Monday, November 11, 2013

Pumpkin "Minion" Decorating

What is Halloween without Pumpkin carving/decorating?

Its like Halloween without costumes or trick-or-treating.


So we just had to do it.

In our house we try not to do any activity without involving our daughter. Saanvi is only 5 and she can't (or I won't let her) use carving tools to carve out Pumpkins. The second best choice is decorating the pumpkins, and since my daughter loves to paint we decided to do an afternoon filled with painting and decorating pumpkins.

Saanvi loves Minions (Ok, Ok, so do I). In fact a few weeks before we decided to decorate our pumpkins into Minions, she got her nails painted as minions. Cool huh!!

Our inspiration came from Pinterest, of course.. Although it did not show any how-to's so I improvised.

So here is the supplies list:
(I had most of the supplies in my house (what can I say, we love painting and crafting) although you can find most of these in a local crafting store like Michaels or Hobby Lobby. But if you like to shop online then just click the links).

Ready with all the Supplies
Pumpkins ready to be decorated

Saanvi did the 1st coat of yellow paint on both Pre-Minion-Pumpkins. My husband did the 2nd coat of yellow, while I painted the inside of Mason jar lids white and pasted googly eyes on them.

1st coat underway

I tell my daughter to go for up and down motions while painting,
 it gives a neater look.
2nd coat underway

I used a brush and paint to mark out lines for black strip behind the eyes and the blue overalls, then filled them in with colors. After the paint was dried off I outlines them with permanent marker (no need to make it look perfect, as cartoonish look is never perfect). Then I made buttons and pocket on the overalls using the marker as well. Made a mouth, some teeth, tongue, etc, In fact there was a hole in the pumpkin where the mouth was going to be, so I incorporated that and showed it as a missing tooth (tickled my husband's funny bone ;).

Then my husband super glued the eyes (hold them for a minute or 2). We also tilted the pumpkin and let it dry for 10 minutes, to make sure the eyes are stuck properly.

Last step was to paint the stem black (for hair) and Saanvi did an awesome job with it.

And voila Minions are ready.

Happy and Sad Minions
It took us a good 4 hours to finish these minions. And we all were buried into doing something or the other to create these Minion Pumpkins. Of course Saanvi was getting bored so she painted 5-6 of her own little pumpkins, some cute some scary. But In the end we loved spending time together and creating something together.

Saanvi's creations
Corn on the Cobb- Pumpkin Painting

Pumpkin getting dressed for the contest
Gold antique paint and boutonniere pins

Last year since Saanvi couldn't paint properly, we went for stickers. Easiest pumpkin decorating ever.

Pumpkin decorating 2012

Ugliest Pumpkin :)

We sure enjoyed Halloween season this time around. Lets see what we will do next year. Till next post ciao.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Painting and Potting...

After 28 month gap I am back to doing what I loved doing most. Blogging being one of those things. Having fun with my daughter while she learns something new tops that list. So here I am combining the 2 favorites.

A friend of mine gifted Saanvi with a small present a few years back. That time she was too young to use it so I saved it. "Design-a-flower pot" is the name of the toy/gift. It was a small flower pot with a paper inlay that kids can color themselves. (I cant find it online anywhere, Sorry!! Otherwise I would have shared the link here). Then kids can plant something in the flower pot.

Supplies ready to color
Saanvi loves to color (just like her mom :). She had 3 paper designs to choose from (that came with the flower pot). She had a blast coloring them and getting the flower pot ready for gardening. We used washable colors (she likes to paint herself more than the paper) but would recommend colors that wont wash off after watering a few times.

3 designs to choose from

Flowerpot is ready for planting

We had bought a few plants earlier that day so that her dad can teach her how to plant it in a flower pot. Some potting soil, plants, flower pot and a willing to teach Dad/Mom is all you need. 

She loved planting the flowers
Even enjoyed watering her new Pots/Plants.
End result: Few hours well spend coloring and learning to plant flowers. 
Happy Kid!! 
Happy Parent!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Craft day at school

Me and my little assistant (my daughter)

Earlier this month I organised a craft day at my daughters school. As I have mentioned in my earlier posts "Dog House from a recycled box" and "Making dogie with simple shapes", they were teaching kids about Dogs and being a team player. Teachers and I had prepared/cut all the required things during the week. Believe me 10 classes in 1 day is a lot, so the day was dedicated to making dog houses (class teachers did the dogies from shapes themselves as per my samples).

Kids enjoying the activities

In Kindergarten class and Pre-K class we (me and the teachers) divided kids into smaller groups and got them to do several activities. We got them to cut some shrubs, bones etc to decorate the dog house. They learned to use a punch to make shapes, we made flower shapes for decorations. They divided work amongst each other like one will apply glue on the box, another would paste the tiles, 3rd would cut the excess off etc. That not only helped them take turns and do every activity but taught them how to work in a team. All groups came up with a name for their dog houses, which is also an exercise in itself. We made doors and windows as per what they thought was required in them (glass for light, door knobs for opening the door etc).

Kids enjoying the activities

In classes with younger kids I directed the activities with kids like by applying the glue and asking them to make a pattern on the roof with colorful tiles. Everyone got turns to do their bit. Needless to say we had a blast. Best part was 2 days later when the school displayed all the creations in the lobby for all the parents too see. Kids who participated in activities would take their parents to the dog houses excitedly and show them what they did. It is such a great feeling to have kids enjoy themselves while learning. Also the sample dog house is actually home for a small cat now. It gives me so much joy that I can't even express.

Dog houses made by kids

What kids learned from making Dog houses:
  • Cutting
  • Pasting
  • Pattern making
  • Punching
  • Importance of different elements of a house
  • Teamwork (by dividing work and coordinating amongst each other)
  • Patience (by waiting for their turns)
I also have to thank everyone who reads this blog and leaves such lovely comments. I really appreciate all the support.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dog House from a recycled box

This 'Dog House' is another project for the craft day in my daughter's school. First one I already shared with you 'Making Dogie with Simple Shapes'. But that one is for classes with younger kids. For pre-K and Kindergarten children I want to do something that will be fun and will encourage teamwork. Theme as I said earlier is dog mascots.

So the idea is to encourage kids to first think what all would a dog needs in his/her house, then work as a team to create a dog house meeting those requirements. I also want kids to see how a used cardboard box can be transformed into something functional and fun.

Saanvi enjoying making a dog house

Materials needed:

Process is quite simple. Cutting foam sheets for making tiles was the only thing that took most amount of time.
  1. Take a used cardboard box.
  2. Cut out doors and windows as desired.
  3. Take a piece of another cardboard box to make the roof.
  4. Cut out to folded sides of the box into triangular gables matching the roof using masking tape.
  5. Paint the box white (or any other color as desired).
  6. Decorate the dog house yourself or with your kid.

I asked Saanvi how she wanted to decorate the house and she wanted bushes and flowers on the dog house. You can use punches to cut out flowers and whatever else you want to add on the dog house. You can use Popsicle sticks to make fence around the house or anything else you child can imagine.

I can guarantee your kid will have a blast doing this activity. And kids are more receptive to learning when they are having fun anyway. So this activity can double up to be a learning exercise as well. You can talk about a dog's needs and requirements and elements of a house. That not only put names to things that they see around the house but increase their vocabulary too. You can also explain them the importance of each element like door and windows. If this activity is done in a group (like I plan to do) then you can teach them how to work in a team, divide work and have patience.

If you liked this post and decide to try it with your kids then please share your experience too. I love hearing feedbacks and suggestions.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Importance of teaching Patterns

During one of the many meetings we had with a potential pre-school for Saanvi, director of the school was urging Saanvi to make a PATTERN (she was trying to figure out which one of their classes does Saanvi qualify to be in). When I heard that word (Pattern) I started to think to myself "Why is she stressing on Patterns so much?". I had not been teaching Saanvi anything about patterns. In fact I didn't even know the Importance of Teaching Patterns.

I had to find out not only for Saanvi but because I wasn't taught patterns in our school and I was curious. So I researched and surveyed and read and read. The only thing people repeatedly told me was that it helped with Maths.

Whats the importance of  teaching Patterns?? How does Patterns help understanding Maths and algebra??

Then I found this:

Patterns pervade every part of our lives. This range of examples shows how we experience patterns from child's play to career choice.

  • The toddler separates red blocks from blue blocks. The separation is a pattern: the reds go here, the blues go there.
  • The kindergartner learns to count: the numbers are a pattern.
  • A first grader makes a pattern with stamps or stickers: tree, turtle, tree, turtle.
  • The fourth grader notices that multiples of five end in five or zero—another pattern.
  • Sixth graders make tessellations: patterns that cover a plane.
  • High school students learn that mathematics from algebra to calculus is all about function, which is the pattern of how one number changes into another.
  • The college chemistry major studies how symmetry in a molecule—a pattern in space—affects its infrared spectrum.
  • The stock trader looks for trends—patterns—in the stock market.
  • Designers of all kinds create beautiful and functional patterns, ranging from the pattern in fabric to the way rooms are arranged in a house to the order of images in a TV commercial.
  • And the physician does her best to decide who is well and who is ill, and recognize the patterns of health.

This is from a great website called After reading this a light bulb lit up in my head (sort of). And I began finding every possible creative way to make Saanvi understand the concept.

Here are some creative ideas.
  • Design and Drill Activity Center (my and Saanvi's favorite) She loves making different patterns on the activity board with colorful bolts and a power drill.
  • Pattern Fish & Pattern Bug (These provide a general, basic understanding of patterns and relationships while reading books, making observations and doing hands-on investigations)
  • Patterns: What Comes Next? 
  • Count on Math:Activities for small Hands and Lively Minds (an absolute must have book).
  • Sort the laundry into groups of shirts, socks, pants etc.
  • Sort all the toys in the toy box.
  • Group DVD and CD’s into two groups.
  • Sort books into groups. For example: Fairy tales and Animals
  • Clap Patterns: Slow, slow, fast, slow, slow, fast
  • Action Patterns: Hop, hop, clap, hop, hop, clap and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, hop
  • Patterns with Materials: Making a simple AB pattern using crayons, colour milk lids, plastic animals or buttons.
  • Make Fruit Loop Necklaces: Simply use Fruit Loops and string the cereal together to make a necklace. A child can make a necklace with two colours repeating creating an AB pattern or any other pattern he or she would like.
  • Bingo Dabber Patterns: Fold letter size paper in half the long way and cut. Use bingo dabbers to create patterns.
  • Paper Chains: Cut construction paper in strips. Bend paper to make a circle and glue ends together. Repeat with a different colour. Children can make different patterns for each chain.

Some great websites on Teaching Patterns:
I am sure there are lots more good resources out there. If you know some good ideas or websites or books please do share.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making Dogie with simple shapes

Comical Dogie

My daughter's school is very open about parents coming and teaching their kids crafts or read books to them or play with them. Coming month they have assigned me a day to do some craft activitie with kids (I am super excited about it). They told me to do something around dogs (and being a star). So I thought why not teach kids" How to make a Dogie out of basic shapes (and colors)". So here are my prototypes which my daughter and I made (she had a blast and so did I)..

Star Dogie

Dogs from simple shapes

Supplies Needed:
  • Foam Sheets
  • Googly eyes
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Cut out various shapes like squares, rectangles, triangles, ovals, circles etc
  • Make different arrangements to make them look like dogs. (Use the pictures above if you need a reference)
  • Glue the pieces together or on a stiff paper.
By doing this craft activity you can teach kids not only about various shapes and colors, but also open their minds to creating things from shapes. I am looking forward to making some similar dogs with my daughters friends. I hope they have as much fun as we did.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Choosing Books for kids

A dear friend of mine reminded me of the time when Saanvi was a baby and I would try to read a book to her and she would be interested in chewing it. I was left wondering whether I am choosing the right books for her or not? Or what should I do to get her interested in books? For that matter even toys. But that's a different discussion for a later time maybe.

She would be interested in pictures in the books but not for more than few seconds. Soft books were a good substitute for teether I believe. Hard cover books also got chewed on. But there were some books that caught her attention more than others.
  • Pop-Up books... With clear and really big pop-up images.. Eye-Catching is the imp. word.

The Very Lazy Lion

(Please click on the link above to see the inside of the book)

  • Noise making books... Not too noisy or distracting, but Interactive books with clear visual and sound associations.  
                                                               Little Cricket's Song

                                                                    Noisy Peekaboo

There could be tons of more recommendations but these are some my daughter liked.
I do believe that every age has a different requirement and every kid has a different sensibility, so some book might or might not work for your kid. However these are some simple points that most kids respond well too (I am not making these up, I did research and surveyed teachers and parents)..

One of the things we all worry about is How we should get our kid excited about books, and what are right kinds of books for what age. Here a few links to help us understand that from

How to get Kids excited about books:
Recommendations for Best Books age by age:
 A few great articles on Raising Readers:
My suggestions:
  • Make it fun.
  • Be dramatic, act out while reading books.
  • Make crazy sounds appropriate to the character or animal in the book.
  • If kid gets bored move on, do not push him/her.
  • Maintain a routine, familiarity to a routine helps kids interested and excited about reading or activities.
  • Enjoy spending time with you kid, don't fret if he/she doesn't wanna read.

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