Three Pinterest Day of the Dead Lessons I Tried

This year my students have completed or are in the process of completing three lessons I found on Pinterest for Day of the Dead. Two of these lessons I’ve never done before and one I’ve tried before and I learned a lot the first time around. I have linked the pins to the bottom of this article.

The skeleton cursive collage that I did with my fourth and fifth grade students is a bit challenging. This is my second time doing it, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. First of all, this lesson includes the kids writing their name in cursive on a sheet of paper, folded in half, cutting it out, and using that for the skeletons body. The first time I did this lesson about six years ago, I realized students didn’t know how to write their name in cursive. Unfortunately, I realized this way too late because we are already starting the lesson. This time around I asked my students if they knew how to write their name in cursive and then I let their teachers know as a homework assignment that they need to work on writing their names in cursive. Most of my students were able to write their names in cursive, however those who couldn’t get it I wrote their names on the board for them to copy. This prevented me from having to write everybody’s name in cursive for them. I also drew on the board an example of a skull for the kids to copy because I learned the kids don’t know how to draw skulls.

This lesson took five weeks to complete. The first week we traced our hands and drew skulls. I also showed them a PowerPoint on the Mexican artist Jose Posada. The second week the students drew their names in cursive and cut out the skeleton. The third week we glued everything down and begin adding color with collage materials and markers. Fourth and fifth weeks students used scrap paper and other collage materials to have 3-D components that pop out.

Overall the skeletons were a positive experience for the students. Most of them had a successful skeleton. I graded most of the collages with high scores. I also had students assess their own work using the rubric. I find that offering them the rubric close towards the end of their project gives them an opportunity to see where they are and how they can improve on their project.

First second and third grade created Day of the Dead booklets that I found on Pinterest. I had the students review a PowerPoint about Day of the Dead and then they had to complete a writing prompt of their choosing inside the booklet.

After they completed the writing prompt students decorated the skull. Then they had to draw a picture that illustrated their writing. This is a pretty simple project however it did take three weeks. Some students got the writing over with very quickly and some students struggled. I found students who struggled with the writing took longer with the project and those who knew what they wanted to write about immediately after beginning the project.

Lastly, I did a marigold still life with my kindergartners and first graders. This project taught them about symmetry, folding and cutting out a symmetrical shape, drawing flowers realistically, and of course Day of the Dead. This was a pretty simple assignment: the most that the student struggled with were the vases and cutting them out symmetrically. We used large sheets of construction paper for the background, and oil pastels to decorate. I taught them how to blend with the oil pastels to create the marigolds. These came out so pretty and I was very pleased with them overall. Several of the marigold still lives were hung up in our local opera house as part of an exhibit with the school district.

Day of the Dead Cursive Collages: https://pin.it/lvty5idyrw2ncl

Skull Booklets: https://pin.it/obi3qffbod2ou6

Marigold Still Life: https://pin.it/2y64t3tf44ohkr

Fall Projects

I love teaching Day of the Dead for October. Working with students from a Hispanic background, many of them are Mexican-they are already familiar with the holiday. Many of my students have actually celebrated it in Mexico! I do review a PowerPoint on the holiday and its’ traditions prior to starting the lesson.

I have a skull mask template that I make photocopies of and then the kids draw using markers their decorations. We have just started this project and I’m finding sharing actual sugar skulls with my students is very inspirational while they work.

My requirements for my 4th and 5th grade students are that they include repetitive patterns, symmetry, along with the typical bright, colorful designs that are found throughout traditional Mexican art work.

I’ll be sharing more about the finished product as the month goes on.

The other lesson I’m starting for October is a Day of the Dead tribute to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo with my second and third graders. I read to them her biography, then they need to write a sloppy copy of a letter to her showing what they have learned about her. They can incorporate ideas like pets, art, Mexican heritage in their letter to her to find some common ground. They create the skull using Crayola Model Magic and glue it onto a 12″ x 18″ paper. My students will finish the project by drawing the rest of Frida, writing the letter in fancy handwriting around their Calavera, and creating a frame.

I will share the finished product of this lesson as well. Happy October!

Fall Leaf Deer Crown Craft

For our fall themed play date my friend and I created our Cinnamon Salt Dough Turkeys and these fall leaf deer crowns with our littles.

To create these crowns you’ll need:

faux or real fall leaves

hot glue gun w/ glue sticks

2″ inch wide 8″ inch long construction paper strips

scissors

pink and black construction paper

a pencil

To make the headband I hot glue gunned two strips of construction paper together. I waited for it to cool and then wrapped it around my kid’s head to measure. Then I glued the headband closed.

Next I folded my black and pink construction paper into sixths. I drew a shape like a deer’s ear on the paper and cut it out. A similar, but smaller shape for the inner ear. My boys helped me glue the ears together (pink on top of black) with Elmer’s, but you can hot glue gun them on your own.

Then I glue gunned on the leaves, layering different colors and shapes. Voila! My boys were fall time deer in no time and they loved wearing their crowns!

Cinnamon Salt Dough Turkey Sculptures

This past weekend my friend and her daughter came over for a play date. I wanted to do a project that would be Fall or Thanksgiving themed. I decided to whip up a batch of cinnamon salt dough. If you’re not familiar with salt dough-it’s a simple homemade dough that dries over night. By adding cinnamon you get a wonderful smell and a tan color to the dough.

Cinnamon Salt Dough Recipe

2 c. salt

2 c. flour

1.5 c. water

2 tbs. cinnamon

1 tbs. cooking oil

Combine the dry ingredients first using a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add water and mix until a play dough consistency is formed. Add oil to create elasticity.

Once our cinnamon salt dough was formed we tried pressing leaves we gathered in our yard to create imprints. While the kids liked this-it wasn’t enough of a project we felt. So we decided on making simple turkeys using our cinnamon salt dough, small pebbles, twigs, and leaves from my yard.

To build the turkeys we simply rolled a large ball and a small ball. Small ball for the head, large ball underneath for the body. To make your turkey fat and jolly smush the large ball onto a hard surface so the bottom flattens out and expands.

For tail feathers we used the leaves from my backyard and for the eyes/beak we added pebbles. The twigs created his legs and clawed feet.

We had so much fun building our turkeys. My turkey will be proudly displayed in my buffet spread for Thanksgiving. However, he will be the only actual turkey in the buffet as we are vegetarian! I’ll be sharing in my next, bonus, post my pinned recipes for our vegetarian Thanksgiving meal. I can’t wait to gobble it up!

Four Fall Sensory Bags 

It’s definitely not fall here!  It’s been over 100° F for the last few weeks! Frankly, we don’t really get much of a fall in Las Vegas. My kids sure don’t experience the fall that I had growing up in Buffalo, New York!

As a child I remember picking apples, raking colorful leaves from the ground and jumping into the pile, and drinking homemade apple cider!  In Las Vegas we try to have fall by going to a pumpkin patch and farms.  With the excessive heat it makes it difficult to really enjoy the day. So I came up with these four easy sensory bags with the theme of fall in mind to allow my boys to experience fall with all of their senses. The best part is they do not require any special supplies, most likely these are items you have laying around the house!

For sight we had the colors of fall through out all of my bags. We had the sound of fall through my tissue paper leaf bag, it sounds like leaves crunching when you squish it in your hand! With every sensory bag project there’s always the sense of touch being included with different textures the children will feel from our squishier to our crunchier bags. Smell could and taste from the walnut sensory bag that we ate the contents of as we made it!

Shaving Cream Sensory Bag

For this bag I focused on the color red, however you can try a different color such as gold or orange to focus on. I filled the bag halfway with shaving cream then added red food coloring.   I squished the bag around to mix the food coloring and shaving cream together until it was evenly mixed. Then I added red glitter. This bag felt like a stress ball. My oldest child loves squishing it. He would not stop squishing it in fact this was his favorite!


Tissue Paper Fall Leaves Bag


For this bag I used half a bottle of orange hair gel that I got at the Dollar Tree. Then I added in brown, green, yellow, orange, and red tissue paper squares. You can also pick these up at the Dollar Tree. They are a huge time saver! Then I added gold glitter and strings of brown yarn. The brown yarn stuck together creating sort a viney-tree trunk effect. Once I closed up the bag and squished it and made the crunchy sound that leaves make in the fall as you walk across your yard.

Cotton Ball Bag

For this bag I again chose red as the main color. I think if I was going to do this project again I would do an orange or gold bag for the shaving cream and keep this one as my red bag. Red is so synonymous with fall. For this bag I added a full bottle of clear hair gel and I filled up the bag halfway with cotton balls. Then I added in some red Pom Poms and strands of red yarn.  Lastly,  a few drops of red food coloring to swirl as the children played with it.

Walnut and Burlap Bag 

This bag is made of used pieces of burlap that I cut into basic shapes like triangles and rectangles. Then I added in walnut halves from my pantry.  The main ingredient is steel cut oats. They look almost like sand. I gave it a nice grainy texture. With this one the children could see different shades of the same color: brown. My oldest son could tell me the different names of the shapes. My youngest son could feel the different textures from the more flimsy burlap to the very hard, curvy walnut halves.

My three-year-old and I put all of these and three bags together in about an hour one afternoon while my 20 month old slept. Both boys had a great time playing with them. In fact they’re still playing with them! One thing I like to do is use clear tape on the top of all of my sensory bags to make sure they stay shut. Another idea is taping them to a sliding glass door or a big window so the kids can look inside of them better and see all the different variations of colors.
I hope you and your children have as much fun as we did with this project. It’s a great project for kids three years old and younger.  Older kids can even make it for their younger siblings!

My Favorite Fall Pins

Fall LeavesYes fall is here, at least in my heart.  Why the rush?  We’re going to Israel for the High Holidays so I miss a chunk of my favorite season and it’s American traditions: apple picking, pumpkin spice everything, and Halloween for a month.  This year we’ll be coming back two weeks before Halloween so I’ll get to feel the holiday a little more.  It is my favorite holiday and the memories of my children these past few years celebrating with me are so precious.

With my early fall celebrations I’ve started pinning crafts, decorations, DIY projects, and recipes to enjoy when we get back.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Popsicle stick monster craft.

Craft Stick Monsters - Kid Craft More

2. Metallic foiled pumpkins

Painted Metallic Foiled Pumpkins. It makes your pumpkins stand out and brings a new decoration to the home!

3. Acorn Donut Holes

This acorn donut hole recipe is a fun way to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall!

4.  Speaking of donuts, Maple Glazed Donuts!

Baked Maple Donuts Recipe with Maple Glaze

5. Bronze Pumpkin Stack

You won't waste your $1 buckets on candy when you see her porch trick

6.  For the High Holidays there are so many edible Torahs and Sukkahs!

Design Megillah: Edible Torahs for Children

I have linked all of the images back to the pin so you can explore these ideas.  Please be sure to follow My Petite Picassos on Pinterest for more autumnal awesomeness!

 

 

Process Art Activity-Apple Printing

apple-printingThis is one of the first activities I did with the My Petite Picassos playgroup back in the fall. I never got around to blogging about it, though. I think when you start a blog you have so many ideas that it’s almost impossible to get all of them done. On top of that I had the holidays to craft and blog about-so here is my belated post on apple printing.

I used basic school based tempera paint in fall colors: green, yellow, red, orange, and brown. I put the colors out on a pallet for the kids to dip the apples that were already cut into halves and then they printed on the paper. For the paper I used long sheets from a role that I cut to be equal for each child. I picked up rolls of paper at Target in the fall for about $7. This is a great idea for a playgroup or a fall party. It was so easy and different. The kids really enjoyed it. All of the toddlers walked away with apple prints.  They were so enthralled with the idea putting their food into the paint and no one put the paint into their mouth! This is definitely an activity I would repeat!



Nature Sorting Activity

nature-sorting-activity

Sorting is an important early learning activity in science, art, math, language, and critical thinking skills. Babies and toddlers categorize objects based on their unique properties such as color and texture (two elements of art). When toddlers and babies categorize they begin developing an understanding of the physical world around them. They look for patterns (math) and they compare/contrast objects which are critical thinking skills.

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It’s a really simple setup-I took craft feathers, leaves in changing colors, and pinecones and placed them in different spots of a muffin tin. I approached the activity with my two babies differently.  For Adam (10.5 mos) it was his first time trying an activity like this.  It was also his first time getting to touch and hold these items. He picked up, inspected, showed me items, and yes a couple did go into his mouth (I was careful to stay by him during this activity so he wouldn’t try to swallow anything).  He examined the objects for about 15 minutes before trying to move them around in the muffin tray.  adam-sorting

For Ben, who’s almost 2 1/2, I showed him the tray first (he’s had other muffin tin sorting activities before).  We counted like items first in English, then Hebrew (he’s fluent in both).  He told me in Hebrew “etz” meaning tree while holding a leaf and also told me all of these items were from outside, before grouping like items in the tray.  He spent about 10 minutes with the tray.  This would be a great way to start an art and nature project with little ones.  Just keep in mind to watch them so they don’t try to eat the activity.

 

 

Pattern Print Turkey

A little fun project for Turkey Day. Draw a turkey in pencil and trace in black Sharpie marker.  Permanent marker is a must-so the color doesn’t bleed.  Have your kiddo(s) draw patterns using Crayola Markers in each feather.fullsizerender-5

Remember a pattern is just a shape or line repeated over and over. They can continue to add patterns to the body and color in the face and legs.  This is a fun and easy way to occupy kids while your cooking or painting your Thanksgiving D.I.Y. Lazy Susan.

Thanksgiving D.I.Y. Lazy Susan

I love to paint, and if you love to paint here’s one way you can relax today and avoid football and election talk.

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It’s a lazy susan for the table scape or the buffet.  I use mine all fall to place my oils and spices I frequently use while cooking-I cook everyday.  Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath on Friday/Saturday) takes me three days to prepare for it.  So as a native New Yorker I’ll say “Forget About It!”

Even though I’m a vegetarian-you get the idea.  So I bought the lazy susan at Target a few years back.  I saw some 2 weeks ago at Ikea by the checkout-very affordable.  First I prepared the surface by sanding off the protective sealant that it came with and doing a few thin, even coats of gesso primer with a sponge top brush.   After the gesso dried I used a flat wide brush to paint 3 coats of gold paint-again even and thin.  I waited for those to dry.  Then I used my Martha Stewart Craft Acrylic Paints to paint my leaves.  Voila!