Halloween Pumpkins

Photo by Lori Herrin.

If you are carving pumpkins tonight or tomorrow night with your child, you may appreciate this inspired little story.

Pumpkin carving is a big favorite of my mother, but she and I are both not very fond of the scooping part of the task (I find it makes my hands burn and itch just enough to be maddening). We early on enlisted the help of my tiny little sister to do this part for us.

At first my mom dropped her spare change on the top of the gunk whenever Katie wasn’t looking. Then, as Katie became more enthusiastic in her digging, she’d slip it in quickly in deeper spots. To this day, Katie hates anything to do with food preparation, but the guts came out of that pumpkin like nobody’s business.

At some point, she must have asked my mother where the money in the pumpkin came from. “Oh,” my clever mom replied, “the farmer must have dropped his change on the ground when the pumpkin was little and then it grew around it.”

This answer satisfied her for a pretty long time, even when she realized that none of the other kids at school had any idea what she was talking about, or had pumpkins that produced several weeks worth of allowance.

If asked today, Katie no more resents the deception than she did the other “fun” traditional deceptions practiced by adults on children. In fact, she seems to remember it a little more fondly than the others for being so original.

If your child is hesitant to help with the pumpkin, feel free to try it out!


Carrot People

My co-teacher is frequently the one who has awesome craft ideas for working with the twos. She’s got eight years experience working with them and often has a better idea of their capabilities than I do. So I was pretty excited to come up with a project she liked.

We do a new letter of the alphabet each week, so last week was C.

We gave each child a large popsickle stick and a sponge and some orange paint. We had them do both sides, and then put them away to dry. After the usual round of hand-washing (I would kill for a big low sink that two or three kids could use at once), we did something else. Later, we had them glue on a little green crape paper (you could use a lot of different things for this) for the carrot top and added a pair of comical sticker eyes. With one set of the twos, we tried using small pompoms for noses, but they didn’t stay on very well. In the future, we might use small self-adhesive foam dots for that.

The children really liked their carrot people. I also thought that if you wanted you could cut up some brown paper bags, and put small holes in them so they could pull the carrots out of the dirt.

The original suggestion for this project came from the Artstarts book.

Paper Bag Puppets

Part of the challenge of planning for AM club is that the kids all come in at different times. So any activity that I do has to be low-instruction, so that the kids can just sort of start when they get there. It also has to be high-enough interest for the older kids, and simple enough for the lower kids.

I stockpiled an assortment of materials for our first project together: Paper Bag Puppets. Only two of the students were not interested in the activity, so I feel like I did pretty well. Here’s what I stocked up on:

Construction Paper
Self-Adhesive Foam Stickers
Mixed confetti

The day before, I read them The Araboolies of Liberty Street, which has lots of colorful characters. I am not sure that it directly inspired anything, but it did give them a sense that they had some creative freedom to make their puppets look however they wanted. I didn’t have googly eyes, which I felt bad about until I saw how creatively the students used the foam shapes to make their eyes. One student came early because she knew it was craft day. One of the kindergartners spent a whole hour on her puppet. Even one or two of the boys was into it.

I have some really great photos of the kids with their projects. I’ll try to edit a few so to avoid faces, and share them.