FALL into Arts & Crafts

Looking for ways to celebrate the autumn season and create memorable learning experiences with your kids?  Look no further than my favorite FALL arts & crafts below.   As an added bonus, a few will help decorate your house!

  • Pine Cone Bird Feeder: Take a walk to find a few large pine cones.  Tie a string around the tops and leave enough string on the other side to hang from something outside (try to find a place where squirrels won’t be able to reach it!)  Smear all sides with creamy peanut butter and sprinkle with birdseed.  Hang up where you can watch the birds come and enjoy!
  • Orange Peel Bird Feeder: Peel an orange in a circular motion, making sure the peel is in one long piece.  Repeat the above steps starting with peanut butter.
  • Leaf Rub: Collect a variety of leaves.  Talk about each of the leaves color, size, and shape, and try to identify which tree it fell from.  Place a leaf under a piece of paper and rub a crayon over the paper where the leaf is to watch the leaf appear.  Extras: Make your art into a greeting card. Try to find other flat objects to do this with, such as coins.
  • Waxed Paper Leaf Press: After rubbing the leaves, place them between two pieces of wax paper, place a paper towel over the top, and press with a dry iron on medium heat.  The heat will seal the wax paper together to preserve the leaf.  When cool, cut out the leaf leaving at least one inch of border.  I tape these hanging from a light fixture and the light catches them quite nicely.
  • Fall Tree: Paint your child’s hand and forearm with washable brown paint and stamp onto paper to make a tree with branches.  Your child dip can then dip his or her fingers into red, orange, yellow, or green paint to press “leaves” onto the tree and on the ground.
  • Pumpkin Seed Collage: After carving a pumpkin, wash and dry the seeds.  Glue them to paper in different designs and shapes.  Optional: Brush paint over them when the glue dries.

Finally, when raking all of those leaves, encourage your child to make a pile of leaves and jump in it!  Enjoy the good old-fashioned fun…and don’t forget your camera!




What To Do With All of Those Apples?

Do you have an entire bushel of apples from the apple farm sitting on your kitchen floor, waiting to be eaten?  Here are some ideas for what to do with them that can involve your children and enhance their learning:

  • DÉCOR: Put apples in a bowl as an edible centerpiece.  Take a walk outside to collect acorns and pine cones to add to the bounty.
  • ART: Cut an apple open through the middle and reveal the “star” inside; then make a masterpiece!  Dip the flat side of the apple in washable paint and press it onto paper to make “apple prints.”  Be creative and draw on the paper after the paint dries.
  • Observe different apples and try to sketch them. Hang up your art as a fall decorations.
  • Make an apple person.  Put mini marshmellows on toothpicks and stick them into the apple for arms and legs.  Use a large marshmellow for the head.
  • A LESSON IN SHARING: bring a small bag of apples to a friend or neighbor.  Make a homemade card to attach to the bag.
  • Thread a piece of string through the apple and hang it in a tree for some bird friends (a good way to use bruised or rotten apples).  Watch them enjoy it!
  • “SWEETS and GOODIES”: While an apple pie takes a good chunk of time, there are other treats that are easier and quicker to make.  Find a great recipe for apple crisp, apple spice cake, apple butter, apple jelly, or apple salsa.
  • If freezer space (and time) allows, make an extra apple pie and freeze it.  When company comes over, you’ll have a quick dessert to pop in the oven.
  • I always make homemade applesauce to use the last of the apples…peel, cut, and boil apples with a little water and add sugar and cinnamon to taste.  This freezes well also.
  • Caramel apples are fun to make but even more fun to eat.  Kids actually enjoy unwrapping all of those caramels, especially if they get to sneak and eat one.

Enjoy your apples!


It’s Apple-Pickin’ Time!

I saw two trees today whose leaves had begun to change colors, signaling to me that autumn is on its way.  That means Saturday I will be  packing up the family and heading to our favorite apple orchard to pick a bushel of apples.  Here are the top reasons to make this an annual tradition:

1.     It’s exciting to research and plan, and an adventure to get there.

2.     Apple cider donuts and fresh apple cider for breakfast.

3.     Free tastings out in the orchard.

4.     Kids learn a lot about apples…when an apple is ready to pick, how to find apples low and high on the trees, how different apples taste and look, and how heavy carrying a bag of apples can be (Note- it’s best to bring a wagon or stroller for the bag.).

5.     Kids report that the apples they picked are the best they have ever eaten in their lives!

Someday I will travel the 75 minutes to Woodstock, IL, and visit a few of their many orchards, but this weekend, I will opt for a closer one from the list below:

Apple Holler (60 min. north)- www.appleholler.com

5006 S. Sylvania Ave., Sturtevant, WI 53177, 262-884-7100

Great because it is right off of the highway (no back roads to navigate or get lost on!)

This has a ton of kids activities, a restaurant, and a huge farm store with too many good things to list.

Heinz Orchard (35 min. north)- heinz.orchard@yahoo.com
1050 Crest Road (corner of Crest & Atkinson), Green Oaks, IL 60048. Phone: 847-770-3449.

Payment: Cash, only.  I haven’t been here yet but will definitely be stopping by as it is so close!

Didier Farms (35 minutes north)- www.didierfarms.com

Apple and pumpkin picking plus a nice gift shop and a few other kids activities.
16678 West Aptakisic Road, Prairie View, IL 60069. Phone: 847-634-3291; 847-634-3295.

Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch - www.goebbertspumpkinpatch.com 42W813 Reinking Road

Hampshire, IL 60140 (1 hour away) or 40 W. Higgins Rd., South Barrington, IL 60010 (45 minutes away).

Pick pumpkins instead of apples and enjoy many kids activities at their Fall Festival.  This is a popular spot for school field trips.

I hope you can schedule in family time for apple picking this fall.  As my kids’ little hands can pick apples quite rapidly, we end up bringing a very large bag of apples home (not to mention all of the other goodies we buy from the farm store).  Don’t let the amount of apples intimidate you- let the family fun and learning continue at home after you read next week’s blog, “What to do with all of those apples?”