Welcome to Volume III of this series that details all of the books, products, activities, and more that me and the kiddos have enjoyed doing together lately. This particular edition is heavier on the Halloween stuff, but there are things that can be enjoyed year-round here, too! (For past editions of this series, click HERE.)
Note: There are affiliate links in this post to products mentioned, which means I may get a small commission on any purchases made at no extra cost to you.
Activities / Crafts
- Pumpkin Patch Painting
- I’m not naturally super into doing crafts and stuff with my kids, but ever since we started homeschooling our oldest (with our 2-year-old joining in sometimes), I’ve tried to work in a lot more arts and crafts into our days just to spice things up. Both me and the kids LOVED this pumpkin patch painting activity, which I loosely based off of something I saw on Pinterest.
- Basically, I bought these washable craft paints and a large watercolor sketchpad, and I squirted a little bit of orange and green paints into separate bowls and gave each kid a piece of paper. Then, we had both kids make a fist and lightly “punch down” in the paint, then do the same punch-down movement onto a piece of paper. After, we had them push the pad of their finger into the green paint and then make little green fingerprint “stems” for the pumpkins. Finally, my oldest took a paintbrush and drew some vines and some grass around her pumpkins, and our youngest just kept his as it was. It was easy and quick and actually turned out really, really cute. We’ve loved having them hang on the fridge for the past few weeks!
- Halloween Owls
- Now my mom was actually the one to do this craft with the kids, but they loved the way these cute little owls came together from silver cupcake liners and toilet paper tubes. You can kind of see the finished product in the above picture off to the left, but you can get a better sense of it (plus the directions) by checking out this post.
- Halloween specials on Disney+
- Whatever did we do before we gave in to the allure of Disney+? (Also, in case you didn’t know and are currently looking to do their annual subscription rather than paying month by month, you can get $12.50 off your membership by going through Rakuten, and if you’re new to Rakuten and go through my code, you’ll get an additional $30 cash back, which means you’ll get the whole year for just $27.50!) Anyway, we have been loving all the old school Halloween specials they have on there, including the old Ichabod Crane Halloween one, the Mickey Mouse Halloween special, Hocus Pocus…it’s been a good month for watching movies!!!
Products We’re Loving
- I talked more extensively about our newfound love of Bookroo in this post, but now, five Bookroo boxes in, my kids are legitimately obsessed. They get sooo excited when they see that the Bookroo box has arrived in the mail just for them, and several of the titles I’ll talk more about below were found through Bookroo. This would be a GREAT idea for a Christmas gift that keeps on giving! (If you decide to give it a go, make sure to use the promo code BOOKS2LOVE to save 15%!)
- Magnetic alphabet board
- When I posted about my $160 Homeschool Starter Kit, I was able to subsist for a good long while on just those materials mentioned there, with one notable exception that I bought about one week in—this magnetic alphabet board. Reading proved to be a tricky subject to make interesting with such a bare-bones starter kit, so I took a chance and ordered the board to see if it would help. WORTH. EVERY. PENNY. Seriously, we pull this out multiple times each week, and my daughter STILL gets excited every time, plus it helps give her a hands-on way to practice her letters, short words, spelling, etc. (Also, because I tend to despise things with lots of small pieces, I am super appreciative that it comes with a compartmentalized plastic tote so that each letter clearly has its own spot.)
- Ghost lights
- My oldest is in the “terrified of the dark” phase, and this year, on a whim, I ended up buying these inexpensive ghost lights to jazz up the kids’ bedroom for Halloween, just for fun. Well, what I hadn’t anticipated was how much brighter they are than 99% of nightlights, so my daughter can rest easy as long as she has her “ghosties” turned on. (Now the real question is—am I going to need to buy a seasonally appropriate string of lights for every holiday now? Time will tell.) If you’re interested, these are currently 50% off at Michael’s.
- Live butterflies
- I can’t take credit for this idea, but I CAN definitely vouch for how cool it was! Our first science unit for our homeschool was all about the caterpillar/butterfly life cycle, and my mom thought it would be fun to actually see it in action rather than just watch videos on it and read about it. So she purchased this live caterpillar kit through Amazon, and we had a whole kit shipped to us with like, 8 live caterpillars in it (which was more than the 5 that were promised in the listing) and everything we needed to watch the whole cycle unfold. I never thought I would be able to see a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis right in front of me, and now I can say that I have—and it was legitimately awe-inspiring. Sooo fun, and definitely well worth the $25 price tag!
Books, Books, Books
- The Very, Very Far North by Dan Bar-el
- Basically, this has a very loose plot of a polar bear who moves to the “very, very far North” and includes stories of the friends he meets and the adventures they have. All in all, this is a good book for teaching relational skills to your kids (especially with people–or in this case, animals–who might be a little more difficult to get along with), though the lack of a plotline sometimes left me wondering about where all of it was headed.
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
- I LOVED this book as a kid, and I was pleased to see that as I read it aloud with my daughter, she was just as captivated by it as I’d always been! In case you’re unfamiliar with this book, Elmer is a boy who runs away from home after hearing a tale about a captive dragon from a stray cat he rescues. As he seeks to release the dragon, he is forced to use some creative resourcefulness to best the other creatures on the island, and my daughter thought that the little tricks he used were laugh-out-loud hilarious. Such a fun read-aloud for both of us!
Picture + Board Books
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat
- An illustrated board book of Row, Row Your Boat with spin-off verses that follow two dogs as they ride in a canoe down a river. My 2-year-old is OBSESSED with this book (so much so that we have now bought it for him for Christmas!).
- The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
- We bought this from the 3 for the price of 2 sale I mentioned in my last Loving and Learning Lately post, and we were delighted by how much we loved this! An old woman goes on a walk through the woods and despite shoes and pants and other garments following her and making noises, she is NOT afraid…or is she? This one is just a lot of fun, and definitely reminiscent of books like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt with the sound repetition.
- A Woggle of Witches
- This was one of my favorite Halloween books as a kid, and it was fun to revisit it this month with my own kids. This picture book follows a “woggle” of witches who all live in the dark woods as they have a witching party, run away from the scary “monsters” (trick-or-treaters), and enjoy witchy delights like bat stew.
- Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse
- This was in one of our latest Bookroo boxes, and it is BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, the paintings in this are breathtaking. This book teaches about empathy and poverty and the power of being a good neighbor. Loved this, and I love that we own it now, too.
- Pirate Nell’s Tale to Tell
- Another Bookroo selection that is on constant rotation over here. Nell has dreamed her whole life of living the pirate’s dream of treasures and adventure…but then she’s put to work mopping the deck and cleaning the dishes and being made fun of for always reading. When she finds a treasure map that takes the whole crew on an adventure, the captain and the other pirates quickly see that reading and books are a lot more valuable than they at first appear.
- Day Farms pumpkin patch
- For any Utahns out there who are around the Wasatch Front, I wanted to for sure pass along this gem of a place. I first just thought this was a plain ol’ u-pick pumpkin patch (which is what we were going for), and I thought it was weird that they charged a $3 admission fee to the patch. Well, we soon found out it was because they had loads of fun activities made out of basic farm equipment and materials that were all fall- and Halloween-themed, and our kids had a BLAST. Considering our two youngest got in for free, that was $9 extremely well spent, and this is definitely not as packed as many other venues, which made it all the more magical!
- Tracy Aviary
- One day for a “field trip” for homeschool, my mom treated me and the kids (Matt was at work) to a day at the Aviary in Salt Lake. They’ve done a ton of renovations in the past 15 years or so to the place, and now it’s not only fun to go see all the birds and watch the bird show, but it’s also just plain beautiful to walk around all the botanical gardens there. Starting in November, the price of admission drops, and they’re also running specials frequently that give you half off your ticket prices. Definitely worth looking into if you’re looking for a laidback way to spend a morning or afternoon!
Despite the weirdness of 2020, have you found any fun ways to celebrate the Halloween and autumn season this year?