Thursday, October 27, 2011

More October Awesomeness

We did spiders last week at storytime, and mild-mannered Halloween stories this week. I think my favorite out of all the books we read is Ghosts in the House, by Kazuno Kohara.
A little girl, who is also a witch, moves into a haunted house. But ghosts don't bother her, because she knows what to do with ghosts. She catches them, puts them in the washing machine, airs them out to dry, and gives them new lives as curtains, table cloths, and bed sheets. The bright and easy-to-see illustrations in orange and black with an overlay of white make this a perfect book for sharing.
For our craft this week we played with pumpkin playdough. This is my standard playdough recipe, with added cinnamon and orange food coloring. Here's the recipe:

Homemade Playdough

2 cups water
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
few drops of food coloring

Mix all the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Add the food coloring to the water if you are making one color of playdough. If you want to make more than one color, mix in the food coloring after it is cooked, when you knead it. Heat ingredients on medium setting, stirring constantly. It will set up quickly. Playdough is done when it holds together and pulls away from the side of the pan. Turn it out on a plate or cutting board to cool. Knead when cool enough to handle, and have fun!

Last week we made spider webs.  This is an easy craft, but it gives the children a chance to wrap yarn, which is fun to do.

Paper plate
White yarn
foam or plastic spider
glitter glue (optional)

We used black paper plates, but you could use a plain white plate and let your child paint it black. (More activity!) Cut a 20 or so notches around the edge of the plate. Wind the yarn around and around the plate from notch to notch until it looks spider-webby enough. Glue a little spider in the middle, or let him hang from a dangling string of the yarn.

If you want to, you can add glitter along the yarn or on the spider for added Halloween sparkle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Fun

Pumpkins are everywhere! I just read that the world's largest pumpkin---announced last Sunday---is an 1820.5 pound monster grown by Chris Stevens of Minnesota. Every year almost, someone manages to grow a more enormous pumpkin. I can't imagine how they do that.

The pumpkins at storytime were a more moderate size. In fact, the one I brought from my garden probably only weighs a pound and a half. It's a lovely deep shade of orange though---looks just like a pumpkin is supposed to look.

Which reminds me---is it funny that Americans use "punkin" as a term of endearment? My Russian daughter-in-law thinks so. The first time she heard me call the baby that, she was very surprised. "Pumpkin! Why are you calling her a pumpkin?" I think she thought it was weird. But in France don't they use "mon petit chou" (my little cabbage) as a baby name? Pumpkin, cabbage---does anyone call their little one "brussels sprout" or "zucchini"?  Why not?

It was all  about pumpkins at storytime today. We read It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall and Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper. On the board we had felt figures for the songs Did You Ever See a Pumpkin and Five Little Pumpkins.  

Here's how Did You Ever See a Pumpkin goes:

Did you ever see a pumpkin, a pumpkin, a pumpkin,
Did you ever see a pumpkin with no face at all?
With no eyes, and no nose, and no mouth and no teeth.
Did you ever see a pumpkin with no face at all?

So I made a jack-o-lantern,  jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern,
 So I made a jack-o-lantern and I gave him a face.
With two eyes, and one nose, and a big mouth with big teeth,
So I made a jack-o-lantern and I gave him a face.

To go along with this song I have a large felt pumpkin. It is made with a double layer of felt with a thin layer of batting in between. Then I stitched it vertically to create ribs.But it isn't necessary to get that fancy--any big felt or paper pumpkin shape will do. Cut-out eyes, nose and mouth are added as we sing.

Our craft was a laminated paper pumpkin that they can draw on using dry erase markers. I cut out the pumpkins and laminated most of them ahead of time, although if you were only making one, or a few, you could have your little assistant do some cutting and help you laminate.  

Give your child a dry erase marker and they can make jack-o-lantern faces over and over. Just wipe and draw again. I really like the idea of a reusable pumpkin face. Just be sure to not use a permanent marker, unless you want it to be permanent.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Monsters, Monsters, Everywhere!

It's time to get into the Halloween-y themes, starting off with . . .  monsters!  There are several good picture books that involve monsters . . . ones that are not too scary.

One of the best picture books ever written is Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. I love reading this book aloud; it has a wonderful rhythmic text and fantastic pictures that have not aged in 40 years. (Unlike the reader.)

A new favorite is Mo Willem's Leonardo the Terrible Monster. Leonardo is indeed terrible . . . at being a monster and scaring anybody. He gives it his best shot, and finds that there is a better way to get attention.

Everybody likes Ed Emberley's Go Away, Big Green Monster.  Troubled by monsters with long blue-green noses and scraggly purple hair? Let the author show you how to get rid of that monster one feature at a time, till it is all gone. A very satisfying interactive read-aloud.                                                                                                                                                      
If you still need help getting rid of those pesky monsters, try this song (sung to the tune of Did You Ever See a Lassie?):

If you ever see a monster, a monster, a monster,
If you ever see a monster, Then here’s what you do:
Make this face and that face and this face and that face,
If you ever see a monster---be sure to shout Boo!

The kids had fun singing this song and making crazy faces. 
Next week:  Pumpkins!