Keeping Christ in Christmas: Celebrating Advent {Starting December 1st!}

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Even though I am a cradle-Catholic, I never grew up celebrating Advent.  Not intentionally, anyway.  We went to mass during the Advent season, but I guess I just didn't pay much attention, and I figured our family's Advent wreath was just part of our regular holiday decorations.  I honestly had very little understanding of what Advent was up until a few years ago.  Since then, I have been on a slow, but steady, journey to celebrate Advent with my family.  

So what is Advent?  

For Catholics, Advent starts the beginning of the liturgical year, and is a season of anticipation for both the birth of Jesus Christ and Jesus' second coming.  It is celebrated the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  What I love about Advent is that it helps us focus on the reason for the season: Jesus.  All those other details (Christmas gifts, cards, baking, decorating, etc) become less stressful for me, if they are put in their proper places, as ways to glorify God and celebrate His only Son.  

This 2 minute video gives a great overview of Advent:

Now, here's some music to get us anticipating the birth of Jesus!

FYI - Only when you try to compile a list of Advent songs, do you realize that pretty much every Christmas song has to do with post-Jesus' birth.  Thus, a 5 song playlist that includes 4 versions of O Come, Emmanuel (which are all pretty awesome, by the way.)  

Being pretty new to celebrating Advent, our family is trying to add one new tradition each year until we have some basics covered.  I do not want it to be overwhelming or feel like one more thing piled onto the already crazy list of "stuff" to do.  The important thing is preparing our hearts for Jesus.  I will remind myself: Advent does not have to be Pinterest-worthy.  

So, here are some simple ways to celebrate Advent with your family:

Advent wreath

Advent Wreath
An Advent wreath is a pretty simple tradition to start.  We bought ours on, along with the candles, for a very reasonable price.  You can also make one quite easily.  Here is a quick read about how this German custom started.  

This page on Catholic Culture provides the blessing, prayers, and explanation of what to do with your Advent wreath, and Our Sunday Visitor has an Advent guide, as well.

On the first Sunday of Advent (December 1st this year) , we will be blessing our Advent wreath and lighting the first purple candle, along with a prayer.  This is done each night of Advent.  By the second week, we will be lighting the two purple candles, and the third week sees the additional lighting of the pink "joyous" candle.  The fourth, and final, Sunday of Advent observes the lighting of the last purple candle.  The Advent wreath is a simple, yet significant way to incorporate our preparation for the birth of Christ into our daily lives.

Advent calendar

This is a tradition that you are probably familiar with.  There are so many different Advent calendars, and you can buy them at stores, online, or make your own.  Last year, my 4 year-old, Grace, looked forward to it everyday, and I'm sure she's excited to get her little sister in on the fun.  Sometimes we end up with more than one, which is no problem for us!  But to emphasize the true meaning of Advent and Christmas, I want to be sure that at least one of my Advent calendars is religious.  

Loyola Press has an awesome online Advent calendar for kids, which is also printable.  

Children's Advent Calendar

Here is one from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that can be used online or printed.  It includes the Catholic feast days, suggested prayers, and activities that can be done to prepare for Christmas.

This printable Family Advent Poster from Good Ground Press includes works of charity, fun activities, feast days, and a focus on family.
Family Advent Poster
Good Ground Press

I also love this fabric Advent calendar because the kids can add a new piece to the nativity scene each day.  I am thinking of making this with paper nativity pieces.

Reginas Catholic Gifts - Fabric Advent Calendar-Nativity, $42.50 (
Fabric Advent Calendar

Jesse Tree

Jesse Tree

Up until a couple of years ago, I'd never even heard of the Jesse Tree.  So what is it?  The Jesse Tree is an Advent tradition that focuses on Jesus' family tree, as shown in the image on the left.  For more information about the background, check out this article.  Similar to the Advent calendar, a new symbol or ornament is hung on the Jesse Tree each day of Advent.  As the ornament is hung, a corresponding bible passage is read.  

There are so many different ways to do a Jesse Tree:  some simple, some complex.  I even Googled it for you.  You're welcome.
Felt Jesse Tree

More Printable Jesse Tree Ornaments

Because I'm making a Jesse Tree for the first time this year, I am starting out simple.  I'm printing the symbols and having my 4 year-old, Grace, color them.  The printable symbols can be found here or here.  

Since I'm going with low-key, we will either make a tree poster or hang them on a small Christmas tree if I can find one.

Other resources

Looking for some basic printouts on Advent?  Check out this page:

Advent Ideas, Activities, and Calendar
Good Ground Press
Here is a short video from Catholic News Service with ideas for how to celebrate Advent:

May your family have a blessed Advent!  
- Jessica

Learning to be grateful: A lesson for ourselves and our kids

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." - G.K. Chesterton

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to focus on the things we are thankful for in our lives.  Gratitude is one of the most important values that we can instill in our children.  We often expect children to be grateful for what they have automatically, but we aren't born being thankful.  It is something that must be taught.  We are responsible for teaching our children to appreciate all of the blessings in their lives, and the best way to teach this is to live it ourselves.  With that in mind, here are some thoughts on learning to live with gratitude:

 Prayers of thanksgiving

Author G.K. Chesterton once said, "You say grace before meals.  All right.  But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."

We often go about our days without truly appreciating the blessings we've been given.  I've been working on this a lot recently because I found that I was complaining (mostly in my head or with the occasional "ugh") about the tiniest inconveniences, like spilled milk or having to change a poopy diaper.  Instead of seeing this as an annoyance, my new approach is to see the underlying blessing in the situation. For example, I can thank God for blessing my baby with good health and a functioning digestive tract!  It may sound a bit crazy, but I'll tell you, it puts things in perspective.  The alternative to that stinky diaper would be a whole lot worse!

Our family has a tradition of prayers of thanksgiving before meals and before bedtime. Having structured prayer times helps us remember to be grateful for God's blessings and not to to take them for granted.  But, just as Chesterton suggests, I am also doing my best to praise God throughout my day.  Yesterday, we were taking a nice, autumn walk through the neighborhood, and, as I gazed at all the changing leaves, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the world God has created.  I could have kept this to myself, but I said it aloud to my children.  I want to set an example of how to show gratitude to God for all that we have and to appreciate the things that we often take for granted.  I find this easiest with the beauty of the natural world, but I am getting better at finding times to thank God even in the midst of chaos.


"Life is short, but there is always time enough for courtesy." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Using manners ourselves and teaching our children to use manners, like saying "please" and "thank you" shows them to appreciate people they interact with and the blessings they are given.  My daughter Ada is only 19 months old, yet she is already learning this important life skill.  After prompting her to say "tank you" for about a week, she is now saying it on her own.  It is such an easy thing for us to do, but it makes a world of difference.

Thank you notes

I am embarrassed to say that I'm not always good with this one.  I usually think to write a thank you note for a gift or a friend's hospitality, but I often forget.  You know what they say, "the path to hell is paved with good intentions." But I'm working on it!  I'm also working on Grace writing thank you notes for gifts that she is given.  I have some friends who are really great at this, and it is a wonderful way to show gratitude and make someone else feel appreciated.  Plus, if I teach Grace to do this now, hopefully she will be better at it than I am when she's an adult!

Thank those who serve

Currently less than .5% of the U.S. population is serving in the military, which means that less of us are impacted by the sacrifices of our servicemen and women (and their families) on a day-to-day basis.   But their courage and contributions should never be taken for granted.  It is their hard work and selflessness that protect all of the freedoms God has given us.  It is important that we show appreciation for our troops, both past and present, and teach our children to show them gratitude, as well.  Here are some ways to honor those who serve our country in the armed forces.

Appreciate those who impact your family

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives." - John F. Kennedy

From a young age, I remember my mother giving Christmas gifts to the mailman and the garbage men.  We didn't know them personally, and we didn't really even see the mailman, as our mailbox was a couple hundred feet from our house.  But that didn't matter.  They deserved our thanks anyway.  The gifts were simple, usually cookies or a few  McDonald's gift dollars, but they showed how much she truly appreciated these people in our lives.  It was their service to our family that helped us have a comfortable life. 

It is important to thank the people who impact our lives: teachers, secretaries, bus drivers, crossing guards, police officers, garbage men, mail carriers, firefighters, neighbors, store clerks and cashiers, etc.  It doesn't have to be through gifts.  It can be a simple smile, a wave, or kind words of thanks.  Your children will see this, and they will learn to show gratitude through your example, just as I have from my mom.

Projects for gratitude

There are all kinds of great ideas out there for projects that focus on showing gratitude.  Here are a few:

Thankfulness Tree
Raising Homemakers

Thankful Tree

Thankful Turkey
Simple Kids
"I'm thankful for..." Badges
Thankful Badges
thankful for yellow
Thankful For Printables
Mom Endeavors
Thanksgiving Placemat
Oh My Deer

Catholic author and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton said:

"To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us - and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.  Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.  For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.  And that is what makes all the difference."

That is the gratitude I want to grow in myself and in my children.  Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and may God bless you and your family!  

- Jessica

Showing Gratitude This Veterans Day

Saturday, November 9, 2013

With the many comforts we have in our great country, too often I take for granted the incredible sacrifices that our servicemen and women, and their families, have made and continue to make to protect us.  Not only is it important that I express my gratitude, but I want to teach my children this important lesson, as well.  

Veterans Day is this Monday, and what better time to show thanks to those who have given so much?    

Ways to show gratitude

from has a comprehensive list of ideas and organizations for supporting our troops and veterans.  There are so many to choose from, that you should be able to find the right fit for your family.  

Here are a few ways you and your children can show your appreciation to our servicemen and women:
  • Have your little ones draw pictures and write a letter or note to go with it.  For young children who can't write yet, simply write his ideas word for word for him.
  • Check out and collect and donate items requested by men and women currently serving abroad.
  • Collect or raise money to donate to one of the many organizations that help vets and service members.
  • If you know someone personally who has served in our country's military, write a thank you note with your child, and bake a treat or make a gift for him or her.
  • Remember service members' families.  If you know any, give them a gift, offer babysitting, or simply write a note of gratitude.

Learn About and Celebrate Veterans Day

I hope that your family has a blessed Veterans Day!
- Jessica

Pumpkin Unit {Little Ones Learning}

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It's that time of year when everyone is heading to the pumpkin patch to collect the gourd that will decorate their porch and light up Halloween Eve.  Before you head out to the pumpkin patch (or after if you've already gone), let your kiddo learn a few things about this favorite fall symbol.

Pumpkin introduction

Pumpkin guess box

For older preschoolers (age 4 and up), you could start off your study of pumpkins with a guess box!  You can either put a real pumpkin, mini pumpkin, fake pumpkin, or a picture of a pumpkin in your guess box.  Then you're ready to start the critical thinking fun!  You can find the directions on how to do a guess box here.  These are a few ideas for clues to start off your pumpkin guess box.  

  • It comes from a plant
  • It is used at Halloween
  • It is orange

You want to start off with just one clue, and the clue you use will depend on your child's development.  You will probably want to start with a more vague clue, and then work towards more concrete if your child needs.

Pumpkin wordsplash

A wordsplash could be done with any child that is old enough to talk.  Simply print out the pumpkin wordsplash page.  Then, ask your kiddos what they knows about pumpkins.  Simply record what they say.  It's called a wordSPLASH because you can just kind of splash the words around on the page.  This one has all Grace's ideas:

Doing a wordsplash in the beginning of a unit will help you determine your child's prior knowledge on the topic.  If you save it, you can come back to it later and add things that you have learned.

Read pumpkin books

Pumpkin Books for Kids
12 Perfect Pumpkin Books from KC Edventures
I was able to find several pumpkin books at the library, but some of the good nonfiction ones, like The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons, can be harder to find.  You will probably want to put them on hold in advance or go purchase a copy for your at-home library.  With this collection, Jacquie from KC Edventures, does a good job of breaking down the types of pumpkin books.

I like to start off by reading a simple nonfiction text to learn a little of information about pumpkins.  Plus, I always learn something too!

Printable Books

These two FREE printable books are great for any age.  You can print them in color or black and white.  I like to make them in black and white, and then the kids can color the illustrations themselves.

Pumpkins Mini Book
Pumpkins from DLTK
This Pumpkins book gives basic information about the life cycle of a pumpkin.

printable book for children
Five Little Pumpkins from DLTK
This book illustrates the poem Five Little Pumpkins.  Find the song below!

Pumpkin videos

How to Grow Pumpkins posted by Very Best Baking
This is a nonfiction video put out by Libby's that explains the process of growing pumpkins.  It's great for kids 3 and older.

Pumpkin Feels Lonely posted by The Foodies Books
Pumpkin Feels Lonely is a book read aloud.  It is very cute.

That's How a Pumpkin Grows posted by Brian Vogan
That's How a Pumpkin Grows is a catchy little song and the video has unique graphics.
Five Little Pumpkins Sitting On a Gate posted by The Happy Ape
Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate is a short song that is a fun little sing along for any age.

Pumpkin sensory play

There are so many great ideas for pumpkin sensory play!  Sensory play is a great way to assist your child's development, and it's fun!  According to Danielle Steinberg, author of Developing and Cultivating Skills Through Sensory Play, children (and adults) learn best when they engage their senses.  It helps in your child's cognitive, linguistic (language), social, emotional, and physical development.   I won't go into all the details here, but take a look at the article and see for yourself!

I am blessed to spend my days with my 4 year old daughter, Grace, 1 1/2 year old daughter, Ada, and my 1 1/2 year old nephew, Lucas.  This week we had our first exploration with cloud dough.  Cloud dough is mold-able, like wet sand, and because it's made of flour and oil, it's non-toxic.  This is key for us because Ada and Lucas try to taste everything!

 I found some great directions for pumpkin cloud dough from Growing a Jeweled Rose.  

- 8 cups flour
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- pumpkin pie spice
- orange tempera paint or crushed chalk

The main ingredients for cloud dough are just flour and oil, in an 8:1 ratio.  That could mean 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of vegetable oil, or 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup oil.  You get the gist.  Knead it together with your hands.  Add some pumpkin pie spice for a scent, and you can use orange tempera paint or crushed chalk to color your cloud dough.  I didn't happen to have tempera paint or orange chalk, so I tried some food coloring.  That did not work, so save yourself the effort.  The kids didn't mind that it just smells like pumpkin :).  I added in some measuring cups, play utensils and bowls, and some mini pumpkins, of course!

The kids had a great time exploring with the pumpkin cloud dough.  Grace especially loved it, and made all kinds of cupcakes and pies.  Lucas and Ada mostly wanted to carry around the mini pumpkins.  Works for me!  We will definitely be pulling this out again soon!

Below I compiled a list of some awesome pumpkin-themed sensory play ideas.  Hopefully you'll find an activity you and your little one can enjoy!

Pumpkin Moon Sand Recipe from Growing a Jeweled Rose- amazing Fall activity for kids
Pumpkin Moon Sand from
Growing a Jeweled Rose
Pumpkin Oobleck from
Inspiration Laboratories

pumpkin pie play dough for fall
Pumpkin Pie Play Dough from Childhood Beckons

Or for an edible play dough:

fall sensory bin {with homemade pumpkin play dough!}
Pumpkin Play Dough from Wildflower Ramblings

How to make pumpkin spice & orange colored sensory rice
Pumpkin Spice Sensory Rice from
Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

SILLY Pumpkin Putty- this ooey gooey slime is perfect for Fall & smells just like pumpkin pie. Kids can make fun pretend pumpkin treats as they stretch, pull, squish, & giggle!
Silly Pumpkin Putty Slime from Growing a Jeweled Rose
Pumpkin GOOP for amazing Fall sensory play. Kids love this oozing cross between a liquid and a solid, and you only need a few common ingredients to make it. Smells just like pumpkin pie, too!
Pumpkin Goop from Growing a Jeweled Rose
Pumpkin Spice Clean Mud- Fall Sensory Table
Pumpkin Spice Clean Mud from 
Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Pumpkin science

There are many very basic activities that we can do with our young children to promote curiosity about the world and fulfill their desire to learn.  

Before you start a hands-on experience with pumpkins, you probably want to go out and get a pumpkin.  Maybe even a few different varieties and sizes, if possible.  When we went to a local pumpkin patch, Grace was awed at the different kinds of pumpkins.  I wish we could have gotten one of each!  If you live in Maryland, here is my post about pumpkin patches in your area.

Learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin.  

As a teacher, I've taught about many different life cycles: butterflies, pumpkins, frogs, trees, humans.  Once kids learn about one, they can apply that knowledge to help them understand other life cycles, and they really do love learning about them.  First, learn about the pumpkin life cycle in a book, like Gail Gibbons' The Pumpkin Book, the DLTK Pumpkins mini-book, or watch a video about it.  Then, you could print out the life cycle sheet and have your child color it.  Cut out each section, string in order on a piece of yarn, and tape them closed.  You could even make it a necklace.  I like to emphasize with my little ones how amazing God's creation of our world is, and life cycles are a perfect example of this.

Pumpkin Life Cycle Sequencing
A to Z Teacher Stuff

Learn pumpkin parts

Exploring and talking about the parts of a pumpkin can be done with children of any age.  Start with a real pumpkin if you can, and look at it carefully.  Talk about the stem and it's purpose.  If you were able to venture out to a field with pumpkins, make connections to what you saw:  vines, dead flowers, rotting pumpkins, etc.  Children 3 and up might be interested in doing this little Parts of a Pumpkin labeling sheet.  You could also label the parts of a real pumpkin.

Parts of a Pumpkin
Ship Shape First Grade

Explore pumpkin characteristics

With little ones, this could range from seeing if they sink or float to throwing them against concrete to see what happens.  Both sound fun!  Toddlers love water play, so putting some pumpkins in water, especially if you have varying sizes and types, to see what happens will be fun and a start to the scientific process.  When you're "done" with your pumpkins, after Halloween or Thanksgiving, let your little ones destroy them, all in the name of learning!

Pumpkins sink or float?
Preschool Powol Packs

Explore pumpkin innards

Cut open a pumpkin or two and let the kiddos check it out.  Some will just want to look, while others will love sticking their hands in and feeling around.  It might get a little messy, so a smock or old t-shirt is probably a good idea.  Practice counting the seeds you find.  You modeling  how to count will help your little one, especially for numbers that are hard for him.  Save the seeds, and bake them, string them in a necklace or garland, or plant them.  Build vocabulary by using describing words like squishy, stringy, soft, and spongy.  Talk about the parts that they notice inside the pumpkin.  Discuss what those parts might do.  You could also see if the pumpkin floats or sinks when cut in half, or salvage the pumpkin for an experiment on rotting (see below).

Explore pumpkin insides
Cute & Peculiar

Study decaying pumpkin

Preschoolers may find it fascinating to watch the end of a pumpkin's life as it rots.  I have had many discussions with Grace about what happens when various foods rot or "go bad".  I know I tend to keep my pumpkins into the rotting stage by accident, so this year, I'm going to do it on purpose!  Observe the pumpkin after it's made it's jack-o-lantern debut on Halloween.  Talk with your child about what he notices each day or whenever you check on it.  Make connections to the life cycle of a pumpkin and the purpose behind a pumpkin returning to the earth.  Below is a link to an experiment from PBS with a short video from Sid the Science Kid.

Decaying Pumpkin Experiment & Video
PBS Parents

Plant a pumpkin

If you saved those seeds from your pumpkin, try planting them to grow a new pumpkin.  This completes the life cycle and will be a great opportunity for your child to see it firsthand.  Now, planting a pumpkin outside in the fall will probably not work out so well, unless you live in a warm climate.  But, you could start it indoors or try a greenhouse.  Or you could do as we did at school when we had to release newly developed butterflies in November, and let nature takes its course with your pumpkin plant.  It's a good lesson!

Growing Pumpkins in Pumpkins
Life With Moore Babies

Pumpkin decorating

In previous years, Grace has decorated pumpkins with permanent markers, which is relatively clean and easy, but I wanted to try something new this year.  So here are a few cool ideas I found:


Dot Stickers Pumpkins
Dot Sticker Pumpkins
Putti's World
I can't believe I hadn't thought of this myself!  It is so simple, and what parent doesn't have stickers laying around?  Using stickers would be a good fine motor activity for toddlers and preschoolers, and is about as clean as it gets.  Foam stickers would work great too!

Glitter and gems

Sparkly Pumpkins
The Imagination Tree
So this one is a little higher on the messy index, but it sure is adorable!  This example uses glitter and sequence, but you could also just use glue and tissue paper, shapes, or Halloween pictures (or pictures of anything, really).


Leaf Covered Pumpkins
Positive Parenting Connection
I think this one is my favorite, and I will definitely be doing this to one of the many pumpkins we've collected this year.  Simply glue leaves that you've collected onto your pumpkin and coat with Mod Podge.  How cute would this be as a Thanksgiving decoration or centerpiece?!

Pins and Buttons

easy halloween craft
Pin and Pound Pumpkins
No Time for Flashcards
Pounding pins (or nails) and buttons into a pumpkin is a clever way of creating a unique pumpkin decoration with some good old-fashioned gross motor skills practice.  This would probably be best for preschoolers, as they won't be as tempted to eat the pins, nails, or buttons or smack someone with the hammer.  If not for decorating, hammering in some pins and buttons sure would be fun before you throw out your pumpkin.


Painted Pumpkins
Young House Love

This is such a cute take on your typical pumpkin painting.  Use painter's tape to create a face, shapes, or designs on a pumpkin.  Then, let your little one paint away.  When dry, simply take off the painter's tape, and your design will be revealed.  So cute!

Pumpkin crafts

I am very practical when it comes to crafts.  I like things that can be used for something, so I love that all of the pumpkin crafts in this post can be put to good use as decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  

Stained glass pumpkin

I adapted this craft from some other examples I've seen for different holidays.  It is a simple craft, but it is probably best for kids ages 3 and up.  If you use contact paper instead of glue and wax paper, it could work for some younger children, as well.

You will need:

  • wax paper
  • tape
  • Elmer's glue
  • scissors
  • paint brush
  • permanent marker
  • orange tissue paper cut into squares

    *I used two different colors of orange tissue paper.  When I cut them, I first cut them into 1-inch long strips.  I didn't want the shapes to be all perfect squares, so I cut them a little sloppy to make different sized squares and rectangles.

    Here is how to make your stained glass pumpkin:

    1.  Tape a sheet of wax paper to the table.

    2.  Using the permanent marker, draw a pumpkin shape. Grace (4) was doing this project, and she had a little trouble sticking with it long enough to finish this large pumpkin.  For some children, a smaller pumpkin or a few smaller pumpkins might be best.

    3.  Put some Elmer's glue in a dish and mix in a small amount of water.  You want it a little runnier than normal, but not watery.

    4.  Using the paint brush, brush some glue onto your pumpkin shape.  It will bead up, but that is ok.

    5.  Place the tissue paper shapes onto the glue.  Continue covering the rest of the shape.  You can go over the line of your pumpkin with your tissue paper because it will be cut off later.  

    6.  As you go, brush glue over your tissue paper pieces to flatten them down.  The glue acts as a finish and will dry clear.

    7.  Let the glue dry.  Then cut out the pumpkin shape, and put up to a window to catch the sun.

    Here is Grace's finished pumpkin.  She was very proud of it, and I think it makes for a cute little decoration.

    Below are some other fun pumpkin crafts that I found in my searches that would be great for toddlers and preschoolers.  

    Paper Plate Pumpkin 
    Muffin Tin Mom
    Pumpkin Craft for Kids
    Cardboard Tube Pumpkin 
    Lifetime Moms

    Pumpkin Mache 
    Loving My Nest
    Knuckle Print Pumpkins 
    Mom Trusted
    Pumpkin Garland
    Right Start Blog

    Pumpkin food for kids!

    If you buy some canned pumpkin, you'd be amazed at how easy it is to make some everyday recipes into pumpkin delicacies.  Add some pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice to pancake batter, and you've got pumpkin pancakes.   The same idea goes for pumpkin waffles Add pumpkin and cinnamon to a basic french toast recipe, and you've got pumpkin french toast.

    This site has some very easy and awesome pumpkin recipes that are great for kids.  The list includes how to make pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin, hummus, smoothies, and more.

    Pumpkin fluff is something I used to make with my students every year because it was so easy and delicious.

    Pumpkin Fluff
    Madame Deals

    Pumpkin poetry 

    A great way to help kids express their ideas about a topic is through poetry.  I remember being very intimated by poetry until I became a teacher.  I enjoyed it much more once I realized that poetry can be written anyway you want.  It's kind of liberating!  

    To help my daughter Grace express her ideas about pumpkins, we wrote a poem.  This type of activity can also help your child build vocabulary by using adjectives, sensory words, and content specific words (words having to do with pumpkins).  With young children and those new to writing poetry, having some structure can be helpful.  I came up with a little pumpkin poem template that looks like this:

    Pumpkin Poem  Click the link to open and print.

    For this template, simply write a word or phrase on each line.  

    • 2 words that tell how a pumpkin feels.  This could be the inside or outside of the pumpkin.  
    • 3 words that tell how a pumpkin looks.  
    • 2 ways that pumpkins are used.
    • 1 word to describe a pumpkin.
    Before writing your poem, brainstorm ideas with your child.  You may want to have a pumpkin with you to help your little one come up with ideas.  

    If you'd rather not have the directions on your poem template, use this one:

    Pumpkin Poem Template
    Click the link above to open and print.
    Get creative if you want, and use the pumpkin template any way you'd like.  

    Here is an example of what a pumpkin poem might look like:

    I hope you and your little ones enjoyed everything pumpkins!  
    - Jessica