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I was channeling my inner Artful Parent today and the kids were preparing pressed leaves for art making by covering them with a layer of Mod Podge. Jean uses this technique for making her pressed leaves look alive with color – and it works amazingly well. We have made leaf luminaries with autumnal leaves and Mod Podge before but also used white tissue paper so the effect was not nearly as striking (though the luminaries were still very beautiful). The leaves we made today are stunning, just like when we picked them off the ground a week or two ago, maybe even more vibrant. We haven’t exactly decided yet what good use we will put them to, but I do not doubt the kids will think of something.

By the way, these leaves were inspired by Jean’s new Autumn e-book, which is currently on sale – pay what you can at checkout. A great time to get your copy!

(I am an affiliate of The Artful Parent and receive a cut of any e-book sold through this link, but I’d be encouraging everyone to check it out anyway even if I wasn’t.)

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One of the things that happened over the summer was Henry’s 5th birthday (and party). He requested a Lego Star Wars party with a piñata. So, immediately I thought that the Death Star would be the perfect thing to make – and then destroy with light sabers.

First, I searched high and low for those big round punch balloons. After checking every grocery store and pharmacy, I finally found some at our local hardware and variety store. We put some twine around it in several places and then covered it with papier mâché, about two layers in most places. I don’t remember now what recipe we used, but it was a kind you cook. Now, I should have covered the balloon with plastic wrap or something because it looked awesome and perfectly round until the balloon started to shrink and it took the papier mâché with it. (Sorry no process pictures, my hands were covered in slimy glue.)

After some initial frustration with the not perfectly round appearance (on my part, kids were fine with it), we painted it and added some details to make it recognizable. I reinforces the string with some extra twine so that it would hang over a tree branch without coming down too quickly.

The best part was what was inside. We had some candy (I would have been in big trouble if there had been no candy at all) but we also included little bundles of random Lego pieces wrapped in star fabric and tied with twine. The idea was for the kids to build little ships with the Legos that they could take home and play with. We live near a Lego store so I just got some random pieces from the wall of Pick-a-Brick.

The icing on the cake for the party was literally the icing on the cake. We made marshmallow fondant (with this recipe) and made little Lego bricks (by pressing an clean Lego into the fondant), light sabers and even a couple of minifigure heads (Yoda!). The cake was my go to chocolate cake, it is always delicious. All in all, a great celebration of and for my Big Man.

Since I didn’t post hardly at all over the spring and summer, I guess I should fill in a few of the things we made and did. I took a lot of pictures with the intention of posting here but somehow in a lazy summer stupor it never happened. (I blame the heat!)

We did a lot of painting. A LOT.

We started a toddler art group and painted outside with hands and feet on big paper.

We stacked and glued pompoms. (This was entirely her idea/design/execution.)

We made sculptures with play dough and tooth picks.

We tinkered with stuff from the recycling bin and ended up with a pretty cool house for “guys”, complete with secret hiding places and a jail.

We made our own Harry Potter wands by finding the perfect stick and covering it with Mod Podge. (This one was a HUGE hit.)

And that, my friends, is a brief history of some of the things we did in the spring. Next up, a few of the things from summer.

I’ve been wanting to make a mud pie kitchen in our backyard for some time now but I was waiting to find a table or old play kitchen at a garage sale. Turns out I just needed to rearrange the junk in our backyard!

Adelaide has been happily playing with a couple of little buckets of water and some containers of varying shapes and sizes for well over an hour. I don’t actually have any mud in the kitchen yet but am trying to figure out where I could dig a little and not do too much damage! I figure I will just put it in one of the old buckets or maybe the small square cooler with a lid and let the kids go to town. The other upside…the rest of our yard is looking relatively neat and tidy. For the time being at least.

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My big man and I made a simple bag of nesting materials for the birdies in our neighborhood this morning. The weather feels like we skipped spring entirely and went straight to summer but the bare branches hint to the fact that the birds will be nesting.

We used a mesh onion bag to hold our nesting supplies but did cut a few of the openings to make them slightly larger. We included things such as bits of the scraps from the quilt I made for my brother and sister-in-law, pieces of wool felt used to make our Christmas stockings, a bit of wool roving and other bits of cotton and wool fabric. We hung the little bag from a bare branch in our back yard and are eagerly watching to see if and when the birds find the little treasures we assembled for them.

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I was thinking it would be fun to try the paper bag challenge over at Tinkerlab. I suggested it to my big man, explained that he could make whatever he wanted with a paper bag, and without a moment of hesitation he said, “I’ll make a ship.” A couple of folds and one (yes, one) staple later he presented me with his boat. His description: “The boat has a flap on top for rain and the passengers and the driver go below the flap and the leader looks out.” I asked him if he wanted to make some passengers or paint it and he firmly said “no” and started in on his Legos. Done and done. (Except that he is still talking about the boat. So maybe not entirely done!)

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Classmates, don’t look! The kids are busy as bees making Valentine’s Day cards for all of their classmates. As they decide on which items to use on which cards they are discussing who it is for and what they like about each friend. It is so sweet! Isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about after all?

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Jean at The Artful Parent is hosting guest posts this month and today I wrote a little something about an experiment we recently tried.  Thanks Jean for putting it up there with all of the wonderful guest posts.  What an honor to be a part of your blog, which I have loved for many years.

Now if I was a good blogger I would have had this post up this morning to welcome any visitors from her site.  But, since I am decidedly a sporadic blogger at best, hopefully this late evening note will suffice.

And, with that, I will leave you with a picture (totally unrelated, from the summer!) of the kids painting with cornstarch (one of the many ways we use it around here).

Cornstarch Paint

 

The kids have been entertaining themselves after school by working on various projects. This is not only great for me (I can make dinner!!) but it is great for them as well. The two bigger kids don’t get as much time together now that E is in full day kindergarten, so these quiet moments working and talking are all the more special.

The other day they decided to do some leaf rubbings after reading a library book about leaves (wish I’d written the name of the book down, it was quite good.)

After the leaf rubbings there was a Cheerios necklace making (and eating) session.

Then, a couple of days later, they decided to work on some spooky stuff for Halloween – a sign and a spider web.

[Grr, having trouble with pictures from my phone being published. Will work on this! Seems to be fixed.]

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We were having a superhero figurine crisis earlier, so I sent the kids to “school” to work on nature journals. The idea came from Mariah Bruehl’s Playful Learning book (which I am loving). We made these simple books and I told the kids to find leaves, grass and flowers to fill the books with. They collected handfuls of nature from our backyard and set to work with their glue sticks. I think once the glue dries I will press the books (and their contents) and we can label them or add our own drawings.

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