Sunday, November 4, 2012

J Is for Jack-o-lantern

Mom School, fourth week of October

Monthly Focus: Features of Halloween 
Weekly Theme: Jack-o-lantern
Letter: J
Number: 9
Shape: Triangle
Color: Orange

Playdough Jack-o-lanterns

Materials used:

Our first Jack-o-lantern activity was to create playdough jack-o-lanterns.  I salvaged some of our black playdough from our S is for Spider unit, offered up some untouched orange playdough, and set out several add-ins from our craft closet.   

Both 3YO Purple and 5YO Pink created these pumpkin heads.  Instead of using the ready-made eyes, mouths and hats from the Play-Doh set, they preferred the other items to decorate their jack-o-lanterns.  Though they did find the pom poms a bit unworkable - the pom poms refused to stick to the playdough.

Although our shape of the week is the triangle, this was a good activity to help Purple practice rolling the playdough into balls, something she just recently got the hang of.


Materials used:

  • foam pumpkin cut-outs (found at the Dollar Spot at Target)
  • yellow and orange foam sheets, cut into varying sizes of triangles
  • die
  • printout of die values and facial features
I found the Roll-a-Jack-o-Lantern activity on Oopsey Daisy, where she made a cute jack-o-lantern using a burner cover and some creativity with paper and magnets.  I simplified it for my purposes to use foam pumpkins and pieces, which I planned to use for another activity as well.  Since Mom School is geared to my 3YO who is a pre-reader, I also created our own picture-based game sheet.

My 3YO and 5YO quickly understood the game and began to play.  The foam pieces were a bit staticky and therefore tricky to place, but we solved that by spritzing them with water.    The girls played several rounds of the game, which consists of taking a turn rolling the die, and then adding on the facial feature matching the die until the jack-o-lantern face is complete.

Letter Tracing and Patterns:

Materials Used:
  • "J" letter print out
  • two kinds of candy (or other types of markers, if you prefer)
To give Purple a chance to work with the letter J, I created a print out that included a large J in both upper- and lower-case.  Under those I created a few patterns using a mix of the upper- and lower-case letters.  Purple used the candy corn to trace the uppercase J, and then to identify the uppercase J in the patterns below; alternately the candy pumpkins marked the lowercase j.

Jack-o-lantern Foam Faces (in the bath)

Materials Used:
  • foam pumpkin cut-outs (found at the Dollar Spot at Target)
  • various colors of foam sheets, cut into varying sizes of triangles (found at the Dollar Spot at Target)
I surprised the girls with a jack-o-lantern themed bath, similar to one that Growing a Jeweled Rose had done.  I added orange food coloring and gold glitter to the bath water, just for fun.  The girls enjoyed this activity for a long time that evening.  We ended up leaving the foam pieces in the bathtub to reuse up through Halloween night.

Jack-o-lantern Bags

Materials Used:
  • orange newspaper bag
  • permanent marker
  • gift bag stuffing (shredded paper)
  • pumpkin seeds
I found this use for newspaper bags on Crayon Freckles - genius!  I changed it up to fit our purposes.

The prior day we had carved and decorated pumpkins at a family get-together.  I could not entice any of my girls to touch, handle or pick out the pumpkin seeds.  Too slick and icky, perhaps?  So I decided to make this a sanitized version of carving jack-o-lanterns.

I carefully supervised as 3YO Purple and 5YO Pink colored a face on the blank side of the newspaper bag.  We discussed how triangle shapes are often used to create the jack-o-lantern's expression, but I didn't ask the girls to limit their drawings to triangles.

Once the faces were complete, we dropped a few seeds into each bag.  As we did, I explained how these seeds were the same ones that we had pulled out of the pumpkins the previous day, and that if these seeds were planted in the ground, they could themselves grow into a pumpkin.  

After the seeds were inside we added the stuffing to round out the jack-o-lantern's shape.  We tied it off with green pipe cleaner.  The girls did not want me to cut off the "extra" top portion of the bag; they used it to draw more pictures instead.

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