Pumpkin Pie Playdough Recipe

I love play dough but until last year hated making it. I had a play dough cook off and this was my favorite recipe that was submitted by Jana from This and That I added pumpkin pie spice to it and it was perfect!  It was a nice calm activity for my little man on a very rainy day!


2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
3 Tbs. oil
1 Tbs. alum
2 cups boiling water
food coloring

Here is how I had my little man help me make it today!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need the ingredients – separated into individual bowls, pumpkin pie spice, food color is you want, a cutting board, and fall cookie cutters for playing after!Pumpkin playdough 002
  2. Start by pouring your flour into a large bowl, I don’t suggest having it at kid level until you are ready to mix… my camera batteries died and in the 2 minutes it took to get new ones there was a nice dusting of flour all over.
  3. Pour in the salt.Pumpkin playdough
  4. The alumPumpkin playdough
  5. The oilPumpkin playdough 006
  6. The pumpkin pie spice – my son added so much but it turned out great. Pumpkin playdough
  7. Pour the boiling water in ( adults only please- the water needs to be boiling not just hot) Pumpkin play dough
  8. Mix.
  9. Pop onto the cutting board and knead, add food color if you want. Pumpkin play dough
  10. Let cool a few minutes.
  11. Play! The addition of seasonal cookie cutters make all the difference for us. Plain old playdough becomes extra fun with these $1 cookie cutters!  You can store it in the fridge for months in a sealed ziplock.Pumpkin playdough 009


Toddler Halloween Books

Clifford" First Halloween

Clifford’s First Halloween (Clifford the Small Red Puppy) by Norman Birdwell is a Halloween book that my son adores, I read it 4 times this afternoon alone. In all honesty I am sick of it but the person that matters still wants more. The story is about the big red dog’s very first Halloween as a puppy. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth find costumes, they trick or treat and try candy apples too. I think what my son relates to is that at almost 3 he doesn’t remember too much of Halloween , even though he knows what it is this year will be the first time he gets to do so many things. Like little Clifford, he is often too little for things, makes messes and has bigger people step in and fix it for him. He doesn’t know it yet but one day he will be more like the big Clifford than he knows.  This book doesn’t jump at me as a must read but I can’t ignore my son’s love when writing this review!Peek-a-Boooo!

Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a perfect toddler Halloween book. The premise is simple, each page has a well known Halloween character including a witch, skeleton, Frankenstein all hiding behind their hands playing peek-a-boo with the readers. The characters hands are flaps and when you lift them they reveal the character’s face – which is always sweet and happy , never scary.  At the end of the book there are more flaps to lift to reveal trick or treaters and the same Halloween characters hiding in their haunted house. My son loves this book too and  I think it’s a great completely gentle way to read about Halloween with toddlers.

 

where_is_babys_pumpkinWhere Is Baby’s Pumpkin? by Karen Katz. This lift and flap book is the newest addition to our Karen Katz collection. My son adores these books. I read this in the check out line 3 times and he was asking for more before I could get my groceries in the fridge. I like this book because it’s a cute and gentle introduction to Halloween and all the creatures that go along with it. Also there are fun textures to many of the illustrations which help keep little hands busy! I love the sparkly ghost and the shiny bats are my son’s favorites!

Shape Scarecrow Craft

Scarecrow Craft

I had a reader ask if we  had any scarecrow crafts, I didn’t but I came up with this. shape scarecrow!  There are a lot of steps but my almost 3 year old breezed through it, we talked about the shapes, and each body part as we added them . You will notice that my shapes are way less than perfect, but if they are clearly recognizable you are golden. Time is short for anyone caring for young kids, don’t fret over your shapes being perfect!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 5 different color pieces of construction paper ( you can use scrap if you want for all but one) we used orange, green, yellow, neutral and light blue , 2 large googly eyes, a marker, scissors and a glue stick.Scarecrow Craft
  2. Start by drawing a scarecrow head and mouth. Cut out. Scarecrow Craft
  3. Next cut out ( or have your child cut out) a triangle hat and rectangle shirt and arms from the green paper. Scarecrow Craft
  4. Cut out many smaller rectangles from the yellow paper for hair.Scarecrow Craft
  5. Cut out a orange triangle for the nose and 3 orange circles for the buttons. Scarecrow Craft
  6. Start gluing. Now you can just let them at it but to me this isn’t a creative project at all, it’s too structured for that, to me this is a shape lesson really.  Here is what I do.  Show your child the shapes and ask them what they look like. I help up the large rectangle and asked my son if he thought this was the scarecrow’s head, ” no it’s his belly!”  Glue it on. Don’t forget to ask what each shape is or label the shape for them.Scarecrow Craft
  7. Next add the head… I suggested this was an arm. My son set me straight! Don’t forget to have fun! frankenstien 019
  8. Keep labeling, and adding the shapes to build your scarecrow. Here he is adding the hair. Scarecrow Craft
  9. Add the arms.Scarecrow Craft
  10. If you are doing this with young toddlers don’t forget to label the colors as well!  Add your hat! Scarecrow Craft
  11. Add the eyes and nose. scarecrow craft
  12. Add your buttons. Scarecrow Craft
  13. Let dry!

Shape Books

Clay quest Mini Search for shapes

Clay Quest Minis: Search for Shapes!by Helen Bogosian is a big hit with my son and me! I was lucky enough to have this book sent to me by the publisher because it’s already come in handy on a ferry, and waiting to be seated at a restaurant keeping my son happy and busy searching for shapes.  This book is an activity book that has a simple rhyme and request for the reader to find 2 shapes on every page.  The shapes are hidden in the adorable clay “illustrations” , really they are photographs of clay sculptures that range in theme from a spider web to dinosaurs to princess crowns and more. My son loves playing ” Detective” and what I like is that the challenge is just right for his age group 2-3 year olds. Younger toddlers will still enjoy it and it’s vibrant colors but to do it independently this is the perfect age.  I try to find negatives with books that are sent to me from publishers for review,  but I am having a hard time this really is a good shape book!

So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban is a picture book that is all about shapes in our environment. There is page after page of pictures of daily life, food, signs etc… with the simple question of finding the shapes in the photos. It’s a great book to use as a launch pad into a shape hunt in your own home or around town and worth a few looks because you will be surprised at the shapes you missed the first time.

Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute book that not only helps teach shapes it is also entertaining! The three crafty mice use the shapes to protect themselves from one hungry cat finally using them to make scary mice to frighten the cat away! Kids love to help find which shapes are used in the illustrations and older ones can even anticipate what the mice will make next!

Letter Of The Week f !

Food f

Letter Of The Week f

Food is a great word to use for letter of the week, because there is no doubt your child knows what it means, uses it daily and probably likes it ( most of the time).  We used a recipe magazine that was packed full of pictures so it allowed my son do some of the cutting himself successfully since there were so many to cut out in a small space. This is a fast project so we slowed it down a bit by talking about the food we were cutting out, if we liked it or not and if it was a “growing food” or a “sometimes treat” .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of construction paper, any 2 colors will do, some pictures of food like a recipe magazine or you can draw your own, scissors, a glue stick and marker.Letter of The Week F
  2. Start by writing a lowercase f on one of the sheets of construction paper.Letter of the week f
  3. Hand your child their scissors, and let them cut out pictures of food. We chatted about what he was cutting and I had to help a lot but he managed to cut a few out with only a little help too, better yet there was no frustration!  That is a huge success for us, cutting is hard and it takes a lot of practice to be precise, so let them practice! I cut many out as well. Letter of the week f
  4. Gather all the cut out pictures. Letter of the week f
  5. Time to glue!Letter of the week f
  6. Add the food !Letter of the week f
  7. Cut out the f Letter of the week f
  8. Glue on the 2nd piece of paper and let dry. Letter Of The Week f

Alphabet Books!

eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire! Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry!

abc bunny

The Abc Bunny by Wanda Gag was first published in 1933 and is delicious! Readers follow along with a little bunny all the way from a to z ! The rhyming text is bouncy and my son was fully engaged. I thought the black and white pictures may throw him off but he loved them and didn’t seem to notice that there was no color, they were beautifully done and that was all that mattered. I love the language used like the words dash, gale and jaunty. Good books are good books no matter when they were written, and readers will always love them, I loved this book.

human alphabet

The Human Alphabet photographs by John Kane. This book is fascinating. Each page is a a different photograph of dancers making the shape of both the letter and something that starts with the letter. The letter is always obvious ( and in order which helps…) but the picture isn’t and I love that.  It forced my son and I to work together to think of words that started with each letter to figure the tricky ones out .



Frankenstein Craft

Frankenstein Craft


My son is almost 3 and not only very into Frankenstein , he is also in the bathroom all the time. Potty training has been pretty painless but it seems like we are always in the potty, so naturally I came up with a Halloween craft using a toilet paper roll!  You could use paint for better coverage, we are out of black paint so we used markers. What I love about this is that when you are done this Frankenstein craft can stand all on his own !

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a toilet paper roll, a black marker and/or  paint, green marker or paint, googly eyes, glue , 2 golf tees and scissors.frankenstien craft
  2. Start by drawing a line on the roll to mark where the hair will start.frankenstien 001
  3. Color the top part black , a trick I did with my son so he stayed in the lines , was to have him hold the other side and cover it with his hand while he colored. Worked great!Frankenstien Craft
  4. Color the other half green.Frankenstien Craft
  5. Add a mouth  with black marker.Frankenstien Craft
  6. Add glue for the eyes.frankenstien craft
  7. Add the googly eyes.frankenstien craft
  8. Poke  holes in the side for the golf tees. frankenstien craft
  9. Have your child put the tees in.frankenstien craftfrankenstien craft
  10. Cut the black part with scissors, multiple times for make hair. This is a good chance for cutting practice since there is no need to be exact, simply make cute into the roll.
  11. frankenstien 012
  12. We added stitches along the smile after cutting with the black marker.  Enjoy!

Acorn Craft

Cereal Acorn!

Acorn Craft

I bought these oats to make a hearty breakfast for my son before preschool, somehow they ended up as a craft before I ever made him breakfast!  I love exploring textures and using unusual materials for art. We don’t have a lot of oak trees around here but I know lawns all over are filling up with them as the colder days of fall are upon us. This craft is easy but takes a long time to dry , so find a sunny window sill to sit it on for a day before shaking off the extra.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some heavy paper ( we used a brown grocery bag) , glue, oats, chocolate cereal, brown marker, and scissors.Acorn Craft
  2. Start by drawing an acorn on the paper bag.Acorn Craft
  3. Have your child color this if they want.  Even though we are covering it with glue I like doing this step so that if they only add a little of the cereal it’s still decorated.Acorn Craft
  4. Add your glue- you will need a ton so now is a great time to let your little one loose with the glue.  If you end up with huge puddles just spread them around.Acorn craft
  5. Add the oats. We just poured, my floor survived amazingly.Acorn Craft
  6. Add the chocolate cereal.Acorn Craft
  7. Eat a few….Acorn Craft
  8. Gently shake off the excess. Tip if you use a flexible plastic place mat you can gently shake a little off and then fold and  pour into bowl, garbage , where ever! Acorn Craft
  9. Let dry… for a long long time…. about 12 hours.
  10. Cut out when dry.Acorn Craft

Books

A Friend For All Seasons

A Friend for all Seasons by Julia Hubery is a gem! The book explains the change of seasons in a fun and easy to understand way for young children. Readers follow along with Robbie Raccoon as he notices the changes that are happening around his home, a big oak tree.  My favorite part of this book was when Robbie and a few woodland friends notice that the tree’s leaves are falling and they assume he is crying, so they give him a hug. I loved that! Robbie’s mama raccoon explains the changes and before they go to sleep for a long time during winter’s dark days, they plant 5 acorns . This was a fun part of the book because I had my son predict what would happen. I liked that it gives parents an opportunity to extend this into a science lesson about seeds, and a oak tree’s life cycle. Sure enough when Spring comes there are tiny baby oaks waiting for Robbie when he awakens. I loved this book and would recomend it happily!

When_Autumn_Falls

When Autumn Falls by Kelli Nidey is a stunning book, the illustrations which are painted paper collages, by Susan Swan are so richly colored you will want more after turning the last page. The text is clever as well. Readers will discover that fall is well named not just because of falling leaves, but also pumpkins falling from the vines, temperatures falling, seeds falling from their leaves and even football players falling! The text is the perfect length for toddlers but not too short for preschoolers too.  Cute book for this time of year.

Apple Cider Making Days

Apple Cider Making Days by Ann Purnell kinda surprised me, I don’t know what I was expecting but I loved this book. My son was sold on the tractor in it but I really liked how simply the author explained the whole process of making apple cider.  From picking the apples on Grandpa’s farm to sorting out the good ones to sell and the bad ones to press, to selling it it covers the details without being too much for a young child to process.  I loved that the whole family, aunts, uncles, cousins and more helped , seeing a family work side by side is heartwarming. My son loved the tractor but also the conveyor belt that took the apples to press! The illustrations by Joanne Friar  set the happy autumn tone for the book and I particularly liked the small details like the pumpkins and squash for sale at the farm.  No bad reviews today- all three books are worth a look !