Tag Archives: fall

October Card of the Month: Halloween Cards

With just under a week left until Halloween you have just enough time to make these simple Halloween cards to send to your friends.  I came up with these cards because I wanted something our 3 year old could help make.  We had a great time making them together.

Start with an 8.5″ X 5.5″ piece of orange card stock folded in half.  Cut a 5″ X 3.5″ rectangle from a cute fall print paper and attach it to the card.  Put a 4″ X 3″ orange rectangle on top of that.  Then comes the fun part – use a variety of punches to punch out various shapes that could be used as jack-o-lantern faces.  I made my face pieces brown to go with the fall print paper I used, but black would work too.  Then make all kinds of faces with your shapes.  The cool thing is that each card will be a little different.  I had envisioned faces like this when I planned these cards:

Halloween Cards

Halloween Cards

But when our daughter got to work she used the pieces for legs, eyebrows, foreheads, and things I never even imagined.  Clearly, her cards are by far the best ones:

Kid Made Halloween Cards

Kid Made Halloween Cards

I added a green swirl for a stem.  (I had a swirl punch but it was so hard to punch the paper that I pitched it the second I was done punching these stems.  So now I’m in the market for a new swirl punch…  You could also just curl paper around a pencil – probably much easier!)  I finished off the inside of the card with “Happy Halloween” stamped on a pumpkin layered on more of the fall print paper.

Halloween Card - Inside

Halloween Card – Inside

Happy Halloween!

Mum Pumpkins

It’s mum season!

I found this idea for mums in pumpkins a couple years ago on Pinterest and couldn’t wait to try it at our new house.

We got 4 plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins at Target.  Then we went and got 4 mum plants at Lowes.  When we got home, we found that the flower pots were bigger than the openings in the pumpkins, so my husband used a utility knife to cut the pumpkins and widen the holes.  He said they were really easy to cut.  He also drilled drainage holes in the bottoms of the pumpkins.  Then we just put the mums (still in their pots) in the pumpkins and set them out on the porch.  We wanted them to look nice for fall, not just Halloween, so we turned the jack-o-lantern faces toward the house (and now they are there smiling at us every time we open the front door!).  They would look just as cute with the faces showing in the front though.

I’m loving these mum pumpkins this year.  I’m hoping we will be able to save the plastic pumpkins and use them again next year.  However, if they get too faded or dirty to reuse it’s no great loss.  They only cost about $4 total and took only about 15 minutes to cut and drill, so if we have to redo them next year, that’s just fine!

October Poem of the Month: Summer to Fall Diamante Poem

October’s poem of the month is a special kind of poem that illustrates the transition from one thing to another – in this case summer to fall, perfect for October as signs of fall become more and more obvious each day.  It is a “diamante” poem because it has a diamond shape to the lines.  It has a very specific format which is good for kids who might get overwhelmed trying to write a whole poem from scratch.  With this poem, little poets just have to think of one individual word at a time and build their poems from there – and they end up sounding like “real” poetry!  It’s also good for teaching and practicing different parts of speech.  I have seen a few variations on the instructions in various teacher activity books, but after trying a few different versions this what worked best for my students:

Line 1:  “Summer”

Line 2:  Two adjectives that describe summer

Line 3:  Three “ING” words (gerunds) that you would do in the summer

Line 4:  Here’s where the transition starts – Two summer nouns followed by two fall nouns

Line 5:  Three “ING” words (gerunds) that you would do in the fall

Line 6:  Two adjectives that describe fall

Line 7: “Fall”

This poem was written years ago by one of my third graders:

Summer to Fall Poem

Summer to Fall Poem

After the kids made their final copies, I had them cut them out, glue them onto orange, red, yellow, or brown backgrounds and decorate them with fall stickers.  I would display them as always on my “Poem of the Month” bulletin board.

Fall Leaf Wall Hanging

I found this idea on Pinterest for a wall hanging with a fall leaf made out of smaller fall leaves and fell in love with it.  Luckily, in our new house we just happened to have a spot in my office that needed it.  Even more luckily, it turned out to be really quick and easy (and fun) to make!

I got the supplies to make it at Michael’s.  Instead of a plain stained board as I had seen in the original, I opted for this neat round crate-like hanging.  I also found some cool artificial leaves – some even printed like the pages of a book and some made to look like calico fabric – that were perfect to go with my office.  I downloaded a maple leaf shape from the Silhouette Design Store, blew it up, and printed it out on my regular printer.  I cut it out by hand and traced it onto the crate hanging.  Then I place the smaller leaves on the traced leaf shape one by one and glued them on with the glue gun when I was happy with their positions.  It was kind of like doing a puzzle to make sure the leaves were following the outline of the big maple leaf shape, but overall it was much easier to make them fit than I had expected.  The whole project was done in about 15 minutes – I think it took longer to shop for the supplies at Michael’s than it did to make the finished product.  I love the way it looks hanging in my office.

September Card of the Month: Fall Note Card

This was my first week back to school – fun but hectic to say the least!  So this week’s blog post will be short and sweet.  September’s card of the month is a fall note card – perfect for notes to the teacher, thank you notes, notes in lunch boxes, teacher gifts, whatever you might need!  It’s super simple, which is also perfect for this super busy time of year.  Just get a piece of 8 1/2 inch by 5 1/2 inch cardstock and fold it in half.  Add an apple or leaf or other type of fall sticker (I found these cute stickers at Michael’s) to the bottom corner of the card.  That’s it!

Fall Note Cards

Fall Note Cards

September Poem of the Month: Ode to a School Supply

Now that back to school season is in full swing (or even wrapping up in some cases), it’s time for the first installment of my poems of the month to use with kiddos in the classroom.  (By the way – a little late, but if you want to start poems of the month in August I always had kids write acrostic poems using their names for August.  They are simple, quick, and a good way to help kids get acquainted with each other.)  September’s poem of the month is an “Ode to a School Supply.”  It’s a great way to get kids started writing poems because it’s just a fill in the blank format – very nonthreatening for kids who think they can’t write poetry.  Everyone can be successful with this type of poem, so it helps build confidence for future more complex poems.  It also helps kids write descriptively about an everyday object – a task that will help them learn to add details to all of their writing.  This is a finished sample from a third grader:

Ode to a Pencil

Pencil, oh pencil!

I love how you write.

You help me with drawing,

and writing,

and spelling.

Your lead is black and 

your eraser is pink.

Thank you for being my best school supply.

After writing their poems and editing them, I always had kids publish final copies of their poems and decorate them with school supply stickers before displaying them on my poem of the month bulletin board for September.

Monthly Themes for the Classroom

Doing seasonal activities in schools is frowned upon these days.  However it was always my experience that whenever I would change my bulletin boards at the beginning of each month, the kids would rush in the next morning and crowd around the new decorations in the room.  I never once pointed them out – the kids always found the monthly decorations on their own and got excited about them.  Even if it wasn’t purely academic, it made the students excited to come in the classroom, and in my unscientific, not researched based opinion, enthusiasm definitely boosts learning.

To make it easy on myself, I collected 2 complete sets of monthly decorations. (Since we looped and I had the same kids for 2 years, 1 set wasn’t enough.)  I got 1 big bulletin board set, packs of small accents, and 1 medium sized wall hanging for each month – mostly Carson Dellosa, but I supplemented with homemade stuff when I couldn’t find what I needed from the store.  I would put the various decorations up on a wall by themselves or add them in with the calendar or other year round bulletin boards.

August Suns

August Suns

November Turkeys

November Turkeys

I found that the following monthly themes worked well – although as I look at current teacher catalogs it’s harder and harder to find seasonal decorations anymore.  It’s worth it if you can find them though!

Year A:

August – Suns

September – Apples

October – Pumpkins

November – Turkeys

December – Snowmen

January – Snowflakes

February – Hearts

March – Shamrocks

April – Butterflies

May – Racecars (we are in Indiana, after all!)

December Snowmen

December Snowmen

Year B:

August – Sunflowers

September – School Supplies

October – Scarecrows

November – Fall Leaves

December – Mittens

January – Penguins

February – American Flags

March – Rainbows

April – Flowers

May – Bees

April Butterflies

April Butterflies

Screened In Porch Season

It’s officially my favorite season – Screened In Porch Season!  Our house has a screened in porch.  It was one of the few extras we splurged on for our new home, but it’s also one of my favorite parts of it!  The builder said that ours was one of the first screened in porches in the neighborhood (evidently most people opted for sun rooms or covered porches instead).  But he was pretty sure that after seeing how great ours is, more and more people would be building them.

The sun room vs. screened in porch debate is a familiar one in my family.  My parents have a screened in porch that we all LOVE, but my mom has always been tempted to replace the screens with glass.  My dad and I always vetoed this idea though.  Sure, you can use a sun room in all four seasons rather than just three, but the enjoyment you get from being outside on the porch sans bugs during spring, summer, and fall totally makes up for losing the time out there in the winter.  In my opinion at least!  Happy Screened In Porch Season to all!

Apple Pie Apples

After our family trip to the apple orchard last week, I was anxious to make something “fallish” with our apples.  I had seen several versions of individual apple pies baked inside apples on Pinterest over the years.  Some sounded more complicated than others, so I was always nervous to try them.  However, with a fridge full of apples, I thought it was worth a try.  And they actually turned out great!

I decided to simplify things as much as possible – especially since I was not very confident the apple pie apples would turn out.  First, scoop out the insides of the apples with a melon baller.  Throw about the core, but save the rest of the apple pieces and use them to make your favorite apple pie filling.

Apple Pie Apples - Hollowed Out Apples

Apple Pie Apples – Hollowed Out Apples

Scoop the apple pie filling back into the apple shells.  Cut pie dough into quarter or half inch strips.  (Just use your favorite pie dough – homemade or store bought!)  Put the strips criss-cross on top of the apples.

Apple Pie Apples - Pie Dough

Apple Pie Apples – Pie Dough

Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Apple Pie Apples - Topping

Apple Pie Apples – Topping

Put the apples in a glass baking dish and cover the bottom of the dish with water.  Cover and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Then uncover them and bake about 20 minutes longer until the crust starts to brown.

Apple Pie Apples

Apple Pie Apples

Much to my surprise and delight my apple pie apples worked!  And they were actually really easy in the end.  We added caramel sauce to the tops to make them even better.

Apple Pie Apples - With Caramel

Apple Pie Apples – With Caramel

A yummy and surprisingly easy fall treat!

Johnny Appleseed Day

Coming up on September 26th is Johnny Appleseed Day.  It was so thoughtful of John Chapman to have his birthday in September – the perfect month for celebrating all things apple!  In case you don’t know, back in the 1700s and 1800s, Johnny Appleseed went around what is now the midwest planting apple trees.

His story is a great way to talk about being a good citizen by doing nice things for the community and by caring for the earth.  It’s fun to role play his lifestyle with kids too – carrying everything he needed with him and wearing a pot on his head so that his cooking equipment could double as head gear (or at least so the story goes!).

Johnny Appleseed Bag

Johnny Appleseed Bag

You can have kids make simple bags for carrying seeds by folding a big piece of construction paper in half and gluing the edges.  Then tie yarn through holes in the top and decorate with an apple.  Voila!  Your very own Johnny Appleseed bag.

Johnny Appleseed Hat

Johnny Appleseed Hat

Then make a pot hat to go with it.  Use gray construction paper for the pot and black for the handle.  Then staple or glue black strips on the back to make a headband.  Have kids put on their hats, gather up their seed bags, and go on a journey around the playground or yard pretending to spread appleseeds.  Then have them write or draw about what it would have been like to have lived like Johnny Appleseed way back when.  You could even use this as a springboard for a service learning project to plant trees or do kind things for other community members.  Happy Johnny Appleseed Day!