Penny Pinching Peach


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Paper Plate Pumpkin Masks

Paper Plate Pumpkin Masks

Paper Plate Pumpkin Masks

Need an inexpensive and easy fall craft for kids? Try my upcycled paper plate pumpkin masks!

I try to do a craft of some sort at least once or twice a week with my children, mostly using items we have on hand or that will cost me very little to get the supplies for. This was one of our recent projects, using only items I already had in my cabinets. These masks were pretty quick to pull together, as well as lots of fun for my little ones to help make and play with when they were finished. If you need a simple and cheap autumn craft for children, this is for you!

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Want to know how to make your own paper plate pumpkin mask? Keep reading!

Pumpkin Mask Supplies

Pumpkin Mask Supplies

First, gather your supplies. In case the photo isn’t enough explanation, here’s your crazy long list of things you need:

Yep, that’s it! Think you can handle that? 😉

Next, let your kiddos color the middle round part of the plate orange (or another color, if they’re feeling funky). Cut the round center part of the plate out.

Hold the cut out near your child’s face and put a dot on the plate where the eyes and mouth should go, then draw the shapes they want them to be. I scored the lines with my scissors and then went back over them with a knife to cut them the rest of the way out.

Poke a hole in each side of the pumpkin mask for the ribbon to go through. Have your child hold the mask up and then wrap the ribbon around from hole to hole to figure the length. You can do the strap one of two ways. Either two pieces of ribbon you tie on (my choice) or one solid piece they slide on and off their heads. I wrapped it behind and added enough length to tie through the holes as well as tying a bow in the back, which was a few extra inches. Cut and tie the ribbon through the holes.

Paper Plate Pumpkin Mask

Paper Plate Pumpkin Mask

Your child will be ready to go crazy as a walking jack o’lantern!

For a fun story time activity this fall and Halloween, check out The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster! If you want a safe alternative to carving jack o’lanterns, try my No Carving Pumpkin Family!

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Dollar store education: Color sorting blocks

As a homeschool graduate currently homeschooling my own munchkins, I’m always looking for creative and inexpensive educational activities. I absolutely love dollar stores of all kinds for bargain educational supplies to use! They cost so little, and can cover so many different topics. One of my nifty finds has been these color sorting cubes. Being creative with them, I can come up with bunches of different ways to use these little boogers to keep my little smarty pants entertained and educated at the same time. I’ve used them for lots of different things, but I thought that I would share some of what we have done with them as fun & stimulating preschool projects.

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You can order these from Amazon if you want to: Learning Resources Hands-On Soft Color Cubes (Set of 102)

Simple color sorting

Simple color sorting

Simple color sorting 2

Simple color sorting 2

We started off the day simply. Since I’m a penny pincher from way back, I took two styrofoam plates we had used for our lunch, wiped them off, grabbed some colored markers, outlined and filled in half of each plate in the four different colors of her sorting cubes. I then asked her to put all of the cubes on the matching color section. As you can see, she did great. 🙂 She did this a few times before she was ready to move on to something else, so then I came up with a couple of more fun educational games for her…

Pattern and Varied Numbers

Pattern and Varied Numbers

I flipped the two styrofoam plates over, and drew out the new projects with my trusty markers again. What, you thought mrs frugal was gonna use new plates? LOL On the left in this photo, I told her to follow the color pattern using two blocks in each rectangle. On the right, I asked her what each number and color was, then requested that she put the correct number and color of blocks in each rectangle. She really enjoyed this one, since it was a little more challenging. After a little while, she was ready to do something new with her color cubes, so Mommy had to come up with another challenge…

Counting and Sorting

Counting and Sorting

For her last color cube project of the day, I asked her to put 4 blue cubes on the blue side, 5 green cubes on the green side, 6 orange cubes on the orange and 7 red cubes on the red. We did this same “game” with several different series of numbers. She really enjoyed the challenge of remembering how many went on which color, since it wasn’t written down.

Now that I’ve shared a few of the educational games we do with our color cubes, what are some inexpensive items you use to help kiddos learn? What do you wish you could find an educational use for?

For some great recipes, please click the Chef’s hat!


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The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

If your kids are like mine, they love to play games together. However, it’s really hard to find a game that is fun for my very smart five year old, while being simple enough for my determinedly independent two year old to do with little to no assistance.

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Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is one of those rare amazing finds! They received this as a gift from a sweet friend of mine a few months ago, and they still play with it at least a couple of days a week. If you’ve been around little ones much, you know that this means this game is awesome if it’s surviving and still enjoyed regularly after that long!

If your child is old enough to know his colors well, or has an honest older sibling who can assist them nicely, you can let them sit at the table and play while you putter around the house getting things done. Since I initially helped them learn to play and they completely got the hang of it, which took about three or four games in all, they have rarely needed my assistance for anything except occasionally reminding Bambam to take turns when it’s not his turn. If you’re a mom, you know how valuable games and toys that encourage independent play can be for both you and your children. If you’re not, trust me when I say both parents and children will be happy with you for this gift for that very reason! 😉

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Playing

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Playing

Every piece of this game has proven to be sturdy enough to withstand the normal treatment of a little boy who earned every ounce of his nickname, Bambam, with all of that playing time. Both of my kiddos love their Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel game enough to willingly clean up and keep from losing the cutesy squirrel pinchers and numerous multi-colored acorns. The adorable tree shaped box is even much sturdier than the average game, so it’s still completely intact, as well. The only thing I would add is that if you have little ones who still put things in their mouths, please keep this game and it’s pieces safely away from that child, since the colorful acorns would be really tempting to taste and choke on. This should be common sense, but I felt I had to say it as a responsible parent of itty bitty folks. 🙂

I definitely recommend buying this game! I’m not being compensated for this review, just recommending and sharing a great product I think other families would love as much as we do, but I would be thrilled if you would purchase it through one of my Amazon affiliate links in this post, above and below. It costs you nothing, but it gives me a small commission to help take care of these cute little rascals. 🙂

Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Need some fun activities for your little ones? Check out 10 Preschool Activities Using Household Items!


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National Preschool Fitness Day

Pretty Day At the Park

Pretty Day At the Park

Jan. 30 is National Preschool Fitness Day. I just learned about this particular day, but I definitely make a point of keeping my kiddos hopping. During nicer days, even if it’s cold outside, we get them outside playing, like this recent photo at a park. When we are stuck inside a lot due to cruddy weather outside, it presents more of a challenge and Mommy has to get creative! My children have to be active or they will go completely nutty, so it’s an absolute necessity to find ways for them to move those little bodies when we’re stranded indoors. I’m sharing the official page about the holiday and their ideas for keeping little ones fit, then some of my own little tricks for burning that energy indoors. 🙂

Fun ideas for helping your preschooler stay fit:

http://kid-fit.com/wordpress/?p=454

Free preschool fitness kit.

Bop the balloon. The object of this game is simple: Keep the balloon in the air by bopping it. My 2 1/2 year old and my 5 year old absolutely love this! Just make sure you have extra balloons ready, because they may pop and it won’t be pretty if you don’t have a replacement handy. 🙂

Chacha train. I have my kiddos line up behind me and we do our own version of the chacha in a choochoo train kinda way. It’s weird and wacky, but it leaves them giggling and gets them moving.

Hokey Pokey. We’ve all done this one as kids, right? You can do it with them or just sing the song and do the best you can while doing whatever you’re doing.

Simon Says. Simon Says: Hop like a bunny. Simon Says: Spin around. Simon Says: Do jumping jacks. Everything Simon Says is something active in this version of the game.

Dance party!! I like to put on some music and do crazy dances with my munchkins. If I am not feeling well and don’t feel like dancing myself, I’ll often sing a song and clap for them to dance. They LOVE it!!

The items below look like some really fun resources for physical activities for preschoolers, if you want some help in getting those little hineys moving! 🙂

303 Preschooler-Approved Exercises and Active Games (SmartFun Activity Books)

Preschoolers and Kindergartners Moving and Learning: A Physical Education Curriculum (Moving & Learning)

Sesame Street: Get Up and Dance

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What kind of activities do you keep your little ones active with during yucky weather?