, some colored construction paper, and scissors. Cut out circles and triangles for your child using different colored paper. Then, let them have fun decorating their dinosaur however they want!
Letters D, E, and F letter tracing/coloring pages
Letters G and H - Ghosts and Halloween
Craft and Sensory Activity: Tissue Paper Ghosts
Making tissue paper ghosts is easy! Just grab some white tissue paper, crumple, and glue to a piece of black construction paper (though you really could use whatever color you want)! Then add eyes with black paint or marker. If your child is a bit older, they can paint a Halloween scene on the paper first (like I did on mine).
Literacy/Letter Activities: Reading Halloween books, as well as about the letters G and H in our Shadow Boxes book. We then colored the letters G and H, and did ghost and halloween coloring pages from the resource library.
One of our favorite Halloween books is "When the Goblins Came Knocking". It is a great social emotional story for young kids who may find costumed trick or treaters scary of overwhelming. The protagonist tells of last Halloween, when he was scared and hid, but also, of how this Halloween he is able to wear a scary costume. The last page shows the child with his scary dinosaur hood off, letting little readers know that behind those costumes are other kids. It is a sweet story that you'll love sharing with your child.
I believe the book is out of print, but there are tons of used copies available for less than a new hardcover copy!
Letter I - Ice
For the letter I we painted with ice cubes and colored the letter I (see coloring pages in the resource library). We also discussed the concepts of cold, and melting (while my little one likely didn't take in everything I told him, it is a great idea to share ideas with your toddler. They are sponges, and as long as you aren't giving lengthy explanations of high level concepts, the only thing it can do is get their little minds working!)
J - Jack O Lantern
For Jack O Lantern we made pumpkin faces out of paper plates and black construction paper shapes (you can find that activity here), and watched Sesame Street's Making Pumpkin Faces Video. Just like all Sesame Street content, this cute music video is educational, talking about shapes and family.
Letter K - Kitten
We didn't spend a lot of time on letter K, but we did do the letter K coloring page from my library, and spent a lot of time with our own cats. We also did the same animal finding activity with easter eggs (see the Letter E section), but this time searched for different kinds of "kitties" (big cats).
Letter L - Leaves (did along with letters O, R, and Y for orange, red, and yellow)
For the letter L we collected and played with leaves (sensory), watched a Nat Geo video about leaves changing, as well as doing the leaf matching activity in the resource library. We also did the L for Leaf and fall finds velcro activities from the resource library. We also did a number of velcro activities I put together sorting the colors we see in autumn, and discussed letters R, O, and Y for the brilliant colors our leaves turn this time of year. You can find those velcro activities in the Subscribers' Resource Library.
Letters M and N - Moon, Monsters, and Night
Letter Activities: M for Moon Velcro Activity, coloring/tracing pages for letters M and N.
YouTube Video: Moon 101
Craft and Literacy: Making a Monster (from subscriber's library)
This activity is simple! Just print the pages and let your child mix and match bodies, arms, legs, and other add ons for their monster. Want to expand on the activity? Have your child tell or write a story about their monster. What is their name? Where do they live? What do they eat? Do they have a family? A job? A hobby? Are they friendly or scary? Your child decides! There are two worksheet pages (not shown) to get your child started with writing in the printables kit.
Letters O and P - Orange and Pumpkins
I did an entire blog post about the great pumpkin activities we've done. You can find that here.
Letter Q - Quiet
We did letter Q along on the same day as letters O and P. How to help a young toddler learn about the concept of quiet? We practiced! We tip toed around the house, and then practiced being loud by stomping and roaring before going back to trying to be quiet.
Letter R (did along with letter L, plus reviewed O, and skipped ahead to discuss letter Y): Red, Leaves, Orange, and Yellow (Autumn Colors)
See the section for L above for more!
Letter S, skipped ahead to letter X - Spiders, Six
For the letter S we discussed spiders, and the difference between spiders and insects. One great way to tell them apart? Insects have six legs, while spiders have eight!
I'm putting up a separate post about the spider activities we did soon, so keep an eye on the blog! I'll link that here once it is live.
Letters T and U - Ten, Up, Teal
We came back to 10 little pumpkins for the number ten, danced and practiced being up and down (through dance and song; we sang the Wheels on the Bus and did If You're Happy and You Know It (jump up, put your arms up), and painted Teal Pumpkins for the Teal Pumpkin Project.
You can find the 10 Little Pumpkins Activity and the Teal Pumpkin activity here.
Letter V - Volcanos
We didn't spend much time on letter V, but we did do a bit of learning about volcanos. I look forward to returning to the letter V and doing a volcano unit in a few months, when my child is a little older!
Nat Geo Volcanos 101:
Letter V coloring pages (see resource library)
Letter W - Witch
I did an entire post about our letter W activities. You can find that here.
Letter X - See Letter S
Letter Y - See Letter R
Letter Z - Zoo
We were initially planning to take our little one to the Bronx Zoo for this unit, but weather and responsibilities got in our way. Instead, we focused on doing a lot of learning about animals that might be in a zoo!
I added wild animals you might find in a zoo to my child's sensory bin, and he had a blast playing with and labeling the different animals he found. I also gave him some salt dough I'd made, since he seemed to have been craving the smooshy texture.
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There is nothing quite like crafting for autumn, am I right? For some reason I feel so much more motivated to craft this time of year. I can't be the only one, right?!
This year my first craft of the season were decorated wooden squares.
Much like the craft I shared from last fall, this project is super flexible and can be modified easily to the supplies you have and the season you want to craft for.
What you will need:
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases made through these links. My participation in this program comes at no added cost to you, and helps support this blog. Learn more here.
Other supplies that may be helpful:
Looking for craft supply recommendations? Check out my growing list of favorite and recommended products for crafting here.
How to make these decorative wood canvas crafts:
1. Start with your raw wooden block. Paint or stain desired color.
2. Apply any paper/photographs. For larger pieces, you can apply Mod Podge first. For smaller pieces, you will want to apply first, then add coat of Mod Podge. Check out the exclusive resource library to get some of the graphics and photos I used for this project! For some graphics, this may mean using an X-acto knife or scissors to extract graphics or text.
You may opt to add additional color or sparkle using colored pencils or pens prior to cutting them out.
3. Apply coat of Mod Podge with a paint brush. If you are using glitter, promptly apply once the coat ofMod Podge is on.
4. Heat up hot glue gun. Apply any bulky items (ribbon, fabric, sequins, etc.).
5. [OPTIONAL] Apply additionalMod Podge if desired.
6. If using acrylic paint accents (including acrylic paint pens), add these last.
And you're done!
Love these graphics? They are coming to the resource library in the coming days! You can sign up here.
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Disclosure: The post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in the Amazon Associate program comes at no additional cost to you, and commissions earned help support this blog. You can learn more here.
Making the choice to pull my child from preschool this fall was difficult. I feel fortunate to have the resources to be able to stay home with my little one during this challenging time; I know it isn't an option for many families. I also feel quite lucky to have a background in teaching (including teaching preschool!). For critical social skills we are doing playdates with a small circle of cautious friends, at least until it is no longer a safe option in our area, or until the pandemic passes and we can go back to school. But what about all that time when we aren't occupied by playdates?
That is where my background in teaching has really been an asset! But I know not every parent has a degree in education and formal teaching experience.
That is why I've decided to share our homeschooling journey with you!! Here is what we did during our first week learning from home:
Starting the Day: Calendar and Weather, Themed Story (Daily)
Circle time is a vital part of the preschool day. It helps children center and prepare for a day of learning, connect with their classmates and teacher(s), and, of course, learn. Sure, we are learning from home with no siblings, which means there are no other students to connect with. But that is no reason not to start the day by focusing on the learning ahead!
Each morning we start with our calendar; we discuss what month and year it is, count up to the current day, sing our days of the week song (see lyrics below) and review any special events or holidays happening that day. We then sing our weather song (see lyrics below) and then look outside to figure out what the weather is that day.
Once we have finished the calendar and weather, we read a story (or stories) related to our theme.
Our theme for the month of September is 'The Alphabet'
Each day we cover a new theme related to a letter of the alphabet. Sometimes we cover the same letter a couple of days in a row, other times we only spend one day on a letter (the only reason for repetition is if I have a lot of content related to one particular theme and can't fit everything into one day). I cover each of this week's themes in detail below.
Week 1 - Themes and Books
Why no curriculum for Thursday and Friday? Part of our homeschool journey is accepting sometimes things come up that make it difficult to follow through. My goal is always to do the best I can, as a parent, and in all my affairs. While older children doing virtual learning may not have the luxury of taking time away from formal learning, preschool is different. We can be more flexible. If there is one parenting lesson I hope to impart on readers it is that parenting requires flexibility and being mindful that sometimes things don't go as planned.... And that is OKAY. I love routine, but trying to rigidly stick with plans stresses me out. After years of running on a hamster wheel with trying to be perfect, I've decided instead to work hard to go with the flow. Thursday I wasn't feeling well and Friday we had a playdate in the morning and got sidetracked in the afternoon. And that is absolutely okay! I originally planned to cover the letter C, but instead moved those activities to the following week.
Looking for a great lesson planning template for little ones? Here is the one that I've been using (please feel free to download it for your own use (conditions apply*!)
Circle Time Book (literacy): The Book of Shadow Boxes
This alphabet book takes the form of a poem, and is quite creative. It moves away from alphabet book stereotypes, and focuses heavily on promotion of phonemic awareness (focusing on the individual sounds each letter makes), as well as some phonics strategies. You can find it here (it is out of print, but you can find used editions), or check out some of our other favorite alphabet books!
Activities: Letter coloring/Tracing (Fine motor, writing), singing the alphabet with a visual aid (see below).
Stay tuned to my subscriber's library for access to these great (and free) printables!
Circle Time Book (literacy): The Book of Shadow Boxes - Letter A poem only; How Do Apples Grow
Activities: Apple stamp painting (fine motor, sensory, STEM); Letter 'A' & apple matching (literacy).
Stay tuned to my subscriber's library for access to these great (and free) printables!
Apple stamp painting is a great activity for toddlers and preschoolers. I paired it with "How Do Apples Grow", and we used the opportunity to cut open the apple, look at the different parts of the apple as shown in the book's diagram (including the seeds). We then removed the seeds for planting (we placed the seeds in a wet paper towel for safe keeping until they could be safely planted; I was out of potting soil!). By extending the painting activity to include talking about the apple as a plant, we in turn covered apples a science topic as well as art, literacy, and fine motor skills!
Letter activities (printables coming to resource library soon!)
Favorite products for making the most of these printables:
Circle Time Book (literacy): The Book of Shadow Boxes - Letter B poem only; my child's book of choice (we read All Are Welcome repeatedly!).
Activities: Letter 'B' coloring/tracing; Body tracing activity. (click for full description of activity)
We had so much fun with these homeschool activities during our first week of homeschooling preschool. We were also super grateful to be able to build on social skills as well (since social skill development is one of the most critical elements of early education). I can't wait to share our activities from week 2!
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*Access to this template (and all Mindfully Scientific Mama content) is for personal use only. Mindfully Scientific Mama content may not be shared for commercial use, or on another website, without explicit written permission of the content creator.
May 2020 (Prior to 5/31)
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