Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Paper Ghost Crafts, Great for Cutting Practice!

My daughter, Molly (5), is in kindergarten and cutting with scissors is important to practice, so I came up with several fun Halloween crafts for her to make! Now we have new ghost decorations for our house and Molly got to practice cutting without realizing it was like homework!

The easiest ghosts she made each started with a single sheet of white construction paper.  I drew a simple ghost on it, going all the way down to the bottom edge of the paper and added in several lines for her to cut.  One ghost had zig-zag lines and the other had curvy lines.  Molly had to cut out each ghost and cut on the different lines as her practice. Then she got to decorate her ghosts with  markers to make the faces. I loved her creepy grin with all the teeth!!

Another simple ghost project I had her make used strips of white construction paper and - my favorite - a paper plate! First I drew several lines along a sheet of white construction paper for Molly to cut out.  Then I had her decorate the paper plate with a ghostly face.  Finally we taped the strips to the back of the paper plate to complete her ghost!

For both ghost crafts in this blog post, use a single hole punch to create a hole at the top of each ghost's head.  Thread some yarn or ribbon through and use that to hang up your newest Halloween decoration!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Mini Pizzas

As part of our Halloween Countdown Calendar, I always like to include a spooky meal as one day's special event. This year I created yummy mini pizzas that went over well with the whole family!

First I started with pizza crust. I used a Jiffy Pizza Crust mix which is super fast and easy to work with. Follow the directions on the box, but if yours turns out sticky like mine always does, just add extra flour! Spray a pan with cooking spray so your pizza creations don't stick when you try to serve them and shape your dough into whatever you want. I made four separate mini pizzas: two shaped like pumpkins and two shaped like ghosts. Remember to exaggerate the shape a little because they'll puff out and lose their shape a bit as they cook!

Next, spread on the sauce of your choice. I used basi pesto sauce for my GREEN ghosts and a very yummy dried tomato pesto sauce for the ORANGE pumpkins. Thanks to Aldi's for offering these delicious jarred pesto sauces this time of year!!
Sprinkle on some cheese, but you don't need that much! I used white mozzarella on the ghost pizzas and orange cheddar cheese on the pumpkin ones.  Finally, decorate your pizzas with whatever topping you'd like (or whatever is on hand if you're making yours as a last minute idea like I did!!). I used pepperonis cut into smaller shapes to create jack-o-lantern faces and spooky faces on my ghosts.  Black olives would be great for the ghost faces if I'd had them!

Bake your pizzas per the directions on the crust. Mine took about 12 minutes at 400 degrees.

I was so pleased at how bright the orange pumpkin pizzas became! My kids loved these pizzas so much! It was such a big deal to pick and choose which one you got to eat. These would be cute to serve on Halloween night, too!  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Hand Print Crafts

I love making little crafts with my kids' hand prints, and Halloween is no exception! I love finding new ideas on Pinterest to add to the ideas I found over the years or came up with on my own. Here are a few fun things to do with those little cutie hands (and feet)!

Hand print ghosts! Use white paint on black construction paper for these little ghosts. Once it's dry, turn your paper so the fingers are pointing down and add a ghostly face using permanent markers or paint. You can also use stickers or googly eyes!

 You can also make a ghost using your child's footprint! Ben, 2, made this at the day care at Element Fitness while I was working out - what a wonderful child care program! He added extra glitter and glue to his.

Here's a new idea I found on Pinterest this year and it was so fun to make with my kids! (Yes, I made one, too!) Spread orange paint on just your knuckles. Hold your fist tight and place it on the paper to make a pumpkin!

Give it a finger print leaf with green paint. These are so cute! Make several pumpkins to create a whole patch and connect them with a twirly green vine and more finger print leaves.

Finally, we made another pumpkin craft combining two of my VERY FAVORITE things: paper plates and hand prints!! Start by painting a paper plate all orange. This was a great project for my messy two-year-old.

Next, make a hand print using green paint. When all your paint is dry, cut out a rectangle of brown construction paper or card stock for the stem and staple it on, along with your green hand print leaf! Look how big Ben's had has gotten!! Even though their hands are getting closer to the same size, I'm sure you can tell which pumpkin belongs to Ben, 2 and Molly, 5! hehe

TIP: When cutting something out like this hand print or a picture, always leave a small border around it so you can see the original shape! If you cut right up to the line, your cutting will dictate how it looks and distort the original. ;O)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Easy and FUN Halloween Meals

It doesn't take much to make a regular dinner or snack memorable. Most of the things I make for my kids are thrown together on the spur of the moment when I get a hankering for something special. Even though not everything I put together is perfect or planned out, my kids are happy to have something a little different and I feel accomplished as a "fun mom" among all the un-fun chores and tasks I have to do.  Here are a few EASY examples of fun ways to liven up the every-day meals around Halloween time!

First I'll start this post with a VERY EASY and VERY FUN Halloween breakfast! Cut a bagel in half and toast it. Smear with plain cream cheese (so it's white) and make a ghost face using raisins for the eyes and a dried cherry for the mouth! Molly (5) was so excited for this breakfast and it was so simple!!

Next in the day is a snack! Here's a fun one I've seen on Pinterest: Jack-o-Lantern fruit cups! Simply use a black permanent marker to draw a pumpkin face on an individually packaged container of mandarin oranges or peaches. I drew my faces on the side and attempted to have my kids hold them up for a picture, but as you can see, they were being a little silly! Special note, however: I have tried to serve these peaches before and they were ignored and pushed away. As soon as I added a cute pumpkin face, my kids ate them up!!

I know I've seen these before in those little holiday magazines you can buy at the grocery store check-out, but this batch of Mummy Dogs was made and "planned" right before I popped them in the oven! Start with plain hotdogs and make a slit in each with a sharp knife. Fill it with a slice of American cheese - I only use a fourth of a slice in each hotdog. Now cut a refrigerated crescent roll into several strips, about half an inch wide. Wrap each hotdog with two or three strips to make mummies!

Bake your mummy dogs at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. When they're done, add little eyes with ketchup and mustard and serve! I serve these kind of hotdogs every once in a while, but just wrapped up normally so the taste wasn't anything new to my kids, but Molly and Ben got a big kick out of this special dinner! This would be so easy to serve on the 31st before you head out Trick-or-Treating.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Halloween and Fall Busy Bag Ideas

I decided to update a few items in my Busy Bag collection and wanted to add some seasonal activities for my kids! Now I have my bags separated in sets of five to be rotated out every couple weeks so there's always something new for them to play with. Here's what I've come up with so far for their Halloween and Fall Busy Bags!

Lately I've seen some really cute number games on Pinterest with a gingerbread man or a Santa theme. I decided to make a version for a Halloween/Fall Busy Bag! I used paper plates and drew a pumpkin on one and an apple on the other just to make it easy and sturdy. Then I filled the apple with smaller numbers, from 1 through 6: the numbers on one die. I filled the pumpkin with numbers you can get from rolling two dice: 2 through 12.

The object of the game is to cover all the numbers by rolling the dice and placing an object on the number as it is rolled. Use one die for the apple, and two for the pumpkin. You can cover the numbers with anything you want. I put a sandwich bag of craft pom poms in mine, but later thought some cut out shapes of pumpkin and apples SEEDS would be cute!  You can play by yourself for quiet time or as a game with two or more. Molly (5) and I played by taking turns. I love that she gets practice reading the numbers while we're having fun!

Another Halloween idea I came up with for our Busy Bag collection is a set of Felt Jack-O-Lanterns! I simply cut out a pumpkin shape and several face shapes (triangles, almonds, crescents, etc) that my kids can stick on and make different expressions with.  My personal favorite is the pirate eye patch! hehe I also cut out a few different shapes for stems and leaves. This is a great activity for my son, Ben (2), because he has been talking about emotions lately! "Ben is happy!" .. and at bedtime "Ben is sad."  Now we can practice making a happy face, mad face, scared face, and more.

Finally, I put together a counting activity with Halloween "candy!" I cut out several pieces of candy from colorful card stock in six different colors. As usual, I used my Cricut electronic cutting machine. You could totally use real pieces of candy though, like individually wrapped hard candies or candy corn for this project! I made several cards to go along with this project, including ones with a number on them to count out the shapes and many different pattern cards. I also included a few simple math equations (1+2=3) and a couple charts for counting out the totals. I allowed for charting by color and shape and also a separate sheet for charting both (not pictured... it's on the back of one of those bottom cards).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Decorate a Witch's Shelf for Halloween!

Another new decoration I've added this year is my "witch's shelf!" I put away my normal decorations from a shelf in my house and replaced them with some creepy Halloween decorations! Some of the display is store bought, but the rest is homemade. Below you can see the start of my own Witch's Shelf, including a couple wonderful pieces by Jim Shore which I just LOVE. For the rest, I gathered several empty bottles from around the house and some really cool looking old ones from antique stores to use as potions!

I used paper to create new labels for the bottles, such as a skull and cross bones and a cauldron of boiling potion! I used my Cricut electronic cutting machine to make some of the shapes, but you can use stickers or just cut out your own. The cartridge I used was Mini Monsters. A couple bottles in this collection were made last year, and you can read about those labels in a previous blog post here.

I also decorated one of the old bottles with fake spider webs and plastic spiders! I dropped several fake spiders inside and pushed some fake spider web inside with a pencil. Then I wrapped the outside of the bottle with more spider webs (can't get enough!!) and a few spiders on the outside.

A final idea for a witch's shelf is to fill fancy glasses or jars or bottles with colored water... and maybe some fake fingers or eye balls!! You know I'll be doing that too. ;O) Happy decorating!

Easy Indoor Halloween Decorations

It's not a secret that I LOVE Halloween and decorate my house as much as I can! We live in a quiet cul-de-sac so I do most of my decorating inside. The creepier the better! I'm so happy my kids really like it too and aren't afraid - especially my five year old daughter who really gets into it with me. Here are a few EASY ideas to decorate your own house that I've done this year.... back in the middle of September... haha!

Every year I decorate my stairs with mice!! I use black cutouts made by Martha Stewart that look so real! You can find them at Amazon or probably make your own with black construction paper or card stock. In the past I've stuck them on with sticky putty but this year I just used some rolled up tape. EASY!

My bathroom is usually decorated quite a bit, too. I have a full wall (top half only) of mirrors which I usually COVER in fake spider webs. I LOVE fake spider webs! They can be a hassle to hang up and then take down though, so here's an EASY option that I did on my smaller bathroom mirror. MARKERS!! I love drawing on my windows and mirrors with markers as a fun activity for my kids and an easy decoration. For this shimmery spider web, I used a white Crayola's Chrystal Effects Window Marker which you can buy at Target or here. After the web was finished, I literally balanced a fake spider on the top of the mirror. DONE!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paper Bat Craft and Decoration

This year my daughter, Molly (5) is all about bats for Halloween! As part of our traditional Halloween Countdown Calendar, we made a special bat project one day! We cut out several paper bats and used them a few different ways.

Start with sheets of black construction paper and fold them in half; either direction is fine. Outline half a bat, including a little ear, pointy wing, and a foot.  I used a purple crayon so the lines wouldn't show up so much on the final project, and I made several per sheet.  Later, Molly told me they were all too skinny to we fattened them up a bit by cutting outside the lines!

Cut out the bats one at a time. This was great practice with the scissors for Molly because a bat shape has a good amount of straight edges and curves without being too difficult to cut out.  She loved unfolding each one to see how it turned out.

The ones that turned out the best became our little "kites." Decorate yours with little faces, fur, and lines on the wings using crayons that will show up easily on the black paper. Silver was our favorite!

When that's done, stick a piece of scotch tape on both sides of it's belly, fold the bat in half, and hole punch it so you end up with two holes side by side. The tape just makes it stronger. You could also use card stock for stronger bats! String some yarn through the two holes and tie a knot.  Be sure there's a pretty good length of yarn attached, maybe about three feet so you can run with your bat "flying" behind you! When Ben (2) woke up from his nap, he was excited to join in the chasing of the bats!

The rest of our bats became wall decorations like some I saw on Pinterest recently! Fold each wing down so it looks like your bat is flapping its wings. Use a piece of rolled up scotch tape to attach it to your wall.  When you put several bats together on your wall, it looks like they're flying around the room! I filled my stairwell with them and I love it!!  This is the first year I've done this but I wouldn't be surprised if the bats come out every year now!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Frankenstein and his Wife Apple Snacks!

I found this fun treat on one of my favorite blogs: Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons. She shares so many wonderfully fun and easy ideas for snacks and meals for your kids! Here's one I was able to recreate so easily for Molly (5). The original snack included both Frankenstein AND his wife, but I opted for just one half of the couple since it was just a little snack.

Start by cutting an apple almost in half, skipping the core, and lay it flat on your plate. Cut several dark grapes in half and lay them out to be the hair. The white streak in her hair is mini marshmallows! Cut another marshmallow in half with kitchen shears and stick them on as eyes. For the eye brows and luscious lips I used dried cherries cut with kitchen shears. The pupils are dried blueberries cut in half.

Molly thought her snack was so cute and fun... but she did have me cut the apple into slices anyway! Haha!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Glitter Spider Web Craft For Kids

Every once in a while, my kids wander into the kitchen and I find them hanging around the table BEGGING to do a craft! (I love those moments!) Unless I have something planned, I need to think on my toes and come up with something to appease them. They had their eyes on the glitter so we started making glitter spider webs!

I gave each of my kids a black sheet of construction paper and a bottle of glue. Ben (2) went to town with the glue. Squeezing it out on the paper is his favorite part of arts and crafts time so I just let him do his own thing. Molly (5) requested a pattern to go off of, so I drew a large spider web on her paper using a white crayon. She traced it with glue and then sprinkled it with ... GLITTER!

My two-year-old did a great job of NOT making a mess with the glitter - I couldn't be more proud. (Just had to put that out there!) When their spiderwebs were complete, we added on a paper spider. Molly made a glitter face on hers which was cute. I used my Cricut electric cutting machine to quickly cut out a couple spiders for us, but you can totally just make your own. Maybe with cotton balls? If you wanted to make the same shape we had, use the Mini Monsters cartridge!

(This is Ben's picture! So cute!)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween Zombie Brains for Dessert

The other night I was totally craving homemade strawberry shortcake. I started making some, but right before I stuck them in the oven I thought, "how could I make this Halloweenie??" That's when Zombie Brains was born!

Start with a regular shortcake made from a baking mix like Bisquick. The brand I use just called for melted butter, milk, and sugar so it's easy to throw together with regular pantry items. My 2-year old had fun mixing it up for me, and my five-year old was happy to taste the dough since there weren't any raw eggs in it.

Now mix in some green food coloring. It takes quite a few drops - maybe 12?  I kneaded it in wearing plastic gloves because the dough gets hard really quickly. Roll your dough into balls, about 2" in diameter. I made mine in varying sizes for each person that would be eating it - as in my son got a smaller one and I got a larger one. Flatten them a little and pop 'em in the oven per the instructions on your baking mix box. I baked mine for 11 minutes at 450 degrees.

While your shortcake is baking, begin prepping the strawberries. Cut them into several little slices and put them, along with plenty of sugar, into a Ziploc baggie. Mix it like you're helping your momma with Shake'n'Bake. The strawberries will get soft and a delicious syrup will form. Keep adding sugar and mixing as needed to create more syrup.  I actually had some strawberries already to go in the freezer from this summer that I defrosted for this recipe. This is a great way to freeze strawberries!

When the cakes are done, slice off the top and spoon on some strawberries to be the brains. I made the face by piping on melted chocolate from a sandwich bag. I actually used DELICIOUS dark chocolate from a recent chocolate tasting party I had through Dove Chocolate Discoveries. You can totally just use regular chocolate chips too!

Serve your brains with whipped topping and extra drizzled chocolate as desired. Now review the rules (a la' Zombieland) and dig in!